The War Zone
Discovered by a casting director while shopping on the Portobello Road, British actress Lara Belmont made a stunning debut as an 18-year-old girl who has a secret sexual relationship with her father (played by Ray Winstone) in Tim Roth's directorial debut, "The War Zone" (1999), an adaptation of Alexander Stuart's novel which also stars Tilda Swinton, Colin Farrell, and Freddie Cunliffe.
She has since appeared in such British films as "Bread and Roses" (2000), "Long Time Dead" (2002), "Oh Marbella!" (2003), and "Rise of the Footsoldier" (2007). She also starred in the made-for-television movies "The Swap" (2002), "Crime and Punishment" (2002), "Killing Hitler" (2003), and "Henry VIII" (2003), as well as guest starred in two episodes of long-running British television police procedural series "The Bill."
Childhood and Family:
Lara Belmont was born in 1980 in Oxford, England, UK. She was discovered by a casting director while shopping on the Portobello Road.
Take Me Back
Shortly after being discovered, a 19-year-old Lara Belmont made her film debut in director Tim Roth's film adaptation of Alexander Stuart's novel, "The War Zone" (1999). In Roth's directorial debut that also stars Ray Winstone, Tilda Swinton, Colin Farrell, and Freddie Cunliffe, Belmont played an 18-year-old girl who has a secret sexual relationship with her father (Winstone). Upon its release, the movie that takes a blunt look at incest in an English family won nine awards and 10 nominations. Belmont also won Best Newcomer Award at the British Independent Film Awards and Spirit of Independents at the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival. She was also nominated British Independent Film Awards' Best Actress and Chicago Film Critics Association Awards' Most Promising Actress.
"Jessie is quiet and keeps to herself. She's quite happy the family has moved to Devon because when she goes back to college in London, Dad won't be there. She's sexually aware and uses her sexuality, but really just wants to be loved. Shooting the film was an emotionally exhausting experience, especially the scenes between Jessie and Dad, but I just distanced myself from it and didn't think about it. Ray and Tilda really helped; they made me and Freddie feel relaxed and not think about acting. I did have to think carefully about doing the film because of what it's about, but I knew Tim wanted to do something truthful which is important to me." Lara Belmont (on her character in “The War Zone” (1999)).
Following her film debut, Belmont had an uncredited cameo appearance as a party guest in Ken Loach's critically-acclaimed, fact-based drama film "Bread and Roses" (2000; starring Adrien Brody). Two years later, in 2002, Belmont returned to films, starring in "Ashes and Sand," a drama directed by Bob Blagden in which she co-starred with Nick Moran, and "Long Time Dead," a suspense horror/thriller by Marcus Adams in which she teamed with Lukas Haas, James Hillier, Mel Raido, Marsha Thomason, playing a group of British students embark on summoning spirits on a Ouija board after a night of clubbing.
That same year, she also played lead roles in the made-for-television movies "The Swap," playing the nineteen-year-old daughter of Michael Maloney and Jemma Redgrave's characters who was slightly disturbed by the constant arguing of her parents, and "Crime and Punishment," an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel in which she portrayed Sonya Marmeladova, the only daughter of Philip Jackson's Marmaladov who who has been forced to become a prostitute to feed her stepbrother and sisters.
2003 saw Belmont in Piers Ashworth's comedy movie "Oh Marbella!" alongside Rik Mayall, Tom Bell, and Mike Reid. On the small screen, she could be seen in the TV movies "Killing Hitler," drama-documentary about Operation Foxley, a 1944 British plan to assassinate Adolf Hitler, and "Henry VIII," a two-part TV series documenting the stormy 38-year reign of the King of England (played by Ray Winstone) in which she portrayed his younger sister Mary Tudor.
After playing Elaine Ward in two 2004 episodes of long-running British television police procedural series "The Bill," Belmont returned to the big screen in Jonty Kenton's 10-minute short film "Take Me Back" (2005), playing the amnesic girlfriend of Christian Coulson's character, and in Col Spector's comedy "Someone Else" (2006), portraying the exciting but tricky Nina who becomes the love interest of Stephen Mangan's thirty-something photographer character.
More recently, Belmont starred in Faye Jackson's 12-minute short/thriller film "Lump" (2006) and played a supporting role in Julian Gilbey's "Rise of the Footsoldier" (2007), a gangster film based on the biography of Carlton Leach, a former football hooligan who became a powerful figure of the British underworld. Starring Ricci Harnett, Craig Fairbrass, Roland Manookian, Frank Harper, and Billy Murray, the latter film was met with largely negative reviews, but had became popular with the British public.
British Independent Film: Best Newcomer, "The War Zone," 1999
Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival: Spirit of Independents, "The War Zone," 1999