Rebecca Hall rolls dice with movie "Lay The Favorite"

Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:25pm EST
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By Christine Kearney

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - British actress Rebecca Hall spent a year convincing director Stephen Frears she should star in his new film, playing the comedic role of a free-spirited, seemingly ditzy Florida stripper aspiring to make it as a cocktail waitress in Vegas.

But she had two big problems: one, she never performed in a role like it before, and two, Frears was looking for an actress who was exactly the opposite of Hall. Her gamble appears to have paid off, however. Reviews of "Lay the Favorite" following its Sundance Film Festival premiere on Sunday have been mixed, but Hall has earned much praise.

"I had not shown that kind of range," Hall told Reuters in an interview with Frears following the debut of "Lay The Favorite." "I thought, I love this part, I would kill to do it. But I don't believe that anyone is going to cast me in it."

Hall, 29, captured Hollywood's eye playing an uptight American in Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," and later in crime thriller "The Town," but her first meeting with British director Frears did not go so well.

"He said, 'You are everything I am not looking for and I will never cast you.' And then I was like a dog with a bone after that. That was it."

Sitting beside her, Frears smiled. "It's a humiliating story," he agreed.


"Lay the Favorite" is based on Beth Raymer's unusual sports gambling memoir of the same title released in 2010. The film shows Raymer (Hall) traveling to Las Vegas and struggling to change her life. Then, she meets fast-talking Dink (Bruce Willis) who shows her the ropes of his sports gambling business where she discovers a gift for numbers and beating the odds.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Rebecca Hall arrives during a gala for the film "The Awakening" during the 36th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), September 16, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>