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The Look

Hollywood’s Next Wave

From the challenges of cross-dressing to full-frontal nudity and homelessness, six up-and-coming actors reveal how they got their start

Mr Gary Oldman once said, “Wanting to be a good actor is not good enough. You must want to be a great actor. You just have to have that.” For our Young Actors Portfolio, MR PORTER has assembled a sextet of rising stars who have the talent and drive to take Mr Oldman at his word. They have diverse backgrounds – from the arid wastes of the Mojave Desert to the leafy suburbs of north London – but are united by a commitment to their craft and have already delivered break-out performances in everything from indie teen movies to esteemed TV franchises. As greatness beckons, they tell us about their influences, their future projects, their style icons and their tattoos.

Mr Karl Glusman

Mr Karl Glusman burst onto our screens – and we use the term advisedly – in Mr Gaspar Noé’s sexual fantasia Love, in which the sex scenes were real rather than simulated and the emotions raw. A native of Oregon, Mr Glusman, 27, landed the role after fleeing to Paris in the wake of a break-up. His soulful sincerity will be showcased again in Nocturnal Animals, Mr Tom Ford’s directorial follow-up to A Single Man, and The Neon Demon, the new film from Mr Nicolas Winding Refn, in which he plays a photographer in love with a fame-hungry model, played by Ms Elle Fanning.

After all that nudity and sex in Love, does anything faze you now?

I think I’m pretty unshockable at this point. However, I’m keen not to repeat myself. I’ve done the skin thing, though it’s nice that I have that immortal record of myself in my prime, as it were, for my grandchildren to see one day.

What was the best reaction you got?

My mother said I struck a blow for nudity equality on film by being as fully exposed as the women. Mind you, she’s a physician, so she’s fairly non-plussed by the human anatomy. She hasn’t seen the movie yet, but my girlfriend has. She gave it the thumbs-up. It’s a great date movie.

What’s it like working with all these auteurs?

It’s great, because these are the kind of guys that I personally get excited about – visionaries who are involved in every aspect of their movies. Gaspar [Noé]’s set is a permanent party. He’d always say, “Every day is Christmas.” Tom [Ford] is really concerned with the look and feel of the piece. He has a brilliant eye for visuals, as you can imagine. And Nicolas [Winding Refn] and I bonded over our mutual love of Taxi Driver.

Who’s your movie style icon?

Cary Grant. He wore the classics – the tuxedo, the grey suit, even the denim shirt – in such a cool and timeless way. He was never too flashy or extravagant.

Best advice you were ever given?

An actor named David Wohl, whom I was in a play with on Broadway, once took me to a diner, and said, “Find a balance in life. Don’t get obsessed by the job. Draw a pie chart and make sure hobbies and love and family and friendship and travel all get equal, if not bigger, slices.” Which reminds me of something else that Robert Duvall once said: “Hobbies keep you off dope.”

Desert island movie?

A Streetcar Named Desire. It was Marlon Brando’s performance in that film that made me want to do this stuff in the first place.

Mr George MacKay

“He’s an old head on young shoulders,” says Mr Dexter Fletcher, who directed Mr George MacKay in Sunshine On Leith, which is perhaps why the 23-year-old Londoner has since been cast as sensitive, troubled types in How I Live Now and Pride. He started his career at the age of 10, playing one of the Lost Boys in Mr PJ Hogan’s version of Peter Pan and, as he sits down to chat with MR PORTER, his boyish enthusiasm – and leading-man potential – shines through.

Being in Peter Pan at 10 must have seemed like a real-life fairy tale.

It was kind of ridiculous. We were dressed up as pirates, firing bows and arrows, wearing face paint, learning how to sword fight, in Australia, by the beach – a 10-year-old’s nirvana.

So, you thought, “Hmm, not a bad way to make a living…”

Exactly. I didn’t come back and think, “No, it’s accountancy for me.” I did all the normal growing-up stuff in between, while doing the odd acting job here and there. Then I failed the auditions for both Rada and Lamda [London’s two most prestigious drama schools], but I ended up learning on the job, as it were.

Your next film is Captain Fantastic.

Yes, and it’s nothing to do with a Marvel franchise or even the Elton John album. I’m the son of Viggo Mortenesen, who’s basically raised his family off-grid. He’s a capitalist refusenik. My character, Bo, has been kept in this bubble, and then they’re all forced to go on a road trip across the Pacific Northwest to attend their mother’s funeral and he encounters the outside world for the first time.

Who’s your movie style icon?

I love the whole look of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet – that whole Latino-beachy vibe, the patterned short-sleeved shirts, the West Side Story influence – though I might think twice about wearing those kinds of clothes myself. Especially on a wet winter’s day in Peckham.

Mr Jack Farthing

Mr Jack Farthing, 30, is still fresh enough to be “overawed” by his peers at red-carpet events, but also ambitious enough to want to belong in their company, despite the most daunting of starts – taking on a slew of female roles in the theatre class at his all-boys’ school in Hampstead, north London. He has the character actor’s chameleonic quality – he played Mr John Lennon in the British TV drama series Cilla and an upper-class hellraiser in The Riot Club – and is now cutting a dash as Mr George Warleggan, the “vaguely villainous” rival to the title character in the British TV series Poldark.

Everybody loves to hate you in Poldark.

Yes, and we’re doing the second series right now. We’re doing 10 episodes this time. I absolutely love it. Obviously, it’s fun being a horrible shit, but he’s much more than just a panto villain. He’s got his demons.

You’ve had quite a variety of roles.

I’ve got to that point now, but there was a time where I felt like I was only doing posh comedy. Maybe I’ve got the face for it. But this past year, I’ve done Poldark; a little indie film called Burn Burn Burn, about a couple of girls on a road trip to scatter a friend’s ashes; and an avant-garde play at the Almeida Theatre in London. I really feel like I’ve been stretching myself and exercising muscles that I haven’t used before.

What was it like playing female roles for the first few years of your career?

What else can you do in the drama department of an all-boys school? Now it’s like the ultimate acting challenge – look at Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl – but at the time it felt like the worst thing ever, even though we had an amazing teacher, whom I always blame for setting me on this path. Inspirational teachers should be paid way more than over-remunerated actors.

Who’s your movie style icon?

Toni Servillo in The Great Beauty is the snappiest dresser I’ve ever seen. If I grow up to be anywhere near as stylish as him, then I’ll think I’m doing all right.

Best advice you were ever given?

Don’t f*** up. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

Desert island movie?

The Godfather Part II. It never gets old. Or perhaps the complete works of Paul Thomas Anderson, if I’m allowed to take a box set. There Will Be Blood is extraordinary. The actor I love? Joaquin Phoenix. He’s done a lot of indie things, mad things, huge things, and the impression I get of him is that he’s a very bright and creatively engaged guy, and you never quite know what you’re going to get from him.

Mr Callum Turner

Mr Callum Turner proves to be something of a live wire on the MR PORTER photoshoot, flitting between accents and voices and channelling Mr Mick Jagger as he sings along to “Get Off Of My Cloud” between shots. A former model, the 25-year-old Londoner combines killer cheekbones and a cherubic smile with a streetwise confidence. He got his big break being beaten up by Mr Jake Gyllenhaal in a music video for The Shoes (“He didn’t hold back”), won a Bafta Breakthrough Brit award in 2014, and recently played Anatole Kuragin in the BBC’s adaptation of War And Peace.

Didn’t you originally want to be a footballer?

Yes, for Chelsea. I grew up on an estate in London, and football was such an outlet for me. It kept me out of trouble while some of my friends were getting in with the wrong crowd, you know what I mean?

How did acting enter the picture?

My mum totally encouraged me. She always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. I did a bit of modelling, but I was also going to the cinema and watching videos with my mum all the time. Free Willy – I must have seen that movie 50, 100 times. So I started pitching up to auditions, and I got really lucky. And here I am.

What do you like most about the job?

It’s fun, man. I get to meet all these people that I’m a fan of. I watched 12 Years A Slave, like, four times, because I loved Michael Fassbender and Paul Dano’s performances, and over the past year I’ve worked with both of them – Fassbender in Assassin’s Creed and Dano in War And Peace – and they were both super-nice and encouraging.

What do you have coming up?

I’ve done a film called Green Room, where I play a Nazi punk. It’s a horror film, which is a genre I’m not that keen on, at least to watch. I get really scared and can’t sleep. The Blair Witch Project? I can’t even go there, man. And also a film called Tramps, a kind of gangster movie set in Queens where I play a Polish New Yorker. That’s another thing I love – diving into all these different cultures.

Who’s your movie style icon?

Jack Nicholson is the dude. It’s not so much the clothes, although he wears nice suits in Chinatown, right? No, he’s the dude with the ’tude. I’m going through his entire catalogue right now. I’ve seen Five Easy Pieces about five times in the past year. That’s a beautiful film.

Best advice you were ever given?

It wasn’t exactly given to me personally, but I try and live my life according to the rules laid down in “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” that Baz Luhrmann set to music: “Don’t waste your time on jealousy… Get plenty of calcium, be kind to your knees.” Everything’s in there.

Mr Keith Stanfield

“Find your truth and what you love to do and never stop,” says Mr Keith Stanfield, 24. He’s certainly followed his own advice, growing up in Victorville on the edge of the Mojave Desert and discovering acting in high school. He made waves as civil rights activist Mr Jimmie Lee Jackson in Selma and then stepped into the redoubtable shoes of Snoop Dogg in the NWA bio-pic Straight Outta Compton. Mr Stanfield’s default mode is humble and candid, though his voice crackles with enthusiasm when he discusses his upcoming projects with Messrs Brad Pitt and Oliver Stone.

We heard you had to wear platform Converses to play Snoop.

Yes. I’m 6ft on a good day, but Snoop is 6ft 4in at least, so they had to boost me up in these high-heeled Chucks. I was, to all intents and purposes, high, which is pretty appropriate when you’re playing Snoop.

And is it true that you were homeless at one time?

It’s true, and I was dumpster-diving for food, too, but I always had a core of self-belief. I thought it was absolutely necessary to have something to cling to, to feel like you were on the cusp of something, otherwise you’d just self-destruct. I joined my high-school drama club, I found myself an agent, and things started happening for me. There’s luck involved, but you also have to make your own luck.

What have you got coming up?

A movie called War Machine, which is like a satire on the Afghan war, with Brad Pitt. We did boot camp with the Navy Seals, which was pretty full on. I found muscles I never knew I had. And then I play an NSA [National Security Agency] worker in Snowden, Oliver Stone’s movie. Working with Oliver and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Edward Snowden, was really dope to me. Running around Europe, finding out about the deep web. Amazing.

Desert island movie?

Crash. The Paul Haggis one, not the David Cronenberg one. It talks about the universality of struggle and stepping outside our own social structures and realising we’re all the same, all one big beautiful stream of consciousness. At least, that’s what I got out of it.

You have a great many tattoos.

Tons. I have an Eye of Horus right up to a 666, so I guess I cover all bases. They all mark important phases in my life. It’s like I have my own history written on my body. I’m a walking look book.

Mr Thomas Mann

Such was Mr Thomas Mann’s impact as the awkward, sarcastic film obsessive Greg in Me And Earl And The Dying Girl that he was immediately dubbed the Indie It Boy. In person, the 24-year-old isn’t nearly as spiky as Greg – in fact, he’s charmingly down to earth – but he’s equally passionate about films and film-making. And there’s no doubting his commitment. He left his native Dallas to move to Hollywood as a teenager. “There’s no fall-back option for me,” he concedes, cheerily.

Greg in Me And Earl And The Dying Girl is a movie fanatic. Are you as big a film buff as him?

I’m getting there. A lot of my preparation for that role was watching a ton of films. But the more you learn, the more you realise how much more there is to learn.

You moved to Hollywood when you were 17. Was that a huge leap of faith?

I didn’t have much use for high school. I’d already decided I wanted to be an actor. At that age you’re pretty impatient, you know? Once you’ve set your mind on something, you just want to get it done.

What have you got coming up?

There’s Brain On Fire, which is based on a true story about a writer for the New York Post who was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. Chloë Grace Moretz plays the writer and I play her boyfriend. It’s a really emotional, intense movie. And I’m in the middle of shooting Kong: Skull Island, which is the biggest thing I’ve ever been involved in. The cast is pretty overwhelming: Samuel L Jackson, John C Reilly, Tom Hiddleston. I was getting pigeonholed a bit, you know, getting a lot of coming-of-age teen movies, so it’s nice to do something that’s insanely epic.

Who’s your movie style icon?

I think Paul Dano has a really cool vibe. It’s not necessarily to do with what he wears, it’s to do with the choices he makes and the way he inhabits his roles. Did you see him in 12 Years A Slave? Man, you just wanted to get up out of your seat and punch him in the face. And then he’s so sympathetic as Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy. Some people say I look a little like him, and I’ll take that comparison any day.

Best advice you were ever given?

Don’t have regrets or dwell on the past. You can save yourself a lot of grief if you let things go.

Desert island movie?

Can it be a box set? I’ll take a Martin Scorsese collection. Give me Casino, Goodfellas, The King Of Comedy and After Hours, and I’ll be more than happy.