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Is Swansea's Joanna the 'new Zeta'?

Nov 21 2003

Robin Turner, The Western Mail


Joanna Page

WELSH actress Joanna Page has been tipped for stardom, after a string of movie performances caught the eye of top directors.

And, inevitably, she is being tipped as the new Catherine Zeta Jones, as she was born in Swansea.

And there are plenty of similarities between 26-year-old Rada-trained Joanna, who stars in the "Brit hit" Love Actually, and the 34-year-old Hollywood Oscar-winner.

Both grew up in Treboeth in the north of Swansea, then moved to the Mumbles area.

And both actresses made their first nervous steps on the stage at Swansea's Grand Theatre in the children's show The Bumbles of Mumbles.

When it comes to accent, Catherine Zeta Jones may have developed an occasional transatlantic drawl but generally effuses in that "fantaaastic" Swansea dialect just like Joanna.

But it is in the looks department the two could not be more different.

Joanna, 5ft 2in, blue-eyed, with blond hair, contrasts starkly with the statuesque, dark-haired Zeta Jones.

Page, who appeared in the Hollywood Jack the Ripper mystery From Hell alongside Johnny Depp, was back home in Mumbles yesterday filming the television comic fantasy Mine all Mine about a family which suddenly inherits most of the city's land.

Starring Joanna and Welsh stars Griff Rhys Jones and Ruth Madoc, the series has been penned by Swansea-born writer, Russell T Davies from Sketty.

Joanna, whose parents Nigel and Sue live in Mumbles, said, "It's really, really strange working in Mumbles. I feel as if I'm a schoolgirl again.

"Mam and Dad say goodbye to me in the morning but instead of heading off to Mynyddbach Comprehensive I go to the set of a television series instead.

"I used to walk along the seafront with my dog all the time when I was at home, and now I'm back here playing somebody called Candy Vivaldi, it's quite surreal.

"But I love being back home. I spent six months filming another television series about the Navy, Making Waves, and spent the time living in a Holiday Inn in Portsmouth.

"It's nice to have home comforts and to be re-united with my parents and my dog again."

In Mine All Mine, due to go out on ITV next spring, Griff Rhys Jones plays the head of a family which "inherits Swan- sea" thanks to an ancient will.

Joanna added, "One of the best things about Mine All Mine is working with Ruth Madoc, whom I remember as a child playing Gladys Pugh in Hi-de-Hi.

"And there is Griff, of course, who is great fun.

"I mix with a lot of Welsh actors being based in London. It's a kind of Welsh mafia.

"I remember being in From Hell, I played a prostitute in Victorian London who had a lobotomy.

"Paul Rhys, the Welsh actor whom I fancied like mad, gave me the lobotomy. Acting isn't all glamour."

Later, however, Paul Rhys played her husband in the TV series The Cazalet Chronicles.

Joanna, speaking from her dressing caravan yesterday in picturesque Bracelet Bay, is due for more immediate exposure next Monday, when Love Actually goes on general release.

She plays a character called Judy, an actress stand-in, who falls in love with Martin Freeman (Tim from The Office).

She said, "Martin was really wonderful to work with. He has a really dry sense of humour and made me laugh right through the filming."

Love Actually features top British stars such as Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Rowan Atkinson and Emma Thompson.


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