Devon Ross On 'Irma Vep,' Working With Alicia Vikander And 'Dad Energy'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·7-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Resplendent in a cream silk twill CELINE by Hedi Slimane dress, complete with hair carefully shaped into a structural fringe adorned with floating pearls, actor Devon Ross looked every bit the consummate Hollywood superstar as she floated up the Cannes red carpet and into the premiere for mini-series Irma Vep, in which she stars.

To watch her on this momentous occasion, you'd never know she'd not done this a thousand times before and that this was not just first proper premiere, but also her inauguration into the acting world.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

While you won't have seen her on the big screen yet, you'll likely still recognise her face. The 22-year-old has already had an extensive modelling career, walking and posing (and in the case of a one particular campaign video, wafting and dancing) for the likes of Simone Rocha, Erdem, Valentino and Valentino Beauty. Her striking look - something of a goth-punk pixie vibe, all alluring sunken eyes, high cheekbones and raven-black cropped hair - draws the eye even in a show with dozens of other models.

But even with a spray of high fashion brands baying for her to join their next shows, Ross' attention is currently laser focussed on her new foray into TV and film.

'I would love to just do acting full time,' she tells me from her hotel room, the morning after the night before. 'I'm just looking forward to getting deeper into the acting world. I'm looking forward to the next one. I'm auditioning and starting a new career.'

I ask what she'd like to be the seminal role of this new career and she doesn't miss a beat with her answer: 'I want to play Patti Smith, that is my ideal role.' Shout out to any casting directors reading this, you heard the woman.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

But back to the present though, and to the role that's kickstarted this new stage of her life. In Irma Vep - a new mini-series for HBO, about American film star Mira (played by Alicia Vikander) who is disillusioned by her career and travels to France for new opportunities - Ross plays Regina, Mira's assistant.

'Regina is pretty similar to me,' Ross muses, 'She's obsessed with film. I'm obsessed with music. So I was like 'I got you girl,' I know how it feels. But I did I make up a little backstory for her [to help get into character]. I wrote a little note about her life that I just made up just to give it depth.'

I pry for some details on what this note included. 'Well, I knew that she was adopted. So that was a thing. But I made up that she grew up in LA. And she went to art school. And she probably is really good at drawing because she's one of these girls that's really good at everything, creatively, and maybe didn't have any friends because she was so good at stuff. I also made up how [she and Mira] met. I decided she was on a film set and Mira was there. And she just straight up asked her for a job because she's so out there.'

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

For a show that takes place across seven-episode series, Ross had to work intimately and for long stretches with the series star Vikander. I ask what the vibe was like on set and how she and Vikander worked out their dynamic.

'It was great,' she says without hesitation. 'I love Alicia. From the very first day on set she was just chill. She has such calm energy and didn't once make me feel nervous. Obviously I was nervous anyway, because she literally has an Oscar and I was like 'What am I even doing here?!', but she made me feel like I was supposed to be there. The vibe on set was always that we were equals. Which was wonderful because I hate feeling like the new kid.'

'I learned a lot from just watching Alicia do takes. It took me a minute to work out how to be aware of the cameras, because they're huge and you have to navigate around them. All that technical stuff I learned from just watching her.'

Photo credit: Gisela Schober - Getty Images
Photo credit: Gisela Schober - Getty Images

And was she ever able to just let loose?

'I don't know if it's a French thing, but everyone on set was just so passionate about the project and nobody was there for any other reason than the art. No matter what their job was, even if they're just there making toast and coffee, they love film. Everyone wanted it to be an amazing project and everyone was passionate about it, which was cool.

'But then last night we had such a great after-party on a rooftop here in Cannes, and I had never seen my co-workers in that setting. I'd never seen them really unwind. It was so fun watching people and being like, 'Okay, you can dance.' Or, 'you're not dancing'. I got to see what they were like in a party setting.'

'Actually, at the end of the show, when we wrapped, Alicia got tequila shots for everybody. She was just suddenly like 'Here is tequila for everybody. Just so you know, every single last one of you is doing a shot.' That's her thing. I loved it.'

Cannes can be a wild experience, the first time you arrive at the film festival. I remember being bowled over by just how many A-listers you could cram into the one little seaside town. The energy is fraught. Fun, but mad at the same time. Ross is approaching the whole affair with a healthy sense of humour.

'Everything is funny,' she says. 'The funniest thing is the girls that just put on their gowns, for a little photoshoot in the street without even going to a film showing. Even windows of Zara are dressed for the red carpet. Everything is on theme. The category is: Cannes. It's like a zoo for people watching. Which is great, because I love to watch people.'

I ask if anyone's been particularly instrumental to her first Cannes film festival.

'Well, I just spent the week doing press with Tom Sturridge - who I wasn't even in scenes with, so we literally just met - but we've had to spend all day together doing interviews and he's just so intelligent. He's been in this business for so long and I felt like he had my back sometimes when a question was a little to challenging for me to answer, he would step in. Which is really nice to have, because I'm very new here.

'Yeah, he brought the dad energy. He's got a little girl and he really brought the dad vibes. It was really nice.'

Photo credit: LOIC VENANCE - Getty Images
Photo credit: LOIC VENANCE - Getty Images

And finally, a little more detail about the epic look she chose for the film festival premiere.

'Oh it was so hard to pick, because Celine just has like so much, everything is so beautiful. And I was down at two options. And I just could not pick. And then I had to choose obviously. So I went with the cream silk because it was a daytime event and it reminded me of old Hollywood glam. And I guess Irma Vep, the show kind of nods to the silent era [of film-making history], so I think that's where the hair came from. It had a 20s feel, which was appropriate because Irma was from that era. So I wanted to connect it a little bit. Because I think it's always fun to stick to the theme. I love a theme. Loosely. A loose theme. And then the dress had this gorgeous open back, and I had these long extensions running down it, it was unreal.'

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Before we part ways, I want to know how she feels about her acting debut now, with hindsight and having been able to watch the fruit of her labour on screen in a room full of discerning viewers. She assures me that though imposter syndrome did strike her as she arrived at the foot of the legendary red staircase, and she struggled to get over the initial awkwardness of hearing her own voice played back to her, ultimately, she's riding on the ultimate high. 'I don't know, I guess I was just really proud of myself. Like this is the first show I ever did and here I am at Cannes, in Celine. Everything is so amazing and beautiful.'

The first episode of Irma Vep is out on Monday, June 6 on HBO

You Might Also Like

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting