A Rare ‘Chameleon-Like Talent’ – The Rising Hollywood

Trilingual in French, English and Greek with previous studies in law at The University of Oxford are only a few of Daphne Alexander’s triumphs in her life so far.  Daphne grew up in Cyprus and London as she divided her time between England, France and Greece. She prepared and studied how to be an actress at ‘The London Academy of Music and Dramatics’. Following graduation, she landed the role of ‘Nadia Talianos’, for three years on BBC ‘s most popular drama, ‘Casualty’. Continuing with her career, she played other television roles such as, Janita in ‘The Amazing Mrs. Prichard’, which was directed by Simon Curtis. Her role in the, ‘House of Saddam’ as Sara was directed by Jim O’Hanlon.

I asked Daphne, “Who influenced you to become an actress?” Her response was, “It was my grandmother who would always talk to me about theatre, and actors she loved – she would always take me to see plays she had seen and loved when she was young. I come from a family of lawyers, which is really why I read Law initially, and was struggling towards the end because it was really not for me. My grandmother came to stay during my final year exams with strict instructions from my mother to ‘oversee my studies’. But every evening around 6 o’clock she would barge into my room where I would be cramming case studies and would declare, ‘if we set off right now we’ll be on Shaftesbury Avenue in time for a play!’”

As I was curious about how she prepares for her roles, I asked, “How do you prepare for a film where your role is a different nationality? You have been said to have a ‘chameleon-like talent’ to play an array of different nationalities – what is this like?” Daphne said, “It’s true that I’ve been fortunate enough to play an array of quite varied nationalities, for instance I played an Iraqi girl twice – in ‘House of Saddam’ (BBC/HBO) and in ‘Mesocafé’ a Mexican and in ‘The Ghost Writer’, Polanski’s latest, an Alaskan. In ‘The Fourth Kind’, an Italian on stage, to name but a few…When I am preparing for a role that involves a different nationality, I like to first of all get in touch with a girl of my age from that country and listen to them; their voice, and accent and particular mannerisms. For ‘The Fourth Kind’, the lovely director Tunde Osunsanmi gave me the number of an Alaskan lady. I ended up talking to her for hours she was so sweet and helpful!”

I stated, “It is amazing that you starred in so many drama-series on BBC immediately after graduating school.” Then I asked,  “How did you react to having so many opportunities right away?” Daphne responded, “I felt infinitely grateful to be given the opportunity to portray a regular character on ‘Casualty’ 3 months upon graduating. I felt like such a baby on set in Bristol, and slightly overwhelmed, but the other actors and crew were so supportive and warm towards me, it didn’t take long to adjust!”

Regarding the film ‘The Palace’ in which Daphne starred, I asked, “How was the experience being in a film that was based on the invasion of Cyprus? I read that you played the role of a young mother, which must have been an overwhelming role to play. As well, I read that your parents lived through this war. What were your feelings as you were acting through this time period in the film?” Daphne’s answer was, “As a Greek-Cypriot actress, this project was very close to my heart. The invasion of Cyprus in 1974 was a traumatic event for my country, which left the island scared and divided. Cypriots have had to abandon their homes, their hometowns and in a lot of cases, their loved ones. My parents in fact had been newly-weds at this time of the invasion in July 1974, and my father was doing his military service in the very military base, which was first hit by the Turkish Navy. An agonizing few weeks ensued for my mother, as you can imagine!”

As Daphne briefly mentioned above, her film career deserves great credit as it consists of a role in Roman Polanski’s award-winning picture ‘The Ghost Writer’, as Connie a legal intern. A native Alaskan role as Theresea in ‘The Fourth Kind’produced by Gold Circle and directed by Olatunde Osusanmi. A beautiful and rich Iraqi novelist in the independent film, ‘Mesocafé’ directed by Ja’far Al Hamid.  ‘Mesocafé’ premiered with the Raindance Film Festival in, Piccadilly Circus. Award-winning film, ‘The Palace’ was inspired by the Turkish invasion in Cyprus, directed by Anthony Maras. The film received countless awards, such as the ‘Audience Award’ at Adelaide Film Festival, ‘Best Short Film ‘at Sydney Film Festival, ‘Best Short Film’ at Melbourne Film Festival and is being considered for a 2012 ‘Academy Award’ nomination.

by Michelle Coveny, The Rising Hollywood