Anna Maxwell Martin has been the face of the year, says Rhiannon Evans in Grazia. After her starring role as buttoned-up detective Patricia Carmichael in Line of Duty, her smug expressions went viral. Pictures of the “achingly irritating” character pursing her lips were shared on Twitter. Captions called her the physical embodiment of passive aggression – a Monday-morning alarm come to life. I’m “super-chuffed”, she says, to be 2021’s biggest meme.
Yet people don’t recognise her. A week after Line of Duty’s finale, the 44-year-old reprised her role as a frazzled mum in the BBC comedy Motherland; fans of the police drama couldn’t believe it was the same actress. “I think there must be something about my face that’s quite rubbery and it morphs into the background.” Maxwell Martin got her first break nearly 20 years ago, in a National Theatre production of His Dark Materials – but no one ever stops her in the street. “Maybe I look so haggy and baggy in real life that people just can’t tell.”
Maybe. But she doesn’t do social media, except for the occasional Instagram post of her dog. As a divorced mum of two, “I’m not hugely interested in people constantly posting or looking like they have super-idyllic lives”. Twitter is also a no-go: “You can’t let this gob loose on Twitter. I’d be cancelled before you could say, ‘Hashtag the face of the cancelled year.’”