Lara Belmont

Hometown: Grew up all around Southern England

Favorite Thing About the Business: Meeting people and working together toward one point

Least Favorite: If people don’t know your face, you mean nothing to them.

Breakthrough: “The War Zone”

Worst Fan Experience: “Once, I’d just bought a dress (for the British Independent Film Awards) and I was wearing it (home) walking down Covent Garden and this guy on this bike came hurtling up to me and goes, ‘Are you that incest queen? You’re that chick from “The War Zone,” aren’t you?’ I said, ‘Yeah,’ and he went, ‘Fucking hated it!'”

As far as going Hollywood goes, for the moment we don’t have to worry about Lara Belmont. After being plucked from a flea market by casting agents, her debut as a sexually abused teen in Tim Roth’s “The War Zone” garnered the British Independent Film Award for best newcomer. But the U.K native still lives outside London and rarely gets recognized on the street. If she continues turning in the same level of performances, though, that could change soon.

Playing Jessie, a girl in her late teens who is molested by her father, the first-time actress’ first challenge was to place huge trust in director Roth and co-star Ray Winstone, who plays Jessie’s abusive father.

“When I read the script I knew that I could play her; it’s just whether I wanted to,” Belmont says. “Tim gave me the confidence. He wasn’t going to make this something cheesy.”

Indeed, Roth delivered a spare look at abuse, including unflinching scenes between father and daughter. “Ray was probably the strongest person (in) those scenes,” Belmont says. “He has kids who are my age and I really get on with one of them. It was hard to do for him. We kind of helped each other.”

Despite the help, it’s Belmont who found Jessie’s tough side. While a victim of her circumstances, there’s a fierceness about the character Belmont credits to a will to survive and escape her surroundings.

“For me, Jessie, she’s going to college in six months. If you’re being fucked by your father, you’ve lost the child in you,” she says. “You’ve lost the ability to trust and from a very young age you’ve been sexualized. … You do become hard and vindictive.”

Not that Belmont has much experience with life’s hard edges. She lived at home until “The War Zone” came along and even now lives with three friends in Gloucester.

Currently, she’s reading scripts and going on auditions. Being miles from Hollywood doesn’t bother her, though. “Most American movies have American actresses in them and my accent gets in the way,” Belmont says. “A lot is happening over here … enough for me to contend with.”

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