Jamie Blackley

Jamie Blackley sounds like any regular 23-year-old: He’s taking his girlfriend to a Katy Perry show the day we meet up in London’s Soho neighborhood; he’s been playing soccer with his friends; and he’s looking after Titch, the energetic family dog, while house-sitting for his parents. “It’s a bit stressful as I can’t really control her,” says the rakish Brit who is appearing as the lead in this month’s romantic drama If I Stay alongside Chloë Grace Moretz. “I was going through a patch of feeling like I couldn’t get a job, so when my agent sent me the script, I ignored the e-mail,” he says. Blackley finally got the message after reading the best-selling teen novel on which the film is based. From there, he slipped into the role of Adam, Mia’s (Moretz) tortured musician boyfriend who watches her hover between life and death. “It’s not the kind of young-adult novel set in some postapocalyptic world where kids are killing each other,” he explains. “It feels very human.”

Holding his own alongside one of Hollywood’s brightest young talents was no easy feat for Blackley, who grew up in the Isle of Man and scored his breakout gig after small parts in Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and The Fifth Estate (2013). “Chloë is a superstar, so I was petrified, scared shitless,” he admits. “But she’s also got such an old head on her shoulders, and I was just happy to work with the girl I watched in Kick-Ass.” The actor’s own talents are on full display as he sings and plays guitar in the film, having practiced “playing sad songs in my room.” While shrugging off any “actor-musician” labels, he cites the film Control (2007) as the impetus for his interest in acting in the first place. “As a Joy Division fan, I remember watching the film and that changing everything,” he recalls.

Blackley will next appear in Kids in Love, a British coming-of-age tale starring Will Poulter, which also marks Cara Delevingne‘s first major acting role. “I play Will’s weird best friend, and I look horrific.” Career-wise, he says, “I can’t help but do the things that I would like to see. I’m going to stick by that, wherever it takes me.”

To read Jamie Blackley’s consumption piece, click here.