Alice Eve: Blonde ambition

Alice Eve is flitting from table to table at the Electric, a private members' club in Notting Hill Gate. A social butterfly in flight, the British actress is waving at everybody in sight with a dreamlike, old-fashioned and polite air about her. She greets the waiter as if he is the kindest person on the planet, rocking her head slightly from side to side as she talks to him.

Eve, 27, has come straight from rehearsing Cyrano de Bergerac at a big studio space down the road in west London. The original Edmond Rostand play, written in 1897 and based on the real life of Cyrano de Bergerac, the French soldier, poet, and duellist, whose gigantic nose triggers his self-doubt was adapted by Anthony Burgess for the RSC in the mid Eighties. In Trevor Nunn's revival at Chichester Festival Theatre, Eve plays love interest Roxanne opposite Joseph Fiennes's Cyrano.

Nunn – who also directed Eve in Tom Stoppard's hit play Rock 'n' Roll in 2006 – cast Eve in his new production, after she wrote him a letter suggesting they work together again; an offer, it seems, Nunn could not refuse. The director claimed her Rock'n'Roll audition was "one of the best by a young actor I've seen in a long time", considering her "a stroke of luck" for his play, which later transferred successfully to Broadway.

"I wrote to Trevor and I said, 'I'd love to take you up on your offer and have you teach me how to do a classic role' and he said 'OK'," says Eve. "This is my first foray into the classics and iambic pentameter."

Eve is immersing herself fully in the part, going home every night and floating her eyes over the script repeatedly. "Trevor calls Roxanne the brightest woman in France," adds Eve." In Rock'n'Roll I was only fourth lead. This is a big investment. The character Roxanne carries the heart and love of the play." It's very different working with Nunn on a classic "swashbuckling romance", rather than a new play, she says, referring to the production as "blockbuster theatre".

"The entire play is written in verse, in rhyming couplets. It's like finding one's voice in another universe." At the mention of Fiennes, her co-star, she swoons: "He is just a pure delight. I mean, it doesn't surprise me that Gwyneth Paltrow plays her best performance opposite Joseph Fiennes. He is such a wonderfully generous actor."

Nunn's method in Cyrano de Bergerac is apparently to "create the shape of the drama and then track the emotional journeys", says Eve. "It's such a visual feast. The set is staggering." She talks about Roxanne as if she is her best friend. "Roxanne doesn't even suspect Cyrano loves her. To her absolute undoing, it never occurs to her to love him because of his nose – which is her tragedy. She loves everything about his mind and the letters he has written, which she thinks are coming from another man. She is in love with his soul and she doesn't realise."

Eve is the daughter of British actors Trevor Eve, of Shoestring fame, and Sharon Maughan, formerly one half of the Gold Blend ad couple. Seeing her parents on television was like "watching your mum and dad at work".

"From a home perspective, the theatre experiences were more profound than the television ones. There were the animated conversations and the high energy levels. All that dynamism would be brought into the house when my parents were doing a play."

She went to Bedales and then on to Oxford to study English via Westminster school. Part of her childhood was spent in LA, which may explain why she can pull off a good American accent (notably as Simon Pegg's girlfriend in 2006's Big Nothing). She first appeared, while still at Oxford, as Miss Frayne in Richard Eyre's Stage Beauty and then played Cicely Boyd in the TV series, The Rotters' Club, based on Jonathan Coe's novel, followed by the shallow-but-beautiful love interest of James McAvoy in the 2006 Tom-Hanks-produced rom-com Starter for 10.

This year, she has already made two films for US release. In She's Out of My League, she plays a sexy, successful woman who falls for a man working in an airport, while in Crossing Over, a film starring Harrison Ford and Ashley Judd about immigrants trying to get legal status in LA, she plays a young and desperate Australian girl, who ends up being cajoled into having sex for favours.

It was only two years ago that Eve made her professional stage debut in Rock'n'Roll, which also starred Rufus Sewell, whom she dated during the run. "It felt organic to perform with him and then go home with him at night," she says. She has also dated Rafe Spall (son of Timothy), with whom she starred in The Rotters' Club. A few years ago, Tatler placed her at number six in a list of eligible women to marry. She now lives alone near Ladbroke Grove in a flat she bought a year ago, where she stays awake at night suffering from insomnia. "I worry about anything and everything there is. It can take on a thousand forms. There's always the artist's crisis – if you are going to be thought good."

When she's not acting she likes to "play at being in the country" at her parents' retreat in Sussex. She also likes yoga and acupuncture. "I work on being rooted in myself. I do these things because the job I do takes its toll. My body is my tool. But I think I've got addicted to yoga. My body gets cross with me if I don't use it and certain bits start to creak."

She dreams of playing Lady Macbeth and Cleopatra, but says she is still too young – and has a deep-seated regret that she has never been "courageous" enough to be a writer – although she is currently working on a romantic screenplay.

"I was talking to my mum the other night as to whether becoming an actress was inevitable for me because of my parents being in the business. I'm looking at whether acting is intrinsic or whether it is nurture. Acting really takes a lot out of you. Probably I am an actress through and through, because everything else other than acting I play at doing. When friends can't deal with problems, I try to convince them to pretend to be in a movie. That's my way of dealing with things! The trouble is sometimes the feeling is greater than what you can pretend. I do live in a bit of a dream world."

'Cyrano de Bergerac', Chichester Festival Theatre, Friday to 30 May (01243 781 312;

Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Arts and Entertainment
John Kearns winner of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award with last years winners: Bridget Christie and Frank Skinner
comedyJohn Kearns becomes the first Free Fringe act to win the top prize
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Sue Vice
booksAcademic says we should not disregard books because they unexpectedly change genre
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Muscato performs as Michael Crawford in Stars in Their Eyes

Arts and Entertainment
‘Game of Thrones’

Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

    A dream come true for SJ Watson

    Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

    Paul Scholes column

    Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?