Starring in Crazy Rich Asians and Captain Marvel turned Gemma Chan into a household name. But it was not always so easy. She talks about giving up law, dealing with shyness and becoming Hollywood royalty
Gemma Chan is nervous, as if she’s waiting for the dentist to perform a particularly painful extraction. We meet in a café filled with babies and tired-looking mothers, in a fancy, rich-people part of north London. The setting is appropriate, given what we’re here to talk about: I Am Hannah, the new improvised Channel 4 drama she co-created with director Dominic Savage. It tells the story of a woman in her mid-30s who dates, scattershot, via apps, while feeling the weight of the biological and social pressures to have a baby. Chan, 36, is keen to point out that it is not autobiographical.
“I mean, God. I have friends who are so happily married with children, on their third, some friends who’ve done it who are struggling with elements of it, and other friends who have no interest in it, are free and single.” She inhales sharply. “Yeah. It’s weird. I do find it strange that in your 30s, suddenly, you become more aware that, if I’m going to do it, try to have a biological child, I need to think about it now.” She clams up. “Sorry, I don’t have anything to add to that.”