Is Wallis Day the coolest actress in the world? Thus the headline to our previous interview with Day in 2018. Sure, the question was a little tongue-in-cheek but far less valid ones have been inserted into headlines. Make no mistake: Wallis Day is one very cool customer indeed.

Leave aside the successful acting career that takes her around the world. Consider her other qualities. Her 143 IQ would qualify her for Mensa. She rides a motorbike. Is trained in martial arts. Was expelled from numerous schools as a kid. (Everyone loves a rebel.) A former competitive swimmer who nearly represented Team GB in the London Olympics. Speaks several languages, although her Russian is rusty. Not yet 30 and her hinterland spans the whole horizon. 

When we last spoke, Day was preparing for the release of Krypton, a Superman prequel TV series that would run for two seasons. She was subsequently cast as Kate Kane in Batwoman after a fan campaign for her to replace Ruby Rose in the role. (Rose left the series after “multiple complaints about her workplace behaviour” according to a Warner Bros statement.) 

Day will next play the villainous Dark Annisia in the upcoming Red Sonja, hitting cinemas – well, a release date isn’t yet set but we’re hearing autumn, which would match the leaves. (For the uninitiated, Red Sonja first appeared in a 1973 Conan the Barbarian comic before graduating to her own series. The 1985 film starred Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold Schwarzenegger; the 2024 version has Day, Robert Sheehan, former UFC champion Michael Bisping and Matilda Lutz in the titular heroine.)   

A badass human needs a badass photoshoot so we secured the Astor Penthouse at 9 Millbank, yours for £35m. We’ll even include a copy of square mile.

A few months later, I caught up with Day over Zoom. The conversation flew by, despite my computer screen spawning the occasional emoji for reasons I still don’t understand. “It’s keeping us on our toes,” says Day after getting a thumbs up. No need: she’s been on her toes since day dot.   

Square Mile: So, our 2018 interview was headlined ‘Is Wallis Day The Coolest Actress in the World?’  

Wallis Day: That was such a cool headline! One of my favourite ever.

SM: Are you the coolest actress in the world? And if not you, who is? 

WD: Definitely Charlize Theron, 100%. She just oozes effortless cool vibes.

SM: Ever met her? 

WD: No. I would love to play her in a biopic. She’s had such an interesting, crazy, eventful life. Or a younger version of her character in a film or something. 

SM: Manifest it. 

WD: I’m going to start sticking up photos of Charlize Theron all over my house. 

Wallis Day for Square Mile
Wallis Day for Square Mile

SM: Biographical recap. Genius-level IQ, trained in martial arts, rides a motorbike, nearly swam for GB at the London Olympics, expelled from 11 schools, speaks Russian, highly successful actress, devoted dog owner – have I missed out anything?  

WD: [Laughing] No!

SM: Anything you would add now?

WD: No, I’ve not acquired any new skills. I’ve been too busy. I think I’ve hit my cap. I peaked too young.

SM: Where does the name Wallis come from? I don’t know many Wallises… 

WD: Me neither. My mum was told I was going to be a boy. When she was pregnant, she woke up in the middle of the night, and said, ‘She’s going to be a girl and she’s going to be called Wallis.’ My dad was like, ‘Go back to sleep.’ Then they found out I was going to be a girl. Mum was like,‘I told you! We have to name her Wallis.’ 

SM: You wake up at 5am every day, right? 

WD: Yeah, my dad wakes up super early, too – and I think we’re just freaks. We love waking up early and starting the day before everyone else. I like having time to myself where nobody bothers me and late at night doesn’t really work because the US is open and I’m getting calls till 2, 3am. If I can wake up at 5am then I feel so productive, like I’ve accomplished so much.

SM: How much sleep are you working off?

WD: You know what? I really hope this doesn’t come back to bite me but I feel like I’m pretty good with about four hours’ sleep. I’ve always been like that. And then every six months I’ll have a monster sleep where I’ll sleep for 16 hours or something. 

SM: I think Bill Clinton only needed four hours of sleep. And Margaret Thatcher.  

WD: To be fair, one of my teachers did say I was going to either run for Prime Minister or end up in prison. 

Wallis Day

SM: Do you have any habits or routines? 

WD: I do the shit that I don’t want to do the most, first. So loads of people love to do the little things, make their bed first, accomplish small tasks. I need to tackle the thing that I am procrastinating or putting off, otherwise I end up putting it off the whole day. Say, a self-tape or something. I need to do that first thing and then the rest of my day feels like a breeze.

SM: You’re doing self-tapes at 5am? 

WD: Well, the first thing I usually do is work out. I’ll do a 6am boxing class, come out at 7.15am, have a protein shake. My brain is fuelled, I’ve got the endorphins, my mind feels ready, my body feels ready, I’m stretched out and I’m ready to tackle the day. 

SM: I feel very lazy. 

WD: Can I just say that as soon as I’ve wrapped a shoot, I’m the complete opposite – for weeks I have to hibernate, not leave my bed, not work out. Nothing.

SM: Have you wrapped Red Sonja? 

WD: Yes, we have. We wrapped and it was such an exhilarating project, thrilled to be a part of such an iconic character. The movie’s full of action and it had such a captivating storyline. That wrap was a good wrap because my body was ready to rest.

SM: You play a villain? 

WD: I play the villain Dark Annisia. I actually went up for Red Sonja and auditioned to play her for 18 months. It was the longest process. They changed the director and they changed some of the attached cast and the writers. So it was a long process and I was auditioning with the original team at the beginning. They ended up choosing Matilda Lutz after our screentest, who is perfect for the role – so much better than I would’ve been! 

Two weeks later, I ran into the director MJ Bassett at the Cannes Film Festival and invited her over for lunch. She sent me a message about a week after Cannes, saying ‘Random, but we’d love to still work with you. Would you consider playing the villain?’ And I was like, ‘Hold my beer! That’s what I do best, baby!’ 

SM: Did you get a chance to use your martial arts skills?

WD: Oh my gosh, absolutely. Yeah, my martial arts skills came in so handy for this role. It was such a physical role and it allowed me to authentically bring the character to life. I got to connect with not only the character but you also really enhance the action choreography.

SM: What was your favourite thing about playing her?

WD: The complexity of her. She’s such a multifaceted character.  

Wallis Day

SM: Since we last spoke, you did Batwoman, replacing Ruby Rose as Kate Kane. How was that experience? 

WD: It was incredible. It was such an incredible journey. Obviously it came with challenges and rewards but definitely a rollercoaster ride. One that I’m extremely grateful for. I learned so much and I had the opportunity to collaborate with a really talented cast and stunt team and directors – and I got to make lifelong friends out of it. 

SM: Fans campaigned online for you to land the role…

WD: How heartwarming was that? Honestly, it was overwhelming. I’ve never had anything like that before. It was so heartwarming. Sorry, the dishwasher’s started going off… 

SM: I got my first dishwasher recently. 

WD: How amazing are they? They’re life changing. I still wash up stuff by hand though because I’m paranoid that little details in mugs or bowls are going to melt.

SM: With Batwoman, was it tough not to return for season three? If the chance arose again, would you return to the character?

WD: I mean, listen, it was definitely a bittersweet moment and while I’ll miss being part of that woman, I’m so excited for the next chapter – the opportunities and new projects that we’ve got coming up. So that’s what I’m looking forward to. 

But I feel like we did the character justice and portrayed her with the respect and authenticity that the fans deserved. 

SM: OK but if James Gunn phoned up and offered you a Batwoman film, or another TV series, would you accept?  

WD: I am always open to new opportunities and revisiting beloved characters, so if the chance to return as Kate Kane presented itself in a meaningful way, I would certainly consider it. That was quite a media-trained answer, wasn’t it?

SM: It was a suicide pass of a question…

WD: It was a suicide pass of a question! [Laughing.] Thanks, Max! 

Wallis Day
Wallis Day

SM: Rereading our last interview, I was struck by your hustle from a young age. Where does that come from?  

WD: It comes from a combination of passion for my craft and a determination to pursue my dreams. I’ve always been driven to push boundaries and seize opportunities, and that characteristic is a good trait to have in this industry.

SM: Even before acting, you were phoning up Models 1 at like 13 years old… 

WD: Well, I sent them a letter of photos on my wall. Honestly, I was so done with the newspaper round.

SM: I love the fact your dad thought it was a model aeroplane company. What do your parents do? Are they creative? 

WD: My dad’s very musical. My mum is very creative, but they are not in the industry. They restore properties, so like Grade I or II-listed houses; they bring them back to life. The property and the gardens and everything. They’re so cute.

Wallis Day

SM: You also competed as a swimmer to a really high level. What attributes did you take into your acting career? 

WD: Well, swimming at a high level definitely instilled discipline and resilience. And most importantly, goal setting. I feel like those attributes have been pretty invaluable with acting and life in general, helping me navigate big or small challenges, pursue what I want to pursue. 

SM: Your best time would’ve got you into the Olympic final, is that correct? 

WD: Yeah. We wouldn’t have won though, so please don’t start that rumour! But we would’ve qualified with my best. I try not to think about it too much. 

SM: It is not like it’s turned out badly…

WD: Maybe for my lungs. My lungs would’ve preferred me to be a swimmer.

SM: Tough decision to make so young.

WD: Oh my goodness, yeah. Balancing sports, modelling and acting alongside school was certainly a challenge, but it also taught me about time management and prioritisation. And when each thing required dedication or sacrifice, I was able to compartmentalise that, which I believe ultimately enriched my personal growth.

Wallis Day for Square Mile
Wallis Day for Square Mile

SM: I imagine having so much going on made it hard to prioritise school work? 

WD: It wasn’t a priority for me. I loved business as well. I had my own business; I had an events company. I loved being a little entrepreneur, so any way I could make money, I would. That was an events organisation company where we would throw parties in underage nightclubs. 

SM: How long did you do that for?

WD: Five years. It became seasonal: one for Halloween, one for Christmas party, another for Easter, which was also fancy dress. We’d do a summer party, which was always the most fun one. We ended up having to get council permits for these events because they got so out of hand. We had to look at venues that weren’t nightclubs because the capacity was too high for the clubs to facilitate them. We wanted to do a festival, so we met up with some farmers to borrow their land; me and my dad went to an airport hanger.

SM: Whereabouts were you doing this? 

WD: All over. It started in Cheltenham where I grew up. Wait… you’ve got birthday balloons coming up on your screen! Is it your birthday? 

SM: No! Not until September. 

WD: Well, happy birthday to whoever’s reading this. 

SM: How random. OK, this is a good question, if I say so myself. Everyone has crossroad moments in their life: decisions or events that made them the person they are today. What would you say yours are?

WD: Oh, that is such a good question! Sorry, my dog just did a massive, massive burp in the background.

SM: Where’s the dog?

WD: Arlo, come here! He’s very cute. He’s a Shiba Inu. Arlo is short for Charlotte. 

You asked about crossroads. One of my pivotal crossroad moments was transitioning from competitive swimming to pursuing a career in acting. That required a lot of courage but ultimately led me to my passion and my purpose.

Wallis Day

SM: Did you ever think about what you’d be doing if you weren’t an actor? 

WD: Oh gosh, yeah. I would’ve loved to be either an astronaut or a secret agent.

SM: Speaking Russian would help with secret agency.

WD: I wouldn’t say I even speak it anymore. With languages you have to keep tuned; I haven’t so I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I’m alright at French but probably not enough to be anything cool.  I really like languages; I went to language college for a bit. We did Latin, German, Spanish and French. There’s something arty about a language, isn’t there? 

SM: Latin is meant to be very useful for picking up languages. 

WD: It’s like a base. It’s interesting because German is obviously so different to English, but so many languages stem from the building blocks of Latin. 

SM: What are your proudest accomplishments to date – both as an actress and as a person?

WD: Well, as an actress, it would be being able to portray complex and compelling characters that resonate with audiences. That’s been incredibly fulfilling. 

And as a person, I’m proud of the journey I’ve undertaken to pursue my dreams and the growth and resilience that I’ve cultivated along the way.  It takes a lot of sacrifice, especially at a young age. As someone who’s in my twenties, I’ve begun recognising how hard those decisions would’ve been for a child.

SM: Can you give an example? 

WD: The biggest one would be leaving home at 15. That was heartbreaking. Not just for me, but obviously for my parents. But I needed to leave school and move back to London, really hone my craft and dedicate my life to acting. →

SM: Were you living with friends? 

WD: Yeah, I lived with a roommate. I went to Sylvia Young Theatre School, and I lived with my best friend from that school.

Wallis Day

SM: As an actor, your life takes you around the world. Where’s home for you?

WD: Home for me is where I feel the most sense of connection. When I touch down in England or when I’m with my parents, I feel the most connected to me and who I am. So while my career takes me to various locations, I find home in the moment spent with loved ones. It’s the people where I feel most grounded and the most at peace.

SM: Best advice you’ve ever received?

WD: To stay true to myself and to never lose sight of my values and integrity, no matter the circumstances. I’ve heard it a lot of times throughout my journey. My nan was the most prominent person I heard that from. It’s been a guiding principle that’s helped me navigate the ups and downs of my career. 

SM: How do you deal with the setbacks? 

WD: Setbacks are a natural part of life. I try to approach them as opportunities for growth and learning. I lean on my support system. I try to stay as resilient as I can, focus on finding solutions or the silver lining in terms of moving forward. 

I’ve learned to love myself through self-healing and therapy. More recently I’ve learned that the only person that can really reject you is yourself, if that’s what you choose. And I choose to not reject myself. So knowing that I’ve always got myself makes the setbacks easier.

SM: How long have you been doing therapy for? 

WD: Since I was a kid. Since 12, 13 maybe. I always had therapy but it was different kinds of therapy. More recently I’ve been doing rapid transformational therapy, RTT, which is a type of therapy created by a therapist called Marisa Peer. Hypnotherapy for me has been really, really beneficial.

SM: You get hypnotised? 

WD: It sounds weird, doesn’t it? But it’s quite interesting. My mum recommended it. She’s an RTT therapist now as well. 

They put you in a state where you are not asleep but you are not quite awake; it’s your subconscious, right? So you are kind of taking it all in and you wake up and you don’t really know what’s happened. Then you go away with the recording and you listen to it for 21 days before you go to bed to ingrain it into your mind. 

Wallis Day

SM: I remember you listened to ‘Paradise’ by Coldplay after booking your first acting job – a Nintendo Wii advert. Any other songs or books with meaning to you? 

WD: I really like ‘Unstoppable’ by Sia. That is such a strong anthem. If I’m about to go into a screen test or I need to feel super confident in myself I’ll listen to that.

I really like self-help books; I’ve just finished a book called I’m Enough Actually by Marisa Peer, which is really insightful. The book I’m reading right now is called The Body Keeps the Score.

I think the more you can get to know the human species, the more you get to know yourself as a person. I’m really into psychology and how the brain works – anything where I can help understand myself is really helpful. 

SM: Where does that come from? 

WD: That has a lot to do with acting and characters. Understanding the human psyche, human behaviour, I just find it the most fascinating thing in the world. 

I believe that we are the universe having a human experience and that my body is just a vessel. So trying to understand as many different things as possible through this mind is really interesting to me.

SM: How does the universe thing work? 

WD: Well, we’re all parts of the universe, we’re all atoms, we’re all just bits of dust at the end of the day. We don’t even know what we are, so it really fascinates me, the whole subject. I could talk to you about it for hours. I’m sure you don’t want me to. 

Wallis Day

SM: Your profile is getting bigger and bigger. How do you stay grounded and maintain a sense of self?

WD: Staying grounded has always been really important to me. I prioritise self-care and mindfulness. Maintaining meaningful connections with loved ones is really important to both those pieces of the puzzle as well. I find solace in nature and creative pursuits. They all keep me centred and connected to my most authentic self. 

SM: In ten years time, where would you hope to be? Personally and professionally?

WD: Wow, in my thirties. Oh, you got a thumbs up! 

SM: What’s going on with my Zoom? 

WD: I don’t know but it’s keeping me very entertained! OK, ten years’ time? I hope to continue growing and evolving as an artist, taking diverse and challenging roles that push the boundaries of storytelling. And I aspire to make a positive impact on the world, both through my work and through meaningful philanthropic ventures. Endeavour is probably the better word. 

SM: Any roles that you’d particularly like to play? You mentioned James Bond… 

WD: Hey, I’d still love to do a Bond. That would be so cool. There are so many different types of characters that I would adore. From the gritty stuff like Gia or Girl Interrupted to the high octane like Atomic Blonde, Salt. Charlize Theron in Monster, oh my gosh that was so Christian Bale of her. I love that. Sorry, it’s word vomit. When you ask triggering character questions like that, my mind just comes to life! 

SM: Like a firework. We’ll get one of those on my Zoom at any moment. Finally, are there any other upcoming projects we should know about?

WD: Well, while I can’t share specific details at the moment, I’m really excited about several upcoming projects that I’m currently involved in. So stay tuned for more announcements! 

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Red Sonja is out later this year.