Star with Britain’s best cheekbones
James Norton, 30
Looks: It’s all about those cheekbones, so sharp you could slice bacon on them. There are websites dedicated to them and armies of women who swoon at the slightest glimpse. Norton can thank nature, not nurture, for that chiselled bone structure — but it’s shown off to its best advantage as there’s not a spare pound on him. A keen swimmer, he has the physique of an athlete. Throw in an eye for fashion (he ran his own stall selling men’s vintage clothing) and a heart-throb is born.
Plays: Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, an intellectual high-achiever who tries to find meaning in life through glory, family and romantic love.
Flirty dancing: Dashing Prince Andrei gazes intently into the eyes of beautiful Natasha Rostova (Lily James)
Family ties: Despite the cut-glass accent, his roots are very much in Yorkshire. Born into a well-to-do London family, his parents moved to a house on the edge of the Howardian Hills when he was small. His father Hugh Norton, who had been born in Tanzania, worked as a lecturer at Hull College of Art and Design. James’s mother, Lavinia, was associate dean at Leeds Metropolitan University.
Heartthrob: James Norton at a premiere in 2014
Drama training: James knew he wanted to be an actor from childhood. When friends came round to play he would eschew football or cricket in the garden in favour of writing, directing and acting in his own plays. ‘I think they got fed up in the end and went to play at my other friends’ houses,’ he says.
After following his father to Ampleforth, a Catholic boarding school in North Yorkshire, he went on to Cambridge and then RADA.
Rise to fame: Such was his promise, he left RADA six months before graduation in 2010 to take up the lead role in That Face opposite Frances Barber at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. He had already appeared in the film An Education alongside Carey Mulligan.
More television and film roles followed — then came his breakthrough portrayal of psychopathic Tommy Lee Royce, the villain of the TV drama Happy Valley, for which he won a BAFTA nomination.
He then played a crime-solving Cambridge vicar, in Grantchester, based on the novels by James Runcie. Both Happy Valley and Grantchester have been commissioned for a second series.
Significant others: At school he dated the same childhood sweetheart for years before meeting Lizzie Crarer, now 29, at Cambridge. They were already together at university when she played Imogen opposite his Posthumus in Cymbeline, only for director Trevor Nunn to tell them: ‘Darlings, there is just no chemistry, there’s nothing here!’
As James puts it: ‘We were like, “But, Trevor, we’ve been together for four years.” That was painful.’
More recently he has settled into a long-term relationship with another actress, Eleanor Wyld, 26.
Did you know? Though he does not practise any particular faith, religion has always been at the heart of his life. He attended a Catholic school, read theology at Cambridge and has travelled across India and Nepal, learning about Hinduism and Buddhism. He says: ‘My motto is KLB: Keep Laid Back. My mum used to say it to me when I was an angsty teenager.’
Don’t say: It’s grim up North.
TV hunk: James Norton has sent pulses racing in his portrayal of the brooding Prince Andrei, pictured
Temptress with a killer smile
Tuppence Middleton, 28
Looks: A seductive pixie — translucent skin, bewitching hazel eyes and a heart-shaped face. And does any actress have a more devastating smile? She is modest about praise of her beauty, saying: ‘It’s funny hearing that because I was only today talking about my bad skin when I was younger. I still get it occasionally. I used to be self-conscious about it and every time it comes back I’m devastated.’
Plays: Femme fatale and accomplished social climber Helene Kuragin, who embarks on a career of brazen sexual wickedness. The opening episode saw her bare-buttocked as she seduced one conquest and also end up in bed with her brother Anatole, with whom she is having an incestuous affair. ‘Do that again, it’s nice,’ she told him. Anita Ekberg took the role in a previous, far tamer, adaptation.
Scandalous: Helene (Tuppence Middleton) and her brother Anatole Kuragin (Callum Turner)
Family ties: Tuppence is nothing to do with those other Middletons. She is the daughter of investment manager Nigel and hairdresser mum Tina who calls her ‘Tupps’.
Tuppence is the name on her birth certificate. ‘It’s what my grandma called my mother as a little girl and my parents decided to call me it. It’s been handy. I haven’t met another Tuppence so far, so people remember it.’
Her older sister Angel is a wardrobe assistant and her younger brother Josh is a singer-songwriter.
She was raised in Clevedon, outside Bristol. Her mother Tina told their local paper: ‘She is a very focused young lady and has always said she wanted to do “good work” rather than just any role.
‘To us she’s just Tuppence who when she comes home, gets in her onesie, enjoys spending time with her family and always wants a roast dinner.’
Seductive: Tuppence Middleton, 28, at a premiere last month, left, and as social climber Helene Kuragin
Drama training: She took ballet, singing lessons and karate but acting appealed most. She joined the after-school comedy club at Bristol Grammar School and performed with the Bristol Old Vic Youth Theatre. After A-levels she joined the ArtsEd drama school in Chiswick.
By the time she graduated she’d been cast in her first film, teen horror movie Tormented. She said: ‘The nature of this job is you have to be obsessed with what you do, you have to have the drive because you may have months of unemployment.’
Rise to fame: Early on she appeared in the ITV drama Lewis and with Doctor Who star David Tennant in the drama Spies of Warsaw. A bigger role was in BBC1’s adaptation of The Lady Vanishes in 2013, in which she played socialite Iris Carr.
Her profile grew when she was cast in Danny Boyle’s heist movie Trance and in the big-budget sci-fi film Jupiter Ascending, though it was panned. She plays Miss Havisham in the BBC drama series Dickensian.
Femme fatale: Helene Kurgain (Tuppence Middleton) embarks on a career of brazen sexual wickedness
Her hopes for the future are modest. ‘It’s about doing things you’d like to go to see yourself as part of the audience. My main goal is to continue working and make a career of it, rather than be around for a couple of years and then melt off the scene.’
Significant others: She is in a relationship with another actor, whom she declines to name.
Did you know? She used to have a 5ft corn snake, Jeff, who was fed mice. She gave him away when her career took off. She has a Persian cat, Archimedes, and says she’ll be ‘devastated’ when he dies. ‘I was debating the other day whether I should stuff him but don’t know whether he would end up looking like himself. I’d be really sad if he looked strange.’
Don’t say: Too much about nudity. ‘I’ve refused a couple of roles because there was too much nudity. If I accept a role and know there’s nudity in it, quite often you have a clause which makes it very specific: I have a conversation with my agent about how many inches of bum cleavage I can show. I go on set with a very clear idea of what I’m going to do and they have to stick to the contract.’