Esme Creed-Miles, 20, stars in the titular role in the Amazon series, Hanna. Based on the 2011 film of the same name, Hanna, a high concept thriller and coming of age drama, follows the journey of a young girl raised in total seclusion in a Polish forest. Her father (Joel Kinnaman) trains her to fight against the CIA operatives who are hunting them down, and her survival skills are further tested when he and she are separated from each other, leaving her to fend for herself.
Esme began her career at the age of seven as a young Shirley Temple in the film Mister Lonely (2007), directed by Harmony Korine. Ten years later she was cast in Clio Barnard’s Dark River before landing the much-coveted role of Hanna. She also starred in the 2019 films Pond Life and Undercliffe.
Speaking from her home in London, Esme, the daughter of actors Samantha Morton and Charlie Creed-Miles, describes herself not only as an actor but also as a musician and feminist.
What do you think about the idea of Hanna as a role model?
Well, I think that she has elements that are very inspiring. But that being said, she is also very damaged, so I think it’s a bit of both.
Can you talk about how your character has evolved in Season 2?
She is dealing with profound grief that she experienced at the end of Season One that influences essentially how she conducts herself in her relationships all throughout the second season. She becomes a protective mother figure.
I think that the fans of the show are going to be very surprised by the relationship that develops between Marissa (Mireille Enos) and Hanna.
What attributes do you share with Hanna? She’s very impressive.
I don’t have many attributes in common with Hanna, actually. I am quite chatty, and I find it hard to lift a shopping bag (laughs), so I don’t think we have a lot in common. But that’s the fun of it, playing someone completely unlike yourself.
Why do you think the show is so popular?
I think people can really relate to that feeling of bewilderment within the world, and I think Hanna really personifies this sort of strange, feral teenager who is in the modern world. I think it’s touching, and it strikes a chord with both teenagers who are coming of age and the parents who are experiencing their children growing up and wanting to break free.
What skills have you learned? I’m guessing you weren’t practicing martial arts before taking on the role.
Yeah, definitely discovering my physicality in a way that I didn’t know that I could. I’m training a lot. It’s very hard work.
Were you athletic at school?
I was the least athletic person you could possibly find. I would hide in the locker room and write fake notes from my mother whenever I could so I could get out of doing things (laughs).
So, watching you in this show must be pretty amusing then for people who know you well?
It’s hilarious. People were like, “This is ridiculous, this is not you!” But I think [previously] I just didn’t like the environment of sports. I was quite shy, and as a teenager, I didn’t like teams, and I didn’t like competition – but what I didn’t realize at the time was that running around is actually a lot of fun. Later on, I really got into it. I really embraced running and yoga, and there are lots of different things that I enjoy now that are quite physical.
I read that you started training with your dad, is that right?
I did, yeah. My dad has been doing martial arts training for years and years and years. Just before the final stage of the stunt audition, he trained me pretty solidly for a couple of weeks. He introduced me to basic fighting skills and working on form, so I felt prepared.
So, he must have been thrilled when you landed the role?
He was! I think he was more thrilled than I was, to be honest (laughs).
And what about your mom, who’s a very respected actress? Is she pleased you’re following in her footsteps?
We rarely speak about anything work-related, so I don’t know, you’d have to ask her.
Any aspirations to work with her one day?
I have already worked with her. And I will leave it there.
Do you enjoy the other side of your job? The red carpets and the premieres, hair, and makeup – is that fun for you, or is it just something that goes with the territory?
I would love to pretend I was fabulously down about it where I hated it, but it’s a lot of fun. It is. Who doesn’t love getting their hair and makeup done? It’s a big self-esteem boost. But I’m also really awkward. Actually, I am totally awkward about that stuff and I get a bit weird. But I do like it. It feels good.
What do you like doing away from your work?
I like to watch The Real Housewives as of late, that’s literally all I have been doing. I like to chill out with my dogs, and I like to cook.