Born in Hong Kong to father Adrian (banker) and mother Janet (journalist), Romola Garai's unusual name is the female version of Romolo, an Italian name for boys (from Latin Romulus, the founder of Rome). She grew up in Singapore and Hong Kong until she was eight when her family returned to lay roots in Wiltshire. At sixteen, she left her parents and youngest sister, Roxy, to live in London with her older sister, Rosie, and attend school at City of London's School for Girls, where her major studies were based on theatre. She got her beginnings as a professional actress when she was spotted in a school production by a casting director looking for girls to play 'Judi Dench' (qv) in the ITV drama _The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000) (TV)_ (qv). After that role, she went on with her studies, eventually enrolling in University of London where she majored in English, planning to become a journalist like her mother once was. But after offers for other roles began to come in, she deferred her degree and eventually quit altogether to focus more on her acting career. Romola went on to film _"Daniel Deronda" (2002)_ (qv), _I Capture the Castle (2003)_ (qv), _Nicholas Nickleby (2002)_ (qv), _Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)_ (qv) and _Vanity Fair (2004)_ (qv) with 'Reese Witherspoon' (qv). Not to mention her role in the West End play by 'Michael Hastings (II)' (qv), Calico as Lucia Joyce for which she was nominated Outstanding Newcomer by the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.
- "The filmmakers were obsessed with having someone skinny. I just thought, why didn't they get someone like 'Kate Bosworth' (qv), if that's what they wanted? An actress like that wouldn't worry about whether or not the political ideas were being sensitively or subtly dealt with. They'd do the job, smile and look pretty on the cover of Teen Vogue. There I am, 135 pounds and trying to make art! I was so wrong for it!" On the project _Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)_ (qv).
- I [showed] my tits and teeth. I'm useless at it. About 40 per cent of success as an actor is now based on whether you're good at being interviewed and how you conduct yourself. And I'm really bad at that. On the Vanity Fair premiere.
- "I date nothing but older men. I've reached a stage in my life where I've started to worry whether it's a fetish or not. What did I find out? I suppose that the only real effect of ageing is deep cynicism - that, and you are maybe a little more comfortable with yourself." On her dating habits.
- "I do think the Olympics are a curiously male obsession. Who can run the fastest from here to here? You know what I think? Who gives? Because if you're not running to catch a bus or running to buy me a bunch of flowers, I don't care." Her thoughts on the Olympics.
- For a long time, I was worried about being typecast. But costume drama is a large part of the work in this country. It's just a bit sniffy to turn up your nose at it.
- She has the extraordinary capacity to push you as a performer, and yet never make you feel as if you should be afraid to experiment. - On working with Mira Nair on Vanity Fair.
- "The single biggest surprise about acting is how unsexy the lead actors can be when you work with them.''
- ''He is a beautiful looking man but you are soon sitting down between scenes, having a cigarette, comparing blisters and talking about your agent." On her co-star Charlie Hunnam while filming Nicholas Nicleby.
- I am so clumsy. If there's a chance of dropping something or crashing into something, I do it. How sexy is that?
- ''I had the time of my life. I have used every part of my body, plus muscles I did not know I had, because the dancing is a combination of salsa and Latin ballroom. It felt like daily aerobics." On discovering a passion for dancing during Dirty Dancing two.
- "... Hollywood? Well, it's still there, last time I looked." On Hollywood.
- If you do a lot of period drama, those female characters, nine times out of 10, are going to represent all the good in the world. As a young actress, there's not a lot that you can do to get away from those roles except try and move within them.
- I wouldn't have done something that I thought had no merit in it at all, but I did experience a fall-out from being calculating about your career, believing that you should do something in order to get you somewhere else. It was just creatively unfulfilling. On Dirty Dancing Two: Havana Nights.
- An actor is just a medium through which the director makes his dreams and imagination come to life. An actor should concentrate on his or her character.
- I didn't decide to take the role because I deliberately wanted to further my career, but so I could be proud of my work.
- I'm very much into self-improvement - particularly with cinema. I've just started watching Hitchcock films and I recently saw Michael Moore's Bowling For Columbine, which was a revelation for me. I do my best to extend my knowledge, but I always seem to be ten steps behind everyone else - but I do try.
- It's taken me a while to realize it takes a lot to be a good actor, and you have to respect the craft. Every job I do, I realise how little I know.
- "She's brilliant. I think that we were good friends and I liked her a lot. She's a lovely, very sensitive actress. That was one of the most enjoyable parts of the film, working with her." - On working with Rose Byrne.
- I don't read everything that's written about me.But it filters through. And I know that for everybody that thinks I'm talented and promising, there is somebody out there that thinks that I'm s
- I'm desperate to find a contemporary film with a character that's interesting, dignified and complex.I struggle to find those parts, and when I do, they usually go to other actresses.
- "It's very distressing doing that journey every night, and I have to do whatever I can not to get upset. It's a very sad part." - On playing Nina in The Seagull.
- I think the main challenge is that she's essentially a pretty unattractive person in many ways but you have to approach a character like that believing in them, liking them, trying to understand them and appreciating what their world view is, and so I think that was a challenge occasionally because she wasn't always an easy character to like. On playing Angel Deverell.
- I think for me, the really wonderful and memorable moments was the way that I was able to learn so much working with François who's a very, very specific director and because he's engaged in every single element of the process.
- I hate going to places like Soho House [a trendy London members' club] where everyone is an actor who knows everyone else. If you are all actors how are you going to expand your mind?'
- Hollywood people have their own trailers, but I'm usually in a three-way. I like the camaraderie. But I read somewhere that Nicole Kidman had the whole top floor of a hotel redecorated when she was staying there. I think that's quite a good idea.
- The worst thing you can do as a performer is to judge your character in any way, positively or negatively.
- He's monumentally gifted - that sounds so terrible and pretentious, I know - but he's made nine brilliant films, all of them so different. So you think to yourself, I might disagree with you on one small thing, but I'm guessing you know what you're doing. (On Francois Ozon)
- I've done pieces of work that people have hated that I've been incredibly proud of, and other pieces of work that I've done my best, but I, personally, haven't been very fulfilled by, that people have thought is the best thing since sliced bread.
- I try and do things that I think will be interesting. Sometimes I get it right in terms of the fact that people like it and sometimes I get it wrong in terms of the fact that people don't like it, but I always try and do jobs which I think will be interesting to me and will help me improve as an actor.
- "There has to be a real ambiguity about which way her life is going to go.It's a genuine crossroads at the point that I play it. So I think it's important for people to know that she is deeply struggling with this moral conundrum, but not necessarily know whether she is going to find the strength of character to truly absolve herself of this responsibility and find 'Atonement.'" - On playing Briony in "Atonement".
- I feel that it's important to fail now and again. For instance, if I go for a job and I don't get it, that makes me not a better person, but more balanced, more aware of what life is really like.
- When I was a child I always wanted to be funny and to please people in my family. As you grow up that instinct becomes more refined, but it's still there. How can it not be? I just don't believe you're capable of being an actor unless you have a desire to experience your emotions in a public way.
- I was 20 years old when, despite mass protests against military action, Iraq was invaded in 2003 - it didn't make for motivated political participation, I can tell you. Yet the last year has brought some hope that the horrors of war might soon end and that I might finally be able to take down my press clipping of Tony Blair's head with a dartboard drawn on it. Unfortunately, my trip to Syria in January destroyed any of this optimism, as I saw first hand the colossal mess that the war has made of the lives of the 1.2 million Iraqis who fled their country.'
- I live in London and am lucky to have many friends from school, university and work who are from diverse backgrounds. Some of my closest friends are the children of refugees and I have always been fascinated by their stories and the struggle of how they came to the UK and assimilated into society.
- I learned a lot about the troubled histories of three different groups: the Palestinians from Iraq, the Iraqis themselves, and the Syrian people. This was a lot of information for someone who is no expert on the Middle East to take in, but it was all absolutely necessary to understanding the situation in Syria. - On her visit to the Syrian Iraqi border.
- It's too simplistic to say that people start to believe what's written about them. But what happens is that you become a certain way to please people, to be liked, to be what's expected of you, to change yourself so that you become the best possible version of yourself for people who don't know you. And I think that's a terrible, pernicious thing.