Two nights before I meet Frank Dillane in a London café, he fell on a wine glass, resulting in nine stitches across his palm. A girl has already written hate on the bandage. There is something of the devil about the 23-year-old actor, who famously played Lord Voldemort as a teenager in 2009’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Satan often turns up in his dreams, and he looks a bit haunted when recounting his latest role playing a teenage sailor in Ron Howard’s upcoming historical drama In the Heart of the Sea. The film is a taut dramatization of the 1820 whaleship Essex tragedy, a shipping disaster that was the inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. “I’m such an idiot that I took the whole starving thing a bit too far,” Dillane recalls. “No food, two hours in the gym, and 14 hours on a boat every day takes its toll. Everything that is an unnecessary perk goes out the window—sexual libido, peace of mind, and then happiness.”
Dillane will again get to delve into extremes for his next role, playing the junkie son of a guidance counselor for the AMC series Fear the Walking Dead, a Walking Dead spin-off set in Los Angeles with characters living in the same postapocalyptic world. In preparation, he has been carrying around a copy of Thomas De Quincey’s 1821 drug memoir, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. “My character is debating whether he’s insane or not,” he explains.
The son of British actor Stephen Dillane, Frank first appeared on camera when his dad starred in the 1997 Balkan war docudrama Welcome to Sarajevo. Now Dillane is deep into his own career with plenty of projects about to be released. One is his role as a roadie caught up in a love triangle with a singer (Dakota Fanning) and a drummer (Jeremy Allen White) in the drama Viena and the Fantomes. Filmed in Las Vegas, the setting allowed Dillane to let loose a bit. “It’s one of those places where you have to be drunk to cope with it,” he spouts. “You go mad. Now I understand that old proverb: There are things I shall never speak of again.” He is also hazy about his work on the hush-hush upcoming Wachowskis Netflix series Sense8, about strangers from around the world who become telepathically connected, insisting that he doesn’t remember much. But it’s more than likely that people will remember him.