Victoria Emslie tells MARION SAUVEBOIS about her new wartime stage production

SHARING blissful minutes of screen time with man-of-the-moment Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything was only meant to be a memorable fluke.

So when Victoria Emslie was cast again in his next film, The Danish Girl, she wound up creeping around the set like a fugitive, half expecting burly bodyguards to come down on her for 'stalking' the Oscar winner.

“He saw me in the make-up trailer and said, ‘Oh my God, it’s you again’,” she laughs.

“I said, ‘I’m going to get a small role in every one of your films from now on’. This was an ongoing joke on set.

“He was so sweet onset and offset. He is a very giving and generous actor. I was just very lucky to work on two masterpieces he happened to be in, so soon after drama school.”

The fledgling actress may not boast the longest of CVs yet, but what her résumé lacks in quantity, it clearly makes up for in quality. As well as notching up two appearances in Academy-award winning movies, she starred as Lady Edith’s secretary Audrey in the final season of ITV’s Downton Abbey.

“Every year I would watch the Christmas special and say, ‘Next year I’m going to get on it’ – for six years. Every single second on set was a magical experience,” she enthuses.

“You’ d just walk on set it felt like a big family. The attention to detail there was also incredible. It’s so easy to lose yourself in that world and think, ‘Yes I could be a secretary in the 1920s’.”

Pressing a brief pause on her movie and TV career, she is now preparing for her biggest challenge yet, the title role, and her very first lead, in Lotty’s War.

Based on recently discovered diaries, the play explores an often forgotten chapter of British history: the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands.

When a German general claims Lotty’s home as his own forcing her to serve as his housemaid, she silently protests refusing to bend to his will. But as the conflict rages on the continent, her loyalties waver amid the temptations of forbidden love and the politics of war. Soon, the fiercely independent young woman is prompted into a series of dangerous and life-changing decisions.

“Lotty is an absolute dream from an actor’s point of view,” enthuses Victoria, who shares the bill with EastEnders’ Ian Reddington and War Horse’s Mat Ruttle.

“It’s a tale of survival. This ridiculous situation is thrust upon her and she has no frame of reference for what she goes through, or how to make sense of it. She puts up a fight; she is feisty and defiant but she has amazing humour.

“The play spans four years and during that time she blossoms from a tomboyish girl into a young woman who’s learned a considerable amount after four years trying to survive.”

Exuding intelligence, the actress speaks confidently, but never boastfully, and with a maturity far beyond her years.

And yet the natural poise, naive charm and gentle manners which have caught the eye of casting directors in her 20s, nearly ruined her acting prospects as a child.

“There was this casting call when I was in school, I was eight and I had to read for this scene,” she recalls, clearly amused.

“One of the lines was, ‘Bugger away you old lady’. I had no idea what bugger meant or how to pronounce it. Everybody cracked up and I was mortified. I ran out of the room crying.”

She forswore drama, except for the odd school show in which she inevitably played “a statue or a man”.

“I was never one of the popular outgoing girls,” she admits.

She eventually studied French and Arabic at St Andrew’s University (her fluency in French proved a boon during her Danish Girl audition and clinched the part of Véronique) before enrolling at the Royal Central School for Speech and Drama. Funnily enough, the casting agency behind “bugger gate” offered her her first role out of drama school in The Christmas Candle.

She may still be relatively green in showbiz terms, but the sharp-eyed actress has learnt a thing or two already about who really runs the show on and offset.

“It’s the sounds guys,” she exclaims. “You really need to make friends with them. They are the ones who hear everything.

"People often forget to turn off their mics so they have all the gossip. They know who’s in love with you. They are the gatekeepers of all the secrets.”

Lotty’s War runs at the Wyvern Theatre from Monday, June 6, to Saturday, June 11. Tickets are between £17 and £25, with concessions and group discounts available. To book go to or call 01793 524481.