Between movies, Gemma Arterton likes to play the floozy. She's currently on London's West End, starring as a vapid Hilton-esque party girl in the Hollywood satire The Little Dog Laughed, a part that would seem well-suited for a gorgeous 24-year-old. But Arterton's spot-on send-up of the typical American pop tart has an ironic tinge, given that everything about her—from the accent to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art pedigree—is British.

"In America, nobody has any idea who I am or how to pronounce my name," the Kent native says. "They call me Gim-ma."

The g is soft, as in gem, but the days of having to explain that to Yanks will soon be behind her. Arterton, best known as James Bond's oil-drenched lover in Quantum of Solace, can currently be seen in the big-budget remake of Clash of the Titans, playing the Greek demigoddess Io, the spiritual adviser to Sam Worthington's Perseus. "There are a lot of men in the film going, 'Ah, let's kill this! Let's kill that!'" she says. "I'm in the middle saying, 'Let's think about it.'"

Her role wasn't so different between takes. "My mum used to read us Greek mythology for bedtime stories," Arterton says, "so when I was on set I'd be talking about the myths and Sam and Mads Mikkelsen would be playing around pretending their swords were their dicks."

Arterton will showcase her own fighting skills later this month in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced video-game adaptation that looks to be Disney's next Pirates of the Caribbean-style franchise. She plays Princess Tamina, who teams up with rival prince Jake Gyllenhaal to prevent an epic sandstorm. Part of the blockbuster publicity push involves courting fanboys, a task that Arterton, who'd never heard of the game before being cast, is still getting used to. "They want me to go to Comic-Con. It kind of worries me," she says. "I've gotten letters telling me I'm not right for the part because I don't look like the girl in the video game! She really is this sex goddess. They've got massively high standards."

Arterton's goddess streak will be broken in June with her title role in The Disappearance of Alice Creed, a gritty kidnapping thriller. "I didn't have to say the word destiny once," she says. "I've been saying that for the last two years." The part also required nudity, which, for the record, she's comfortable with—to a point. "I wouldn't get my kit off for just any film," Arterton says. "On camera I really didn't give a shit, but as soon as they said 'Cut!' I was like, 'Someone put the dressing gown over me!'"

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