PHOTOGRAPHY BY JUSTIN TYLER CLOSE
STYLING BY JILL LINCOLN
HAIR BY DAVID GARDNER AT SOLO ARTISTS
PHOTOGRAPHED AT MILK STUDIOS, LOS ANGELES
Strikingly beautiful and extremely talented, Annabelle Wallis is a rare specimen; she looks like a movie star and yet is disarmingly approachable. Seated in an old, green velvet butler’s chair in her London home, The Lab finds the actress dressed in glittery Minnie Mouse pajamas and a silk bathrobe, her outfit apparently a reflection of what it means to be her: “an eclectic mishmash of too many things to list.”
The same thing could be said of her blossoming career, which has seen her embrace everything from Bollywood romance and period drama to superhero sensation and in-flight entertainment – and she’s only just getting into her stride. Perhaps best known for her one-season stint on The Tudors, where she wowed audiences as Henry VIII’s third wife, the evanescent Jane Seymour, flawlessly assuming the role after Anita Briem left the cast. “I had no idea then that it was going to be a project that so many people love and respect,” she said of the experience. “As a young actress, strong, cerebral, emotionally complex characters are few and far between, let alone the part of one of the queens of England! It was an honor and still is.”
She may be surprised by her success, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t sure of pursuing it. At 19, Annabelle decided she was going to make a profession out of acting, walked into an agency in London and said, “This is what I am going to do, whether you help me or not, I am going to do it. It’s unavoidable.” She performed a couple of scenes from Romeo and Juliet and they signed her right there on the spot.
Wallis’ diverse upbringing may also have influenced her career choices. Hailing from Oxford, England, before she was two her family relocated to Portugal “away from the conventions of a life that my parents and many generations before them had lived.” Thriving in a multi-lingual environment, Wallis learned Portuguese, Spanish, and French and attended an international school. She credits this life experience to her development into the playful and reflective actress she has become. “Cultural duplicity between England and Portugal is a gift I thank my parents for every day,” she said. Unsurprisingly, for an actress who attacks her roles with scholarly vigor, the study of humanity appeals to her. “I would have loved to do a degree in anthropology,” she said, “living with a tribe and feeling, just like I am now, in a parallel world.”
She may have appeared in Hindi romance Dil Jo Bhi Kahey, X-Men First Class and the Madonna-helmed W.E. but there’s no chance of this actress getting lost in a parallel world – she remains grounded thanks to her family and friends who she describes as “constant reminders of what really matters.” Wallis can also be seen in the thrilling prime-time ABC drama Pan Am as a former MI6 intelligence operative and tea-serving stewardess. The 1960s mid-Atlantic is a far cry from 1500s England, but Wallis is taking it all in her stride and diligently researches these historical roles. “It is a gift to do period pieces,” she said. “You have somewhere to draw from, a place in time to go to and pick the pieces of the puzzle that build the foundation of your character. You come away from a period piece feeling like you’ve taken a history degree.”
Annabelle Wallis is definitely the kind of actress The Lab wants manning the tea trolley of the next Pan Am 707 we catch: talented, humble, ambitious and meticulous. And if she’s too busy to offer us a beverage at the very least we hope she’ll keep playing the characters we love.