British actress Lucy Davis is best known for her comedic chops. You may have seen her in Shaun of the Dead or on the FX comedy series Better Things. But you probably know her as receptionist Dawn Tinsley on the U.K. version of The Office (you know — the original version). “It brought new things into my life, opportunities that I hadn’t had before, doors opened that hadn’t opened before,” Davis tells ET of the role that first brought her fame.
Today, the 44-year-old Brit is taking on a new kind of role as Etta Candy, sidekick and best friend to Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince, in the upcoming superhero film Wonder Woman. Davis’ take on the role marks the first time Etta is making an appearance in a live-action feature film.
“She’s a woman in a man’s world and so being heard and seen aren’t the easiest things, but it kind of doesn’t deter her. Etta is unapologetically herself and I think that that’s the thing that has drawn me to her the most,” Davis explains of the character, admitting that “it took quite a while in my life to be unapologetically myself.”
It wasn’t just her connection to Etta’s independence that led the actress to play the role. In fact, taking the job was a full-circle moment for the star, since Davis has been a fan of the classic female superhero since she was a little girl.
“I was obsessed with Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman and I was obsessed with Dynasty. If I was play acting on a weekend, I might dress up like Joan Collins,” she recalled.
Davis’ path to acting began when she was young. Davis is the daughter of legendary British comedian Jasper Carrott and, though she acted in school plays as a kid, she originally wanted to be a teacher, forcing her three younger siblings to be her students. While Davis’ first screen credit is a co-starring role with her father on an episode of the British crime comedy The Detectives, her breakthrough role came eight years later with The Office.
“When we first filmed our first season, we had no idea how it would be received. The first episode of The Office aired and we had less viewing figures than a program on women bowling,” Davis reflected. “When we came back to do season two, we were like, ‘Oh great, people are watching us.’”
Saying that people were “watching” is an understatement, as the BBC sitcom was so successful that it launched seven international versions. Davis celebrates the U.S. version of the show — starring Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Mindy Kaling, Ed Helms, Ellie Kemper and Jenna Fischer as Pam, the American counterpart to the character Davis originated — telling ET, “I probably watched that eight or nine times through from the start to the end on Netflix, and I love it.”
When it comes to a potential reboot of the sitcom, Davis would definitely want to be involved. “I think if Ricky [Gervais] and Steve [Merchant] wanted to, I can’t see why I wouldn’t [sign on], because I trust them,” she says. “They’re super good at what they do and their instincts are right. They’re just amazing. So if they wanted to do it, I would just assume that what they were going to write would be fab. I understand why we stopped and I like that we did.”
Now it’s about the next step for Davis as she broadens her appeal in the U.S. When talking about her future in Hollywood, she muses, “I love that I get to do comedy a lot. I’ve done this job for 24 years and the more I do, the more I’m aware that I am slowly going that route.”
“I would have loved to have worked with Alan Rickman,” she notes when asked about future co-stars. Davis would also want to work with Steve Martin (her favorite movie is The Jerk) and Amy Schumer, saying that she laughed out loud at Schumer’s film, Snatched. “I think she’s genius. I love her. I think she’s one of the best things to come out.”
Wonder Woman is in theaters on June 2nd.