Ana Mulvoy Ten Interview: The Actress and Star of The Girl in the Book Talks About Her Role in the Film (Plus Much More!)
Ana Mulvoy Ten is a talented young actress who works in both film and television. British-born, Mulvoy Ten gained attention while starring in the hit television series House Of Anubis, which ran for three seasons on Nickelodeon from 2011 to 2013 and is now working on a new series for television while still filming movies. Currently in theaters and on VOD, Mulvoy Ten’s latest film, The Girl in the Book, is a coming of age drama based on a true story. Her performance is deeply personal and remarkably affecting, making her a talent worth watching. A busy actress with many projects on the horizon, Miss Mulvoy Ten graciously agreed to an interview and we thank her for her time and insightful replies.
Hello, Miss Mulvoy Ten. Let’s start with your career. How did you become interested in acting?
Mulvoy Ten: I can’t really remember exactly what it was. I always wanted to act, I grew up wanting to which is mind- boggling since my parents aren’t actors and we didn’t know any. I grew up very removed from it all but I would just tell everyone I was going to be an actress. I heard a girl at school saying she had an acting agent and I asked my parents if I could have one too and that’s where it all started. I remember I was 9 and when I found out I needed an agent I was devastated no one had told me this vital piece of information! I had to beg and practically drag my Mum to the agency. My parents always took me to the ballet and the theatre which I loved. I’m sure that contributed to wanting to be an actress in some way too.
You were part of an ensemble cast for the Nickelodeon teen drama House of Anubis, a mystery/drama about an English boarding school and you are currently working on the soon to premiere television series Famous in Love. Tell us about the TV filming experience.
Mulvoy Ten: The TV filming experience is really fun, it’s grueling at times because it moves a lot faster than shooting a film (in my experience) and for a lot longer. We shot House of Anubis in Liverpool for seven months of the year which is the longest I’d shot anything for, so it really became my world, we all had to move to Liverpool and the whole cast lived in apartments in the same building. I would go home to London for the weekends sometimes but mainly the whole cast would just stay and hang out together. I think the best thing is the friends you make and how well you really get to know people, I’ve made some of my closest friends from TV shows I’ve done. I just finished filming the pilot for Famous in Love and that was completely different experience, we shot at Warner Brothers in LA so I got to live at home and just drive to work every day. Shooting at Warner Brothers was kind of a dream for me!
Your latest film in release is The Girl in the Book. You play the teenage version of a character named Alice. She is a truly great role and the script is really challenging. What led you to the part and what about the script attracted you most?
Mulvoy Ten: I think what attracted me to the script was that it was just so beautifully written but it kind of scared me. It was very subtly disturbing, it wasn’t trying to be shocking, it didn’t need to be because it was a rare kind of true story. Marya (the writer and director) actually lived what happened to Alice so it felt very real to me. I really wanted to be a part of telling her story. I loved how complicated Alice was and I knew it would be a challenge to play her. I’d met some girls like her and really wanted a chance to play that kind of character so that’s what attracted me the most.
The adult role of Alice is played by Emily VanCamp. What was the process like in developing this character between you and VanCamp?
Mulvoy Ten: It was kind of nuts because by the time I got to New York to shoot, Emily was leaving in a few days to film Captain America so I met her one afternoon and we talked about the role but we only overlapped on set one day. The producers sent me the dailies from the film to watch Emily and her performance as Alice and that’s where I watched all of her mannerisms, habits and subtle things she did on screen to match them. I had to do most the character development on my own and all the accent work too but it helped a lot to have Marya because we were playing her and re-living her life. It’s a bizarre but wonderful situation when the person you are playing is on set and directing you.
In Alice’s relationship with Milan Daneker, a much older man with some questionable motives, Alice seems to understand what he is doing but often seems indifferent, though I’d say a little aware there is something not right. Talk about that relationship and how you, actor Michael Nyqvist, and director Marya Cohn established the dynamic between these two characters.
Mulvoy Ten: This was something I really wanted to understand and get right. Alice is deeply starved of love and attention from her own family, especially her father. He is so successful and respected in his industry but he just doesn’t make her feel loved, he doesn’t really have time for her so, she grows up with a lot of material wealth and not much else. Milan is the first man that makes her feel loved in any capacity and that is all she really wants, I don’t think she really thinks about it being wrong or right at first. At the beginning I think she is just desperate to be accepted by anyone and he’s the first person who does that. I think Alice’s desire for love is greater than her willpower to not be around the one person who makes her feel wanted, even if she feels something isn’t right. When I spoke to Marya about it we discussed the fact that Alice isn’t even thinking about having a sexual relationship with him, she just wants attention and, over time it turns into more than him helping her with writing. Michael and me decided to not actually rehearse the scenes before doing them because we wanted them to feel a bit awkward and uneasy, and I think that definitely helped us and the general tone of the relationship. The first time we kissed in the film was actually the first time we kissed and I think you can feel that-that it’s not rehearsed.
One of my favorite moments is when Alice discovers Milan Daneker’s book is really about her. This happens in public as he reads passages to a small audience, including her parents. Alice recoils, running away and hiding. I love how it seems like just what a child would do, despite the great maturity Alice truly has. Tell us about that moment and how it came together.
Mulvoy Ten: I think that moment is really traumatising for her, it’s the first time she really falls apart and comes to terms with everything that has happened to her. I think before that she has some hope that he actually loves her. It felt to me like it’s one of those pivotal moments in your life where you know you’re never going to be the same again. It was one of those scenes that felt very natural to me, I think we only did two takes. I remember just listening to him and having that feeling where you want to cry but you know you can’t and just needing to get out immediately. The running away and hiding was definitely childlike for someone who is a teenager but has the academic intelligence of someone much older. That was the best thing about playing Alice, she has an innocence about her but she’s very clever.
The most powerful moment though occurs when Daneker takes from Alice something he has no right to take, physically and emotionally abusing her in a way that firmly establishes the trauma Alice carries into her adult life. Cohn’s framing of this moment is very personal and your performance is heartbreaking. Would you care to share your thoughts on this scene?
Mulvoy Ten: It was the hardest day I’ve had on a set to this day! It’s one of those scenes that make you want to do a film when you’re reading the script because you know how powerful it will be and how it will make people feel something but when you’re actually there you’re just thinking “what am I doing??” I tried to not over think it, I was just focussing on breathing, that was it, I just breathed through it!
You have a number of films and television productions in the work or coming soon. Care to share some details about an upcoming project?
Mulvoy Ten: I have a film called The Queen of Hollywood Blvd coming out next year which I filmed in LA over the summer, the character was a lot of fun for me, she was very much like Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver–a runaway trying to get by on her own in a big city. My character, Grace, is definitely the darkest character I’ve played so far so I’m very excited for that to come out. And I just finished the pilot for Famous in Love, based on the book by Rebecca Serle. They’re both set in Hollywood but they’re complete opposites of what LA can be so that’s fun for me, getting to play in both worlds.
Aside from acting, are there any other passions you have? What do you like to do in your free time?
Mulvoy Ten: I’ve been writing my own stories and scripts since I was child. Funnily enough I wrote a Star Wars script when I was 8 and mailed it to George Lucas. I didn’t actually have his address so I just wrote “George Lucas, Hollywood”. I have since found out, he doesn’t even live in Hollywood?!
I love going on road trips with friends and zero planning, just getting in the car and seeing where it might take us. I’m always outside, especially now I live in LA where it is ALWAYS sunny and lovely. I love running, listening to great music and going on a run is one of my favourite things to do. I’ve been doing hot yoga for about a year now and I’m starting archery next week! Half my family live in Spain so when I’m there my favourite thing is to go horse-riding with my uncle and going with my grandpa (who is 87) to help him at his orchards. I pretty much spend all my free time doing anything that involves being outside and being active!
You’re a talented actress and positive role model. What would you like to say to the young women you inspire?
Mulvoy Ten: Thank you! I would say surround yourself with positive people who make you feel good about yourself, it really is better to be alone than in bad company, never let anyone determine your self-worth, learn to see the positive in everything and know that you create your own future. Oh, and learn how to meditate!
Read our review of The Girl in the Book here.