|the sunday telegraph|
As a teenager Gemma Ward conquered the fashion world. Now 23, she is slowly making her mark in the film business, with her fourth film, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, due for release on May 20th. But how does she shape up as a theatre performer? Not too shabbily, according to reviews of her stage debut in The Perth Theatre Compay’s production of The Ugly One, which premiered on March 22nd. “Ward does well on her stage debut and, to her credit, is better as the 73-year-old reconstructed cougar Fanny than as Lette's younger wife” says The West Australian’s David Zampatti; “It's impossible to ignore her international celebrity as a beauty but, while this perhaps adds an unintended extra layer to Von Mayenburg's text, it does it no harm”.
Notes Perth Now’s Maria Noakes:
“Can she act? In a nutshell, yes, she can. But she’s still learning and it’s a big leap from the catwalk to the stage. Swinging between three characters including Fanny, a 73-year-old woman with a fetish for plastic surgery and the young wife of Lette, Ward only stumbled over her lines once but at times, particularly at the beginning, she looked somewhat wooden. However she made a good go of it and as the play hit its straps she warmed and seemed to settle into her roles.
Her co-stars WAAPA graduate Benj D’Addario, Brendan Ewing and stage veteran Geoff Kelso out shone her but that was to be expected – the trio have years of experience under their belts.
No doubt given time Ward will come into her own as an actress. Despite her inexperience she is mesmerising to watch. It’s a surreal experience seeing the towering former international supermodel perform just metres in front of you and an experience Perth audiences wont forget in a hurry”.
The Australian's John Kinsella didn't think Ward was too bad, but concurred that there is definitely room for improvement:
"Gemma Ward, cast as Lette's wife, and also a 73-year-old CEO who lusts after the new Lette, makes yet another subtext. Supermodel, and one of the faces of her time on the catwalk, she becomes a mirror for proliferating narcissism. Ward was acceptable, and certainly knows how to use the stage and hold her glances. But her voice was thin, and though the roles were deliberately flat, she could have made them more dynamic. The play relies so much on skin-deep humour that she was well-placed with her industry background to bring this out".
Prepping for her stage debut is not the only thing Ward has been up to in Perth. She also found the time to pose for US-born, Perth-based artist Matt Doust, for Doust’s entry in the 2011 edition of Australia’s most prestigious portraiture competition, The Archibald Prize.
"I think he's extremely talented, he's going to go so far and I was very honoured to work with him" Ward told News Ltd. "Just the alignment of every feature on her face intrigues me" noted Doust - who set tongues wagging at a Prada dinner in Perth on March 15th, that the duo’s relationship may have developed a little further than artist and muse.
Doust is the second Californian-connected artist to become enchanted by Ward’s features.
Danny Roberts, an LA-based fashion illustrator and colleague of Ward’s sister Sophie Ward, has done over 100 Gemma Ward portraits.