Actress Chloe Pirrie goes from burgers to Baftas

Actress Chloe Pirrie in the film Shell. Pic: Contributed
Actress Chloe Pirrie in the film Shell. Pic: Contributed
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SHE’S an award-winning actress who’s been hotly tipped for the top by Bafta – but until very recently the only line she got to deliver with any regularity was: “Would you like fries with that?”

For even after starring in critically-acclaimed productions such as Torino Film Festival winner Shell and Charlie Brooker’s dystopian fantasy show Black Mirror, Edinburgh-born actress Chloe Pirrie was still making ends meet by waitressing in a London burger joint.

Chloe, who grew up in Stockbridge, said: “Customers did sometimes recognise me, especially just after Black Mirror went out, which was a bit strange for all concerned. They’d say: ‘Are you that girl who was in . . ?’ and I’d say: ‘Yes, and here’s your cheeseburger’.

“People think that if you’re on TV you must be loaded, but even if jobs do pay well, there can be a lot of time between them, and in a city like London, your money can disappear quite quickly.”

The former Mary Erskine’s pupil moved to London when she was 18 to attend Guild Hall School of Music and Drama.

“My parents were obviously a bit anxious about my chosen career, but they were very supportive and knew it was something I was very passionate about. My mum tells me I used to do impressions all the time when I was little – mainly of people like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, bizarrely enough, as I was a really big fan of Rory Bremner’s TV show.

“I played a politician in Black Mirror – so maybe it helped!”

Chloe, who hung up her apron and quit her waitressing job “hopefully for good” in April, is tipped for great things.

Shell, the story of a father-daughter relationship set in a remote Scottish petrol station, gained her a nomination for Best Newcomer at the BFI London Film Festival and also won Best Picture at the Torino Film Festival in Italy.

Acclaimed telly smash Black Mirror has also been earning her plaudits across the industry.

Now she is one of four Scots included in this year’s Bafta Breakthrough Brits.

“I was really thrilled when I heard I had been nominated, and hopefully it will lead to more,” she said.

The 26-year-old is currently filming a show called The Game, for BBC1, which has been described as an MI5 Mad Men. Set in the 1970s, Chloe plays a new recruit who answers to a character played by Brian Cox, pictured left. She said: “It’s filming up to the end of the year, so it’s nice to know I’ve got a job until then!”

And once filming is over, Chloe’s looking forward to a few home comforts. She adds: “I always come home for Christmas – I love Princes Street at that time of year. Me and my friends meet outside House of Fraser and then go shopping. I love the shops and it’s so nice that you can walk everywhere – unlike London! I used to work at the Dean Gallery when I was a teenager and still love the walk I used to take to work along the Water of Leith, so I usually try to get down there at least once when I’m back too.”

The Game will be broadcast on BBC1 in 2014.

jen.lavery@edinburghnews.com