Hayley Atwell

Hayley Atwell


4/5/1982, London, England, UK

Birth Name

Hayley Elizabeth Atwell



Also Known As

Hayley Attwell
  •  Hayley Atwell in Any Human Heart
  • Matthew Macfayden and Hayley Atwell in A...
  • Hayley Atwell as Freya in Any Human Heart
  • Hayley Atwell as Freya in Any Human Heart
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Hayley Atwell is a British actress who has starred in two successful miniseries, The Prisoner and Pillars of the Earth. Atwell's breakout film role came in the 2011 Summer blockbuster Captain America.


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

  • Quotes

    • Hayley: My real self, the self I have always been from a child, is a loner and nerd, slightly overweight, with a very heavy fringe. That is who I was as a kid. I don't think I will ever be anything other than that.

    • Hayley: Skiing in Whistler was great fun. It's an extreme environment that's very different to my own and I had never skied before, so I had to learn to take on the elements quite bravely. It was nice to try something new.

    • Hayley: I went to drama school for three years, and the whole thing there is that hopefully you are introduced to a man called William Shakespeare who is the greatest of all time of all storytelling.

    • Hayley: I think Brits probably feel that Americans are more like us than vice-versa, if that makes sense. Because we get everything American over here in Britain, but yet there are things which are staunchly English that you guys don't have.

    • Hayley: I think American guys tend to be a bit more forward, a bit more chatty and open than the Brits. The Brits seem to have a darker sense of humor, though I have met some Americans who have adopted bits of the British dry sense of humor as well.

    • Hayley: I have family dotted everywhere - Dad's in California; I've got aunts in Scotland and Virginia; family in Kansas City; family in Manchester and London.

    • Hayley: Documenting trips makes them that much richer. I stick in train tickets and business cards from restaurants. It makes the whole experience poetic, describing the sights, smells and sounds around me. It means I can relive the holiday years later.

    • Hayley: Because I trained in theater, I always leave a film shoot feeling like I haven't done anything, like I just sat in front of the camera and whispered, essentially.

    • Hayley: The things that prey on my mind in London seem to disappear as soon as I find myself in a different environment. Survival mode kicks in.

    • Hayley: The main reason I did 'Captain America' was because I wanted to get out of my own head and stop taking my work so seriously.

    • Hayley: My first job was a Greek tragedy, and ever since, one job just seemed to roll onto the next. I've been terribly lucky.

    • Hayley: It's people's worst fantasy to see their partner kissing someone else, even though it's a job and it's not real.

    • Hayley: I'm not really into makeup, not really into fuffing with hair and stuff.

    • Hayley: I'm deeply ambitious and I always have been.

    • Hayley: I'd love to do an action movie. Something with lots of stunts. Anything fast and dangerous and involving guns.

    • Hayley: I think it's always easier to play parts that you have something concrete that you can relate to.

    • Hayley: I read a lot of heavy literature when I'm on set, so on holiday I want to indulge in something light-hearted.

    • Hayley: I love firing guns. It's an amazing feeling - so sexy and powerful.

    • Hayley: I like characters who have faults. I'm drawn to darker people.

    • Hayley: I can't imagine it if beauty was the only currency I used as an actress. It just doesn't interest me.

    • Hayley: I don't think I'm curvaceous. It's simply that most other actresses are really, stupidly tiny.

    • Hayley: I am often lost in my own world, with a frown on my face.

    • Hayley: Although I grew up in London, I spent summers in Missouri, where my dad lived. It's quite a liberal town, Kansas City. You'd be surprised.

    • Hayley: Mum wasn't at all religious, but she thought that going to the theatre was as important a ceremonial, communal experience that a person could have.

    • Hayley: From a very young age, stories fuelled my imagination in the most wonderful way.

    • Hayley: When actors get a bad name for diva behavior - I've never seen it. Because my experience with people who are really famous actors is that they work really hard.

    • Hayley Atwell: There's a fear that as you accumulate more of a profile, you expose yourself to the possibility of negative reactions. It's just the politics of the playground though, isn't it, and I've weathered those. And anyway, someone new will soon be coming up behind me. Some other girl fresh out of drama school is already lining up to get all the parts.

    • Hayley Atwell: (on becoming an actress) I don't remember a time when I wasn't thinking about it, or I don't remember a time when I thought I wouldn't be doing it. And so when I was younger, all my focus and my thoughts and energy went into watching great stories being told, either live or on film.

    • Hayley Atwell: I still don't think of myself as being especially talented. I was in a great drama school with people who were just as good as I was. But I am fortunate enough to have worked with, and got advice and guidance from, people who know what they are talking about.

    • Hayley Atwell: (on making her first feature film with Woody Allen in 2007) Being new, you can only go on feedback, so at first I was terrified. In a way, it demystified the process for me. I wasn't dependent on praise; praise tends to fuel insecurity because you come to depend on it. But when it's earned, you feel it more.

    • Hayley Atwell: (on the contrast between living in the US and in England) There's a feeling here that ambition is a good thing, and in England it's better if you are modest and self-deprecating. I can see both aspects in me. So here I feel like I am too reserved and sometimes in England I feel like I am not reserved enough.

    • Hayley Atwell: (on acting in theatre) It's much more immediate and raw, and also terrifying. It feels like a church. There's something very holy about it. With very little you can create an imaginary world and transport to an audience without any tricks or special effects. All lies in the power of you and other people connecting.

    • Hayley Atwell: (on nudity in British film) I find it quite funny; it's not so much what I feel about my own sexuality, but with so many films, the minute you see a bit of bum crack or a bit of nipple it just loses something. Particularly English films - the French and Italians do it so much better than us. In The Man of Mode you just see a bra strap and a bit of leg. It's sexier because of what you don't see.

    • Hayley Atwell: I was born with a lot of nervous energy. I'd write letters to my future self - 'Dear Hayley, now that you are 18 have you written your first novel yet? Have you made your first film?' I had an obsession with my future. I stayed in reading when friends partied.

    • Hayley Atwell: I think an important part of being an actor is within the work leaving yourself always available and open to explore something different and to live in the question of something and not to define your character ever, let alone early on in what you're doing, but just play and see what happens.

    • Hayley Atwell: (on choosing roles) I look for something that I find is impossible for me to do but something that I find interests me, something that I would like to go to see myself and do something different that I've never seen before. Or it might just be something specific within the script or people even that are involved in it.

    • Hayley Atwell: (on landing a role in a Woody Allen film) It did fall into my lap and it was very spontaneous. I guess that this was a big chance for me. But you can be given a chance and really blow it. I just had to make sure I didn't.