- Photography by Mr Jon Gorrigan | Styling by Mr Marcus Love
- Words by Mr Chris Elvidge, Senior Copywriter, MR PORTER
Mr Jack Fox is a bundle of contradictions, if ever there was one. A member of the illustrious Fox dynasty, something of a constellation in the acting firmament, he describes himself as "a bit of a rebel". And his chosen profession? Acting, of course.
"OK, so I'm not a very good rebel," he admits, relaxing in the sprawling garden of an Art-Deco mansion in south London after our shoot. He'll take consolation in having nailed the look, at least: in tortoiseshell sunglasses and doubled-up black Exemplaire cashmere sweaters, and with a cigarette hanging lazily between his fingers, the 28 year old looks every bit the modern-day Dickie Greenleaf, a character study in the wayward son.
The 28 year old looks every bit the modern-day Dickie Greenleaf, a character study in the wayward son
With practised fluency, he rattles off the family roll call. "My dad's James Fox, an actor. His brothers are Robert and Edward Fox - a producer and another actor. Tom, my eldest brother, owns a landscape gardening company, but he produced a short film when he was younger. Then it's Robin, who owns a production company and has just produced The Double with Richard Ayoade, who's my brother-in-law. My brother below Robin is Laurence, who's an actor, and then below him is Lydia, who is an actor, and an amazing writer and impersonator, and then it's me.
"So I suppose," he continues, "that either I'm the worst rebel in the world - or maybe, sometimes, you just get called to do something, and you follow it as best you can." This calling came, he says, during his first year at university. He'd been offered parts in his teens, but his father, who made his first film at a very young age, had rejected them on his behalf.
"He didn't really have a childhood," he says of his father, who took a well-publicised break from acting in the 1970s, during which time he became a Christian evangelist. "He didn't want me to have to go through the same thing - he didn't want that for any of us. Funnily enough, though, I think it was our stubbornness that eventually led us all in that direction anyway. He must be terribly disappointed," he grins.
Mr Fox did complete his studies before embarking on an acting career, gaining a degree in philosophy and theology from Leeds University - but with his heart set on becoming an actor, he admits to hardly having given much consideration to other paths. Could he have done anything else? "I fantasise about the idea that I could have been an OK anything, however far that is from the truth," he jokes. "I worked as a landscape gardener for a bit.
"I worked in Harrods, too. Could I have run Harrods? Sure, why not?" Selfridges might have been a better answer. But the actor - who featured in Mr Selfridge alongside Mr Jeremy Piven earlier this year - seems to be getting by with his chosen livelihood just fine.
With a role in Kids in Love, the upcoming film featuring Ms Cara Delevingne ("It's crazy being around her," he says, "she's beloved by so many people"), a reprisal of his role in Fresh Meat, the acclaimed student comedy featuring Mr Jack Whitehall, and several other projects on the horizon, it looks like a career in retail can wait.
I worked as a landscape gardener for a bit. I worked in Harrods, too. Could I have run Harrods? Sure, why not?
Does he have any idea of where this is all leading? "I'm not set on any particular life goals," he replies, after a pause. "I just want to be able to sleep well at night, really, and I think you can do that in one of two ways: either you take massive amounts of heavy sleeping pills, or you try to fulfil whatever desire you have to succeed, to make yourself stronger, or better.
Acting, I think, is a job that allows you - no, demands of you - a great deal of experimentalism. It's something you only get better at through new experiences, and through developing as a person."
Regardless of his reasons for getting into acting, Mr Fox has ensured by following in the family footsteps that there is no sob story to tell, no X Factor-style, rags-to-riches narrative to fall back on - nothing to romanticise at all, really, save for the simple idea of someone doing something that they love.
It makes for a refreshingly straightforward, honest conversation. He's unapologetic about who he is and where he comes from, but he'd really rather focus on his chosen craft - as the anecdote he concludes with aptly demonstrates.
"I remember a story a director told me about the time that Sean Connery went to meet the casting crew for the first Bond film. The way he walked out of the room after the meeting was over - they said he moved like a panther. Ever since hearing that," he says, "I've been obsessed with the way people walk. I know, right?" And, with that, he slinks away.