Until she was cast opposite Daniel Craig in James Bond's 23rd outing, the pretty Londoner could easily have gone unnoticed on the underground – even when sitting right underneath a poster for one of her productions.
That's despite Danny Boyle, the director of her breakthrough film 28 Days Later, describing her as "phenomenally talented".
"She lights up the screen. Your eyes just go to her. It’s something to do with her relationship with the camera," added the British filmmaker, who cast her in the 2002 post-apocalyptic zombie thriller.
Born in North London, the only child of TV writer and single mum Liselle Kayle, who had her aged 18, she joined a children's drama club and soon landed a role in kids' series Simon And The Witch.
Then came a break to study social and political sciences at Cambridge University, a time she didn't enjoy.
"I hated it. The people there were so different to me. They talked about Eton and skiing and here I was, this black girl from Finsbury Park.
"I just felt so lonely. There was only one other black person in my year; I was very unhappy and cried every day."
Enrolling at Bristol's Old Vic Theatre School gave the Finsbury Park girl her confidence back.
On her graduation, the parts began to roll in – a machete-wielding survivor in 28 Days Later, the lead in acclaimed TV series White Teeth, and the role of a voodoo priestess in the Pirates franchise.
Between sharing the screen with Johnny Depp and his band of marauders she joined Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx in Miami Vice.
Despite having several friends among the alternative Hollywood set including Orlando Bloom and Woody Harrelson, the British beauty has never divulged any details about her personal life.
The Bond girl will only let on that she lives alone in a house down the road from her mother, who first encouraged her to go to acting class and whom she calls her best friend to this day.