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Burnt: Sienna Miller Interview

Sienna Miller talks to London Calling about Burnt, a drama about the romance between a volatile chef and his assistant.

Sienna Miller returns in professional kitchen-based romantic drama Burnt alongside Bradley Cooper - and this time the former-fashion It girl is keeping the drama solely on set.

They say that if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen and after the grilling she received from the press during her high profile relationship with Jude Law it’s no wonder the former It girl of West London wanted a break from the spotlight. But now Sienna Miller is back and this time she is determined to let her acting do the talking.

At the forefront of her comeback is Burnt, a romantic drama starring Bradley Cooper as a volatile but brilliant chef Adam Jones who is struggling to put his drug addictions behind him in a quest to earn a third Michelin star. Miller is his beautiful, young sous chef and it’s not long until both romantic and confrontational sparks are flying between the pair. It sounds rather dramatic for a kitchen-based film, but anyone who has seen Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares knows that tempers often run high behind the scenes at high end eating establishments. Miller was determined to capture that energy as accurately as possible, preparing for the film by working with top London chef Marcus Wareing: "I had an incredible time with Marcus at his restaurant, [Marcus at The Berkeley, a two starred Michelin restaurant]" Miller says. "He taught me how to cook fish and pasta and you really develop an appreciation for the detail and art that goes into fine cuisine. I also spent a lot of time in other restaurant kitchens watching how a top kitchen staff functions and tried to immerse myself in that world."

The film is set in London and the exterior of the fictional restaurant shown is actually The Langham in Marylebone. Given the thriving foodie scene that has emerged in the capital the last few years, it seems apt that the film is set here. Cooper’s character says at one point that he wants his clientele to be ‘sick with longing’ at the quality of his food, and the attention to detail is impressive. In one scene Miller expertly fillets a turbot, thanks to her mentor Wareing who had the actress filleting around 70 fish in one day as training for the film. “I'm a much better cook now, at least I hope so after being taught by a chef like Marcus Wareing!” she laughs.

In her private life, Miller is far more settled and calm than in the days of her tumultuous and very public relationship with Law. She is a mother to three-year-old Marlowe and though recently separated from Tom Sturridge, her fiancé and father to her daughter, the pair are amicable and there is none of the drama that surrounded her previously. “Now my life is very peaceful and it's a huge relief not to have to deal with the image of me that the press had created. I felt persecuted for many years and it was becoming impossible to leave the house without being followed and hounded,” she says. From the outside looking in, her life appeared perfect; a darling of Hollywood and the fashion world, the love of a film star and an icon to a legion of young girls desperate to recreate that ‘boho’ look, but eventually the constant pressure of being under the ruthless gaze of the world takes its toll: “It left me feeling very vulnerable and uneasy. My life is very different now and I have my own space again...Today I can lead a normal life and I'm free to do the kind of work that I always dreaming of doing.”

In addition to Burnt, the 33-year-old actor has several other movies in the pipeline including the sci-fi drama High Rise in which she stars opposite Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons, Hippie Hippie Shake with Cillian Murphy, and Lost City of Z with Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Pattinson. The film choices reflect her decision to make a name for herself based solely on her dramatic credentials. None are blockbusters, but the stories are interesting and her characters somewhat meatier than Tammy in 2004’s Layer Cake, who is most notable for seducing a pre-Bond Daniel Craig in lacy, black underwear.

“I'm taking my responsibility (as an actress) more seriously than ever and I feel I have a much greater awareness of what it takes to do this job and how you approach the business,” insists Sienna. In the last three years I've been able to work on projects where I've surround myself with only the best people. It's been very satisfying.” Like Bradley Cooper’s character in Burnt, the greatest stories are those of redemption, and Millers time has come to step out of the shadow of her former fashion self and let her true talent shine.

Burnt is in cinemas now.