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One To Watch: Jack O’Connell – movieScope

One To Watch: Jack O’Connell

Having taken roles in numerous TV shows from a young age, including The Bill, Waterloo Road, Holby City and The Runaway, Jack O’Connell grabbed audience’s attention with his portrayal of troubled James Cook in popular drama Skins. He’s also starred in various UK films including Harry Brown, Eden Lake, This is England and United and takes his first major film lead in the upcoming The Liability, in which he stars as a young lad who falls into an underworld of murder, sex trafficking and revenge. Tim Roth, Peter Mullan and Talulah Riley also star. Later this year Jack will be seen taking the role of Calisto in prequel 300: Rise of an Empire,  and he is currently shooting both prison-based drama Starred Up and Ireland-set thriller 71.

What training have you received? 

Secondary school drama lessons which were compulsory. From there, I got referred to the television workshop in Nottingham; after auditioning, I went twice a week into an environment where I felt we could trial and error and eventually put on some really decent productions. At the time the workshop was funded by ITV, so free for us, and we had performed at the National Theatre by the time I was 15. It was proper good fun. But not drama school. Any other training happens on the job for me; luckily I’m eight years in and no-one’s exposed me, yet.

What kind of roles attract you? 

Challenges. Characters which aren’t my own, I have a lot of interest in playing those. Sometimes I’m not cast in those role, though, so at times I get what I’m given—but that seems to be happening less these days so I’ll keep working towards the challenges. 

What’s the best advice that you’ve been given as an actor? 

A lot of sound colleagues and a lot of sound advice, but I think the most important lesson was to have your character nailed, to know him or her so that you can just flow. Some require more research than others but, either way, if you believe it, the chances of anyone else believing are better, surely?

Tell us the most significant moment in your career so far :- 

I’d say playing Sir Bobby Charlton [in United] was my personal significant moment. I saw that the feedback was positive from either attending screenings or reviews, and that gave me a much clearer outline of how to properly perform somebody and not fake it. I was proudest of this one 

You’ll die happy when… 


The Liability is now available on Blu-ray and DVD, and 300: Rise of An Empire will be on general release from August 2.

Taken from movieScope magazine, Issue 34 (May/June 2013)