"It's like a dream. One minute I am walking across the playground to maths and next, I'm flying to Hollywood to meet the world's press." Rachel Hurd-Wood.
English actress Rachel Hurd-Wood received a great success at age 13, in her first professional acting experience as Wendy Darling in the critically acclaimed remake of Peter Pan (2003). She subsequently moved further into Hollywood scene and starred as Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek’s daughter who is haunted and tormented by an unrelenting demon in the 2006 thriller An American Haunting. The 5' 7" tall blue/green-eyed blonde will soon be seen acting opposite Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman in the film version of the bestselling novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.
Childhood and Family:
In London, England, Rachel Clare Hurd-Wood was born on August 17, 1990, to Philip and Sarah Hurd-Wood. She has a younger brother, Patrick, who appeared with her in Peter Pan (2003). She enjoys rap and hiphop music, as well as ice skating and art. She also loves dolphins so much that she has dreamt of becoming a Marine Biologist. Recently, she became interested in working with children who have special needs. Rachel currently resides in a Victorian cottage at the edge of a forest in Godalming, Surrey, England, along with her parents, brother, and her two gerbil pets: Romulus and Remus.
“When I was younger, I wanted to work with dolphins and be a marine biologist. But then around two years ago, I just decided that that wasn't really the thing for me, because you have to be really good at science and stuff, and I'm not. I know [science has to do with] the job I want to do now, but it's more a psychology-based course.” Rachel Hurd-Wood.
An American Haunting
"First acting experience - so that was just, incredible, I never thought that I'd get it, I really didn't. I still can't believe it - you know, it just seems so weird, and seeing it up on the big screen. I kind of disassociate the finished product to when we were actually filming because the two seem so different." Rachel Hurd-Wood.
A daughter of a father whose work involves performing, writing scripts and doing voice-over for commercials, Rachel Hurd-Wood has not been strange to acting. She joined a drama club in her school and even took part in its stage production during her second grade. Originally dreaming of becoming a marine biologist, 13-year-old Rachel immediately scored a great success in her first professional acting experience; a rare achievement that many thespians of her age hardly accomplished.
Recalling on her audition for Peter Pan (2003), Rachel said: “When I came home from school, my mother put me against the wall and measured me and smiled and said, ‘How would you like to audition for 'Peter Pan,' the film?’ I said I would love to give it a go.”
The story began when her grandparents found out from TV about an open casting call for the role of Wendy Darling in director P. J. Hogan's film version of the classic children's play and novel by J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan (2003). Her grandparents called her mother, telling Rachel to join the audition. To her surprise, she eventually got the part. She soon headed for Australia for filming, along with other cast members including Jeremy Sumpter (he plays the title role), Jason Isaacs (as Captain Hook) and Ludivine Sagnier (as Tinkerbell).
“I never thought in a million years I would get the part. My mom came in and woke me up and said they made an offer. And then I woke up, running around the house screaming and I nearly fell over because I was really, really tired and half asleep. I was just so happy, it was incredible.” Rachel Hurd-Wood (describing her excitement when she won the role of Wendy Darlin in Peter Pan (2003)).
The film, released on Christmas 2003, quickly soared to be a box-office hit and subsequently helped launching Rachel’s name towards the spotlight. Her performance also received good reviews and was nominated Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor and Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actress.
Following her first big break, Rachel joined senior actor Rupert Everett on the BBC movie Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (2004), which follows Sherlock Holmes tracked down a serial killer stalking the teen-aged daughters of the aristocracy.
“She's an amazing character. She stays strong throughout the whole horrible ordeal, and that's something I really respected. I found her to be quite similar to myself, so I couldn't stand the idea of anyone else playing her.” Rachel Hurd-Wood (on her role as Betsy in An American Haunting (2006)).
The budding actress then moved further into Hollywood film scene, joining Hollywood veterans Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek in the 2006 thriller, An American Haunting. In the Courtney Solomon-directed film, based on true events that took place in Tennessee during the 1800s, Rachel plays Sutherland and Spacek's youngest daughter, Betsy, who is haunted and tormented by an unrelenting demon.
“Sissy's such a lovely lady. She's really motherly, she's always ensuring that I was warm when I went outside, and drinking enough and eating enough and everything. She's just such a sweet lady. And she taught me how to scream. Little nuances, little tricks that she'd teach me all the time. Not really stuff you can explain. Just watching those two, you get so much of an education, it was like spending years in film school.” Rachel Hurd-Wood (on working with Sutherland and Spacek in An American Haunting (2006)).
She followed it up with an appearance opposite Dustin Hoffman in director Tom Tykwer's adaptation of the bestselling novel by German writer Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. In the drama, set in 18th-century France, Rachel portrayed Laure (Alan Rickman’s daughter), a red-headed virgin who could be the crown 13th note of Grenouille's (played by British actor Ben Whishaw) perfume. It will hit theaters on December 27, 2006.