JACKET AND T-SHIRT: EMPORIO ARMANI. JEANS: GUCCI. STYLING: ALASTAIR MCKIMM. HAIR: DUFFY/STREETERS. MAKEUP: MARK CARRASQUILLO/STREETERS. MANICURE: YUKIE MIYAKAWA USING DIOR BEAUTY/KATE RYAN. SET DESIGN: PIERS HANMER. PRODUCER: CAROLINE STRIDFELDT/LOLA PRODUCTION. PRODUCTION MANAGER: TERESA BERGEY. RETOUCHING: GLOSS STUDIO NEW YORK. DIGITAL TECHNICIAN: NICHOLAS ONG. SPECIAL THANKS: RED HOOK LABS.
BREAKOUT ROLE: As troubled teen Steve Winchell in Brit Marling‘s Netflix series The OA; playing “The Boy” in Starz’s The White Princess.
UP NEXT: In a Relationship, a romantic comedy with Emma Roberts; an adaptation of the YA thriller The Darkest Minds, with Amandla Stenberg and Harris Dickinson.
I’ve been trying to do as much different stuff as possible. I know what type of work I feel comfortable doing, which I will always return to doing, but I like trying things. For example, period drama is completely out of my comfort zone. It’s a style, almost, of acting. You don’t act the way you would in an indie, gritty thing. It’s a different approach.
MEETING FANS OF THE OA: I’m so awkward. People do the movements. People ask me to punch them in the throat. It’s really bizarre. I don’t think I’ve done the movements since the show. They’re kind of sacred. I feel like I can’t do them as a joke. The experience of doing them was really intense, and learning it with all the other guys. It’s a compartmentalized part of my brain.
LESSONS LEARNT: The OA is really divisive. That’s kind of what I love about it. I think some people draw from the show, they get such a connection to it and it gives them a real sense of hope. And some people are like, “What the fuck is this?” They want to have something that’s neatly wrapped up. I think I’m more like that. I’m logical, and it took a lot for me to suspend my disbelief and go with it. It’s the same as Steve. He finds it difficult to let go and take that leap of faith and “trust in the unknown.”
If I hadn’t been involved in The OA, I probably would have been one of the people who craved more answers, although I think the answers are actually there. I think it’s made me more open. Even when I’m reading scripts, my tendency before was that I would like something if it reminded me of something I liked. Now when I read something and I can’t compare it, that excites me.
GETTING INTO CHARACTER: I love doing accents. Even doing an American accent, I feel like for different characters, it comes out different. Steve’s accent is really different to the character that I’m doing now in The Darkest Minds, Clancy. They come from totally different backgrounds, but it’s just funny how it comes out without thinking about it too much.
PLAYING NICE: I think I’m starting to get the hang of playing nice people. It’s more vulnerable to me; I feel more exposed when I’m playing a nice guy. It should be the other way round. It’s almost a different part of my brain that I have to use. I always sympathize with the bad guys. I don’t think bad guys ever think they’re the bad guys. Usually people do things for what they believe to be the right reason.
WORST AUDITION: I think it was for The White Princess, but I shouldn’t say that because I got the job. I kept forgetting the lines. My brain just melted. I got really nervous. It was torture. I always get nervous, but usually I keep it together. It was okay, we got there in the end.
FIRST CRUSH: I can’t say this one, because I worked with her. I think I already told her. I was probably eight. It went alright. Who else? Maybe Avril Lavigne.
THE DOWNSIDE OF ADULTHOOD: The fact that I don’t have all the answers I thought I would have when I was younger.
RETIREMENT PLAN: I feel like it’s going to be the same as it is now, I’ll just be old. I’ve never really seen old age as a destination. I’ll still be striving for stuff. I don’t think I’ll be comfortable ever.
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