How We Met: Lucy Cohu & Anna Maxwell Martin

'Men drop like flies around her – they make fools of themselves and she's not even aware of it'

Anna Maxwell Martin, 31, is an actress best known for TV roles in the 2005 BBC adaptation of 'Bleak House' and last year's Channel 4 adaptation of 'Poppy Shakespeare', both of which earned her the Best Actress award at the Baftas. Her theatre roles include Lyra in 'His Dark Materials' at the National and Sally Bowles in 'Cabaret'. She lives in north London

I have a vivid memory of the first time I saw Lucy. We were shooting Becoming Jane and we had to go to this terrifying read-through in Dublin. I'm terribly shy and I find the socialising you have to do hard. The reason I remember meeting Lucy so clearly, and she would hate me saying this, is that she is incredibly glamorous. It's not really her make-up or clothes or hair; she just has natural glamour.

Lucy walked in wearing a huge fake-fur coat, this stunning black-haired beauty, and I felt terrified. I soon found out she was adorable, though. We weren't in many scenes together but we did endless sitting around on set gossiping. It was quite a young cast, who all got on, so there was a lot of drinking, though I am a total lightweight and Lucy is much more hardcore.

That year we were both nominated for a Bafta. In the end, I won it and Lucy was so sweet about it. Not everyone in the business is as lovely, but she is very generous.

You can't keep in touch with everyone but I knew Lucy and I would stay friends. We are very similar. We don't take ourselves too seriously and the whole celebrity party thing kills us down dead.

I've become a mum since knowing Lucy and I think that has brought a different dimension to our friendship. She's done a lot of parenting on her own and I have profound respect for the way she manages things.

I find Lucy's life hilarious. She has something about her... basically, all men want to sleep with her. They drop like flies around her. It's absolutely ridiculous and they make complete fools of themselves, but I don't know if she is even aware of it.

She is a very undemanding friend. We might not see each other for months but when we do, we'll sit down and talk about personal things straight away. She is very wise, partly because she is older than me, but I always forget that because she is so much fun and has this girlishness.

I always feel like Lucy's dweeby friend. She's far too glamorous for me to hang round with, although she would absolutely spit at me for saying that.



Lucy Cohu, 40, is an actress best known for her role as Princess Margaret in Channel 4's 2005 biopic 'The Queen's Sister', for which she was nominated for a Bafta and an Emmy. She has also appeared in films including 'Becoming Jane' and 'Gosford Park'. She lives in north-west London

Anna and I were thrown together for the filming of Becoming Jane in Ireland, where we spent weeks on end in various locations sitting around in corsets, petticoats and wellingtons, staring at fields of sheep. My first image of Anna, though, is of this little thing in a baggy grey cardigan dragging her suitcase around and looking lost and grumpy, because none of us knew where we were going.

Later that day, we were all sitting around a table for rehearsals and Anne Hathaway, who played Jane Austen in the film, was being extremely eloquent and clever and talking about Austen's novels at great length. Meanwhile, Anna and I were both looking slightly panicked in case anyone asked us a question, as we didn't have a clue what she was going on about.

During the filming, we were both nominated for the same Bafta, so we bonded quite quickly over our fear of such occasions and our horror over what to wear. The discussion about our outfits and the best fake tan lasted the duration of the shoot. I ended up spending lots on a Vivienne Westwood and didn't win, and Anna hired something, looked effortlessly chic and won. She's got two now, which is excessively greedy for someone so young.

Anna is very rare in this industry. She is without artifice as a person, and that is reflected in her acting. I remember sitting through a screening of Becoming Jane and there is a moment where Anna's character is grieving over the death of her fiancé that was just breathtaking in its simplicity. The next time I saw her was as Sally Bowles and I remember seeing this wee little thing on stage belting out these songs and thinking, "Christ, you've got balls."

She is incredibly beautiful, inside and out – although she'll scream when she reads that. She is a great mate to have, because she will listen to me for hours on end, and I really consciously have to make myself ask her how she is. She always seems to be genuinely fascinated. I talk to her about things going on in my life and she often has this look of horror at the way I go about things that she simply can't disguise. It makes me laugh.

I really value her opinion. I recently opened in a play in the West End and, as I hadn't been on stage for about nine years, I was absolutely terrified. She was a fantastic help during the previews – what to expect and look out for, how far to push yourself.

We text and speak on the phone a lot and I like to go to her house and have her baby on my hip for a couple of hours. Her daughter is the bonniest baby. We are both busy, but we work at keeping in touch. I'd trust Anna with my darkest secrets. n



Lucy Cohu is in 'Speaking in Tongues' (www. speakingintonguestheplay.com) at the Duke of York's Theatre, London WC2, to 12 December

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