The actress, best known as the arrow-toting Ygritte in Game of Thrones, has made the inevitable jump into film, embarking on her horror debut in Leigh Janiak’s Honeymoon which sees its DVD release this month. Co-starring fellow Brit Harry Treadaway (Penny Dreadful), the film required both to take on American accents, another first for Leslie.
“When I was training that was a priority for me, I didn’t want to throw anyone in the audience and make them doubt my character”, she explained.
A self-labelled “complete wimp”, the actress threw herself in at the deep end with Honeymoon, having initially been drawn to the strong foundations of the story and her characters tendency to “go a bit mad.”
“I’ve never been able to watch horror films, but when you’re smothered in blood and gore you have to let yourself get on with it.”
The film follows newly-weds Bea and Paul as their idyllic getaway turns nightmarish. In spite of the film’s murky themes the setting could not have been further removed.
“We filmed in this dinky village in North Carolina”, Leslie explains, “It was like Noddy town, you could have eaten off the pavement.”
Since first appearing in Downton Abbey in 2010, Leslie has played a string of no-nonsense women on the small screen, including an appearance in Channel 4’s cult hit Utopia, and ITV’s big budget mini-series The Great Fire.
“I like to play girls with a little bit of spite”, she says, while remaining hopeful for the future of such roles, not just for her but women in film and television. I like to sink my teeth into everything I do. I hope that the industry continue to write ballsy parts for women; I personally don’t find the role of the meek little girlfriend appealing.”
Two projects that allow her to drive these ambitions further are already in the pipeline; The Last Witch Hunter with Vin Diesel (which she can say little about other than she plays a witch, and she loves it) and Sticky Notes, which sees her play a dancer who returns home to care for her father (Ray Liotta).
“I’d love to say that I’m a natural dancer but I’m definitely not, so I had to undergo a lot of preparation; it’s a completely different physicality. “
The film also stars recent Jane the Virgin actress Gina Rodriquez.
“Oh she’s such a lovely lady. I was ecstatic when she won the Golden Globe, I was so proud! I jumped up and down during her speech.”
Although there is an uncertainty of what lies beyond an already impressive array of film and TV work, there is one thing that Leslie is sure of, and that is that a Charles Dance-esque return to Game of Thrones for its fifth season is off the cards.
“I adored my time on the show”, she says, “but I’ve read all the books and I feel like there’s no room left for Ygritte’s story. There’s going to be a new chapter for Jon Snow, and she doesn’t belong in his arc anymore.”
Honeymoon is out on DVD and Blu-Ray on January 26th.