11 Jan 2009: Why the Happy-Go-Lucky girl sees herself as Cinders

Kate Winslet might be the new A-list Brit in Hollywood, but Sally Hawkins is America’s new indie sweetheart. London-born Hawkins has picked up nine US critics’ awards for her portrayal of bubbly schoolteacher Poppy in Mike Leigh‘s Happy-Go-Lucky. She’s up against Meryl Streep in the Golden Globes tonight and there’s even talk of an Oscar nomination.

Can you beat Meryl Streep and the might of Mamma Mia!?

I’m a bit embarrassed to be in a category that includes Meryl, Emma Thompson and Frances McDormand. They’re almost not real because they’re so iconic.

Dare you even contemplate an Oscar nomination?

No! It’s ridiculous. My head would explode. I’d be an idiot to think it’s even a possibility.

Why have Americans embraced Happy-Go-Lucky more than Brits?

If you’re open to the film, it can be life-enhancing because it celebrates life, love and friendship. Perhaps we’re more cynical and insular; we find it easier to dismiss the film’s essential warmth. Like all Mike’s work, Happy-Go-Lucky creates an extreme reaction, it’s divisive. But his films also have a long shelf life, so perhaps people will change their minds, as they did with Naked.

Have you decided what to wear for the Golden Globes?

I can’t pretend to be one of those buffed beauties. But it’s the ultimate Cinderella dream. Maybe it will dissolve as the clock strikes midnight and I’ll be left standing in my pants. God, what a thought.

Is it worse not getting an award or walking up on stage to accept it?

It’s incredibly frightening if you win. You’re presenting yourself, not a character. But hey, it’s always great to win.