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Gemma Chan


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Gemma Chan (born 29 November 1982) is an English actress and former model. She is perhaps best known for playing Mia Bennett in the BBC's Doctor Who The Waters of Mars with David Tennant and Lindsay Duncan and Soo Lin in Sherlock, the modern day adaptation of Sherlock Holmes for BBC One with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. She currently stars as Charlotte in season 4 of Secret Diary of a Call Girl. In 2010 she was seen in the World War II drama Shanghai directed by Mikael Hafstrom, alongside John Cusack, Chow Yun-fat and Gong Li. She can also be seen in the BAFTA nominated psychological thriller Exam directed by Stuart Hazeldine, alongside Jimi Mistry, Colin Salmon and Luke Mably. The film was nominated for the Raindance Award at the 2009 British Independent Film Awards, has been critically acclaimed in Empire Magazine and was released in UK cinemas on 8 January 2010. She will also be seen in the upcoming comedy drama Submarine directed by Richard Ayoade, alongside Paddy Considine and Sally Hawkins. Gemma appeared on stage in the British Premiere of Bertolt Brecht’s last play Turandot at the Hampstead Theatre, London, directed by Anthony Clark.


Studied law at Worcester College, Oxford University prior to training as an actress.

Graduated from the Drama Centre London in 2008. Other alumni include Paul Bettany, Anne-Marie Duff, Colin Firth, Polly Walker, Jaime Murray, Pierce Brosnan, Tara Fitzgerald, Simon Callow, Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender.

Was one of three models to reach the final of the first season of Sky One's Project Catwalk, the UK version of Miramax's Project Runway.

Worked as a fashion model to fund her drama school training, appearing in campaigns for Nokia and Selfridges & Co and numerous magazines including Elle, Cosmopolitan and the Sunday Times Style.

Classically trained on the violin and piano, attaining the Diploma of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music on the violin whilst still at school.


2011 Secret Diary of a Call Girl (TV series) - Charlotte
2011 Submarine - Kim-Lin
2010 Sherlock (TV series) - Soo Lin Yao
2010 The IT Crowd (TV series) - Female Sulu / Ivana
2010 Shanghai - Shin Shin
2010 Pimp - Bo
2009 Doctor Who - (TV series) - Mia Bennett (Episode: The Waters of Mars)
2009 Exam - Chinese
2006 When Evil Calls (TV mini-series) - Molly Nelson
2006 Project Catwalk (TV series documentary) - Herself


IMDB Profile
Official Site

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On 15/03/2011 at 0:38 PM, TheBaronOfFratton said:

I did notice her in that Project Catwalk - and then when she turned up in the Doctor Who episode it took me an age to think where I'd seen her before... I approve! (Y) By the way, I hear good things about this BBC Sherlock thing - did you see it (and was Ms. Chan worth the admission)?


I must admit, my expectations were fairly low for Sherlock, but to my surprise and delight, it was really rather magnificent. Pity Soo-Lin was only in one of the three episodes. Before that (although I never saw Project Catwalk), Gemma caught my eye in The IT Crowd, Doctor Who and even an ad for Bing.com before I realised that all the characters were played by the same person. Luckily, I get there in the end! :pinch:


That Bing advert in full...


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My perfect weekend: Gemma Chan, actress


Gemma Chan's weekends are a mix of Portobello Road, plays and 'Pie Sundays’.




When rehearsing or filming for whatever project I’m working on finishes on Friday, usually about 7pm, I head straight to Soho to meet friends. We’ll have dinner at Rosa’s Thai or Cây Tre on Dean Street and catch up on our weeks. I don’t like to make too many plans for afterwards; sometimes we end up going elsewhere for drinks or dancing but it’s usually spontaneous.


Home for me is Notting Hill. I live with my boyfriend, Jack Whitehall [24, the actor and comedian]. On Saturday mornings I get up late and then meet my parents and sister for dim sum in Chinatown. I really miss them, which is ridiculous given my parents only live an hour away in Kent and my sister lives in London.


I know it’s a bit of a cliché – a British Chinese family going out in Chinatown – but I insist on it. Mum and Dad decide where we eat. The restaurants are all pretty good but they go in and out of fashion. We used to go to The New World but now it’s The Golden Dragon and it’s always so packed that we have to wait for a table, and then the service is quite brusque. But I wouldn’t have it any other way because it’s what we’ve always done. I had a really Anglicised upbringing in a lot of ways, but on the weekends we’d always come to Chinatown for dim sum. I suppose it was the “Chinese” thing we did. We’re now talking about doing a family holiday to China and Hong Kong to see our relations, as we haven’t been since I was 11. My mum’s parents escaped China during a difficult time in its history, so I think my parents felt a bit ambivalent towards the country when I was younger.


I read law at Oxford, which I know isn’t the obvious pathway to an acting career. I decided to change direction after I graduated but music and drama had always been a big part of my life. I did ballet from the age of three and started violin when I was six and piano when I was 11, and I performed in amateur dramatic musicals as a teenager.


I was never the star of the school play, though. I was quite shy and acting remained an outside school secret. Even when I was at university, I was intimidated by the prospect of joining the drama society. It was a liberating moment when I decided to apply to drama school.


I studied at Drama Centre London, which was intense but I loved it. When I went into character I found I could access different parts of myself. I was lucky enough to get an agent afterwards and start working immediately.


That’s not to say acting is easy. You have to learn to accept the uncertainty and unpredictability of your career. I’m more relaxed now but at first I didn’t like the sensation of being out of control.


My lucky break came when I was cast as Charlotte in Secret Diary of a Call Girl. She was the arch nemesis of Belle [played by Billie Piper] and I got to ham up the part, which was fun. I asked the directors if they wanted me to rein it in but they didn’t, so I went off the scale.


Fresh Meat [the award-winning Channel 4 series] was also really good fun. When I first read the script I wasn’t sure about it even though Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, the creators, have got a strong track record – they did Peep Show – but comedy relies on so many different weird factors that you can’t necessarily see how good it is when you’re reading it on the page.


The series is set at a fictional university in Manchester, and the characters, who are all freshers, live together in a student house, so not at all like my Hogwarts-style university days. And the character I played is a bit of an idiot. I’ll never forget one of the early scenes, when none of the cast knew each other and I had to walk up to Joe Thomas [the actor who starred in The Inbetweeners] in a bar and snog him in front of everyone. He couldn’t kiss me back, which made the whole thing completely excruciating. There were loads of different camera angles, so I had to do it about 20 times. Hopefully that won’t ever happen in real life. I met Jack while we were filming, [he played the role of JP in the series] but it wasn’t an on-set romance – we got together afterwards.


On Saturday afternoons, if it is warm, we’ll go for a walk in the park. London is transformed in the sun. Then I’ll probably go to the theatre. It’s rare that I don’t have a friend in a play.


I haven’t deliberately made friends with actors but it is quite a small scene and we all try to support each other. On Secret Diary of a Call Girl, I became close friends with Lily James, who played Poppy, and is now Lady Rose MacClare in Downton Abbey; and the directors Wayne Yip and Alex Garcia.


Generally speaking, I try to avoid working at weekends, unless it’s something fun. I’ve been invited to be the face of the Investec Derby Festival in June and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m relatively new to racing but you don’t have to be an expert like the Queen to enjoy it.

I never set an alarm for Sunday morning. When I eventually wake up I go out to buy coffee and the ingredients for brunch. There’s a great deli in Westbourne Grove called Tavola, which does amazing cheese and ham and flatbreads. Or if I’m feeling lazy I’ll go to the Electric Diner, which does an incredible all-day breakfast for late risers like me, and a great milkshake float.


Afterwards I’ll stroll down Portobello Road, or if Arsenal are playing I’ll try to get to the Emirates Stadium to watch. People are always surprised when I tweet about football but I’ve been a lifelong supporter. At my primary school everyone either supported Tottenham or Arsenal and you chose your side early on. It was quite tribal like that.


I don’t go out in the evening, as Jack and I have a ritual called “Pie Sunday”, which involves staying in and making pie. I’ve become a bit obsessed about it. We find a recipe, get all the ingredients, put some music on and start cooking. We’ve made a really good fish pie and delicious mini steak and ale pies, but the best has to be chicken, tarragon and leek. In the summer our weekly pie is going to morph into a tart, or something lighter like that.


After supper, I’ll learn some lines for filming the following day, and then we’ll watch a movie on the sofa with the duvet and popcorn. We watch a lot of films.


Hopefully I’ll feel restored by Monday morning, ready for whatever my unpredictable career choice has in store for me.




Herbal tea or stiff drink?

I love both. I couldn’t choose. It’s too difficult


What has been your most embarrassing moment?

Calling my teacher “dad” in front of the whole class when I was 12


If you were a film character who would you be?

Beatrix Kiddo. No one messes with her!


Your perfect weekend away?

Buenos Aires


Who is your inspiration, or your hero?

My primary schoolteacher, Miss Thomas


What would your last supper be?

A Sunday roast with all the trimmings




My family and my friends




Good food

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My perfect weekend: Gemma Chan, actress


Your perfect weekend away?

Buenos Aires



^Well I'd be more than happy to show her around :gocho:  - what wonderful news!




My perfect weekend: Gemma Chan, actress


Home for me is Notting Hill. I live with my boyfriend, Jack Whitehall [24, the actor and comedian]. 


^This news - not so much...  :mellow:

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