The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - VICKY ROACH

Jack O’Con­nell spe­cialises in an­gry young men. The trou­bled in­ten­sity of his char­ac­ters in This Is

Eng­land, the Chan­nel 4 se­ries Skins and prison drama Starred Up, with Ben Men­del­sohn, sent crit­ics search­ing for new su­perla­tives.

Class-con­scious English cast­ing agents, how­ever, still haven’t cot­toned on to the fact that the lad can act.

“If I have ever gone for posher roles, I get laughed out of the room,” says O’Con­nell, who ap­pears op­po­site Ge­orge Clooney and Ju­lia Roberts in the Jodie Foster-di­rected crime thriller Money Mon­ster.

Un­like Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch, who was ed­u­cated at Har­row, and Ed­die Red­mayne, who went to Eton, O’Con­nell grew up be­tween two hous­ing es­tates in work­ing-class Derby.

The 25-year-old ac­tor was un­able to pur­sue his ini­tial ca­reer plan – the army – be­cause of a ju­ve­nile crim­i­nal record.

“I don’t think the same num­ber of roles are avail­able to me given those re­straints,’’ O’Con­nell says.

“I would love that not to be the case. But I have ex­pe­ri­enced it. It does ap­ply.

“But I am not go­ing to get any­where by mouthing off about it. There are things I can do. It gives me an in­cen­tive to work harder.”

Cin­e­matic class prej­u­dice is one of the rea­sons why O’Con­nell, who made his Hol­ly­wood de­but as World War II hero Louis Zam­perini in Angelina Jolie’s Un­bro­ken, is cur­rently try­ing his luck on the other side of the At­lantic.

“There is a lot less em­pha­sis on class over here,” he says.

That may well be the case. But Money Mon­ster doesn’t ex­actly bust O’Con­nell out of his cur­rent mould.

Apart from the op­por­tu­nity to work with some of Hol­ly­wood’s best, the role of Brook­lyn-born battler Kyle Bud­well tempted O’Con­nell with a sur­pris­ing sym­pa­thetic char­ac­ter arc. Af­ter los­ing ev­ery cent of the $60,000 he in­her­ited from his late mother on a bum steer by fi­nance per­son­al­ity Lee Gates (Clooney), Bud­well takes the TV host hostage, at gun­point, on air, de­mand­ing both an­swers and an apol­ogy.

“Al­though his ac­tions are rash they are still very cal­cu­lated,” O’Con­nell says.

“I would never rec­om­mend any­one go do that. But he’s not stupid. He’s fallen vic­tim to a rigged sys­tem and he’s try­ing to make every­body aware of it.

“He has some ad­mirable traits which make him very in­ter­est­ing, very at­trac­tive for an ac­tor to play.”

The next O’Con­nell film to hit cin­e­mas is the pe­riod ro­mance Tulip Fever, costar­ring Ali­cia Vikan­der, Holliday Grainger and O’Con­nell’s former girl­friend Cara Delev­ingne.

Sport­ing long hair and a 17th cen­tury cos­tume, the ac­tor is barely recog­nis­able in the role.

“To play some­body from such a dis­tant pe­riod of time helped me step into some­thing new,’’ he says.

“And also, the char­ac­ter I play loves his wife. I got to play this fam­ily man.

“But, I mean if we are talk­ing class again, there is very lit­tle what’s dif­fer­ent in terms of that.”

Tulip Fever di­rec­tor Justin Chad­wick is also hop­ing to cast O’Con­nell in his next film, A

Life In The Day, which tells the story of Bea­tles man­ager Brian Ep­stein, who died of a drug over­dose at the age of 32.

Ni­cholas Hoult is cir­cling the flam­boy­ant role of Ep­stein, who was gay.

O’Con­nell would play Ju­lian Len­non, an­other work­ing class char­ac­ter, to be sure, but one guar­an­teed to mix things up a lit­tle bit.

“I feel very pos­i­tive to­wards that project. I just don’t know if it’s real. I don’t know if it’s any more than spec­u­la­tion at the mo­ment,” O’Con­nell says.

Money Mon­ster opens to­day


Jack O'Con­nell plays Brook­lyn-born battler Kyle Bud­well in Money Mon­ster.

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