It’s a particularly muggy day in New York, but Imogen Poots doesn’t seem to mind as she embraces the thick knits, silk dresses, and wool suits pulled for the day’s shoot. After a quick fitting, it becomes apparent the British actress looks good in everything she tries on.
She is as much a chameleon in the fashion world—see her campaigns for Miu Miu, Chloe, and Marni for H&M—as she is in her own career, navigating seamlessly between sci-fi thrillers (28 Weeks Later and Fright Night) indie biopics (Greetings From Tim Buckley and Jimi: All Is by My Side), and romantic comedies, like this month’s She’s Funny That Way.
In the film, also starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, Poots portrays call girl–turned–Broadway star Isabella, who, after an encounter with a director, finds herself intertwined in a series of complicated relationships.
“She’s a dreamer,” the 26-year-old tell us about her character. As it turns out, the two are not all that different. “I’ll buy into the romance of something for sure. I can get swept away,” Poots says.
For our August fashion shoot, we played up the many sides of the It Brit—think ’70s muse, Old Hollywood beauty, and ’80s tomboy—through some our favorite transitional looks. Check it out below.
Who What Wear: Let’s start at the beginning. When did you catch the acting bug?
Imogen Poots: Well, there was no “aha!” moment for me. It was more that I started doing a theater group when I was a teenager on the weekends, and I was crazy about it. Via that, I started to go up for roles, and it was sort of more like giving it a shot.
WWW: What roles do you find excite you today?
IP: Something that makes your brain do a double take—something scary. That doesn’t mean it has to be a genre; I mean it in the sense of something you didn’t see coming. Something which you might want to go read a book about, take a long walk with that character sitting in your bones.
WWW: Do you find that you’re picky about the characters you play?
IP: I am now, sure. The more you educate yourself on the world and humanity, inevitably your own taste develops. I acknowledge that is also a pretty nice place to be, to be able to have the choice. An actor can just need the job sometimes.
WWW: What do you think was a pivotal moment in your career?
IP: When I heard I was cast in 28 Weeks Later, that was an excellent moment. Working with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo was a very special experience for me. He was gentle, kind, and lacking in ego, but challenging and strange.
WWW: Who are some of the women in the industry that inspire you?
IP: Oh boy. Actresses like Catherine Keener, Tilda Swinton, Michelle Williams, Mia Wasikowska, Kathryn Hahn, Amy Ryan, Toni Collette—these women are astounding. I love the work of Kelly Reichardt, playwrights like Amy Herzog, Annie Baker, and Young Jean Lee. They’re terrific.
Credits: Yigal Azrouel Stripe Silk Dress ($1650, 212.929.7525)
WWW: Can you tell us about your character Isabella in She’s Funny That Way?
IP: She’s a dreamer. She gets into a jammy situation. She doesn’t like dogs, and she has bad luck with the timing of her whereabouts. But perhaps her good fortune stems from that.
WWW: How are you similar?
IP: I’ll buy into the romance of something for sure. I can get swept away.
WWW: The film features an all-star cast. Did you learn anything from Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston?
IP: Sure, of course. They’re terrific. I loved working with them. Will Forte was my partner in crime on the picture, to be honest. We had a lot of stuff together, so we would jangle around town. Kathryn Hahn is the sheeeiit. We all loved being around Peter, hearing his stories.
WWW: There’s a lot buzz surrounding your upcoming film Knight of Cups. Can you tell us about your experience working with director Terrence Malick?
IP: I’d do it again tomorrow and forever. I loved working with him. He is a sweet, sweet man. The world was a picnic for me during the days spent on his film set. He seeks truth and grace and yet will subvert these themes.
WWW: I want to talk about fashion for a minute. Was it something you were interested in growing up?
IP: Of course.
WWW: Is there a trend you’ll never tire of?
IP: I like denim a lot. I love sparkles. I love love love ’70s fashion—the hair, the glasses. I also love how Roseanna Arquette is dressed in the Scorsese short New York Stories. It was made in 1989, but it’s simple, and she’s gorgeous anyway.
WWW: What do you love about living in New York?
IP: I always wanted to live here. I got this picture on my fridge, which I took when I was in NYC when I was 19 shooting this movie Solitary Man. That was a special experience being here, making that film. So I took this photograph from the top of the Empire State Building and was like, "I’m going to move here as soon as I can." I find it a very inspiring place to be. As an actor, you are spoiled. People here just want to do it. Come over, read this aloud. Let’s do this together. Let’s talk. The theater. Walking around.
WWW: We always like to finish with a pop culture snapshot, so what’s your TV guilty pleasure?
IP: Faulty Towers
WWW: What song are you listening to over and over right now?
IP: “Ridiculous Thoughts” by the Cranberries
WWW: And what book are you reading?
IP: The Sportswriter by Richard Ford
Do you have a favorite Imogen Poots fashion moment? Tell us in the comments below!
Photographer: Robert Ascroft; hair: Harry Josh; makeup: Matin; stylist: Liz McClean; manicurist: Geraldine Holford.