Hollywood beckons for Leith actress Tallulah, but all people want to talk about is her mum

Leither Tallulah Greive has more reason than most to be looking forward to the release of Hollywood director Michael Caton-Jones' acclaimed new movie, Our Ladies - she is one of its stars.

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The film, based on the award-winning novel The Sopranos by Alan Warner and directed by Michael-Caton Jones, features an up-and-coming cast including Greive and goes on general release on August 27.

Our Ladies tells the story of a group of small-town Scottish schoolgirls from the Highlands. When their school choir gets the chance to perform at a competition in Edinburgh, it becomes a chance for the teens to escape their daily lives and paint the big city red; Orla, played by Greive, has recently had the all clear after a battle with cancer and wants to go shopping for thigh-high boots. Finnoula has a mission of her own and will need to sneak off without her BFF Manda to do it. And head-girl Kay is trying hard to win over her wilder classmates.

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The cast of Our Ladies with Tallulah Greive, second from rightThe cast of Our Ladies with Tallulah Greive, second from right
The cast of Our Ladies with Tallulah Greive, second from right

It's probably not since Maggie Smith, as Miss Jean Brodie in her prime, introduced film-goers to her creme de la creme in 1969 that a major release has focused so much on a young female cast.

"We don't get to make films like this, with this many young female protagonists; we are often just an accessory," Greive agrees, "These girls are faintly terrifying at times but it's really important we have representation of every different kind of woman on film. I remember Kate Dickie saying when we were on location, 'I would have killed for a film like this when I was younger, getting to work with six other women just didn't happen', so I've been blessed to come up in an industry that is changing.”

Greive was already known to CBBC viewers as Lauren in Millie Inbetween, a role so popular it resulted in the spin off Flatmates, when the opportunity to work with Caton-Jones, the director of films such as Rob Roy, Memphis Belle and Doc Hollywood, came along.

The 23-year-old recalls, "I already had the book kicking around somewhere when I heard it was going to be made into a film. Originally, I read for a different character and then never really heard anything. It became a running joke amongst actors in the UK; 'Okay, who has been in for Our Ladies, this week?'

Tallulah Greive arrives at the world premiere of Our Ladies in Embankment Garden Cinema in London in 2019Tallulah Greive arrives at the world premiere of Our Ladies in Embankment Garden Cinema in London in 2019
Tallulah Greive arrives at the world premiere of Our Ladies in Embankment Garden Cinema in London in 2019

"I never heard anything until I was doing my last few days on Millie Inbetween. I had to fly to Belfast and had the flu so I recorded an audition tape in my hotel room; I learned the lines and just did it - I was pretty ill at the time and just wanted to go to bed.

"A week later, I met Michael and work-shopped scenes for an hour. Going in I was like, 'I'll just see what happens,' but after meeting him, I kind of whispered to myself, 'I really, really want to do this.' A week later I found out I was going to be doing it. That was such a big moment."

Caton-Jones, who wanted "normal girls" who were "interesting, and different" to play the roles, was equally impressed by Greive, observing: "Tallulah's bright as hell, curious as hell, and she can talk for Scotland. So she's not necessarily like Orla, but then again there are many things that she does just like her."

The actress explodes with laughter when she hears the quote, "Yeah, that would be me," she hoots.

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Filming Our Ladies on Victoria Street brought Leith actor Tallulah Greive back to familiar surroundingsFilming Our Ladies on Victoria Street brought Leith actor Tallulah Greive back to familiar surroundings
Filming Our Ladies on Victoria Street brought Leith actor Tallulah Greive back to familiar surroundings

The daughter of jazz singer Becc Sanderson and trombonist Chris Greive, she laughs again when she discovers I know her mum and have written about her in the past.

"That's Edinburgh for you,” she says. “So many people have had that reaction. Even now, at my age, people know either my mum or my dad through something. I'm not going to lie, it's quite difficult having, and I hate to say this, parents that are as cool as mine and who do great work."

An upbringing in such a creative environment is surely from where her love of performing stems.

"Oh, they'd love to think so, wouldn't they," she laughs, "but it wasn't really something that came from them, it very much did come from me. I really loved performing. I was always a kid that liked imaginary games, directing everyone; 'Okay, we're going to have a kingdom and this is where you stand, this is what I'm going to do, and these are everyone's characters... let's act.'"As a kid, it was just imagining but as I got older I realised I wanted to be an actor. When I was about nine, I was lucky to have parents that, despite the fact we weren't from money, really made an effort to get me on bursary schemes. They could see I took it really seriously.

"That made it a lot easier to pursue but there were people who said to me when I was a kid, 'Oh you're going to end up working in a fish and chip shop, you'll never do it,' and I'd think, 'As long as I'm as happy at least I'll be happy working in a fish and chip shop to pay for my auditions in London.'"I never saw any shame in that and my parents were great at encouraging me, saying, 'Yeah, but you're going to make it work, even if you do have to work a bit harder."Greive, who attended St Mary's Primary and Broughton High, began her professional career aged 14 after joining Strangetown Youth Theatre at 10. Choosing not to go down the route of drama school, she continued to develop her performance skills while working in everyday jobs by studying with experimental theatre company Company of Wolves, physical theatre company Gecko and world-renowned voice coach Kristin Linklater.

Candidly, she admits, "I auditioned for drama school. I just didn't get in. I found the audition process very strange. I remember being asked, 'If you wanted to go to drama school so badly, what have you been doing for the last two years?' - I left school at 17. I said, 'I've been auditioning and living my life, capering about Edinburgh having a good time and getting to know myself a bit.' But I really found that a strange question. So being able to find my own mentors and train at my own pace really worked for me."

Paying for that training, Greive ran vintage fairs, line-read by the hour for other actors and worked in Sneaky Pete's, The Bongo Club, and Hemma.She continues, "Learning 14 pages of script a day and filming in blocks for Millie Inbetween also provided valuable training and all those technical skills came in handy when filming Our Ladies in Edinburgh; you know the light is going or the weather is about to change at any moment. At the time of year we were shooting, it was so freezing."

Filming in Edinburgh was "mad" she beams, remembering, "When I did a few shifts in the Bongo Club, the exit where you leave at the end of the night is on Victoria Street… a couple of years later I'm filming there, skidding across the cobbles and trying to make it across hilly bits of Edinburgh in my boots.

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"And I kept seeing people I knew but because I was in costume, nobody recognised me. It was really strange. I'd see someone's dad and say, 'Hello,' and they'd walk right past me. So I thought to myself, 'It's time to just go off to your trailer and stop accosting random friends' parents... you're at work, concentrate.'

As the general release approaches, Greive concedes she finds the fuss all "a bit surreal" and admits she is "not great" at the whole fame thing.

"With Millie Inbetween it would be younger kids that recognised me, then their parents would bring them over and the kid would be like, 'Why are you making me talk to this girl'. Luckily, the way I dress and act has always been a lot different to most of my characters. So although I look familiar, that's about it."

She thinks for a moment and then laughs again, "And even when I do get a big film like this, all everyone wants to talk about is my mum."

Our Lady goes on general release in cinemas on August 27

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