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Introducing Eleanor Worthington-Cox

We spoke to the ‘Gwen’ star about her path from ‘Matilda’ and Olivier awards to windswept Wales

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

Who is she?
A 19-year-old actor from Merseyside who plays the title character in gothic-tinged nineteenth-century drama ‘Gwen’. ‘She’s a very vulnerable but strong young woman who’s trying to keep her family together in the face of a hostile community,’ Eleanor Worthington-Cox says. ‘You don’t see many roles like this for someone my age.’

What are her memories of the shoot?
Set in the mountains of Snowdonia, ‘Gwen’ is a chiller in just about every sense. ‘I was outside at 2.30am in a blizzard in a nightie at one point,’ she laughs. Before the shoot, there were some unusual bonding activities with Maxine Peake and Jodie Innes, her on-screen mum and sister respectively. ‘We did some baking together to help establish the family dynamic. We tried to bake brownies, but they were a bit of a disaster.’

Ari Aster on set with Florence Pugh and Jack ReynorWorthington-Cox in ‘Gwen’

Where might you have seen her before?
She played brainy scamp Matilda on stage, becoming the youngest ever Olivier Award winner, aged ten. Her first film role saw her appear briefly as a young Aurora in ‘Maleficent’. ‘All I knew was to not look at the camera,’ she says. ‘The on-set jargon was so confusing. I remember asking to go to the bathroom and they were leaning into their mics, saying: “Eleanor, ten one.” I thought they were going to take me out on the way to the loo.’

What’s next?
She has a big project lined up for next year, though she’s keeping schtum on it. ‘I want it to be a big surprise,’ she says. Does Hollywood appeal? ‘If it was for the right role, of course, but I’m a bit of a home bird at the moment. My family keeps me grounded – there are no divas in our household.’

Who are her acting heroes?
‘I look up to people like Judi Dench,’ she says. ‘She’s had an incredible career and that’s the longevity I’m aiming for.’ Her dream role involves another set of frosty highlands. ‘If someone’s reading this in 30 years’ time,’ she says, ‘please let me play Lady Macbeth.’ 

‘Gwen’ opens Fri Jul 19.

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