A former Chester student is about to unveil her first starring role in a major film to an audience of family and friends at the Vue at Cheshire Oaks later this month.
Anna Demetriou, who went to Upton-by-Chester High School and used to live in Backford, is starring in the new Viking fantasy film Of Gods and Warriors which also features screen legend Terence Stamp and Hollyoaks actor Will Mellor.
It is the culmination of a long-held ambition to become an actor which began in infancy and saw her devouring movies on tape and disc while developing an all-consuming ambition to follow in the footsteps of her idol Barbra Streisand.
Chester audiences have already seen her in action as part of shows staged by Tip Top Productions at the Forum Studio Theatre and the Grosvenor Park Young Theatre Company.
Anna, 25, admits she was an exuberant child and this is what set her on the path to an acting career: “My parents told me I had so much energy as a kid they weren’t sure what to do with me. When I was three they saw a poster for a drama club and that’s where they took me and I literally just never stopped from then.”
She ended up at the B-It Theatre Company in Hoole, which she says ‘remains very close to my heart’, and it was this that inspired her to pursue drama school rather than university when she finished sixth form in 2011.
“I remember reading an article many years ago that said there are around 11,000 applications every year for about 1,500 places, making it statistically harder than getting into Oxbridge. But I was so serious about this I just wanted to move to London and train so that’s what I did.”
She ended up at the prestigious LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) and was accepted on to its foundation course before moving on to the three year professional acting degree.
“It was expensive but I was itching to go. I had been working a lot in retail saving money and directing at B-it Theatre Company in my gap year. My church did a beautiful fundraiser for me and with savings and help from family, I left for London.”
The commitment paid off and she was signed up by agency Scott Marshall Partners which led to a couple of shows and then her biggest break to date - a starring role in the film Viking Destiny which has since been retitled Of Gods and Warriors.
“I had done one short film and voiced a video game but with no film credits to my name, my agent told casting director Jane Anderson that they had to get me in the room. My agents work extremely hard for me and believe in what I have to offer,” said Anna.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do is tell stories, specifically ones that make women feel strong and represent us accurately. This role did that and was a dream come true. Helle (my character) fit me like a glove.”
After an initial Valentine’s Day audition for the film, Anna was one of five girls recalled to go through fight sequences with stunt coordinator Jude Poyer and then faced a nervous weekend-long wait before getting the news she had been dreaming of.
The next step was to have her hair dyed red and to start learning sword techniques before flying to Belfast where most of the film was due to be shot by director David LG Hughes. Almost immediately, she began forging friendships with cast and crew which have lasted long after the production ended.
“Kajsa Mohammar and Laurence O’Fuarain and I became very close and I loved the traveller scenes with them, the friendships that blossom on the screen were very much happening in real life.
“David gave me wonderful license when it came to the script. He always said if I wasn’t comfortable it would translate to the screen and so always made sure I felt safe and happy on set. I couldn’t have asked for a greater director for my first movie.”
Anna was surrounded by highly experienced actors, all of whom made her feel welcome and provided her with valuable guidance.
“Will Mellor was such a joker, he kept me laughing every day on set, he was really in his element in a period piece like this.
“Also if you’d told me that little me would become great friends with the huge Martyn Ford I wouldn’t have believed you! He is a wonderful support and took me to see Ice-T the other week. I had to pinch myself sitting on the tour bus with Martyn and Ice-T himself.
“I wish I had been able to spend more time with Terence Stamp, he didn’t have too many days on set but I had a lovely long conversation with him on top of the white cliffs one day.
“It was a surreal moment listening to his wisdom (on and off camera) in the sun, overlooking the sea in our costumes. He had called our director and asked how I was doing and if I was alright before he came over and it was lovely that he was checking in on me like that. Working with him was a complete joy.
“Kneeling in a lake in Wales in minus degrees and pouring water over my face, however, was not a joy! There are some scenes in this film where I was so cold and wet and frozen I thought I was going to be sick. The scenes we filmed in Snowdonia on the snowy mountains were hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but thankfully it looks great on screen so was well worth it!”
Well worth it indeed as Anna has since gone on to nab her second big screen role in The Marine 6: Close Quarters where she plays a gun-toting gang member and she feels fortunate to have become part of the film industry at a time of great change.
“The female presence in filmmaking is getting stronger everyday. Women are getting to be written in a different way now and I’m so excited. I am blessed that doing this film has helped me audition for different kinds of female roles now. I’ve gone up for police officers, inmates, pirates, single mothers - troubled and colourful women - since wrapping this movie.”
But Anna’s talents extend beyond acting - she is building a strong reputation as a talented singer-songwriter which led Of Gods and Warriors soundtrack composer Tom E Morrison to invite her to record an EP which they are both currently working on.
For now, though, Anna is looking forward to returning to Chester for a special screening of Of Gods and Warriors at the Vue at Cheshire Oaks on Thursday, July 26 at 7pm.
“I am so excited to come back to my home town and show this film to the people that have supported me since I was that three-year-old stomping around on a stage that was too big for me.
“I really hope that people love it as much as I do, we have worked so hard with the resources we were given and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I’ll be there to answer any other questions people may have, in the very cinema I was going to every week until I was 19 - it’s going to be emotional!”
To find out more and to book for the screening, visit www.ourscreen.com/film/Of-gods-and-warriors