Entertainment & Arts

Rebecca Hall is talk of The Town

Image caption Affleck plays a professional bank robber who falls for a bank manager, played by Hall

While Ben Affleck directs and takes the lead role as a professional thief in crime thriller The Town, much of the attention is focused on his British co-star, Rebecca Hall.

The 28-year-old, from London, had a small role in 2006 film The Prestige but it was her role as the Vicky in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona two years later which earned her wider recognition - and a Golden Globe nomination.

This year, she won her first Bafta - for best supporting actress in Channel 4's Red Riding trilogy.

The Town, which is one of the biggest films at this year's Venice Film Festival, marks her first lead role in a big-budget film.

Image caption Hall starred alongside Javier Bardem in Vicky Cristina Barcelona

"What's the difference with Hollywood films? Bigger trailers," jokes Hall, who also had a cameo in 2008's Frost/Nixon.

"Seriously, coming to Venice with this film, it does feel more global.

"For a start, you're not fighting for it to be released.

"You're not thinking, 'will I ever see this in a cinema?' You know it's a Warner Bros film and it will find a certain audience.

"I have never been in that position before, not even with Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

"But it doesn't matter if I am doing a TV thing, or theatre or film, I have to still be an actor doing what interests me, no matter what the temptations."

'Arty people'

In The Town she plays yuppie bank manager Claire who moves into Charlestown, in Boston, an area where gangs are rife and bank robbery is a family business.

"You see it happen in every big city," she says of the way like-minded individuals gather in specific suburbs.

"It's exactly the same as in London, for example, where well-to-do arty people, like me, decide to move into the East End, because the rents are low and the houses are amazing.

"The irony is that I did end up living on a road in London known for gang violence and, one day, a brick came through my living room window!

"It's not an outlandish idea that Claire would move into a tough area as she gives the appearance of [being tough].

"But, deep down inside, she's more of a traditional female longing for a big burly man to look after her - nothing wrong with that.

"And that's where Ben Affleck's character comes in."

Affleck, directing only his second film, says Hall had the right appearance for the role - although she might not necessarily be flattered.

"She looks like she could be a bank manager," he deadpans.

"I mean, she's very beautiful but she's also very normal, very down to earth."

Vision and style

Hall, nominated for last year's Bafta Rising Star Award, says of her co-star and director: "You'd never know this was Ben's second film.

"He's not an actor dabbling in directing, he is through and through a film-maker.

Image caption Frost/Nixon was nominated for five Oscars

"He's got vision and style that's cohesive and he already knows what he wants.

"He also happens to be a really good actor. Makes you sick, really."

While Hall has just appeared on the front page of stylish US magazine W - in a photo shoot with The Town star Jon Hamm (Mad Men's Don Draper) - she remains unruffled by the more glamorous side of the industry.

"It's all fun and games, isn't it?" she says wryly.

"The thing is, I do really love clothes and it would be so easy for me to get into a tiswas about that side of things and worry about how I looked.

"But I've made up my mind not to - I am just going to have fun with it."

Hall, who was head girl at private school Roedean, in East Sussex, is the daughter of theatre director Sir Peter Hall, who has placed her in stage productions including As You Like It, in which she played Rosalind.

Under her father's direction, she'll take on another Shakespeare role - Viola - in a 2011 production of Twelfth Night at London's National Theatre to mark Sir Peter's 80th birthday.

"Theatre is my first love and I practically spent my childhood at the National because my dad was running the place when I was little," she says.

"I pretty much learned to walk in the corridors backstage because I was always there.

"I am really, really excited as it's my first time to actually be an actress on stage there."

The Venice Film Festival runs until 11 September.

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