Dressed for Success
LOUSE LOMBARD HAS BECOME THE height of fashion. And no one is more bemused than the 21-year-old British actress with impossible cobalt eyes. While growing up, she was, she says, “the most undomesticated person in terms of anything like sewing.” So to play the dress designer Evangeline Eliolt in The House of Eliott (on cable’s A&E). she faked it. Says Lombard: “I got very good at looking as if I knew what I was doing.”
With fabric to spare! Lombard has sewn up yards of success back home where last year nearly 9 million Brits tuned in weekly to Eliott, a 12-hour BBC series set in 1920s London about two sisters who establish a Fashion house. “She has a breathtaking naturalness,” says actress Jean Marsh, the Upstairs, Downstairs vet who co-created Eliott, which is picking up fans here. Hollywood has taken note: To participate in a second Eliott series—-now in production—Lombard had to forgo a shot at a role opposite Robert Redford in the forthcoming feature Indecent Proposal.
Lombard traces her theatrical instincts, in part, to her upbringing as the fifth of seven children in an Irish-Catholic clan in London. “You only got a certain amount of airtime at the dinner table,” she recalls. Encouraged by her father, John, who owns an auto repair shop, and her mother, Maura, a homemaker, she began drama classes when she was 8. By 16 she had won a few small TV spots. She dropped out of her final year of high school to pursue plummier dramatic parts.
Today, Lombard shares a London house with two roommates. “I’m a bit of a free spirit and don’t have any fixed abode for very long,” she says. For fun, she plays guitar and golfs—”I’ve become the world’s biggest golf bore”—with her boyfriend of three years, Jeremy Gilley, 23, an actor.
Lombard won’t script her next act. “If you have expectations about situations,” she reasons, “you’re limiting yourself or setting yourself up to be disappointed.” Unlikely scenario.