You were the lead in The Fades, was it intimidating having to lead a brand new show?
Yes, I suppose but, it’s funny. I don’t think I really thought about it at the time, the scripts were so great that they just kind of came off the page, and when I watched it for the first time it was how I imagined it. It was all there and there was so much behind it that I was more involved with, that I didn't really get wrapped up in that side of it. But then again, I did realise it was a big opportunity and the first time I’ve ever felt really heavily involved in something.
It has been very successful; did you expect it to be?
I think when we were doing it, and when I read the script and watched it, I was really proud of it and that was enough. It was something that I also thought my mates would enjoy watching. It comes to a point where you’ve done it and you feel really great about it, and the day before it came out I felt really nervous.
Do reviews scare you?
I don’t think it’s that they scare me. I think sometimes, I’ve done it before, where I read in to them too much. Certain words that people use, or one mentions you one way and the other one mentions you another way. The best ones are when the person has really understood everything you were doing and why you did it.
So, do you not deal with criticism very well?
I think it’s a good thing and I’ve got a couple of mates that are extremely honest with me and we always have that as a rule with each other.
You’ve been acting since you were really young, have you been able to choose your roles?
I think much more recently it’s been nice, signed with an agent and we get on really, really well and we understand each other to the point that we’ve had chats about what we’d like to do. He’s very good at finding things that he knows I like, and it’s not really about picking and choosing, I don’t really have that luxury right now, but as long as everything that I do go into is different, then there’s not really much point.
Do you like challenging yourself?
I’ve started to like it more and more, recently. I was in a meeting the other day and I was saying that usually I’d like parts that I can identify with, but more recently I’m getting more attracted to things that I’ve never done and things that scare me a little bit. I suppose you’ve just got to be realistic with what kind of parts you do age-wise. There are parts that I want to play but I know I can’t play right now, like I went to see Mark Rylance in Jerusalem. It’s amazing!
It makes you want to get up on stage, but I know I could never play that part where I am right now, there just would be no way, I don’t have the life experience or anything.
How do you prepare for your roles, do you have to prepare?
Yeah, definitely. It’s different, I think it’s hard to explain. What I do a lot, in London particularly, I will just go onto the street or in to shops and just put on an accent, but usually it’s a real mix of stuff.
You’re going to be starring as James Herriot in Young James Herriot, did it scare you that you were playing a real life character?
It does, but with this especially, because the old series was based on all fact, whereas this one is half-fiction. It was really good, because I got to use my own imagination and influences a bit.
What are your hopes for that?
It’s a very different role from anything that I’ve done before, and there’s a lot more comedy involved in it than something like The Fades, he’s quite a quirky character. It’s also period, it’s set in 1930’s and there’s a certain etiquette about that time. I just hope that people enjoy it.
What sort of an actor do you want to be? do you want to stay in the UK or do you hope to move on to Hollywood?
I would love to do something in Hollywood, I suppose it’s the thing that everybody thinks of when they’re starting off. I think right now I’m proud to be part of British film and TV production, it doesn’t really matter where you are or whether it’s theatre of film, as long as it’s a project that you believe in or feel’s worth while. That’s the main thing.
How did you initially get in to acting, did your parents encourage you?
No, my parents are really supportive, but it’s never something that they saw me doing. They’re both doctors so I think they were quite keen on me doing that, me and my big brother, who is more interested in being a director now. But we used to always make short films together when we were younger. I joined a lot of acting classes and it’s always just what I’ve wanted to do since I can remember.
What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t getting the roles?
I don’t know! Maybe I’d do something with animals, I’ve always been interested in animals. Or maybe something behind the camera as well, I’m really interested in writing.
Do you think that you will do it?
I hope so, I’d like to think so, at some point. I’ve always got ideas bouncing around with my friends, but I’m just learning about it at the moment and I’m very aware that I wouldn’t have the capacity to do it.
You could do, you can always learn…
Well, that’s the thing, I think I am picking up a lot being on set.
What do you find the most exciting thing about filmmaking and acting?
I love doing it, there is a buzz of excitement when you are first getting into your character and you have lots of ideas, and pressure and worry. And then sometimes when you’re actually doing it you don’t realise until after, how fun it was. Watching it is cool too, and I’m not going to say that I don’t watch it, because I do, but not religiously. I am very self critical so maybe it’s best that I don’t watch it, and I don’t like having my photo taken either.
You’re quite self-depreciative?
Yeah, I tend to point out the things I didn’t do, rather than the things that I did. But there are some things that I’ve done that I’m really proud of, just as long as you feel like you’ve worked hard and done all you could, then if it didn’t work out, at least you can hold your head up high.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
There’s so many different things you pick up a long the way. On The Fades Johnny Harris and I became quite close- he’s one of my favourite actors and he used to give me so much advice all the time. I learnt a lot from him, even if it wasn’t advice, I just watched him sometimes and watched the way he warms up, even if he doesn’t know he’s giving advice, he is.
What do you find the most difficult part of your job?
Sometimes the hours. There are periods when you just don’t get any sleep and you know you’re being grumpy, but you can’t help it. But you just meet such amazing people.
Who would you love to work with alive or dead?
He’s not really in the acting world, but Thom Yorke. There’s also the usual people like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, also more recently, Nicolas Winding Refn and David Fincher.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
I don’t know. This year has been so full, I didn’t expect to have done so much, so I just don’t really know what’s round the corner. I’ll take it as it comes.
What’s your big ambition?
Just to work with some of the people that I admire, would be a really big thing for me.
Who is your IDOL?
Someone like Thom Yorke, but then also someone like Paul McCartney. It’s really hard, I go through stages where I love one actor or director and go through their entire catalogue of work.
Three-part drama series, The Young James Herriot
Beginning 18th December
9pm on BBC ONE
Interviewed by Emma Hurwitz
Photographed by Josh Shinner