18 June 2013 4:00 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Stage and screen actor Francesca Annis talks about the cult of celebrity, going nude for Roman Polanski and the pressure of playing a famous beauty

What first drew you to acting?

It happened by chance. I was brought up as a dancer, and was studying Russian ballet at a school, Corona, when an agency asked me to audition for Cleopatra [the 1963 film]. I went along two hours early to tell them I couldn't go since I had to go and buy ballet shoes. The director, Joseph L Mankiewicz, was just going out the door. We had an informal chat, and the next thing I knew I had an acting career.

What was your big breakthrough?

Doing a musical with Jane Birkin in a West End show called Passion Flower Hotel. It put me on the map – not least because Barbra Streisand's recording of the lead song, How Much of the Dream Comes True, »

- Laura Barnett

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