Ella Purnell

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Ella Purnell
Ella Purnell 2018.png
Purnell in 2018
Ella Summer Purnell[1]

(1996-09-17) 17 September 1996 (age 23)

Ella Summer Purnell (born 17 September 1996) is an English actress best known for the films Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016) and Churchill (2017). She is currently starring in the lead role of the American television series Sweetbitter, based on the novel of the same name.

Life and career[edit]

Purnell was born and raised in London. In August 2018 she moved to Brooklyn, New York.[2] She attended Forest School, the City of London School for Girls and Young Actors Theatre Islington.[3] She used to attend weekly classes at Sylvia Young Theatre School, studying acting, singing and dance, and was formerly represented by their in-house talent agency the Sylvia Young Agency. She is now represented by The Rights House.


In 2008 she beat hundreds of other girls for a role in Oliver! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London.[4] She was one of only a few girls chosen to appear in the children's ensemble and remained in the show for a year.

Towards the end of her time in Oliver!, she won the role of Young Ruth in Mark Romanek's Never Let Me Go – a feature film based on the acclaimed book by Kazuo Ishiguro.[5] This was a main role, in which Ella played the younger version of Keira Knightley's character; the script is set for the first half in Hailsham boarding school, where the main characters are children, and in the second half tells of their lives after leaving the school.

After filming this, Ella was cast as Kayleigh in Gustavo Ron's Ways to Live Forever, adapted from the book by Sally Nicholls.[6] She was also cast as Mia in Juan Carlos Fresnadillos Intruders which filmed in the summer of 2010 in London and Madrid. She plays the daughter of Clive Owen and is the central character.[7] She was named by Screen International as one of 10 UK Stars of Tomorrow.[8] Purnell also appeared in the BBC HD Film Short Candy in June 2011.

She appeared in the feature film Kick-Ass 2 (2013), alongside actress Chloë Grace Moretz. She also appeared as a main character in the independent film, WildLike, and as a teenage version of Angelina Jolie's character Maleficent in Disney's 2014 film Maleficent.

Purnell starred alongside Eva Green in Tim Burton's adaptation of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, based on the novel of the same name, by Ransom Riggs.[9] It was released in 2016. In 2015 she filmed Access All Areas, in which she stars as Mia alongside actress Georgie Henley.The film was released in 2017.[10]

In 2017, Purnell appeared in the historical drama film Churchill, playing Winston Churchill's secretary Helen Garrett.[11] The film co-stars Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, and John Slattery.


In 2018, Purnell appeared in the BBC mini-series Ordeal By Innocence, based on the Agatha Christie book of the same name. Purnell played Hester Argyll, the youngest adopted child of the mysterious Argyll family.[12]

Purnell is currently starring in the lead role of the Starz show Sweetbitter, based on Stephanie Danler's internationally best-selling novel of the same name. Purnell plays Tess, a naive 22-year-old who moves to New York City to pursue a new life, and gets caught up in the world of fine dining.[13] After its first season aired in early 2018, Sweetbitter was renewed for a forthcoming second season.[14]


Year Title Role Notes
2010 Never Let Me Go Young Ruth
Ways to Live Forever Kayleigh
2011 Candy Candy BBC HD short
Intruders Mia
2013 Kick-Ass 2 Dolce
2014 Wildlike MacKenzie
Maleficent Teen Maleficent
2016 The Journey is the Destination Amy
The Legend of Tarzan Young Jane Porter (uncredited body double)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Emma Bloom
2017 Churchill Helen Garrett
Access All Areas Mia
2018 UFO Natalie
2020 Army of the Dead Kate Ward Post-production
Year Title Role Notes
2015 Cyberbully Megan TV film
2018 Ordeal by Innocence Hester Argyll TV mini-series[15]
2018 - 2019 Sweetbitter Tess Lead Role[16]
Year Title Role Company Director
2017 Natives A Southwark Playhouse Rob Drummer

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result
2015 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Best Actress WildLike Won
Hill Country Film Festival Best Actress Nominated
Gasparilla International Film Festival Best Female Performance Won
Naperville Independent Film Festival Best Actress Nominated
Twister Alley International Film Festival Best Actress – Feature Film Won
Myrtle Beach International Film Festival Best Actress Won
Richmond International Film Festival Best Actress Won


  1. ^ https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/officers/mx3VnR1x7UttNrk7ctnFA1OVzxI/appointments
  2. ^ "Who Is 'Sweetbitter's' Ella Purnell?". ELLE. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Asa Butterfield and Ella Purnell Interview at Young Actors Theatre Islington - YouTube". web.archive.org. 8 April 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Ella Purnell | Screen". Screendaily.com. 6 July 2010. Archived from the original on 3 October 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  5. ^ "First trailer for 'Never Let Me Go' with Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan". Moviejungle.com. 16 June 2010. Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  6. ^ "Ways to live forever – The Movie". Waystoliveforever.com. 23 December 2009. Archived from the original on 1 August 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  7. ^ Cooper, Sarah (14 July 2010). "Fersnadillo starts shooting thriller Intruders in London". Screendaily.com. Archived from the original on 4 December 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  8. ^ "Stars of Tomorrow 2010". Screenterrier.blogspot.com. Archived from the original on 3 October 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  9. ^ "Two teenage British stars are set to join Eva Green". Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  10. ^ Clarke, Cath (19 October 2017). "Access All Areas review – Hollyoaks goes Bestival in a teen music festival caper". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  11. ^ "'Churchill' shoot begins; cast revealed". Screen. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  12. ^ "BBC - Interview with Ella Purnell - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Ella Purnell on the Starz Series 'Sweetbitter' and Her Disastrous Audition". Collider. 3 May 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  14. ^ Otterson, Joe (13 July 2018). "'Sweetbitter' Renewed for Season 2 at Starz". Variety. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  15. ^ Billen, Andrew (31 March 2018). "Ordeal by Innocence: the Christie Mystery that almost got away". The Times (72497). Saturday Review. pp. 4–5. ISSN 0140-0460.
  16. ^ Petski, Denise (6 October 2017). "'Sweetbitter': Ella Purnell To Star In Starz Drama Series Based On Book". Deadline. Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.

External links[edit]