Model-turned-actress Agyness Deyn is up for anything.
If Agyness Deyn had a life dictum, it would probably be, “Give it a go,” a phrase she uses often when describing her path from model to actress.
Deyn first decided to “give acting a go” when she was in school, studying music and theater design. Roles in short films and features followed, including small parts in Clash of the Titans and the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! Now the actress stars in the Hulu series Hard Sun — premiering March 8 — as Detective Inspector Elaine Renko, a character she defines as smart, strong and free from objectification.
“It’s refreshing that she isn’t the love interest,” Deyn says of Renko’s relationship with Detective Chief Inspector Charlie Hicks, played by Jim Sturgess. “When we had the first meeting [with creator–writer–executive producer Neil Cross], Neil actually said, ‘There is no sexual chemistry whatsoever.’ It was such a relief. Renko felt very gender-neutral, and I find that very empowering as a woman.”
Deyn — who grew up in a working-class town in northern England — was discovered at 18 by a modeling scout on the streets of London. She went on to grace the cover of Vogue alongside other models of the moment and walked runways for 12 years before transitioning to acting full-time.
One of the aspects of modeling Deyn loved most was creating a character, something she has carried over into acting. To prepare for her role as Renko, she listened to podcasts and watched documentaries on detectives.
Her training also involved boxing and the self-defense technique Krav Maga — useful for the carefully coordinated fight sequences she and Sturgess liked to call a “dark ballet.” When it came time to film, it was expected that she’d do what she could, then hand the rest over to a stunt double. Though it didn’t come to that.
“I did all my own stunt driving, fighting — everything,” Deyn says. “Once they’d taught me how to do everything, I felt like I should have a go.”
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 1, 2018