Video: Kaya Scodelario shares what you don't know about her

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Kaya Scodelario: What you don't know about meHearst Owned

Is Kaya Scodelario anything like the character she plays in her most recent release, The Gentlemen? A TV series created by Guy Ritchie for Netflix – a spin-off of Ritchie’s 2019 film of the same name – it centres around an unwitting duke who finds his land has become part of a weed-growing empire, run by Bobby Glass.

Scodelario, as Bobby’s daughter Susie Glass, is “incredibly intelligent, dangerous and well-dressed. She’s the man on the ground and looks after various different estates, making sure that everything runs smoothly,” explains the actress, when we meet for the latest instalment of our Bazaar video franchise, What You Don’t Know About Me. Whip smart, stylish and adept at carving out success? That sounds like Scodelario.

a man wearing a hat
Scodelario as Susie Glass in The Gentlemen on NetflixChristopher Rafael/Netflix

While there are similarities to be drawn, the actress – who rose to fame as Effy Stonem in Skins in the late Noughties, and has since starred in Wuthering Heights and Pirates of the Caribbean – is far more of a homebody than her crime boss character in The Gentlemen would suggest. “What makes me really happy at the moment is being at home in London and doing simple things, like going for a walk on Hampstead Heath and cooking for my family,” she says. “It all sounds kind of bland, but I think actors sometimes have these amazing opportunities to travel the world and do all these really cool things, but I love simple things the most.”

Scodelario had a difficult childhood. Her parents divorced when she was just one year old and her mother took her to London when she was four – they spent their first night on the street before they found a council flat on Holloway Road. As a “painfully shy child, very insecure, very anxious”, she found solace in acting. “When I was 10, I played Oliver Twist in my school play, and that was the first moment that I really felt connected to anything,” she says. “It was just something that I enjoyed doing. It felt like breathing.”

bristol, united kingdom august 02 joseph dempsie, april pearson, nicholas hoult, mike bailey, larissa wilson, hannah murray and kaya scodelario attend the channel 4 e4 party for a one off skins special on august 2, 2007 in bristol gloucestershire, england photo by mike marslandwireimage
Scodelario (bottom right) with her Skins castmates in 2007Mike Marsland - Getty Images

At 14 and with no professional acting experience, Scodelario was cast in her breakout role in Skins, moving out into her own flat in Camden shortly after. “I left home when I was 16 and had to figure things out myself,” she explains. “And that was really hard. I think that kids in school should be taught life skills, because I haven't used trigonometry once!”

These days, Scodelario’s life feels more settled. “Five years ago I wouldn’t believe that I was saying this outloud, but I’ve started doing hot yoga,” she says, laughing. “I used to hate exercising and I didn’t really take care of my body, but now I’m really making that a priority. I’m also really enjoying doing things like games nights with friends, and not feeling like I have to say yes to partying all the time.”

london, england november 29 kaya scodelario attends the fashion awards 2021 at the royal albert hall on november 29, 2021 in london, england photo by neil mockfordfilmmagic
Attending the Fashion Awards heavily pregnant in 2021Neil Mockford - Getty Images

Her friends – and her children, which she shares with her ex-partner and fellow actor, Benjamin Walker – are clearly the centre of her world. For her 30th birthday, she was thrown an “incredible” party by her closest pals, which she describes as “the best weekend of my life. We were in a beautiful house in the countryside, and they just made it really fun and full of little details. We had a nineties sleepover theme the first night, played beer pong, Jenga and hide and seek, and then had a murder-mystery night. It was like going back to childhood.”

When she’s not with her friends, her pleasures are equally low-key: reading (“I’m going on holiday soon and I’ve bought about six books”), following her beloved Arsenal FC and watching reality TV, which “switches my brain off in a great way – I just discovered Real Housewives of New Jersey.”

london, england august 30 kaya scodelario attends the lord of the rings the rings of power world premiere at leicester square on august 30, 2022 in london, england photo by dave j hogandave j hogangetty images
"I am painfully British and too polite sometimes, but I’m getting a lot better at making decisions and being assertive"Dave J Hogan - Getty Images

At work, Scodelario feels like she’s still learning the ropes. “I remember watching a Beyoncé documentary and she was explaining that she’s very polite with people in the room,” she says. “I’ve been in the industry for 15 years and I’ve been so very aware that as a woman, I have to work twice as hard to put a smile on my face, to seem pleasant, to seem likeable. If a male actor is intense, then he’s seen as creative, that’s just the way he is. Whereas women are held to a higher degree and it’s very easy to be written off as difficult to work with.”

“I am painfully British and too polite sometimes, but I’m getting a lot better at making decisions and being assertive about what I want and what I think is right, and feeling as though I belong on a set just as much as anyone else.”

Her career is, however, a source of great joy and satisfaction that Scodelario says she never takes for granted. “Every day, every moment, every job I do, I still feel really grateful to be there. I think I’m incredibly lucky to do a job that I love, and I’m really excited about the future,” she says. Given Scodelario’s career so far, it’s safe to say we’re just as keen to see what comes next.

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