Close-up: Holliday Grainger

She's battled vampires; now the young actor is fighting off her uncle...

"I've died four times in the past year," says Holliday Grainger. "I seem to play a lot of troubled kids." The 20-year-old has also played a maiden in the BBC's Merlin and a vampire-fighting student in ITV's Demons, but is reverting to her "troubled kid" image in her stage debut, as the suicidal Lydia in Athol Fugard's play Dimetos. The play, directed by Douglas Hodge, tells the story of Dimetos (played by Jonathan Pryce), who leaves the city with his niece, Lydia, and housekeeper, Sophia (the former Corrie actress and Victoria Wood favourite Anne Reid), for a quiet life by the sea. While Dimetos fights his desire for his niece, a stranger arrives to tempt him home. Then tragedy strikes.

"Anne got me the job," says Grainger. "She told Douglas he'd be stupid not to see me. I've got mixed feelings of terror and excitement about it. It's so different from the TV style of acting. I feel like I'm going through a five-week crash course in the Douglas Hodge school of acting, as opposed to going to Rada."

Grainger is more than just another rising starlet – she is also slowly working her way through an English degree with the Open University. "To be able to analyse plays and novels is so relevant to acting," she says. When Dimetos finishes, she admits that she will "probably want to fly back to my comfort zone in front of a camera", and is looking forward to the release of two movies this year – Awaydays and The Scouting Book for Boys , with fellow "one to watch" Thomas Turgoose. "I'd love to do more independent films," she adds. Looks as if the degree will have to wait.

'Dimetos' is at the Donmar Warehouse (0870 060 6624,, from 19 March to 9 May