MyAnna Buring is known to a growing cadre of British horror film connoisseurs for her terrific turn in Neil Marshall’s The Descent, her enigmatic presence in the brutal assassin-for-hire thriller/comedy, Kill List and her role as mega-blond vampiric Alaskan hottie Tanya in the Twilight: Breaking Dawn films.
The 27-year-old Swedish-born actor tackles what she says is her first serious, meaty dramatic role in Paula Milne’s new mini-series, White Heat, which debuts tonight at 10 p.m. on BBC America. (Read about the show here.)
A historical drama, the six-episode series follows seven friends from their student days in the turbulent 1960’s up to the present. Buring plays art student Lilly who hails from a working class background. She says girls like Lilly would rarely get into college prior to the Sixties.
“Lily is a young girl born in a small town in the north of England,” Buring says in a phone chat, “where everyone in her position and class is expected to leave school at 16, get a job at a shop, marry and have some kids.”
Adds Buring, “but she has dream sand aspirations with much larger than her family could imagine. She wants to be an artist. So she makes a pact with her parents, to finish secretarial college first, then study art.”
One of the roles’ biggest challenges comes in the opening episode, when Lilly, frustrated by an art teacher who regularly derides her, to do an Yves Klein, stripping off her clothes, covering herself with paint and smearing herself on canvas as a self-portrait.
“It was not the most comfortable thing to do,” says Buring, “especially as it was so freezing cold in the studio.”
Other challenges? Mastering Lily’s distinctive northern accent, she says.
“She’s a northerner and I had never spoken in a northern accent,” says Buring, whose grew up as far away from northern England as you could imagine.
“I was born in Sweden, but I was raised in the Middle East,” says Buring. “My dad was an orthopedic surgeon at a Swedish hospital and he signed up to do an exchange program with a hospital in Kuwait. We also ended up living in Bahrain, then Oman.”
She moved to London when she was 16 intent on pursuing an acting career.
“Well I always went to English-speaking schools,” says Buring who began speaking English when she was 2 years old.
She says working on White Heat gave her insight into the history of the women’s movement.
“There were so many things I was aware of but had never really thought about,” says Buring. “For the case of Lily and the girls [in White Heat] it’s amazing to realize that they went through this huge liberating movement which was partially the result of the contraceptive pill and the legalization of abortion, all things we take for granted today. .. You learn how incredibly lucky we are as women in the West.”
VIDEO: A trailer for White Heat