work­ing with emilia was very easy

MEET HUNGER GAMES HOT­TIE SAM CLAFLIN, WHO’S QUITE POS­SI­BLY THE NICEST GUY IN HOL­LY­WOOD. PRE­PARE TO SWOON…

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OK, it’s of­fi­cial: we have a ma­jor crush on Sam Claflin. He’s to­tally gor­geous (and to­tally heart­break­ing) as Will in Me Be­fore You, not to men­tion an all-round good guy. We chat to the 29-year-old about get­ting into char­ac­ter, work­ing with Emilia and how play­ing Will was his tough­est act­ing chal­lenge yet…

How did you find your way into this com­plex char­ac­ter? The film is Lou’s story, but Will is ob­vi­ously a big part of it. And, as a para­plegic char­ac­ter, his story is rarely told or in­deed told so well. I felt obliged to put my heart and soul into por­tray­ing him truth­fully. It was very im­por­tant for me per­son­ally to do him jus­tice. Will is quite a prickly per­son when we first meet him. Was that tricky to nav­i­gate? Will was an ex­tremely suc­cess­ful guy be­fore the ac­ci­dent. The more re­search I did, the clearer it be­came to me that it’s his way of hid­ing the pain he’s ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. He doesn’t want any­one to feel sym­pa­thy for him… Whether or not I would ever feel like that, it’s im­pos­si­ble to say. I think things af­fect peo­ple in dif­fer­ent ways – ev­ery­one has their own jour­ney and this is Will’s. What were the phys­i­cal chal­lenges of us­ing a wheel­chair? I’ve done very phys­i­cal films up to now, and this was quite the op­po­site. There were so many re­stric­tions to my move­ments. Will’s mind is very much alive, but the phys­i­cal re­straints [were] quite chal­leng­ing. Be­ing con­stantly aware of my body and [its] still­ness has been a new and in­sight­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. Was that tough to at­tain? It was men­tally and emo­tion­ally drain­ing at times. I re­mem­ber there be­ing a mo­ment in be­tween two takes when I just broke down. I to­tally lost it. Thea [Shar­rock, the di­rec­tor] turned to me and said: ‘Are you OK?’ I had ba­si­cally lost my­self in the mo­ment. But it must have been good work­ing with Emilia? [It was] amaz­ing. Emilia and I ac­tu­ally met about five years ago. We did a photo shoot for Screen In­ter­na­tional’s Stars of To­mor­row and we hit it off right from the get-go. So, in the sense we al­ready knew each other and we re­spect and are fans of each other’s work, it felt very, very easy. Jojo’s novel moved mil­lions to tears. Do you think the movie will fol­low suit? I hope so! When I read the script and the novel, it was gut-wrench­ing. I watched the film with my wife, agent and pub­li­cist and they were all in floods of tears. You’re swept up into this love story, but these char­ac­ters and the choices they make, I think, will open up a lot of top­ics for con­ver­sa­tion after you leave the theatre.

Sam as Will with his nurse, Nathan

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