Ella Purnell is an English actress who works in the British and American film and television industries. She is most famous for her performance in the American television series Sweetbitter (2018) and Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas (2021).
She did her schooling at Forest School in London, the City of London School for Girls, and The Young Actors Theatre Islington. Simultaneously, she took weekly acting, dance, and singing classes at Sylvia Young Theatre School in London. She paid her school tuition by taking acting projects. Her initial plans were to study English, film, and psychology in a university, but she never attended one. Evening Standard In August 2018, she shifted her base to Brooklyn, New York.
Hair Colour: Golden Brown
Eye Colour: Hazel
Family, Ethnicity & Relationships
Parents & Siblings
Ella’s mother’s name is Suzy Purnell, and her father’s name is Simon Reid. Her parents separated soon after she was born; Ella stayed with her mother.
She also grew close to her father and her half brothers- Enzo Reid, Noa Reid, and Leon Reid, who are his father’s sons from his second marriage to a woman named Isabelle.
Her mother got married to Jon Squirrell, owner of the Shoreditch House from The Vault gym in London.
She was once in a relationship with the English musician, singer, and songwriter James Coates.
According to some tabloid rumors, she was dating the American actors Brad Pitt and Tom Holland.
As of 2021, she is in a relationship with Rob Raco, a Canadian-Italian actor, musician, and model.
In 2008, she made her theatrical debut with the play ‘Oliver!’ as a part of a children’s ensemble at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London, where she continued to perform the show for a year. In 2017, she returned to the theatre with the play ‘Natives’ by Glenn Waldron in the role of ‘A.’ Natives premiered at Southwark Playhouse in London and was directed by Rob Drummer.
In 2010, she made her film debut in the role of ‘young Ruth C’ in the British romantic tragedy ‘Never Let Me Go.’ She had auditioned for the film towards the end of her time in Oliver!.
She went on to appear in the British films: Ways to Live Forever (2010), Intruders (2011), Kick-Ass 2 (2013), and Churchill (2017). In 2014, she made her American film debut with ‘Maleficent’ (2014) in the role of ‘Teen Maleficent.’
In 2017, she acted in the American film ‘Access All Areas’ in which she played her first lead role as ‘Mia.’
She has also made appearances in the American films: Wildlike (2014), The Legend of Tarzan (2016), Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016), UFO (2018), and Army of the Dead (2021). She has also made appearances in the short films Candy (2011), Right Place Wrong Tim (2018), and Oksijan (2018).
In 2015, she made her television debut in the role of ‘Megan’ in the British television movie ‘Cyberbully,’ which aired on Channel 4.
In 2018, she made her television debut in a series with ‘Ordeal by Innocence’ (2018) as ‘Hester Argyll.’
In 2018, she made her American film debut with the role of ‘Tess’ in the Starz show ‘Sweetbitter,’ based on an international best-selling novel of the same name by Stephanie Danler.
She has also appeared in the lead roles in the American television series Belgravia (2020), Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas (2021), and Yellowjackets (2021).
Awards & Achievements
For the Film ‘Wildlike’ (2014)
- Best Actress Award at Los Angeles Independent Film Festival in 2015
- Best Actress Award at Brooklyn International Film Festival in 2015
- Best Actress Award at Richmond International Film Festival in 2015
- Best Actress Award at Myrtle Beach International Film Festival in 2015
- Best Female Performance Award at Gasparilla International Film Festival in 2015
- Best Actress – Feature Film Award at Twister Alley International Film Festival in 2015
- Named one of the Top 10 UK Stars of Tomorrow by Screen International in 2010.
- Beverage: Vanilla Cappuccino
- Actress(s): Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Helena Bonham Carter
- Actor: Elvis Presley
- Film(s): Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Beetlejuice (1988), Clueless (1995)
- Film Director: Tim Burton
- TV Show(s): Downton Abbey (2010), The Fairly OddParents (2001)
- Book: ‘It’s Not OK to Feel Blue (and Other Lies): Inspirational People Open Up About Their Mental Health’ by Scarlett Curtis
- Travel Destination(s): Venice in Italy, Biarritz in France, Deauville in France
- In her leisure time, she likes writing music, singing, playing the piano, and reading.
- Whenever she has time, she likes jamming at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Queen of Hoxton club, and The CLF Art Cafe in London. Sometimes, she also plays and sings with Jazz and Blues bands.
- According to Ella, her biggest pet peeve is people ‘SSHH-ing’ her when she is trying to talk. She says,
That upsets me. My brothers do it so much. I’ll be saying something and they’ll go ‘Sh!’, and it goes with the hand gesture as well, it makes me want to strangle them.”
The other thing that annoys her is sharing her cutlery with anyone or when someone tries to take food from her plate.
I don’t like when people take food off my plate like if you want that food you could order that, it’s my food. Like if I offer it’s fine, but don’t take it without asking — it’s food, its important to me!”
- Ella loves dogs and keeps on posting pictures with them on her social media accounts wherever she finds them.
- She likes driving and has a 2019 Toyota Prius C.
- In her teens (when she was 15-16), she suffered from anxiety and depression. She experienced a troubled school life due to her classmates and personal matters with her boyfriend, which led her to self-harm. She did that for a long time until her mother caught her. Her mother helped her get into a better state. She learned about mental health, which, according to her, could only be disturbed if your parents died, or you were ill, or anything tragic happened. According to Ella, she did not talk about it to her mother because she did not feel comfortable telling her.
Had this happened to me now I’d feel able to say, ‘Mum, I need to take some time off school, or, Mum, I am suffering from this thing. Self-harm is not about attention — I hid [my scars] for six months, wore long T-shirts, covered them up with make-up. It’s about punishing yourself, for people who dislike themselves or suffer from insecurity or self-doubt. They want to hurt themselves because they think they deserve it: that’s where I was at. You know it’s wrong, you don’t want to worry about other people, but if you are in that headspace it feels good. I’m sure it releases adrenaline or something, it made me calm, and for that reason for me, it became an addiction. I had to work very hard to remove my trigger points and to create a safe space so I wouldn’t become tempted to get back into it again. I still have the scars and it’s something that I did that I will always regret: it hurt a lot of people around me and it’s on my body forever. It’s something I never felt comfortable talking about before.”
- In order to help those who are suffering from depression and anxiety like she did, she became the ambassador for YoungMinds, a mental health charity for children and young people. According to her,
I have always felt passionate about talking openly and removing the stigma around mental health after my own struggles as a teenager with anxiety, depression and self-harm left me feeling alone and unable to ask for help. Looking back, despite the fact almost half the class were struggling with different issues, we had no idea who or where to turn to.”
- She is also an event manager for the non-profit organization Educate2Eradicate, which is working to raise awareness about child-forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and honor-based abuse. According to her,
We provide safeguarding training for people. We train teachers and do assemblies and workshops with kids to educate them about these practices, to just make them aware that there are options. I’d spend my whole life working with young people if I could. I think they’re incredible.”
- There was a joke in her family that she was going to make her career playing younger versions of other actresses because she was often offered to play the younger selves of other actresses in her teens. She has played younger versions of roles of actresses like Keira Knightley, Angelina Jolie, and Margot Robbie.
- For her role in the series Ordeal by Innocence, she learned to play the piano. In an interview with BBC, she talked about it and said,
I had to learn Chopin’s Nocturne No 4 or 5, I used to play the piano when I was a kid but hadn’t played for ages, so sitting at a piano wasn’t completely alien to me but you do forget just how hard it is to play! It took me three months to learn five bars. It was really tough but really nice to do and I’ve slowly got back into my piano. And for Hester, it is another expression of her and who she is. She was taught to play with a book on her head and play these classical pieces. I imagine in her spare time she dreams of going to Greenwich and playing jazz, wearing trousers and drinking wine and just being herself which she never gets to explore.”
- Other than acting, she had voiced the character ‘Morland Kate’ in the audiobook ‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen, directed by Kate Jones.
- She is also the brand ambassador for Chanel, a brand that she represents mostly on the red carpet.
- Ella wasn’t sure about continuing her career in acting before she bagged the role of ‘Tess’ in Sweetbitter. According to Ella,
I thought, I’m 21, I haven’t had a job in a while, I really don’t know if this is a job I want to continue doing. The roles I was being offered were the girlfriend of the main, male character; a female that needs saving; or the goal, something that is wanted. Just there to be a sex object, portrayed as weak, pretty, nice.”
- Ella has several tattoos on her body; on the side of the left chest is a pinky promise tattoo; on her left thigh are barbed bee and dancing girl tattoos; on her left forearm is an octopus tattoo; on the right side of her back are two Cherub tattoos; on the back of her arms are, two koi fish tattoos; on the side of her right arm is a female symbol tattoo; above her right chest is a constellation tattoo.