Nylon: Ella Purnell
“I always feel like sugar cubes aren’t big enough,” says Ella Purnell, dropping another square into her coffee, dispelling any notion that she is an archetypal Hollywood starlet. Further proof: The night before, a special delivery landed the 19-year-old Brit with seven pints of Ben & Jerry’s, one of which she’s already polished off. As if her unregulated eating habits aren’t proof enough of her down-to-earth demeanor, when I ask how often she visits Los Angeles, she says once a year is enough. “I’m quite easily influenced,” she says. “Twenty-four hours too long and suddenly I’m in a yoga class with a smoothie and a dog in my handbag.” She wrinkles her nose and laughs. “I love London too much and I’d miss my friends. Also, I can’t actually drive.”
This is Purnell in a nutshell: charmingly scatterbrained, enthusiastic and curious, talking animatedly about everything from filmmaking and the agony of wearing high heels to reincarnation and learning to play the saxophone. On the back of successful roles in Intruders (2011), Kick-Ass 2 (2013), and Malefecent (2014), she’s become something of a teen idol, amassing close to 30,000 followers on Instagram who live and breathe all things Ella. There’s a name for them, too—the Purnellephants. “They’re so lovely, I feel like they’re my mates!” she says of her fans. “I didn’t really have idols growing up, but some of my friends were huge fangirls. People just dismiss it, but it’s really important to have someone to look up to, so I try to interact as much as I can. A little like can make someone’s day, and I’m happy to do it.” She’s quick to clarify, though, that she’s not shy about blocking bullies and haters. “Social media can be so damaging,” she says.