Between seasons of shooting the Starz historical fantasy skein “Da Vinci’s Demons,” where she plays Vanessa Moschella, a free-spirited Florentine barmaid and now expectant mother to the Medici heir, Hera Hilmar returned to her homeland to star in Baldvin Zophoniasson’s “Life in a Fishbowl,” a contempo drama that became Iceland’s biggest hit of 2014. Her performance as a single mother with personal baggage won her kudos, including an Icelandic Film Award as best actress, and a place among the Berlinale’s 2015 Shooting Stars.


Hilmar (known in Iceland as Hilmarsdottir), 26, is the daughter of director Hilmar Oddsson and actress Thorey Sigthorsdottir, and got her start as a child in several of her father’s films. She studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, graduating in 2011 with a flawless British accent, as well as an award for outstanding drama student.


Hilmar is finishing “Alleycats,” a film by Ian Bonhote about bicycle couriers, and will start another feature before returning for a third season of “Da Vinci’s Demons”


The actress maintains a simple philosophy: “Keep it real. Go with your gut,” she says. “And let yourself be scared.”


“Hera is an actress who puts film directors in a comfort zone with her work,” helmer Zophoniasson says. “She will push it to the limit without going too far. She has extremely great range and takes chances with her acting, which makes her characters so alive and real.”