When Americans recognize British actress Shelley Conn but can’t quite place her, she explains she had a non-speaking role in Tim Burton’s 2005 film, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

“Everybody’s watched it with their kids,” laughs Conn, well-known in the U.K. for her film, television and theater work — and about to become very familiar on this side of the pond thanks to her starring role in Fox’s Steven Spielberg-produced sci-fi drama “Terra Nova.”

When Conn found out she was auditioning for a Spielberg project, she was sure she wouldn’t get the part. “I knew I would have to prove myself,” says Conn, who plays a doctor who returns with her family to a prehistoric planet Earth to help save humanity.

The process lasted three months. “The final audition was to meet Jason (O’Mara, who plays her husband) and work with him, and something felt right as soon as we met,” Conn says.

A self-described army brat, Conn was born in London and lived overseas in Germany and Gibraltar with her parents and two older sisters. Her family settled in the London suburbs. She acted in school plays and did a post-grad drama program in London.

It was a slow and steady build to success, playing quirky guest characters on established TV shows. Her big break was the 2008 BBC miniseries, “Mistresses,” in which she had a romantic storyline with another Fox drama lead, “Fringe” star Anna Torv.

“I grew up watching American TV shows and films,” Conn says. “To have put roots down in the industry in America, that’s a dream for me.”