Janet Montgomery’s face has been smiling from buses and billboards all over Manhattan this fall. The 26-year-old British actress only moved to New York earlier this year, but advertisements for her CBS drama, Made in Jersey, have already brought her to every street corner, hinting at her imminent arrival in millions of homes via network television. Perhaps Montgomery is the only one who hasn’t seen the posters anticipating her new house-hold familiarity. “There’s a slight anxiety if I let myself play into it,” she says of fame. “But most of the time I’m too busy here to think about it.” Network television is a grind, and the schedule for a principle actor in nearly every scene is exhausting. “I just had my dad and my brother out for a week and they were like, ‘You were picked up at 9 a.m. and didn’t get back until midnight,’” she says. But the Bournemouth-born Montgomery knows how to handle a strenuous role. The former dancer was en pointe as a company ballerina in Black Swan (2010). She’s also been menaced in various stages of undress in horror thrillers The Hills Run Red (2009) and Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (2009). And in one of the first scenes she filmed in 2010 during a recurring stint on Fox’s now defunct action show Human Target, she was stripped to her undies, slathered in vegetable oil, and shoved through a vent. But Made in Jersey puts Montgomery under a different sort of strain. “Leading a show is a big leap from anything else I’ve done,” she says. The character too is new for her, as she plays a working-class up-and-comer who uses her street smarts to compete at a top New York City law firm. “I come from a very working-class background,” she says. “So that element of the character’s life I can definitely relate to.” Not surprisingly, on a visit to the Made in Jersey set in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, I found Montgomery “mucking it up,” as she calls it, with the show’s grips and technicians. In the forthcoming BBC adaptation of Alan Furst’s thriller The Spies of Warsaw, Montgomery again plays a lawyer, here working with the League of Nations during the buildup to WWII. “When you first start, you just want to get a job,” Montgomery says. “It goes from that to really deciding what kind of work you want to do and what kind of actor you want to be—and it only gets harder.”
PHOTO: JANET MONTGOMERY IN NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 2012. ALL CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES: SALVATORE FERRAGAMO RESORT 2013. COSMETICS: CHANEL, INCLUDING ILLUSION D'OMBRE. HAIR PRODUCTS: KÉRASTASE, INCLUDING ELIXIR ULTIME. STYLING: KAREN KAISER/STREETERS. HAIR: RITA MARMOR/STREETERS. MAKEUP: KARAN FRANJOLA FOR CHANEL/MAREK & ASSOCIATES. SPECIAL THANKS: FACTORY STUDIOS.