emily browning on the tough job of playing tom hardy's ♥ in legend

Get to know the young Australian actress before she shoots from stardom to superstardom overnight.

by Francesca Dunn
31 August 2015, 10:45pm

"Do you like being a gangster?" Emily Browning asks in one of the most-talked about trailers of the year. We don't get a response, but as she's asking Tom Hardy's Reggie Kray, one half of East London's notorious criminal duo, we can assume the answer is yes. Taking on the role of his wife, Frances, the 26-year-old Australian-born, LA-based actress heads back to the 1960s with her best cockney accent. As the excitement around the release of Legend  builds, we too travel back in time to last year when Emily was our neighbour for one glorious summer while she shot the future classic. We popped round to borrow a cup of sugar and quizzed her on her role in this true story of power, fear and family.

How's filming going? It all sounds pretty exciting!
I am more excited than anybody. The first day on set I was just shitting myself, I was so excited. It's weird because with Tom, there are Daily Mail people standing round outside everyday. It's like, come on! We did a scene where Tom and I got married and I was in this beautiful wedding dress and obviously it's a real story so people know what happens, but I walked outside the church to have a cigarette and people were snapping me and I felt like, aw! This is my special wedding dress! Don't they wanna keep it a secret?! I've never been on a set before where there are photographers hanging around every day. It's a little bit overwhelming really because you're so aware that you're being watched on so many different levels.

I guess with it being in London it's tough to escape that…
And it's all on location too! Usually at least some would be in a studio but this is all location.

So they keep on finding you!
Yeah, I don't know how but they always do!

And what's it like playing Tom Hardy's love interest?
So tough! I mean, what a horrible job! It's tricky because we have so many serious scenes to film and it was very difficult not to laugh. You know when you meet someone with the same sense as humour as you and you don't really have to say anything, you can just look at each other and burst out laughing? That's not really the best thing when the scene you're doing is about how you're getting a divorce and you're really depressed and you're gonna kill yourself.

No, it doesn't sound it... but he's good to work with?
Tom's like intimidatingly talented, it's so annoying. At first I was like 'oh shit. I should go home. You go get someone else, I can't do this!' But he's also an angel, so it's been a really, really, nice experience for me. To be able to watch someone and be like 'ahh, so THAT'S how you act! I get it!' It's kind of nice.

Your character, Frances, is quite troubled…
Very damaged, but to me she's not timid and fragile, she's actually quite ballsy. I think I feel the most love for her because she was a real person. Brian, the director, got me some of her letters and diary entries in an auction. I read them and felt so much love for her and really wanted to do her justice. She is messed up but she's actually super brave and confident and I really like that. And I think that comes with the territory of doing a cockney accent.... you sort of have to be a little bit ballsy or else it sounds silly.

I was gonna ask! How's your cockney accent going?
Well when I got here I was really listening out for that East London accent but it's so different now to how it was in the 60s. So in my first dialect lesson they were like, 'right... so sometimes you sound good but at other times you sound like a rudeboy.' It's changed so much that I've stopped listening to people's accents and just have tapes of older people talking. I've watched a lot of videos of Barbara Windsor, she's my favourite and she's really helped me out! I owe it all to her! 

Legend is due for release in UK cinemas on 9th September 


Text Francesca Dun
Photography Matteo Montanari 
Styling Tracey Nicholson
Hair Paolo Soffiatti.
Make-up Lynsey Alexander at Streeters.
Prop styling Theo Politowicz at the Magnet Agency.
Photography assistance Nicolo De Cecchi, Francesco Barion.
Styling assistance Adam Fletcher.
Production Streeters London.

Tom Hardy
Kray twins
emily browning