British actress Genevieve Gaunt talks to Frankly My Dear UK about taking on the romantic lead in Betsan Morris Evans’ new family comedy DUSTY & ME
Harry Potter fans will no doubt recognise Genevieve Gaunt as Draco Malfoy’s girlfriend Pansy Parkinson in HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (2004) but outside of the franchise, the British actress has been making magic of her own.
Since making her film debut at age 14, Gaunt’s career has grown from strength to strength with credits alongside Kate Beckinsale and Daniel Brühl in Michael Winterbottom’s 2014 film THE FACE OF AN ANGEL and a long-term role as Wilhelmina “Willow” Moreno on American prime time soap opera THE ROYALS since 2015.
Gaunt’s latest film sees her take on romantic lead with BAFTA-nominated British actor Luke Newberry in Betsan Morris Evans’ new family comedy DUSTY & ME.
DUSTY & ME tells the coming-of-age story of 18-year-old misfit Derek ‘Dusty’ Springfield (Newberry) who returns to his Yorkshire home after five years at Public School on a scholarship. Whilst waiting for the exam results he hopes will let him escape, Dusty befriends a lightning fast Greyhound and the two become inseparable. But when two bumbling thieves attempt to kidnap the dog, Dusty must do all he can to protect her with the help of his schoolboy crush Chrissie (Gaunt).
“It’s fresh, original and the script is funny and really charming” explains Gaunt in an exclusive interview with Donna Kelly from Frankly My Dear UK.
“It’s a heart-warming, feel-good British comedy about a boy, Dusty, in Leeds in 1977 who is the black sheep of the family. It’s a tale about believing in yourself and other people believing in you.”
“You just know when you read a script that makes you smile that you want to do it. The casting is another thing that drew me to the project. The actors in it are fantastic – Iain Glen, Lesley Sharp and Luke Newberry – they are all really great.”
Gaunt plays Chrissie, Dusty’s schoolboy crush who works in the local fish and chip shop. Encouraged by Chrissie, Dusty finds confidence in himself by racing the dog and a romance quickly develops between the pair.
“Chrissie is kind of feisty and comes across as a tough little cookie but really she’s got a heart of gold and she believes in Dusty. She gets him fired up and raring to go” explains Gaunt.
“From the very first audition, Luke and I had such a great bond and we’re still really good mates. We just get each other and have the same sense of humour and we really make each other laugh. I think that the way that the narrative develops was really instrumental in how we explored our characters because Chrissie brings Dusty out of his shell but it helps that we’ve got great chemistry as friends. He makes me howl.”
Starring alongside Gaunt and Newberry in the film is the lightning fast Greyhound comically named Slapper in the film by Dusty’s older brother. But unlike W.C Fields famous quote to “never work with children or animals”, Gaunt says it was the cast who had trouble keeping things under control, not the dogs.
“In terms of unpredictably, the humans were far more unpredictable than the animals” laughs Gaunt.
“I remember walking into the stadium with Dusty and Mickey the Bubble played by Iain Glen. Mickey is this gangster with a taste for dodgy wigs and I’ll never forget walking in and Mickey jumping over a barrier and failing and his wig going at a 45-degree angle and Iain hastily putting it back centre. I was looking at Luke and thinking “wow that was a close one” and we went for another take and it happened again and then again. This wig just kept going off and Iain had to keep resetting it. I realised it was Iain being so good that he was able to fall off and get back on, it was so funny.”
Outside of film, Gaunt has also carved herself a successful career in theatre and TV. The British actress is currently working on KNIGHTFALL, an American TV show which looks at the final days of the Knights Templar during the 14th century.
“I’ve just finished a play called MONOGAMY at the Park Theatre and literally just went from that to doing KNIGHTFALL. I’m playing a bad-ass Princess so it’s nice to go from a film set in Leeds in the 70s to Medieval England playing a Princess. It’s really fun.”
“I absolutely love the fact that I’ve been going from theatre to film to TV because there are things about each medium which are exciting. I think any actor really goes for the project first, the part, who you’re working with, what’s the script like, but I love being able to switch between different forms.”
DUSTY & ME will be released in selected UK cinemas from 28th September and on VoD from 1st October.
Donna is the Founder and Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she works as a digital marketing specialist, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage and The Reviews Hub. Loves Formula 1, prosecco and life.