Icelandic actress Hera Hilmar has said that playing a leading lady with a prominent facial scar in the new Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of fantasy novel Mortal Engines was "refreshing" and a sign that Hollywood might be changing.

Hera Hilmar and Jihae talk Mortal Engines

Mortal Engines, which is based on the books of the same name by Philip Reeves, is set in a far flung future when cities have become mobile and roam the globe hunting down smaller cities to add to their wealth and resources.

Speaking to RTÉ Entertainment, Hilmar, who plays Hester Shaw, a feral young woman who is seeking revenge, said she was proud to be playing a leading lady with a facial disfigurement.

London is on the move in Mortal Engines 

"I think it’s important to ask the question what is beautiful. The movie business keeps telling us what is beautiful all the time so I think it’s very refreshing to see a female heroine who is actually scarred on the face. That doesn’t really happen that much."

Her co-star, American actress, activist and singer Jihae, who plays renegade aviatrix Anna Fang in the movie, agreed. "It think it’s revolutionary, I think it’s wonderful," she said. "Beauty is not just about what’s skin deep."

In Mortal Engines, Hester Shaw teams up with Fang and London outcast Tom Natsworthy, who is played by Laois-born actor Robert Sheehan, to take on the might of London and in particular the power hungry Thaddeus Valentine, who is played by Hugo Weaving.

Hugo Weaving in Mortal Engines

With a screenplay by Lord of The Rings director Peter Jackson, the epic movie may be the first in a series of Mortal Engine adaptations.

Mortal Engines is in cinemas on December 8.