In Brief

Naked and hungry: actress suffers for Natascha Kampusch role

Antonia Campbell-Hughes undergoes drastic weight loss and films sex scenes for 3096 kidnap film

THE story of Natascha Kampusch, the Austrian girl kidnapped at the age of 10 by Wolfgang Priklopil and abused for eight years, is to be brought to the big screen. The actress playing Kampusch - Antonia Campbell-Hughes - has gone Method to play the role, undergoing a drastic weight loss.

"The one thing that I have been adamant about is that I am playing a character in a script," she told the London Evening Standard.

"It's not a biopic or a case study. But playing someone real, you feel you have to give a bit more. There was an understanding from the beginning that I would suffer as much as she did."

Kampusch revealed in 3096, her book about the ordeal (named after the number of days she spent in captivity), that she had been starved by Priklopil as he sought to break her will. Campbell-Hughes, known for her role as Jack Dee's daughter in Lead Balloon, recounts the further degradations that were meted out.

"Parts of my head have been shaved. I've been naked for the last two months, pretty much," the 30-year-old reveals. The weight loss "happened very easily. I am working 24/7, and I sort of replicated the way [Natascha] ate - not very much, not very often."

There are also sex scenes in the film, which is being filming in Munich in an exact replica of Priklopil's Strasshof house and the five-metre-square dungeon where Kampusch spent eight years until she escaped in 2006. Again, Campbell-Hughes is remarkably phlegmatic about portraying the ordeal.

"I don't consider it rape," she tells the Standard. "At the time Natascha didn't look at it that way. Afterwards, she could look back and say, I see it is wrong for these reasons: my freedom was taken from me, which is effectively rape. But I have to think as she did at the time."

Kampusch's tale has morbidly fascinated her countrymen. Many believe there is more to the story of her imprisonment. An Austrian politician claimed last year that Natascha had become pregnant and had a child with Priklopil, and that the existence of the baby had been covered up by police.

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