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Joe gave an interview for Red Magazine’s January 2020 issue. Read the full interview below:

You’d think that a back-to-back Hollywood movie career and a megastar girlfriend might have changed Joe Alwyn, but he’s quick to assure Nathalie Whittle that his feet remain firmly on the ground. 

“So you didn’t see the part where the aliens attack?” asks Joe Alwyn, a playful smirk on his face. He’s referring to his latest film, Harriet, which I had a sneak preview of the previous day, although the fire evacuation (false alarm) meant I missed the ending. The biographical drama tells the story of Harriet Tubman (played by Cynthia Erivo), the historic abolitionist who escaped slavery and led hundreds of others to freedom. Alwyn plays her insufferably cruel and capricious slave master Gideon Brodess. He is, of course, joking about the aliens. At least, I hope he is. Today, we’re tucked away in the corner of a dimly lit bar at London’s Covent Garden Hotel. It’s the sort of drizzly afternoon that might dampen the moods of most, but not Alwyn. He appears cheery and at ease, sporting country casuals: a grey mohair jumper, blue jeans, and brown boots along with an unkempt beard; perhaps an attempt to disguise the boyish good looks he’s become known for. He stops to interrupt me only once with a look of alarm: he’s forgotten to offer me something to eat or drink. I can have anything I want, he assures me.

At 28, Alwyn has had the sort of career trajectory that most aspiring actors wistfully dream about for years, even decades. His education included a degree in English literature and drama at the University of Bristol, followed by a BA in acting at London’s Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. But within two weeks of his graduate showcase, Alwyn received a life-changing phone call. He refers to it as the thing “I owe everything to.”

“I’d just signed with an agent and I was kind of pinching myself, you know, how surreal is that?” he says. “She sent me a portion of the script for a film, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, that Ang Lee was directing. I’d grown up watching his films — Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi — so I couldn’t believe I was even going to do a tape for someone like that. I got my dad to film me in a scene in my bedroom and some mates to film me during a lunch break. The next thing I know, Ang wants to meet me in New York.” Cue a series of auditions and screen tests that led to Alwyn bagging the title role in his first big-budget Hollywood film. He was just 24. “It was so much so fast that I didn’t really compute what was going on,” he concedes. “Before that I was just a poor student who barely understood how people got auditions, let alone landed jobs.” Did he have any jobs before that? I ask. “I did have this one job in London,” he says wryly. “Do you know that frozen yogurt place, Snog?” I’m struggling to picture Alwyn serving up frozen delights. He’s laughing now. Was it a good gig? “Exceptional!” More laughter follows. “I mean, I was paid some money! Then I worked in a menswear shop. I did what I could to make some extra cash.”

A far cry from a frozen-yogurt counter, doors started opening to bigger and better opportunities as soon as Billy Lynn hit cinemas. The next script Alwyn read was Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite (released in 2019), in which he secured a small but riotous role as young baron Samuel Masham alongside acting greats Olivia Colman and Emma Stone. “Putting on giant wigs and running around in make-up and chasing Emma Stone through the forest — what more could you want?” he laughs. The film earned widespread critical acclaim, receiving seven BAFTAs and a record 10 British Independent Film awards.

Having further honed his craft in subsequent films Mary Queen of Scots and gay-conversion therapy drama Boy Erased, Alwyn is about to enter into unknown territory. This Christmas, he’ll play Bob Cratchit in his first-ever TV drama, BBC One’s A Christmas Carol; a “darker, twisted, less glossy” version of the Charles Dickens classic. He’s “feeling good about it,” but I’m curious as to how he’s approached this change of scenery. Was he not nervous? “Oh, very. I tried to watch other people. It’s the second time I’ve worked with Guy Pearce [who plays Scrooge] and I asked him a lot of stuff, which probably annoyed him. I watched the way he works and the questions he asked on set when he was approaching a scene.”

Two people who will definitely be watching Alwyn’s TV debut are his mother, a psychotherapist, and his father, a documentary-maker. “They’d better be watching!” he laughs. Born in London’s Tufnell Park, Alwyn recalls being given stacks of videos every birthday and “watching them to death, until the tapes burned up.” One of his favourites was The Mask of Zorro. In fact, he was so obsessed with it that he and his best friend took up fencing lessons at a local community centre in Crouch End, where, by chance, he was spotted by a local casting agent for the hit British romcom Love Actually. She asked him to audition for the role of Sam; he breaks into a wide smile when I ask what he remembers of it. “I didn’t know much about what the film was; I was most excited about the fact I got the day off school! But I remember being in a room with Richard Curtis and Hugh Grant reading scenes, many of which didn’t make it into the film. And I left the audition thinking, ‘I really recognize that guy from somewhere’.”

Alwyn didn’t get the part. Instead, he forgot about acting for a while, with the exception of summer holidays, where his parents would send him and his older brother off to “some drama camp as a way of preoccupying us.” He explains that when he later realized he wanted to act on a serious level, he kept it a secret. Was it because he was worried how his parents would react to a somewhat precarious career choice? “Well, it meant putting myself out there in a performative way, and that wasn’t necessarily something I did or was used to doing. It felt like it should be quite a ‘look at me’ job, and that wasn’t really how I felt growing up. I wasn’t a painfully introverted kid, but I wasn’t a particularly extroverted one, either. So maybe I was self-conscious about the idea of saying to people, ‘Look, I can do this’.”

He credits drama school with giving him “permission” to go for it. “Plus my parents were great about it. They’re both freelance themselves, so while they recognize the perils, they also couldn’t say to me, ‘We can follow what we want, but you can’t’. There wasn’t a boundary, which helped a lot.”

I wonder if it’s been difficult acclimatizing to the level of fame that’s come as result of his roles. “There have definitely been changes that have taken some getting used to, whether it’s sitting down and doing an interview or someone recognizing you,” he says. “There are things that have changed in my life, but I still very much feel like the same person. It probably helps that I’ve been hanging out with the same friends literally every day since I was 12 years old. Maybe it’s when those things change that people change, I don’t know.”

It’s fair to say that the level of interest in Alwyn has, in part, been heightened by the fact that, in his spare time he plays the role of Mr. Taylor Swift. The pair reportedly met in late 2016 and became in item shortly afterwards. I’ve been warned ahead of our meeting that Alwyn “doesn’t talk about that”, and he’s keen to justify his stance in person. “I feel like my private life is private and everyone is entitled to that.” he says. “I’ve read stories recently about people like Ben Stokes and Gareth Thomas, which are a gross invasion of their privacy and of their lives. It’s disgusting. That’s not journalism, that’s just invasive.”

It must be tough, I suggest, being in a relationship that is surrounded by so much scrutiny. “I just don’t read the headlines,” he says. “I really don’t, because I can guarantee 99% of them are made up. So I ignore it.” Recent rumours suggest the pair are engaged, and are owed in part to one of Swift’s latest songs, Lover (’My hearts been borrowed and yours has been blue. All’s well that ends well to end up with you’), as well as a piece of string tied around Swift’s finger in a Vogue cover shoot. According to die-hard fans, this means something. But to Alwyn, it’s clear it means nothing at all. Is he never tempted to respond to the mistruths, to shut them down? “No, because it’s just pointless,” he sighs. “It won’t change anything. I just don’t pay any attention. I have my life and it’s kind of separate to all that stuff.”

I’m curious as to how much time he gets to simply enjoy the success he’s experiencing. “There’s lots of time not working, I wish there was less in a way!” he laughs. “I go to the pub, play football, go to gigs, watch TV (he’s just finished season three of True Detective), pretty normal things. There’s no ‘secret life’. But ultimately, I worry about finding the next job; that’s the truth. In the midst of everything, there’s always that feeling of ‘I’m never going to work again’. It’s a cliche, but you can’t just sit there waiting for the phone to ring. You have to try and take control. You’re at the mercy of the things you seek out — the directors and the connections — so I try to be on top of that as I can and read what I’m sent and be discerning. I try to pick wisely and follow up on people and leads that I’m interested in.”

Is there an end point he wants to get to, where he’ll feel like he’s made it? “Things have certainly shifted in my twenties,” he says. “Success to me now is doing things that make me happy and that make me feel fulfilled, doing what I want to do and being on the right track. Not in terms of being on a results-based track, but just doing something I love.” He pauses and smiles. “That sounds a bit sentimental, doesn’t it?”

Fresh off the back of a star turn in Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet, we catch up with British superstar Joe Alwyn about getting into an evil mindset, playing the long-game in his career, and his upcoming role in Steven Knight’s A Christmas Carol.

words by Francesco Loy Bell

It’s an unnerving experience, having to ask an actor to fill you in on the ending of the film you’re supposed to be interviewing them about, but it’s a testament to Joe Alwyn’s charm and down-to-earth manner that he duly obliges, happily relaying the final ten minutes of Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet with an infectious enthusiasm only someone with genuine passion for a project could muster. I had been most of the way through Lemmons’ bold new offering, centred around American historical icon and slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman, when the fire alarm sounded, resulting in a hoard of shell-shocked journalists being quickly ushered out of the building, only to be told that we would not be able to watch the last 25 minutes of the film. Fast-forward 24 hours, and I can’t help but pause to reflect on the surreality of sitting across from the films horrifying antagonist as he casually explains his fate to me over coffee. More on that later, however.

Despite being the only actor in his immediate family, it’s fair to say Alwyn inherited some of the requisite DNA to pursue a career in film, his father, a documentary-maker and his mother, a therapist. Alwyn sees both as formative, instilling him with the “curiosity for looking into people’s lives, observing, and listening to stories” that had possessed him from an early age. “I always liked going to the cinema,” he explains, “sitting in big dark rooms, watching stories. It was kind of a way to disappear.” Though he cannot pinpoint the exact ‘light bulb’ moment in which he decided to become a professional actor, he does attribute seeing Ben Whishaw as Hamlet at the Old Vic when he was 12 or 13 as foundational, and “one of those moments that stick with you, where I thought: ‘I would really like to do that’.” That feeling soon blossomed, Alwyn taking numerous shows to the Edinburgh Fringe while at school and university, shows he can now jokingly admit “should not have been seen by anyone!”

Drama school naturally beckoned, the then-graduate enrolling himself into The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, an experience he looks back on fondly, his eyes lighting up as he recalls some of the more eccentric aspects of his time there. “A lot of rolling around on the floor, a lot of tight black clothing. And lots of trees, I was a brilliant tree,” he laughs, before informing me, in sudden deadpan: “you’re also looking at a llama.”

Alwyn probably wouldn’t have expected such a swift re-entry into the dynamic absurdity of drama school so soon after leaving, but then he probably wouldn’t have expected to be working with director Yorgos Lanthimos only a couple of years later either. Having shot his first job — Ang Lee’s reverse-engineered war film Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk — just after he graduated in 2015, Alwyn was sent the script of a then still in development The Favourite soon afterwards. “It felt like a special script. I mean, at that point, I hadn’t read that many scripts. I still was” — he catches himself, as his eyes widen in momentary wonder — “well, I still am new to this. But yeah, it was just… such a good script. I knew of Yorgos; I knew of his films. And those two things kind of narrowed together: this twisted take on a genre that can be quite conventional and stuffy, and his very unique, singular mind. It was exciting.”

A skype session with Lanthimos soon followed (“we talked about everything probably apart from The Favourite” Alwyn laughs), and the rest is history, the actor landing the role of Samuel Masham, a young baron in the court of Olivia Colman’s Queen Ann. Though his turn in the film is punctuated by exaggerated physicality — the court dancing scene with Rachel Weisz a particularly memorable example — Alwyn tells me that it was only when he got on set that Lanthimos’ true, bonkers vision began to come to life.

“I didn’t know that it was going to become one of those moments,” he says of the dance scene and others like it. “Because in the script it just said ‘they dance’, or, ‘he chases her’.” He can’t help but smile when speaking about Lanthimos: “He is hilarious. And confusing. He doesn’t really say anything to you about conventional direction; there was no discussion of period, or etiquette, or character, or history — which I think we’d expected to a degree, just because of the nature of the film. We had two weeks of ridiculous exercises and rehearsals, where I’d be playing Olivia’s part, and Olivia would be playing Nick [Hoult]’s part, and you’d sing the lines, and you’re chasing each other, and… you don’t know what you’re doing, or why you’re doing it. And Yorgos doesn’t say anything. And then he’d get on set, and just kind of say ‘Mmm… louder, faster, quieter’.”

The profound respect Alwyn holds for Lanthimos is tangible — he responds “Yorgos again” in a flash when I ask him who he’d love to work with — and he largely credits the director’s vision for the success the film has since garnered. “He made it weird and wacky and bawdy and irreverent, and it’s just not what you’re used to seeing,” he gushes. One particular on-set tale gives some insight into the energetic nature of Lanthimos’ sets, Alwyn recollecting a close-shave experience during a flirtatious forest scene with Emma Stone which resulted in the actress being taken to hospital. “The woods scene; the rugby tackling scene. We — or I — got maybe a little too carried away in the rugby aspect of it, and Emma took a fall… which was completely my fault. She knocked herself on the root of a tree and hurt her head; the paramedics came, she had to go to hospital, and we had to stop filming for the day.” The sheer panic still momentary lingers on Alwyn’s face as he recounts the story: “She’d just won an Oscar […] I was cowering in the corner thinking I’d just killed Emma Stone.”

Alwyn’s latest project, Harriet, is a stark departure from The Favourite, the actor trading in Masham’s comic fluidity for the chilling rigidity of Gideon Brodess, the vengeful and sickeningly violent son of Harriet’s owner. As aforementioned, it is difficult to reconcile the man sitting opposite me sipping his coffee with the evil he portrays on screen, and I’m curious as to Alwyn’s process for getting into such a poisonous mindset. “It’s tricky, because what he stands for is abhorrent, and obviously unrelatable,” he explains. “What him and his family did, and the idea of slavery, is repulsive. But I suppose with those kinds of characters you try to find some kind of humanity within them — which suits the time they were living in — to hold onto. And in Gideon’s case, it’s probably some kind of deep, repressed, buried feelings of love. Maybe love for Harriet? I don’t think he necessarily has a language for it, or even understands what it is. But he’s deeply tangled and confused inside. And you try and connect with those sides of him. But, in terms of who they are and what they stand for… it’s hard to find a way in. It’s near impossible.”

Alwyn gives a brutal performance in the film, deftly showcasing Gideon’s skin-crawling internal struggle between racist disgust, and Lima Syndrome-style  lust of Harriet, and his antagonistic villainy is the perfect foil to fellow Brit Cynthia Erivo’s stunning performance as the eponymous emancipator, Alwyn extolling her “formidable” work ethic and on-screen generosity as hugely motivational in his preparation. The story of Harriet Tubman, though well known, is perhaps not as staple a piece of knowledge in the American psyche as her actions demand, and Alwyn hopes that the film will help to give her the wider historical credit she deserves, both in the States and beyond. “Growing up in the UK,” he explains, “I didn’t know who she was, really. I’d seen her name; I’d seen the older iconic images of her. But I didn’t know her story. You hope that films like this will make it more accessible, and bring people in to learn about her and the story of what she did, what she achieved.”

As the politics of division take hold around the world, there has been an intensified focus on the debate surrounding story-telling, and the potential impact or consequence a story can have in the current climate; Todd Phillips’ Joker, for example, has faced significant criticism for potentially giving encouragement to white terrorism and racism. In this vein, the telling of stories like Tubman’s seems more necessary than ever, and this is not lost on Alwyn. “If you go on Twitter and read down on the news, there’s endless stories of division and racism, bigotry, families being torn apart at the borders. Without putting too much on it, if there was someone who represents a fight in the face of that, Harriet Tubman seems to shine pretty strong. And you’d hope that someone like her would become a part of a global curriculum at school.” Alwyn is hopeful that giving figures like Tubman their due historical credit — at least in terms of film — will universalise her all-too-recent struggle, and help unite people in the face of societal partition.

Alwyn’s next project will see him return to London, albeit a dark, Dickensian version of the city, as he takes on the role of Bob Cratchit — Ebenezer Scrooge’s much-abused clerk — in Steven Knight’s upcoming rendition of A Christmas Carol. Though he cannot give too much away, he promises the miniseries will be much darker and truer to Dickens’ sordid portrayal of London than previous versions. “It’s very much more in that kind of gritty, darker, slightly twisted world,” he explains. “It’s not as sanitised, perhaps, as most other versions are […] it really goes into Scrooge’s own pain and why he is the way he is in quite an unpleasant way. And definitely in a way that hasn’t been seen before.”

Alwyn speaks with a soft, magnetic enthusiasm that almost makes me forget that this is indeed an interview, and I am disappointed to look down at my dictaphone and discover that our allotted time slot is drawing to a close. Characteristically, however, he laughs off any time constraint, and I am afforded some final questions. At 28 years old, the actor is arguably slightly older than some of the other industry ‘up-and-comers’ one might bracket him alongside, and I ask whether he thinks the hyper-visibility of fame elicited by social media is in part to blame for an increasing tendency to link the validity of success with being in your early 20s. Alwyn, despite having an instagram page and being in a relationship with one of the biggest musicians in the world, is notably more private than many others in his position, and he quotes a piece of advice given to him by Ang Lee on set of Billy Lynn in his response.

“It’s not a sprint,” he decides, after some deliberation. “Everyone has different ways of going. I’m still at an early stage in my career. I left Central in 2015, the first film I was in came out at the end of 2016. It doesn’t feel too long ago. I don’t think there is any right way to do it, but […] I do think it’s an interesting point about social media and the idea of instant visibility, an instant attainment… it’s a dangerous thing to play into. And something that would be dangerous to get hooked on because I don’t think it’s real. You know, social media is [a facade]. And if you buy into that being a reality — or that’s what you go after — it’s not healthy.”

I am struck by how refreshing Alwyn’s attitude to fame is, though by the end of our conversation, I am hardly surprised. This is someone for whom the work is clearly a far superior motivational factor than fame or recognition, and this passion for his craft is evident in every project he touches. Ang Lee was right, it is a marathon rather than a sprint, but Joe Alwyn certainly seems ahead of the curve as he enters what promises to be a vastly exciting new chapter in his career. I, for one, can’t wait to see what he does next.

Joe recently did an interview with The Times — read the full interview below:

Sometimes the best Christmas presents are the ones we don’t think we need; a new Christmas Carol, for instance. Indeed it may be indicative of a certain unappreciated vacancy around the Christmas tree that in discussing the BBC’s new version of the Dickens classic both its director and leading man refer back to The Muppet Christmas Carol made way back in 1992.

“I was sent the script,” admits Nick Murphy, best known for directing the Rebecca Hall ghost movie The Awakening, “and my first thought was, ‘For God’s sake! The Muppets! They nailed it. What’s the point?’ ”

Joe Alwyn, who plays Scrooge’s clerk Bob Cratchit in the BBC three-parter, has meanwhile posted a trailer on Instagram with the caption: “Hard to fill the shoes once worn by Kermit. But I tried.” The self-deprecation was quickly “hearted” by the singer Taylor Swift, who is the actor’s girlfriend and who will be watching the mini-series with Alwyn and his family in London in the final days before Christmas.

There is nothing wrong, of course, with The Muppet Christmas Carol. It is probably in most people’s top three adaptations of Dickens’s masterpiece (alongside, I would say, Alastair Sim’s 1951 version and Scrooged). Its endurance does suggest, however, that it may be time someone did something a bit more serious, a little darker and a touch more grown-up with a tale that excoriated Victorian neglect and associated Christmas with the relief of poverty for ever more.

And this is exactly what Nick Murphy has achieved with a bracingly fresh script by the Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight. Guy Pearce’s Ebenezer Scrooge is still a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner”, but since Pearce is only 52, there is rather less of the old. At the end of the novel, Dickens wrote that “ever afterwards” — that is after Scrooge’s Very Bad Night — “it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well”. That is rather more of an achievement when, as in this version, you may have 40 Christmases, rather than a couple, left to you.

Equally remade is Cratchit, who in Alwyn’s incarnation is far from the bashfully gulping frog thanking his master for granting him Christmas Day off before scampering back to Miss Piggy’s fleshy arms. Although Alwyn grew a rough beard for the part, his is also the best-looking Bob Cratchit you have seen. As the actor and I talk at the Picturehouse Central cinema in London, I find him as mesmerising off screen as on.

“Bob is trapped by Scrooge,” Alwyn says. “He’s abused by him. He’s not treated fairly. He’s there only because he has to be. He’s treated like shit.”

I’d say there’s a definite feeling in their shared scenes that Bob might just snap and hit Ebenezer over the head with a poker. “That was the intention. He’s at breaking point. He’s pushed right to his limits and Scrooge, I think, relishes winding him up. All Bob can do is hold his ground and fight back as much as he can — but he isn’t such a sap in this version.”

Scrooge and Cratchit’s relationship so much resembles an unhappy marriage that the niggling, bitter exchanges invented by Knight, with very little reference to Dickens’s dialogue, resemble Steptoe and Son rewritten by Strindberg. The easy contrast would have been with the Cratchits’ poor but happy marriage, but this too comes under scrutiny. There is an acknowledgment of the challenges a disabled child can bring to a household, and it is somehow emphasised by Tiny Tim being played by Lenny Rush, an extraordinary young actor, aged ten, who has a rare form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita, the same condition as Warwick Davis.

“It really mattered to me that nobody was photo-fit,” Murphy says from a studio where he is dubbing the last episode. “Bob Cratchit is always a winsome, put-upon nice guy and the Cratchits themselves represent this idea of an ideal, working-class, lovely family. So we looked into their relationship on the page and there seems a genuine tension between Bob and his wife. Things are hard. It isn’t easy to have no money and a disabled child, and they lean on each other and they’re not straight with each other and there is a genuine antagonism between them.”

Knight has written into the narrative a family secret that connects the Cratchits to Scrooge. The secret belongs to Mrs Cratchit, played by Vinette Robinson, whose part is greatly expanded; indeed, the novella does not even grant her a first name, although the Muppets, and other adaptors, opted for Emily.

“Inevitably the secret begins to surface and cracks appear in the family,” Alwyn says. “Something has to happen. I think what Steven has done is take the story and drill deeper. He hasn’t taken too much liberty. It’s not bending the truth too much from what Dickens would have wanted. Or I hope not.”

Murphy insists that worthwhile adaptations of classic texts should be “edgy” and have “a good bite to them”. “If you absolutely don’t want any variation from the book then I strongly suggest you sit in a corner at Christmas and read it again. But if you want to see it used as a prism through which we can see a broader and slightly different subject explored, then this one’s for you.”

Alwyn’s performance is part of the iconoclasm. “Joe’s instinct as an actor is always to push away from the obvious and into ambiguity,” Murphy says. “He’s very quietly spoken. He’s not brash at all. He’s a gentle, intelligent guy, but he just simply wasn’t interested in fitting a Dickensian cliché.”

“I’ll take that,” Alwyn says when I pass on the compliment, having not considered his technique in such terms. He is 28 and would probably accept that he is best known for two facts: the first is that he is Taylor Swift’s boyfriend; the second that, aged 25 and with no professional acting experience, he won the title role in an Ang Lee movie.

He is from north London, the middle of three sons. Their father is the television documentary-maker Richard Alwyn, renowned for making The Shrine about the public reaction to Princess Diana’s death.

“He was away a bit,” Alwyn says. “He made quite a lot of films in Africa when I was growing up. He was often in Uganda, Rwanda at one point, South Sudan. So he’d come back with stories and artefacts from all over the place. He made a great documentary in Liverpool during the World Cup about two kids on an estate growing up there.”

His mother, Elizabeth, is a psychotherapist. So, I say, although his family were comfortably off and he was sent to the fee-paying City of London School, he knew something of other people’s lives?

“All different kinds of people, all different kinds of stories,” he says. “Obviously, she couldn’t share them with me in the same way that Dad could, but both their jobs take an interest in other people and are about how to empathise, understand, and listen to stories and tell stories. I suppose it’s not a million miles away from an actor’s job; listening to other people, understanding them, trying to tell stories.”

I ask about the contemporary political resonances of A Christmas Carol. I cite the wealth of certain members of his profession and of Swift’s. Only the other day I have read that she has a private jet so she can visit Alwyn on a whim. He promises me that 99.9 per cent of what the press write about them is false, and this is an example.

I ask if he finds it embarrassing.

“Find what embarrassing?”

The disparity between the amount some people earn and the wages of workers in, say, Amazon fulfilment centres.

“I saw something in The Guardian the other day, I think, saying that the top six richest people in the UK accumulate the same amount of wealth as the poorest 13 million. I think that was the figure,” he says.

And politics today?

“It’s bigger than Scrooge, but it’s the same thing amplified; not being able to see beyond yourself, building walls, cutting yourself off from other countries. If there was ever a story to counter that, featuring someone who epitomises that and then who remembers who he is as a human being, it is A Christmas Carol.”

Unlike the young Dickens, Alwyn was not a boy to stand on a table and sing and dance. As a child he auditioned to play Liam Neeson’s son in the Richard Curtis film Love Actually, but didn’t get it. He harboured ambitions to act, but pursued them only later at the University of Bristol, where he took plays up to the Edinburgh Fringe. One night he acted before an audience of one: the writer’s mother. Undeterred, he went on to the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, joining the scramble at the end to find an agent. Weeks later, his new agent rang to say that Ang Lee was working on a new film, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and wanted to see an audition tape.

“I got some mates to film me in a lunch break and then my dad filmed another scene, and we got a call that night saying, ‘He wants to meet you this weekend. He’s saying, we’re going to put you on a plane and take you out of school. Come for the weekend. Learn these scenes.’ ”

As Billy, a young US Marine fêted for killing an enemy assailant in Iraq, Alwyn was painfully believable; a virgin solider returning home to be exploited for an act that had devastated him. The film did not do well, mainly because it was shot at a hyper-reality frame rate that few cinemas had the technology to show, but Alwyn was on his way.

“Things only evolve by change and people taking risks,” he says. “And Ang Lee is someone who I admire for that. None of his films are the same. Maybe thematically they draw on the same things, but he’s always pushing the boundaries.”

The same can be said for A Christmas Carol and, even more, about Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, in which Alwyn appeared alongside Emma Stone and Olivia Colman. It applies less so to his other recent films, Mary Queen of Scots, Boy Erased and now Harriet, a faithful biopic about the slave liberator Harriet Tubman in which he played a slave owner’s son. What he has managed to do consistently is work and learn from some seriously good actresses — Colman, Stone, Saoirse Ronan and Cynthia Erivo. “I know. I am targeting them,” he jokes.

I tell him my daughters have insisted I ask if he minds Swift writing songs about him (whole albums, actually, but check out London Boy if you are in search of a little cringe). “No, not at all. No. It’s flattering.”

Does it matter to him that the press — it’s a bit metatextual this, I admit, for I’m probably doing the same thing — make it obvious that they are as interested in his girlfriend as they are in him? “I just don’t pay attention to what I don’t want to pay attention to,” he explains tolerantly. “I turn everything else down on a dial. I don’t have any interest in tabloids. I know what I want to do, and that’s this, and that’s what I am doing.”

The boyf, described only the other day as “mysterious” in one of those tabloids, is no mystery at all. He knows what he wants for Christmas, and it is the career he is already forging.

A Christmas Carol begins on BBC One at 9pm on Sunday

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Joe Alwyn on Playing Bob Cratchit in FX’s “Dark” and “Uncomfortable” Version of ‘A Christmas Carol’

From screenwriterSteven Knight(Peaky BlindersTaboo) and director Nick Murphy, the iconic ghost story A Christmas Carol (premiering on FX on December 19th) delves deep into a dark night of the soul for Ebeneezer Scrooge (Guy Pearce), a successful businessman who prefers to search for the worst in people than to see their goodness or struggles. As he is faced with his past, present and future, and the consequences of all three, it will be up to Scrooge to determine whether he is even worth redemption.

During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, British actor Joe Alwyn(who plays Bob Cratchit, overworked and underappreciated employee of Ebeneezer Scrooge and family man to two young children, including Tiny Tim) talked about the relatablility and universality of A Christmas Carol, what excited him about this telling of the story, the dark and uncomfortable subject matter, what he identified with in Bob Cratchit, exploring the family dynamic, the Cratchit-Scrooge relationship, working with co-star Guy Pearce, the experience of walking onto a set like this, and his own holiday family traditions. He also talked about his upcoming film Last Letter from Your Lover, about a young woman who becomes obsessed with a series of letters she discovers that recount a love affair, and the TV series that he’d love to do a guest spot on.

Collider: I’ve loved a variety of different retellings of A Christmas Carol, and this one is so interesting because it’s set in the time period, and yet still somehow feels very modern and relatable.

JOE ALWYN: Good. It definitely tries to stir things up, a little bit. Nick Murphy, the director, was clear that he didn’t want us to slip into the old, very Dickensian way of things that often can happen when you see interpretations of Dickens. There’s nothing bad about that, but he wanted a more irreverent, modern feel, even though it’s still within the structured framework of the story. That really comes down a lot to Steve Knight. His writing is so brilliant. He just took the original novel and drilled deeper, and looked between the lines and beneath the surface. Consequence brings about things that are, oftentimes, a lot more uncomfortable to see. It’s certainly a little more twisted and darker, but it’s good fun.

Everybody is so familiar with this story, and even just the title of the story, so when A Christmas Carol came your way, was it something that you were immediately intrigued by and curious to read, or did you need a little bit of convincing to sign on for something that so many people have done?

ALWYN: I didn’t, no. I had to hold my hands up and say, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a proper full version of A Christmas Carol before. I know there are so many of them, but somehow I had a deprived childhood and was never shown one.” I read the book again, which I must’ve read when I was younger. I read it again, just doing my homework. I’ve since been told about The Muppets and that Kermit is my main competition. I’m going head to head with a frog who played Bob. But I didn’t know a huge amount about other interpretations. The descriptions were so complete, unto themselves, and there was so much in them to mine and go off of, that was attractive, in itself. I knew the people surrounding it. I’d worked with Guy [Pearce] before and really got on with him, and I think he’s just fantastic. So, with the combination of him, Andy Serkis, and everyone, really, it was an exciting opportunity.

It definitely says something about the work and the themes that are in the work, when it can be interpreted as a drama or a comedy, and it can even be told by The Muppets. That’s certainly a wide range of things that most stories can’t do.

ALWYN: Yeah, definitely. It’s that idea that we always seem to come back to stories of redemption. The themes in it are universally significant to who we are as humans, about remembering who we are, and why we behave the way we behave, and about family, love, redemption and hope. It’s wrapped up in this amazing, powerful Christmas fable, and Christmas keeps coming around every year, so we keep coming back to it. It’s just a story that we keep going back to, and the fact that it’s been done in so many different ways really speaks to the strength of its core.

This is definitely a darker and more twisted telling of the story, with some difficult subject matter and some adult language. I was actually a little surprised by the swearing that was in it. Do you think that this is still something families can watch, or do you feel like this version is geared a little more toward an audience that’s a bit older?

ALWYN: Yeah, it’s undeniably darker and the themes explored are more uncomfortable, compared to what we’re used to seeing. I think it’s suitable for families, but I don’t think it’s suitable for a seven year old. I don’t know what that line is. For some reason, since the novel was written and the story seems to have been told, from what I understand and from what clips I’ve seen, it’s progressively gotten cheerier and cheerier, and almost glossy, with the Ghost of Christmas Past as a Santa Claus-like figure, and we all know who Scrooge is, but he’s an old, removed miser. Here, they’re the characters that we recognize, but they’re darker and more relatable, and hopefully the characters translate as 3D humans, as well. The things that are explored probably were there, at the time, and were an implicit path to the story, but it’s beneath the surface. [Steven Knight] has just read beneath the lines and has gone deeper into looking at why Scrooge is the way he is. He looks into his pain and has asked, “What could have made this man become this man?” And the answers that he’s come up with are certainly uncomfortable.

What was it about this version of Bob Cratchit that you found yourself most identifying with and that you also most enjoyed getting to explore?

ALWYN: I like that Bob, in this version, has got a little bit more pluck and spine, and he fights back and bites back with Scrooge, as much as he can, within the workspace. There are these great scenes between the two of them, where he doesn’t just lie down and stand down. He pushes back on Scrooge, as much as he can. Whether that’s through wit or sarcasm or dishonesty, he pushes back. He doesn’t just let himself be trampled all over. At the same time, there’s obviously a line. He knows what the stakes are and the stakes are huge, and he can’t afford to cross it because he has to provide for his family. But I liked that he had a bit more backbone to him, and he isn’t just completely submissive. And I also like that we spend more time with his family and we get to know his wife, Mary (Vinette Robinson), and his children. Mary has her own story with Scrooge, and it’s a secret that emerges within the family and these cracks begin to form. I don’t think that’s ever been explored before, in a telling of A Christmas Carol, and I thought that was pretty interesting. 

I love that you really do get to experience that family dynamic and see what they’re like together, because it helps you to understand why they might be willing to endure certain things, in order to keep that together.

ALWYN: Yeah. Obviously, Bob is in the dark. He doesn’t know what’s happening. Often, if you see a family portrait, and it’s all completely happy and cheery and smiley, for all of the love that’s in this family, they’re also struggling and this secret is pulling them apart. Their conversations are quite fractured and full of tension, but that’s truer, in a way. Not everything is cheery and sanitized and 2D. Hopefully, it’s a little more rounded.

What was it like to have those young actors to work with?

ALWYN: They were amazing. A girl called Tiarna [Williams] played Belinda, and a boy called Lenny Rush played Tim, and they were both fantastic. Lenny, in particular, is just brilliant. It was so great to have both of them on set because the whole thing would just become more magical. The excitement and enthusiasm is infectious, whenever you have a child on set. It lifts everyone else. There’s a production of A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic in London that’s been going for a few years now, written by Jack Thorne, and Lenny plays Tim in that. I think he’s the only cast member who’s returned, consistently, for that production. He’s a master of that role. He’s such a lovely boy.

The dynamic between Cratchit and Scrooge is so important. How did Guy Pearce affect your approach and performance, throughout this?

ALWYN: Firstly, I was lucky enough to have worked with him before, on a film called Mary Queen of Scots, and got on with him really well, and so, I was so happy to have the opportunity to work with him again ‘cause he’s not only phenomenally talented, but he’s also a really, really good person and I got on with him. So, that was great. More than maybe any actor I’ve worked with, he’s been the most interesting to watch the way he works, and the way that he approaches a scene and asks questions, and the way that he conducts himself on set, within a scene, is amazing to watch. I like that his Scrooge is younger and has a swagger to him. Where often Scrooge can be a character that’s retreated from the world, there’s a cockiness to his and an upfront-ness that makes you engage with him. He’s not just twiddling his thumbs, sitting in a corner and grumbling. He meets you and he’s present, whereas I feel like with other older Scrooges, there’s something more passive about them. He’s younger, he’s active and he’s engaged, and that was great.

What was the experience like, being on the set, in these costumes, and surrounded by all of these actors? What are the most memorable aspects of walking onto a set like this and seeing all of that come to life?

ALWYN: Well, it was summertime, so it was very hot and very sweaty. We did it in May and June, and it was a really hot summer in London. The costumes all look amazing, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be washing them, at the end of the day. It was pretty unpleasant. But it was amazing, the way they’d close down roads in London and cover everything with fake snow. It just makes your job easier, when you’re placed into a setting in a world like that, that’s so amazingly built around you, with costume and production design. You just need to turn up and know your lines.

When you do something that is such an epic production like this, and you have such great writing to work with, and a great director and cast, does it affect what you want to do next? Every time you do a project of this caliber, does it then make you think about what the next step is?

ALWYN: It makes me want to continue to try to work with great people. I feel lucky, in my career so far, to have worked with some really, really great people and great directors. That’s all I just want to keep trying to do, and this was another version of that. It was the first time I’d done television. I hadn’t done TV before. And it didn’t really feel any different than film. We had a fair amount of time to do the three episodes. Also, it’s a real mini-series, with three episodes. We were not doing 10 episodes, or a multi-season. It’s just the attraction of trying to tell interesting stories, in new ways, with great people. I grew up watching films like Memento and, later on, The Proposition, which I absolutely loved, so getting to work with [Guy Pearce] and [Andy Serkis] and Stephen Graham, as well as Steven Knight, I just want to find people like that to work with.

Do you know what you’re going to do next, or are you in that stage of trying to figure out what you’re going to do next?

ALWYN: I just wrapped something two days ago (this interview was conducted on December 17th) in London, which was a film called Last Letter from Your Lover, and that was directed by a woman called Augustine Frizzell, who directed the new HBO show Euphoria. That stars Felicity Jones and Shailene Woodley. And then, I think there’s something I’m going to do, near the start of next year, but it’s still being figured out and is not set in stone. So, I’m just reading lots and trying to figure things out, for next year.

What’s the character you played in Last Letter from Your Lover?

ALWYN: It’s a story in two parts. It’s a modern day story and a ‘60s story, and it jumps between the two. My storyline is in the ‘60s with Shailene and Callum Turner, who’s a British actor. I play Shailene’s husband. We’re a couple, and this other figure comes into our life and disrupts the balance.

Is there a current TV series that you watch, that you’d love to do a guest spot or guest arc on?

ALWYN: I haven’t finished it, but I love watching Succession. That’s been pretty amazing. The writing on that and the performances in that are incredible.

Is there anything that you would love to do that you feel would really stretch you, as far as a genre or a character, that you just haven’t gotten the opportunity to do yet?

ALWYN: In one sense, no. It’s not as specific as that. I just want to find really good people to work with, and that could be on anything. But I would love to do a World War film. I don’t know what or how, but I think that would be really fun.

For Bob Cratchit, the holidays seem to really be about family. Do you have holiday traditions that are important to you? Is it about a sense of family, or are you a crazy decorator?

ALWYN: There’s a bit of decoration going on, with wreaths and stuff. But, yes it’s about seeing family and keeping up with weird family traditions. There are these ponds in London, near my family’s house, and for some reason, on Christmas morning, we go and jump in the ponds, and it’s absolutely freezing. It’s ridiculous, and you’ve gotta get out quickly, or you aren’t getting out. But for some reason, that starts the day on Christmas.

A Christmas Carol premieres on FX on December 19th.

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Joe and Guy Pearce did a bunch of press for A Christmas Carol yesterday, December 17, in New York City. The costars did interviews for Good Morning America, Strahan, Sara and Keke, Buzzfeed’s AM to DM, ET Canada, and BUILD Series. Joe also did an interview with Collider which you can read here. You can watch all the interviews below and see photos of Joe throughout the day in our gallery.

Good Morning America
 

Buzzfeed’s AM to DM
 

Buzzfeed News

BUILD Series
 

Leaving BUILD Series

Joe Alwyn concedeu uma nova entrevista onde fala sobre Harriet Tubman, sua admiração por Joaquin Phoenix e mais, confira:

“Eu apenas pensei que era uma história incrível sobre uma mulher incrível da qual eu não conhecia nada”, diz ele quando nos encontramos no hotel Rosewood, em Londres. ‘Ela é extremamente importante. Obviamente, há toda a saga de 20 dólares – ela deveria estar presente, mas Trump atrasou isso”

Em maio, o presidente dos EUA vetou que sua imagem fosse usada até que ele deixasse a Casa Branca. Alwyn acrescenta: “Fiquei chocado por ninguém ter feito um filme sobre ela antes”.

Abençoado com traços delicados, olhos azuis e cabelos loiros, Alwyn é um material clássico de protagonista (ele já foi modelo da Prada), então como foi interpretar uma pessoa tão vil.

“Achei difícil, com um personagem como Gideon”, ele admite. ‘Conectar-se com alguém assim é praticamente impossível. A ideia de escravidão é obviamente repulsiva, então onde você encontra uma maneira de entrar?

Pessoalmente, Alwyn é discretamente confiante, embora cauteloso quando se trata de perguntas sobre seu relacionamento.

Como você vê a crescente fama?

“Eu realmente não me sinto diferente, então tento não pensar nisso”, diz ele.

Você encontrou uma maneira de lidar com isso?

Eu apenas ignoro – Ele responde sem rodeios

É mesmo possível?

Cada vez mais, sim. Só por não se entregar demais. Ser privado sobre o que você quer que seja privado e ser público sobre o que você quer que seja público … apenas mantendo as coisas para si mesmo.

Um olhar determinado o invade.

“Algumas pessoas podem ceder [à fama] se quiserem e outras não”, diz ele. “E acho que escolho não fazê-lo.”

Mas isso é fácil quando você está namorando alguém muito famoso?

“Não … quero dizer … apenas mantenho a vida privada em particular” “Tomei uma decisão clara de ser privado sobre o que é privado e o que não é para outras pessoas”.

Talvez Alwyn ainda esteja atordoado. Mesmo antes de se formar na escola de teatro, ele ganhou o papel principal no longa de Ang Lee, Billy Lynn Long Halftime Walk (2016). Ele nunca esteve na América até fazer um teste em Nova York. Ele conseguiu o papel e teve que permanecer, inesperadamente.

O produtor correu comigo até a GAP e me comprou um monte de meias e cuecas, ele sorri.

Antes disso, a vida no Tufnell Park, no norte de Londres, era maravilhosa.

“Passei tanto tempo correndo em Hampstead Heath”, diz ele. Seu pai fazia documentários na África. “Nos dias em que ele podia trazer coisas pra casa, na bagagem de mão, ele trazia lanças, arcos e flechas, enrolados em tapetes!”

O que está por vir? Bob Cratchit no mais recente ‘Uma canção de natal’ da BBC, uma participação especial em ‘The Souvenir Part II’ e ‘The Last Letter From Your Lover’, com Felicity Jones. Só não espere encontrar muita coisa sobre isso nas redes sociais dele.

‘Eu tenho Instagram, mas acho que não sou muito bom nisso ‘, ele ri.

Se Joe ALWYN pudesse escolher trabalhar com qualquer ator , seria Joaquin Phoenix. ‘Eu acho que ele é incrível em tudo. Definitivamente ficaria intimidado, mas adoraria trabalhar com ele’. Alwyn recentemente viu o desempenho de Phoenix no Coringa.

“Eu gostei”, diz ele. “Eu li muito sobre e li várias resenhas e a controvérsia a respeito, foi muito difícil de assistir com isso passando pela minha cabeça. Eu estava monitorando enquanto assistia.”

não foi a única performance de Phoenix que ele viu recentemente, tendo assistido ‘You Were Never Really Here’ para uma segunda visualização.

Fonte | Tradução e Adaptação – Joe Alwyn Online




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