Rebecca Hall was delighted to be offered the role of the woman who helps the billionaire Elliot (Michael Gambon) discover his family's secret past in Joe's Palace.
"I was just thrilled," beams the actress, who at the age of just 25 is already building a substantial reputation for herself.
"I've always been a huge fan of Stephen Poliakoff, and I was bowled over when he asked me to appear in Joe's Palace. This script seems to have an incredibly spare use of language, and yet it's so rich and intriguing. There is so much going on, he has an incredibly poetic way with prose."
The relationship between Rebecca's character and Michael's is particularly intriguing.
According to Rebecca – who has also starred in Starter For Ten; Wide Sargasso Sea; The Prestige; and will soon be seen as Winifred, Eddington's (David Tennant) sister in the BBC Two/HBO film, Einstein And Eddington – "she's an average North London girl who works in Elliot's local deli. One of his few pleasures in life is sampling produce from the deli so, by association, he develops an interest in the girl who works there.
"When he asks her to do a job she's totally unqualified for, researching his father's finances, she reacts with bemusement and fascination. She's incredibly independent and strong-willed, and nothing phases her.
"She's innately intelligent, is assertive and knows her own mind, which is reflected in her choice of outfits and jewellery. She has the slight arrogance and lack of fear that is characteristic of youth. So she just says, 'yeah, why not?'"
The actress, who is the daughter of director Peter Hall and opera singer Maria Ewing, carries on: "She and Joe are young, untainted people who open Elliot up and teach him things about himself. He learns from her about history but also about how to enjoy interaction with other people. He is able to be social with her in a way that he is incapable of with anyone else."
Rebecca relished collaborating with Michael: "I'd never worked with him before, but it was too good an offer to resist. I just had to do it. Even when I was reading the script, I could hear in my head Michael's rich voice saying the lines.
"I was not disappointed. Acting opposite him, you see just what a master he is," continues Rebecca, who has recently completed filming opposite Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz in Woody Allen's as yet untitled Spanish movie.
"Working with Michael was everything I'd hoped," enthuses the very bright actress, who studied English at Cambridge University.
"He's wonderful to work with, so skilled and relaxed and generous. Film acting is all about listening, so if you're fascinated by someone else, which, with Michael, you always are, then that makes your job an awful lot easier! You can just sit back and enjoy it. When you're acting alongside him, you can't help but raise your game."