Samantha Barks likes to move fast, a trait that evidently runs in her family. Her daredevil dad, motorbike enthusiast Richard Barks, recently broke the 500cc-land-speed record, reaching speeds of up to 203 miles per hour. For her part, 22-year-old London-based Samantha, originally from the Isle of Man, has quickly gone from taking third place at the age of 17 on the BBC’s 2008 stage-musical reality show I’d Do Anything to being the only cast member from the West End production of Les Misérables to land a part in Tom Hooper’s new all-star big-screen adaptation, due out in December. In the movie Les Miz, Barks reprises her stage role as Éponine, the downtrodden waif who disastrously falls for the dashing Marius (played in the film by Eddie Redmayne). “Éponine is very relatable, especially for girls,” Barks says. “It’s the whole unrequited-love thing. I remember when I was a teenager in love for the first time—you fall for someone and you’re like, ‘Ahhhhh,’ nothing else matters. It’s the best feeling.” Barks may have just rocketed from the British stage to the big screen, but she’s surprisingly modest about her transition. When she landed the part in Hooper’s Les Misérables, she celebrated by having a cup of tea with her grandparents. Tea is a big thing in Barks’s life: She likes nothing more than a cup of rooibos accompanied by a marshmallow roasted on a tea light, and, for her last birthday, her best friend threw her a tea party. On the Les Miz film set, Barks would listen to the song “Paradise” by Coldplay to get into character. Her idol is Ricky Gervais, who she first discovered when she saw an episode of The Office on an airplane at age 10, and her favorite films include Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby (2004) and James Mangold’s Walk the Line (2005). Barks has already lined up her next role but doesn’t want to risk jinxing it by revealing what it is before the contracts are signed. “I’m just a happy person,” she says. “I love my job. I just can’t take things too seriously or look too far into the future.”
PHOTO: SAMANTHA BARKS IN LONDON, OCTOBER 2012. TOP AND SHORTS: ISABEL MARANT. BRACELETS: LOUIS VUITTON. COSMETICS: NARS INCLUDING THE MULTIPLE IN ST. BARTS,CREAM EYESHADOW IN CAYENNE. HAIR PRODUCTS: PHYTO,INCLUDING PHYTOVOLUME SHAMPOO,PHYTOJOBA MASQUE,PHYTOLAQUE SOIE,AND PHYTOLISSE SERUM. STYLING: KAREN CLARKSON/THE BOOK AGENCY. HAIR: KARIN BIGLER/D+V MANAGEMENT. MAKEUP: HIROMI UEDA FOR NARS/JULIAN WATSON AGENCY. PRODUCTION: ILARIA MICELI/M.A.P. PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT: CHRIS MILLER. DIGITAL OPERATOR: JAMES NAYLOR. RETOUCHING: JASON HILL/TABLET RETOUCH. SPECIAL THANKS: SNAP STUDIOS.