Close-up: Ellie Kendrick

First Anne Frank, now Juliet... hasn't the actor had enough boy trouble?

Playing Juliet at London's Globe Theatre is a formidable proposition for any actor. For a teenager with no formal acting training, the challenges are dizzying. Enter 18-year-old Ellie Kendrick, who left the girls' boarding school Benenden only last summer.

"I never thought I'd be right to play a Juliet-like character," she says. "It's a happy coincidence that Juliet is supposed to look very young. The reason [the production's director, Dominic Dromgoole] went for me is because I look about 13. Maybe I have a more naïve outlook on things."

It is not the first time Kendrick has played the ingénue. She won critical acclaim for her performance in The Diary of Anne Frank, screened on BBC1 in January. Her performance as the rebellious, boy-obsessed Anne won her much praise – and attention.

"When I was going to my first audition for Romeo and Juliet, I saw [the actor] Kathy Burke leaving the Globe," she says. "I told her what I was there to do and when I met Dominic, he said Kathy had just been telling him how good she thought I was."

Kendrick started acting professionally aged 12, with a part in the CBBC series In 2 Minds, the story of a young girl who can hear her dog's thoughts. Later this year, she will appear in An Education, a film based on the former Independent on Sunday writer Lynn Barber's coming-of-age in 1960s London.

"I'm starting my English degree at Cambridge, too," she reveals. "In an ideal world, I'd like to carry on acting, but I don't want it to interfere with my studies. There's no point starting something you don't intend to finish."

'Romeo and Juliet': Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Bankside, London SE1 (020 7902 1400) from 23 April to 23 August

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