After her acclaimed debut in Joanna Hogg’s semi-autobiographical film, the actor returns in its sequel, starring again alongside her mother, Tilda. She talks about her unconventional upbringing and her off-screen life studying psychology

You’re an 18-year-old school leaver, working in a florist’s and all set for a stint volunteering in Africa, when your godmother asks if you’d like to appear in a film. As its star. In 10 days’ time. For most of us, it would be the stuff of fairytales or fever dreams, but for Honor Swinton Byrne it was real. There would be no need to learn a script, she was assured, because it was all going to be improvised. All she needed to know was that she would play a film student called Julie, a lightly fictionalised version of her godmother, Joanna Hogg, who was also the film’s auteur-director.

“From what I understand, she couldn’t find Julie in these posey professional actresses who were very comfortable in front of a camera. She just said they’re all too pretty. And then she cast me. Which, you know, I took as a compliment,” says Swinton Byrne. She lets out a throaty laugh, wriggles her feet out of a pair of sparkly stilettos and snuggles herself more comfortably into a sofa at the upmarket central London hotel that is the base for her first solo publicity round, for the sequel to that first film.

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