It's just possible that you've seen Sonoya Mizuno before.

Perhaps you caught her a few years back when she was dancing with Scottish Ballet. Conceivably you've seen her modelling in the pages of i-D or Dazed & Confused. Or maybe, just maybe, you saw her wearing Chanel, Alexander McQueen and Saint Laurent in photographer Can Evgin's fashion short for Louis Vuitton-backed culture website Nowness. The one in which she duetted with an albino python. ("Her name was Heather," Mizuno says. "She was just so cool and so chilled out.")

But if you haven't, it doesn't matter. You will see her very soon. Mizuno makes her big-screen debut this month in Alex Garland's film Ex Machina. Oscar bait apart, it's likely to be the first must-see film of the year. That's partly because of the cast. Mizuno appears alongside Oscar Isaac, star of the Coen Brothers' last film Inside Lewellyn Davis, Brendan Gleason's son Domhnall, and Sweden's next big thing Alicia Vikander after all. It's also partly because this is screenwriter Garland's directorial debut and given his screenwriting track record - Sunshine, 28 Days Later, and the adaptation, with John Hodge, of his own novel The Beach, for Danny Boyle - it is much anticipated. And it's partly because the idea of the film sounds so sci-fi smart; it's a film about artificial intelligence and asks the key question what makes us human. Come on, why would you not want to see it?

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Mizuno has just managed to catch the final version when we speak and she's buzzing about it. "I felt really proud, I have to say."

For Mizuno, who was born in Tokyo and grew up in Somerset, the film is also a marker. A marker that she has arrived where she has always wanted to be.

"I wanted to be an actress from when I was very young," she says. "My mother's brother, my uncle, was an actor, quite well known in the West End. He used to come over to our house and he and I would put on performances for my family. From that, this love of performing and acting grew."

Mizuno's uncle was Edward Duke, best known for playing Bertie Wooster on stage. "He said to my mother you know if she really wants to act she needs to go to stage school." Instead, her mum sent her to learn to dance first. Six months later she auditioned for the Royal Ballet Associate Programme. Ten years later she graduated from the Royal Ballet School a trained dancer.

Are the dancer's skill sets transferable to acting? "I think in some ways. At the moment I feel I'm on this journey of discovery, really learning how to use my skills and craft that I've learnt as a dancer.

"On the other hand I do see how different it is. Ballet is something for which you need so much control and composure. And there's an element to acting that is the complete opposite. You have to be able to completely let go and reveal everything about yourself. It's about being very vulnerable."

The second youngest in a family of five, Mizuno's roots are as exotic as her looks. Her father is Japanese, her mother half-English, half-Argentinian. Her parents separated when she was two, hence the move to Somerset. As a dancer she has inevitably moved around too. In 2012 that brought her to Glasgow and Scottish Ballet, attracted by the arrival of Christopher Hampton as artistic director. "In the UK it seems like there's been a lot of companies who have been quite stagnant with their repertoire. Chris seems to be very brave and taking lots of risks and that's one of the reasons I auditioned because it seemed like it was going to be an interesting time. And I think it continues to be."

What did she make of the city she found herself in? "I really liked Glasgow. I really liked living there for a year. It's a very fun city and it has a lot to offer young people who are interested in music and art. It's a very creative city. And it's also nice and cheap compared to London."

But it's acting she is now concentrating on. Her role in Ex Machina is small but pivotal and later this year she will be seen in new dance movie High Strung (so possibly the pointe shoes aren't totally redundant). "Acting, I would say now, is my job. It's what I'm pursuing. It's my goal. I've had this opportunity and I'm taking it while I can."

Sunoya Mizuno is intent on making herself visible. You've seen it here first.

Ex Machina goes on general release on January 23.

TEDDY JAMIESON