The actress, who stars in the forthcoming drama Free State of Jones, on hero worship, hat hair, and a good soak. As told to Joseph Zambrano
Best Way to Spend a Spring Day
Hiking. I grew up in Oxfordshire, England, where it always rained, so I learned to appreciate a sunny day when I got one. Luckily, in L.A. I get a lot!
Best Role Model
Nelson Mandela. My father is South African and grew up under apartheid, so I’ve always been inspired by what Mandela stood for. There’s a bust of him outside the Royal Festival Hall in London, which I used to see all the time when I was in school. It has a quote of his on the base: “The struggle is my life.” Whenever I walked past it, I gave a little nod and said hi in spirit.
A bathtub. I had an epiphany about seven years ago, when I was working on a TV show in—of all places—Bath, England. After 12 hours of filming in the cold, I needed to warm up and relax, so I tried out the tub in my room and found that I was instantly able to soak the day away. Now I like to create my own spa whenever I travel: I light scented candles, pour in bath salts, turn on plinky-plonky music, and unwind.
Best Hair Trick
Wearing a beanie. My hair already gets played around with so much for different roles! When it’s just me, I let it be.
Best Part About Filming in New Orleans
The alligators. I’d never seen one in the flesh before heading down south to film Free State of Jones. It was so flabbergasting to watch these creatures glide along the river with their eyes popping out.
Best Pep Talk
When I’m facing a hectic schedule, I tell myself, “Come on, Gugs.” Sometimes you have to be your own coach.