“Just keep a straight face and be polite, everything will be fine,” reads a recent tweet from musician and recently turned actor Josh Whitehouse. For the 26-year-old Brit, the past couple of years have been a whirlwind requiring him to keep this conviction close to heart. He first attracted notice in the fall of 2014 with his film acting debut in the drama Northern Soul as a working-class teenager who helps start a soul-music club scene in 1970s Lancashire, England. Though he had originally moved to London to pursue music (he’s the singer, songwriter, and guitarist for the flamenco-influenced acoustic trio More Like Trees), the film’s director, Elaine Constantine, saw his screen potential, offered him private dance and acting lessons, and cast him as her hard-partying lead.
A few months after the film’s U.K. release, Whitehouse received a phone call at his London home—which he shares with eight roommates—asking him to be the face of Mr. Burberry, the latest men’s fragrance from the iconic British house. “When I received the phone call, at first, I was very calmly like, ‘Oh, that’s fine,’ ” he recalls. “And then I got off the phone and was like, ‘What just happened?!’ I started running around my house, trying to find somebody to tell.” He had to quickly regain his composure, however, as the news had to remain a secret—one that became increasingly difficult to keep once he began shooting a promotional film directed by Steve McQueen and costarring the model Amber Anderson. In the end, he didn’t need to stretch far to embody Mr. Burberry. Like the character, the fragrance is meant to evoke a Londoner who is “elegant, but never pristine,” he says. “There’s an element of rebellion in his attitude.” Meanwhile, Whitehouse has continued to score film roles, with three feature-length films and one short film in the works. Whatever his credo is, he should keep saying it.