Close-up: Actress Talulah Riley

The actress is ready to cast aside Regency dresses for ripped stockings and lacrosse sticks
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Is there an exciting young talent that hasn't been crammed into the corridors of St Trinian's? Talulah Riley, 22, is joined in the form-room by Lily Cole, Mischa Barton and Gemma Arterton among others. And, of course, playing Flash Harry in the update of the films that started in the 1950s is the back-combed Lothario himself, Russell Brand. Did Riley seek protection in numbers? "I'd no idea about Russell's reputation before filming," she claims. "People told me stories and they didn't seem like they were about the same person. He was gentle, kind and incredibly funny."

Perhaps it's this tact that has eased Riley's way along the well-trodden career path of screen costume dramas and contemporary theatre. After a rigorous schedule of weekdays at Haberdashers' Aske's school and Saturdays at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, she had barely packed away her A-levels pencil case before she was rubbing shoulders with Keira Knightley as one of the Bennet darlings in Joe Wright's Pride & Prejudice in 2005. Then it was on to the stage in The Philadelphia Story at The Old Vic, and last year in Summer and Smoke alongside her old friend from Pride & Prejudice, Rosamund Pike. "Acting is an odd lifestyle," says Riley. "You make deep bonds quickly and, though you move on, you go around on a loop and see people again."

The future isn't all bonnets and bows for Riley she'll be seen in Phoo Action, the live-action film of a kung-fu comic strip created by Jamie Hewlett (co-creator of Gorillaz). Nevertheless, the experience of shooting St Trinian's at Ealing Studios has revealed the bluestocking in young Riley. "My dream job would be to go back to Ealing. Barnaby Thompson, the head of the studio, is making it such a fun place to work. There's a real family atmosphere to it and it's just so British." Splendid! *

'St Trinian's' is in cinemas from Friday