When we first met Anna Shaffer, she was a flirty student named Romilda Vane who had a crush on Harry Potter. Now the actress is taking on her biggest role yet in another beloved universe. Shaffer will be playing the sorceress Triss Merigold in Netflix’s upcoming The Witcher series starring Henry Cavill. The series is based on the book series by Andrzej Sapkowski.
We caught up with Anna to talk about life before The Witcher. She shares her favorite thing about the Harry Potter set and what influenced her work ethic. She also shares with us a podcast she has on the horizon and if she really is a nerd. Most important, we found out that she has an actual superpower!
Hi Anna! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, we’re really excited to talk to you about your career and upcoming projects!
Erin Lynch: What was your first exposure to acting?
Anna Shaffer: I’ve always loved film and TV, my parents would plonk us in front of the video player to keep us out of trouble so my brother and I were reared on Hook, The Princess Bride and Three Men and a Baby. All of which are still some of my favorite films of all time.
EL: When did you decide that being an actor was the career for you?
AS: I had always really loved drama at school, and even on play dates with my friends we would always play make believe. I had a fancy dress box full of my mum’s old clothes so would be dressed up in her glamorous dresses creating ‘kitchen sink’ drama in my room with my friends from an early age! The first time it felt like a tangible career was as a teenager. I joined a performing arts center that had an acting agency attached to it. They asked me to be on their books, my first audition was for a Vodaphone advert that went terrible, and the second one was for Harry Potter. The rest as they say is…
EL: Yes! Your film debut was in one of the largest and most impactful film franchises ever, Harry Potter. How did this influence what you chose to work on after the films?
Obviously coming from such a huge film franchise meant that whatever I did next was going to feel strange but I feel so lucky that I was young enough that as incredible as the experience was I still just wanted to be a normal kid and hang out with my friends in the park. As a big fan of film and TV myself, I’ve always just wanted to be in things that I would love to watch myself and feel really grateful and proud that for the most part that’s what I’ve managed to do!
EL: What was your favorite part of filming Harry Potter?
AS: CRAFT SERVICES! The food was honestly incredible, mouth-wateringly good. And being a kid the same age as the character I played, so quite literally getting to go to Hogwarts. It was magic. I also made friends for life, it was an unforgettable experience.
EL: What did you learn on the Harry Potter sets about acting that you remember to this day?
AS: Every single person on that film worked their arses off, the days were long and hard and the crew was incredible. There were so many cogs that had to keep on turning no matter what, that I hope I’ve taken a similar work ethic to everything I’ve done since.
EL: So you’ve been circling the geeksphere for a few years now, with your appearances in Harry Potter, the Doctor Who universe and now The Witcher – Is it purely by chance that you auditioned and won roles on these properties with huge fandoms or are you a bit nerdy yourself?
AS: I’m definitely a nerd! But not necessarily a sci-fi or game nerd! So maybe the inner nerd in me does shine through in auditions…I’m not sure!
EL: Speaking of Doctor Who, I was gutted to hear Class was canceled. It was such a unique take in the Whoniverse. Though you had a brief role on the show, what did you enjoy most about it?
AS: I agree, I thought it was a great show and so brilliantly written by Patrick Ness. I remember being at the read through and being so blown away by what I was hearing that it was definitely a shame for it not to continue. I loved working with Ed Bazalgette and my scenes with Fady were a treat. It’s so clichéd to say but it’s always the people who make each job and everyone was just dreamy. I also got to die which was pretty cool and then come back as a ghost. You never forget your first death and subsequent haunting!
EL: Audiences consume arts and entertainment through many different platforms. In addition to TV and film, we have video games, podcasts, live streaming/YouTube and much more. There are so many ways to be creative! Do you have any interest in working in these other mediums?
AS: Absolutely, I’ve already developed a podcast with my best friend Rowena called Thirsty. Post production was a bit derailed by The Witcher filming and now Rowena lives in Mexico but we’re hoping it will be coming to your ears soon.
EL: Do you have a dream project or franchise you really want to be a part of?
AS: I am a Shonda Rhimes MEGA FAN. So to be part of Shonda Land in any capacity would be an absolute dream come true. My favourite British TV show is Line of Duty, so working with Jed Mecurio is up there too. Hopefully one day!
EL: Now let’s switch it up and have some rapid fire questions! What’s your most played song right now?
AS: G. Force by J. Ceaser
EL: What film (or TV show) could you watch on repeat and never get sick of it?
AS: Three Men and a Little Lady! Or Grey’s Anatomy but with a box of tissues surgically attached to my person because I am still genuinely traumatized from McDreamy’s death. I cried a RIVER of tears.
EL: Do you have any hidden talents?
AS: Does grade 5 on the recorder count?
EL: Who is your acting idol?
AS: Olivia Colman, Stephen Graham, Judie Dench, Meryl Streep, and Leonardo Dicaprio. Plus Timothee Chalamet for the last scene in Call Me By Your Name alone. Jodie Comer doing it for young Brits. I could go on!
EL: Since we’re talking geeky – if you could have any super power, what would it be?
AS: I already have one. No matter where I am in the world I will bump into someone I know. Usually someone I do NOT want to bump in to. Seriously, I could be in the Sahara desert and I will see an ex walking towards me. AND IT WONT BE A MIRAGE. My superpower would be getting rid of that superpower. It’s hell.
EL: Are there any other projects you want us to know about?
AS: The Witcher is going to be so amazing, I’m so proud to be a part of it and I can’t wait to watch it myself as a fan. I also have a small part in a short film called Love Pool that’s just been released. It’s written and directed by Asim Chaudhry who is just brilliant in all ways and it’s funny and touching and deserves to be seen by lots of people!
Thank you very much to Anna for taking the time to answer our questions. We’re really looking forward to seeing The Witcher and of course your continued career! Let’s hope that includes a role on a Shonda Rhimes series! Make it happen, Shonda!
This interview was originally published August 14, 2019.
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