ESQ&A: Dianna Agron

The American actress on her love of London, Tom Waits and fancy dress

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American-born actress Dianna Agron is wasting no time in pursuing her ambitions.

Known by legions of teenage fans as cheerleader Quinn in TV's Glee, Agron – now 29 – has crossed seas to tread the boards in London's West End – something, she tells me, that has always been part of the plan.

The play in question is McQueen, a new St James theatre production focusing on the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen.

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We caught up with Agron the morning after opening night.

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Which moment in your career are you most proud of so far?
I think right now. I feel like this year has showcased hard work from the past couple of years. A play in London was something I definitely wanted to do but didn’t know when. I was supposed to be doing a movie here in January but it got postponed. I’d had my heart set on living in London so I looked for a play. Luckily, the timing was incredible.

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What’s your favourite city in the world?
It goes back and forth between London and New York, even though they’re completely different animals. When I go to New York, everything is so fast-paced and bustling. But London just seems to be the happy marriage of everything between culture, ease of walking around, taking advantage of the parks and pubs and having long meals with friends. I love the tradition.

What’s your favourite restaurant in the world? 
I like really spicy food and sushi so it’d have to be somewhere with those dishes. I don’t have one favourite. My friends tease me because I love a good weekend brunch – I go to more brunches in the history of all brunch-goers.  How much better does it get than sleeping in then having a cocktail and a long chat with your friends?

What’s your desert island film?
I probably wouldn’t want to watch a film on an island! It couldn’t be anything depressing. Maybe something with Elvis Presley, like Blue Hawaii. Definitely not Sophie’s Choice.

You're drinking in a bar. What do you order?
It’s usually either tequila on the rocks… or a whiskey on the rocks.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m a really good bartender. Making a good whiskey sour with an eggwhite is a great party trick; people think you’re doing something so magnificent when it’s actually pretty simple.

When was the last time you were starstruck?
I don’t know, but if I met Tom Waits, I would be really shy. I have to infiltrate his world in some way but pretend I’m not utterly obsessed so that we become friends. I want to be in a movie with him; a two-hander with Tom Waits – I want someone to write that script.

What’s the best night out you’ve ever had?
That’s so hard, there have been too many. I feel like some of the best nights are the ones that end up in really unexpected places – where it’s like “how did we get here?” Those nights happen in the most random situations – it’s never a New Year’s Eve or a birthday because you can’t try hard for those nights, they just have to happen organically.  

I also love fancy dress. It’s the most fun. I had a huge Halloween party last year and three of my dear friends were so dressed up I couldn't figure out who they were. We like taking it to the next level.

What's the best advice anyone has given you?
Being honest with yourself about what you want. It's a coming-of-age thing - when you're younger, you think you have to appease people and I think there's a misconception that being opinonated means that you're difficult or unlikeable.  

Who's the closest you've ever had to a mentor?
There hasn't been one consistent person in my life but I've been so lucky to be surrounded by such powerful women. The word 'feminist' can come with negative connotations so I'm fortunate to have people in my life who demonstrate day-to-day that's not the case.

McQueen runs until June 27th at St James theatre; stjamestheatre.co.uk

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