Alex Lawther: actor
At 18 years old, Alex Lawther has already starred in one West End play, shot films with Hollywood actors and won praise from Dame Maggie Smith. He is currently starring in the Glass Supper at Hampstead Theatre.
Tell me about the Glass Supper.
The play is at base a comedy, but it is kind of an exploration of love and sex in the modern world. It’s looking at this basic human need to belong I suppose, and the terrible and manipulative things we get up to in order to achieve a sense of belonging. My character Jamie is a sort of Lolita type character. He’s full of that kind of spirit of youth which is very attractive to the older members of the cast. He knows he has a power that he abuses to get his way. So on the one hand he’s kind of a nasty character but on the other hand a bit of an ingenue. I’ve got a lot to work with, it’s fascinating.
Is every project you do a learning curve?
Definitely. I think that’s one of the reasons I took this part. His world view is so different from mine, and there’s a lot of work in getting behind a psychology like that. That’s one thing that attracts me to roles the most – how much potential there is for me to learn from it. It feels like this is taking the place of formal training at this stage. Especially because in theatre you’re rehearsing and working day in day out and you do learn so much. All that you learn you have to sustain for a month or to month run. You learn technique and you learn stamina, which I think is my version of drama school in many ways.
Do you have a dream role?
I don’t think until it came along I would know. At the moment I’m really interested in playing all different kind of different things. I’m looking forward to starting a film in October called Departure, in which I play Lesley Manville’s son and that’s really exciting. It’s as much about looking forward to some wonderful scripts that are out there more than specific parts. I’ve always wanted to keep my foot in film as well as theatre, and be working in both worlds. It’s wonderful that I’m able to do that at the moment.
How has your experience of film acting been so far?
I had my film debut last year doing X Plus Y with Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall, and we went to Taiwan for a couple of weeks, which was weird, and wonderful. Filming out there was quite tough though, the weather especially, because it was so humid. It was a wonderful script by the playwright James Graham.
Have you met any of your idols yet?
When I did South Downs on the West End, Anna Chancellor was also in the play and she had just finished filming The Hour for the BBC. It was my 17th Birthday and we went out for dinner after the show. She asked me if she could bring a friend, and then Ben Whishaw walked through the door and that was amazing and kind of wonderful. And being in the same film as Sally Hawkins last year, I think she’s brilliant.
CV: Alex Lawther
Agent: Nicki van Gelder at Conway van Gelder Grant
First role: John Blakemore in South Downs at Chichester Festival Theatre and the Harold Pinter Theatre