Actress with a song in her heart

Actress turned singer Mary Elizabeth Winstead.  Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/PA Photos

Actress turned singer Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/PA Photos

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When news emerges of an actor releasing an album, it’s hard to stifle the groans.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s new album, I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now, however, is a very different kettle of fish.

Winstead has teamed up Dan The Automator (real name Dan Nakamura), whose also worked with the likes of Cornershop, DJ Shadow and Kasabian. In musical circles, he’s regarded as royalty.

The pair met on the set of 2010 film Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, the movie Winstead’s best known for; Nakamura was working on the score.

“We all went out for dinner; me, the director and all these other people from the film,” the 29-year-old actress explains. “I didn’t really talk at all at the dinner, I was nervous, but before I left I had to tell [Nakamura] I was a huge fan. I loved the record he produced for Lovage, and the music he’d made with Gorillaz and as Handsome Boy Modeling School.”

It wasn’t until a year or so later, however, that the idea of working together came up, at the film’s premier. In the time in between, Nakamura had seen a YouTube video of Winstead singing a song she’d written.

The pair discovered that they shared a love of Sixties French pop, or ‘ye-ye’ music as it’s known; Nakamura revealed he’d recently been listening to a lot of the genre. “I couldn’t believe it, because at the same time, that was my obsession,” says Winstead, who first trained as a ballet dancer.

Nakamura sent her the bare bones of Did We Live Too Fast - a song that would, almost four years later, become their debut single - and asked her to write some lyrics.

As it turned out, she could write lyrics, and one song eventually turned into two, then three and then four and, two years on, they’d given their project a name - Got A Girl - and recorded enough material for an album.