Olivia Cooke Central STAFF   April 23, 2014

BOSTONHERALD.COM – Olivia Cooke is a fresh face on the Hollywood scene, starring in Friday’s thriller “The Quiet Ones.” Here’s a primer on the 20-year-old British actress.

Where you’ve seen her: As Norman Bates’ girlfriend in TV’s “Bates Motel,” now in its second season.

How she got her start: “I never trained or went to drama school in Manchester. But for some reason to be cool, I got an agent when I was 14, a local one. He thought I wasn’t good enough to act and put me up for commercials.”

Her big break: Before “Bates Motel,” Cooke auditioned for mentally disturbed Jane Harper in “The Quiet Ones.”

Says director John Pogue, “Jane had to be someone the audience would fall in love with but also be frightening and scary. We looked at everybody in Europe, rock stars, everybody you could imagine read for this role.

“Then I saw Olivia on tape. She’d just turned 18 and was a completely different physical person than she is now, with big frizzy hair. We brought her in with Sam (Claflin) to do paired readings and see how that’s going to go. It was immediately clear: She is such a force of nature and so intimidating to him that he was scared! Unbelievable chemistry, but also unease and fear between them. She transformed herself into Jane Harper.”

Playing Jane Harper: “It was lovely to feel you didn’t have to play a pretty character. She’s so feral. Everything she’s using is so innate to her, discovering her sexuality, trying to become this young vixen.

“I thought the part was going to be fun, but you never realize how physical it is. But I was resilient, take after take. This was my first film and I felt you can throw anything at me. I never took any of the emotional stuff away with me. After a take we’d burst into laughter and do songs.”

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