“I’m actually pretty shy, it’s almost painful sometimes.”

“I’m dreadful at schmoozing at Hollywood parties; I find them so boring. You have to listen to these awful stories – I mean, what do you say?”

“But I don’t necessarily equate success with being a huge Hollywood star. To remain quite anonymous is the biggest gift ever. I would hate to have my picture taken when I go to the shop for milk. I find Hollywood a really trick place. I never wanted to live there. For me, the cheaper jobs with a small intimate crew are far more rewarding.”

“Shooting guns is not something I would do in my spare time. I really don’t understand why Americans can purchase guns so easily and why they use them for sporting purposes.”

“I hadn’t gone to drama school. I was lucky and just fell into it.”

“I played Sinead Cusack as a young woman. They gave her big teeth to match mine. Big teeth and a hairy lip – ooh, I’m a sex symbol! They’ll have me on the cover of FHM next.”

“Working in film lets me travel, which is one of my passions. I like to visit remote places and see real people.”

“You can’t take anything for granted for a second otherwise you trip up. More than anything, I believe life is all about timing. I know certainly every situation in my life has been like “why now?” and it’s a test or a beautiful moment. That’s why life is so gorgeous.”

About her first men’s magazine shoot which she found traumatising
“I lasted all of about two seconds, pouting and trying to look sexy, before descending into giggles. I was like, no way! Give me the boy shorts!”

When being asked ‘How come you are so awesome?’

“Awww, that’s nice. Um, I was just born awesome.”

On acting

“We’ve all had that moment where you look into someone’s eyes and there’s some kind of recognition there, whether you act on it or not.”

“It may be about always running from something. It’s quite cathartic. You can play complete bastards and get away with it. You can’t do that in real life. It allows me to behave terribly.”

“I feel like my career has been like an elastic; I’ve almost had the big breakthrough role so many times and then been back to where I started. “I’ve given up thinking, ‘This is it,’ as it makes you dizzy, so I’m just going to do what I do and if things happen then they happen.”

“For every film I’ve always relied on an ability to access real feelings. I don’t know any other way. That’s probably why some directors think I’m too intense.”

“But every time I hate what I’m doing, every time the experience is ugly, then I’ll read something new and think, ‘I HAVE to do this!'”

“I’m ambitious, but I don’t necessarily equate success with being a huge Hollywood star. The dream is to have both a long career and a normal life.”

About movies
“Everything, I am quite eclectic. I sometimes take home a really big blockbuster and I am usually disappointed, and then I think why did I do it again? At the moment there is a ton of stuff that I want to see at the theatre. But the independent cinemas disappear more and more, which is kind of disappointing. There are only these large complexes left in London.”

“The cinema for me is such a therapy. Even a silly movie- the lights go down and for that hour and a half you’re kind of lost. I love that. And to give people that experience – movies that move you, or make you laugh, or scare you, it’s just such a joy.”

On nailing an audition
“It’s a funny thing because most of this business has to do with profile and even if you go in and nail something – which happens rarely in the audition process for me personally – you walk out and find out it has been offered to somebody else and that’s heartbreaking. And you wonder if you had attended a few more parties you might have gotten it.”

On her husband and their life together
“He’s not an actor, he’s a normal man. Well, he’s not normal; he’s Irish, but you know what I mean. We met at a friend’s wedding and had a little dance together; it was pretty serious, right from the start.”

“I’ve got to the stage of my life now where I’m ready for a solid base. I’ve lived a nomadic lifestyle for 15 years and it would be nice to have a home and some stability and normality. I’d love to start a family, too. I feel really ready and excited about the prospect.”

“This is the most healthy, beautiful thing that has happened to me. It feels very hopeful. He’s fantastic. He comes from a normal, working-class background which helps, his morals and ethics are pretty much the same as mine, and it’s lovely too meet someone who shares an understanding of what’s important in life. This doesn’t feel like I have to work at it.”

Being out of work for a while
“Being lazy, I thought the first six months that I was out of work were great. But then slowly I started to wonder if I was every going to get another job and I began to doubt my own abilities. The Brothers Grimm (2005) was hell to shoot and a horrendous experience. The director didn’t want me in the role [studio bosses overrode Gilliam’s own choice of Samantha Morton]; and let’s just say he wasn’t too subtle about showing his dislike for me. Once the film came out and didn’t do so well, he blamed me for absolutely everything. It was pretty appalling, and it made me want to not work for a while. When I got the call to say I’d got the part in 300 (2006), I felt such an enormous wave of relief, I burst into tears.”

“The first five months were incredibly frustrating, depressing and frightening because I thought I was never going to work again. It’s hard not to lose confidence.”

Explaining why she prefers Prague to Bucharest
“Because Prague has been a sort of filmmaking place for awhile now, and it’s almost developed into a kind of small Hollywood. So you’ve got restaurants, you’ve got a social scene, it’s accessible, and you can exist there in a sort of sane way. Bucharest is obviously still newly out of its regime, and it’s very evident. And I’m a great traveler, and I’ve traveled to many places, and I love new cultures, I love people, I love the scenes of just what’s happening on the streets…And I found I couldn’t find anything in Bucharest to thrill me or make me feel anything other than ‘I just want to get out of here.’ [sincerely] It’s just really sad…There are kids sleeping on every doorway, you know what I mean? That’s what you pass every night.”

About ex-boyfriend Jason Flemyng
“We were together for a long time and we’re still friends; we have a lot of respect for each other. At the time we split up, it was dreadful, but life moves on. Occasionally, we’ll bump into each other ebcause we both live in south London have mutual friends. He has a new girlfriend now. It’s nice to see someone you loved being happy, and I say that from my heart.”

“It was absolutely hideous. You leave everything you know. But I knew it was time for us to move on. He’s incredibly happy with somebody else now and that’s what I want.”

About cosmetic surgery
“When I’m 55 I plan to have a facelift, get a great pair of breasts and start wearing Vivienne Westwood. I think that would be kind of cool.”

About the obsession with weight in the movie business
“You’re surrounded by it out there, you really are. It’s all hyped, whereas here [UK] it’s more relaxed. I’m just glad I’m not a size zero! I’m about a size 8.”

After being asked if she will move to LA
“No, I stay in London. London is my home. I’m not averse to being here but I don’t know if I can be here [LA] for a long time.”

“I never had plans to be a huge movie star; I just want to keep working. I’ve been advised to live here, but I like London. I’ve no great desire to make tons of money, and I’m sure that I’ve missed out on roles because I don’t play the game.”

“I think it’s hard to go and love somewhere like L.A. where there’s not a community you can walk around in like London or New York. It’s quite an isolated place I feel.”

About being recognized
“I just hope I can still get away with… I just don’t ever want to be photographed. I mean, I hate that. It’s an invasion of privacy.”

“Yes, but I’ve worked for 15 years without being recognized or known pretty much anywhere. I can go anywhere, and for that to change terrifies me. I love my life; I love my anonymity. I love doing what I do, but I like being able to be trashed at parties and nobody’s going, ‘Look at her! Look at her with watercress in her teeth.'”

“Well, I just love London. And in big cities you can stay anonymous, and I do not say that because I am famous. You just do not have to bump into people you do not want to see. You can just be by yourself.”

Being offered Botox treatment by a saleswoman at a pre-Oscars party
“When I told her I didn’t want to get my lines erased because I was an actress and needed to be able to make facial expressions, she looked at me as if I’d just sworn at her grandmother. Honestly, though, if someone told me to stick a needle in my face, I just couldn’t. In LA there is pressure to look good; there’s no point denying it. When producers look at you, they are assessing you. I had to do a lot of training for the Sarah Connor role and I lost all my body fat. It’s so frightening seeing the number of skinny women out here.”

About things relating to two-time co star Piper Perabo
“I genuinely really love Piper, I think she’s bright, funny and smart. We definitely got on. I think that by being thrown together sort of made our friendship. She left (the set of The Cave(2005)) two weeks before me. That was the longest two weeks ever! I remember crying! I was like ‘Oh no, don’t leave me!'”

When staying in touch with Piper Perabo after finishing The Cave (2005)
“But when we got back from the shoot which was really wet and in Romania, we were on the phone to each other saying: ‘Look I’ve got food, it’s amazing!'”

About Piper Perabo’s experiences and being “adored” by women
“We didn’t discuss it really. I mean I was in Band of Gold (1996-1997) years ago playing a lesbian and I would get lots of girls coming up to me asking if they could take me out. I was like, ‘Wow’!”

On whether love at first sight is a myth or a reality
“I think it’s real. The truth is, you can fall in love – for me anyway, men or women like you – it’s whether you follow through to the end, to its natural end, or not. It does happen.”

Answering to which part she’s the most proud about
“I think in terms of proud, I’d have to say The Brothers Grimm (2005), ’cause I didn’t kill myself! A personal triumph! But I think Aberdeen (2000) is the one. It still gets to me that it never got released in the UK. I read it and thought, ‘Wow, this kind of material never comes my way. I’m never given this sort of thing.'”

About her depressions
“I was diagnosed when I was 15, and it comes and goes. I may suffer from it once or twice a year, but I now recognise it and deal with it. I don’t use medication because I’m so worried about becoming dependent on it, but I can understand people who do, because you go through the most horrendous feelings of isolation.”

“I just found those teenage years very difficult. Looking back, it was probably the first time I was going through depression, but, since no one talked about it then, and I couldn’t explain myself to anybody, I didn’t know what else to do.”

“I’d come home from school every day and put on my records – I’m a huge music fan. And I remember one day when I didn’t find any joy from my music. It was the weirdest feeling: putting on the records, and waiting. I thought I was going mad.”

“As an adult, the depression has come into my life now and again, but now I know what it is: a very unwelcome old friend who occasionally goes ‘Hey!’ and just ruins your (bloody) party.”

“As a teenager I was clinically depressed. Although I had lots of friends, I found those years very difficult. I remember listening to the radio when suddenly the music made no sense at all. It was terrifying and I couldn’t explain myself to anybody so I ran away to Birmingham with about £1.50. I put my poor mum through so much. One day I can be ecstatically up and the next I can feel this real blankness, a deadness almost, which is scary.”

On when she run away at age
“I went home after one week. I put my poor mum through so much, but she took me to the doctor and he said it was depression. It was a relief just to know, what it was.”

About suicidal thoughts
“Well, I don’t want ot be dramatic because it’s very mild for me but, when the depression comes, it is very intense and you can’t see beyond it. I guess there have been thoughts in my head, but not enough to do anything about them.”

Other people on Lena

Piper Perabo on being friends with Lena and working with her
“It’s much better to be in a wedding dress in Primrose Hill in London. It’s much more comfortable than SCUBA gear and monster shots. You know, we did The Cave (2005) first, and it’s all boys except for us, and we’re in Romania, and it’s very grueling, and we’re underground, and the guy who plays the monster is like sort of annoying. [laughs] And it was just exhausting. And when you make friends with an actor like that, and then the movie gets to be very grueling, you cling to each other like the buddy system, you know? And so when Imagine Me & You (2005) came up and she and I had become friends doing The Cave (2005), it was great because we had such an intense friendship built during that movie, and had sort of stayed friends. And this picture came along and it made so much sense for both of us. And talk about being three steps ahead by the time you start. Like I borrow her clothes, you know what I mean? Like we’re really, really close. And so you can kind of jump to a much higher level quicker because you have a lot of the groundwork done.”

“She’s actually a friend of mine, and so while she was working on 300 (2006), she came to New York a couple of times, and we would see each other.”

“I mean, she’s so pretty, I think people assume certain things about pretty, skinny English girls, but she’s certainly not to be toyed with. And, I’m excited to see it. It’s nice to see her so sexy, too. She’s such an interesting person that, but she gets cast as these sort of quirky characters.”

“Yeah, and she’s so-o-o-o beautiful.”

“Even on that poster for 300 (2006), you just see that beautiful back, and you’re, like, ‘Who’s that?!'”

“I’ve only seen pieces of 300 (2006). I’m kind of dying to see it. She’s so cool. She was just out here doing press for it, and I was sorry that I missed her.”

Photographer, Rodelio Astudillo about Lena
“Lena is the type of girl where you don’t know if she’s going to punch you or kiss you.”