Joe discusses the upcoming series Conversations with Friends in the May 2022 issue of Elle UK. Read the full interview below:


The British actor is here to steal our hearts in the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s book. Katie O’Malley meets the man giving Paul Mescal a run for his money

IF ANYTHING SUMS UP THE ABSURDITY of trying to find new ways to work during the pandemic, it might be the way that Joe Alwyn met his Conversations with Friends co-star, Alison Oliver. “A few months before shooting, Lenny [Abrahamson, the director] wanted us to meet with him, so we ended up both staying in an empty hotel during lockdown,” he says. “It felt like The Shining.” But it’s thanks, perhaps, to Northern Ireland’s lockdown restrictions that Alwyn and his co-stars (Oliver, Jemima Kirke and Sasha Lane) were able to form the tight-knit bond needed to depict the intense relationships of their characters in the adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends. “We all hung out loads,” he says, recalling hikes along the Giant’s Causeway and spending time at Abrahamson’s home.
The 12-part series, out this month, is an exploration of the complex, intertwining love stories between four unlikely individuals – two university students (Frances and Bobbi) and a married couple (Melissa and Nick). “It was a no-brainer,” London-born Alwyn says of the opportunity to pay Nick — a pained, quiet actor who navigates an affair with timid Frances while still in love with self-assured Melissa.
“He’s gone through a bit of a storm and is in a place of recovery. He’s numb to the world.” Today, the 31-year-old couldn’t be more different from the meek on-screen character. Speaking to me via Zoom from his home in North London, he’s warm and self-effacing. Addressing the discomfort of the students in the ‘adult’ settings of the story, Alwyn says he can relate to the characters’ gawkiness. “It’s definitely a familiar feeling — that sense of being out of your depth.”
It took just five days after sending in his audition tapes for Alwyn to learn that he’d landed the role. “I was so excited, I went to my parents’ house for drinks,” he says. The son of a psychotherapist and a documentary filmmaker, Alwyn developed a passion for acting at an early age. “I was Snowy the dog in The Adventures of Tintin,” he laughs, recalling his roles in school plays. Despite since starring in award-winning films such as Boy Erased and The Favourite, he admits he has not been immune to “struggle” in his career.
“It’s such a weird job. It’s full of so much confusion, rejections and ups and downs.” One of the downs is undoubtedly the public’s interest in his own life (Alwyn has been dating Taylor Swift since 2016). He still finds it hard to understand why sharing, rather than protecting, one’s private life is the expectation. “It’s not really [because I] want to be guarded, it’s more a response to something else,” he shrugs. “We live in a culture that is increasingly intrusive. The more you give — and frankly, even if you don’t give it — something will be taken.”
The success of the BBC’s Normal People — which swept the board at 2020s BAFTAs and Golden Globes — has set high expectations for Conversations, especially with the stories’ shared sensibilities. “But at the same time, it’s very different,” Alwyn says, noting that above all, he wants the new series to provoke debate. “[Rooney] never ties things up neatly at the end, which is one of the reasons I love [her books].”
While he’s yet to meet Rooney — he sent her a “fan message” after being cast — the actor has long appreciated her work. “She’s such a perceptive writer,” he says. In a similar vein to Normal People’s Connell and Marianne, played by Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones respectively, Alwyn says there’s a lot said in the unsaid between Nick and Frances.
“That’s very much part of Sally’s books,” he notes. “[They] really struggle with self-expression, and Nick finds it deeply irritating — he wishes he knew how to communicate better.” It looks like this series will make as many waves as its predecessor, but with upcoming roles in The Stars at Noon opposite Margaret Qualley, and Lena Dunham’s new film, Catherine, Called Birdy, it’s Alwyn who is set to make the biggest splash of all. Conversations With Friends is out in May


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Laertes is an crucial figure. He's missing quite a bit early on and in the middle because he's away at university, but once he comes back the story is basically about how he and Hamlet deal with the deaths of their fathers in very different ways. The ending focuses on him as much as Hamlet.

thanks for the info!

How much screen time would Laertes generally be expected to have? It's been years since I've seen or read anything Hamlet related and I can't really remember the importance of his part.

his character is the one who kills Hamlet but it’s been years for me too since I read the play/watched the movie so not sure, I need to revisit it!

maybe someone more familiar with Hamlet can answer

Do we know which hamlet character Joe will be playing?

Laertes, the brother of Ophelia (Morfydd Clark)

What projects does he have coming out this year? So I can support him♥️

AND potentially, released in the fall/winter

and maybe the short A Very Short Film about Longing will finally come out, we can hope 😭

Baby-face is back 😭

something about joe being clean-shaven is very nostalgic lol 🥹

Joe Alwyn Via Emma Laird On Instagram

Joe Alwyn via Emma Laird on instagram

no way it's gonna be that long. That happened cause of covid me thinks 🤔 suuuuper excited for this.

yeah I think or at least hope it won’t take quite that long the second time around, so perhaps a late 2023/early 2024 filming for Hamlet, and release in 2024? That would be nice

do you have an idea when lotr is finishing?

according to Deadline, the first season was filmed from end of Sept 2020 to August 2021 (it initially started Feb 2020 but was shut down in March). The second season started in October 2022 so it could still be filming for a while yet 😬

Morfydd Clark Gave An Update On Hamlet In A Recent

Morfydd Clark gave an update on Hamlet in a recent interview:

“Yes, I’m going to shoot a movie after the shooting of Rings of Power is over. It will be an adaptation of Hamlet where I will play Ophelia and be directed by Aneil Karia, who won an Oscar for her… [more]


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