Growing up, Izuka Hoyle wanted to be a spy. Her family weren’t theatre fans and they couldn’t afford drama school. But one thing was clear: the girl could sing. Aged 14, she belted out Whitney Houston at a school talent show and was spotted by someone in the know.
She left mainstream education at 16 to take a scholarship for a London drama school, and made her West End debut in the musical Six before landing her first film role in Mary Queen of Scots (2018) alongside Saoirse Ronan.
But the 26-year-old theatre honey has a parallel career in indie cinema, working with director Philip Barantini on his 2020 crime thriller Villain and, most recently, the 2021 drama Boiling Point – filmed in one take in a busy east London kitchen.
FD: Tell me about Boiling Point.
IH: Boiling Point is loosely based on [director] Phil’s life, when he left the industry for a bit and worked as a head chef. It delves into the stresses of working in hospitality, mental health, substance abuse, addiction issues – all the things he experienced during that time. It touches on racism, classism, technology. It’s a slice of life.
How did filming in one take affect your experience on set?
It was like working in theatre. You have to roll with whatever happens – you can’t stop and start again. You don’t get much of a breather, which is a metaphor for what it’s like to be in one of those high-stakes kitchens, and it’s a stressful movie to watch for that reason. About 80 per cent of the dialogue was completely improvised. We had a microscript, and we knew which beats we had to hit and approximately how much time we had. It was incredibly creative, and it’s credit to Phil’s drive and ambition.
You filmed during Covid. How did that impact things?
I was in Serbia at the beginning of Covid, filming The Outpost, and flew back to London for Boiling Point. We boshed it out in two days, doing two takes each day. The plan had been to do this for four or five days, but Covid shut us down after two. We were the last project still shooting in London by the time we found out that we only had just one take left. No pressure…
How did you look so convincing as chefs?
We had to learn how to chop. An amazing guy called Tom Brown, who owns a restaurant in east London called Cornerstone, came and taught us the basics. Not only was he teaching us to cook, but also how to hold yourself in the kitchen, the nuances that would help the realism of the piece. How do you hold a kitchen towel? Is it tucked into your apron or hanging over your shoulder? How do you hold the knife? I was only making dressings or tossing the salad, so it was about immersing myself into that world and feeling confident as a chef.
What did you learn to cook?
Honestly, I just learnt to julienne. I was making a green juice yesterday, which is just celery, spinach and stuff you can chuck in the blender, but I’m there going to town cutting them julienne. Whenever someone’s cooking, I’m like, do you want me to cut the onions? Trust me, you want me to cut the onions.
Your next upcoming film is Persuasion. You’ve done a lot of period pieces…
It’s something that just happened. Growing up as a little brown Scottish girl, I didn’t see myself in period dramas. So, when I got Mary Queen of Scots it was a massive shock. It wasn’t something I was told I couldn’t do – but I was focusing on things I thought I had more of a chance of getting.
I’ll take an indie any day, like Boiling Point, when you get to tell stories in a naturalistic way. But when you do periods or sci-fi fantasies, that level of dress-up and imagination? I relish that environment. Just fannying around in a massive dress and a corset, giggling away.
There’s been a cultural shift towards actors of colour being cast in period dramas recently.
It’s really cool that I am getting to tell these stories. When Jane Austen wrote Persuasion, and in the productions of it since, the Musgrove family certainly weren’t a family of colour. Now, there will be little brown girls and boys that can watch this and think, this is how we would have lived then, this is what we would have done with our hair. It will do a lot for these kids and, hopefully, they won’t even know it. So, if I get given a period gig, I’ma take it.