TELEVISION – Ophelia comes home with nail-biter

WITH a name like hers, it's no wonder Ophelia Lovibond went into acting.

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Ophelia Lovibond plays it for thrills
Ophelia Lovibond plays it for thrills

With its nod to Shakespeare and its lovely sound, it speaks of bohemian glamour and looks great on a billboard.

Sure enough, she was acting by the age of seven and had landed several television roles before she had even left school.

Now, with several Hollywood films under her belt, Lovibond is playing a character in an ITV drama with a similarly gorgeous name. The 26-year-old plays Biba Capel in the two-part adaptation of Erin Kelly's novel The Poison Tree.

"Biba is very confident and charismatic and gregarious, very dramatic and theatrical," says Lovibond of the character.

"She's one of those people who you meet and they're so charismatic, you marvel at how confident they are. They step into a room and people are buzzing around wanting to talk to them.

"But scratch beneath Biba's surface and you realise that's one hell of a front for insecurity and vulnerability."

Shifting between the present day and 1999, the story told in flashback revolves around art student Biba, her brother Max (played by Matthew Goode) and Karen Clark (Twilight star MyAnna Buring), who they meet while at university. Karen is immediately captivated by the impossibly glamorous Biba, and by the intriguing life she and her brother live.

Says Lovibond: "I loved the script as soon as I read it. It's a proper thriller, I was whipping the pages over, I couldn't do it fast enough.

"The relationship between the three of them was very appealing because it felt like there was so much to explore, and Biba is the kind of character I've always wanted to play."

Light relief from the dark drama was also provided by the many laughs the actors had on set.

"By a stroke of luck, MyAnna, Matthew and I got on really well, and there was a lot of messing around," she recalls.

Interestingly, the opposite happened when the actress starred in outlandish comedy Mr Popper's Penguins alongside Jim Carrey.

Lovibond was great fun playing his assistant Pippi, who speaks almost entirely using words beginning with 'P', as was Carrey in the title role. But she reveals that, off camera, things "weren't crazy at all".

"Jim was quite calm, he conserved his energy for the takes," Lovibond recalls. "He's quiet and softly spoken and polite, he's a really nice man. It was so much fun though, it didn't feel like work."

The actress says there are plenty of things in the production line. Among her many projects awaiting release is a "Coen Brothers-like" film called A Single Shot, in which she stars alongside luminaries such as Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy and Melissa Leo. Lovibond's also filmed a British rom-com called Eight Minute Idol, and the television series Titanic: Blood And Steel.

But she claims to have no idea when any of these projects will be released saying she usually finds these things out when her mum calls to say "you're on the telly".

l The Poison Tree begins tonight on STV at 9pm

Arts and Entertainment

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