Dedicated followers of fashion know Agyness Deyn, 31, as the British supermodel to whom style bible iD once devoted an entire issue. But to British auteur Terence Davies, she was just another unknown actress when she auditioned for the lead in his latest opus “Sunset Song.”
“Terence doesn’t engage with the contemporary world of celebrity, so he had no idea who she was,” says producer Bob Last. “Even to this day, I think he’s oblivious.”
Her bigscreen debut as Aphrodite in “Clash of the Titans” conformed to the supermodel stereotype — a bit of decorative typecasting in a blockbuster, with as few lines as possible. But she caught the attention of casting agents with her London stage debut in “The Leisure Society” in 2012, and that same year showed her screen potential with a gritty supporting role in the U.K. remake of Danish thriller “Pusher.”
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This year, Deyn landed her first leading role, in “Electricity,” a low-budget British film about an epileptic woman. The film premiered to warm reviews at the London Film Festival in October.
Her role in “Sunset Song” represents a powerful statement of intent. There’s nothing glamorous or trivial in Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s classic story about a young woman struggling with the grim realities of farming life in northern Scotland during the early 20th century. “It’s a huge role,” Last notes, “and casting Agyness was an enormous risk for everyone, if it weren’t for the fact Terence has always been so sure-footed in (choosing) female leads.”