Life after love
Coat & shirt / Kenzo
With his fourteen years of acting experience, encompassing a variety of roles from revered pop stars to cult fantasy heroes and lovesick boys, one would be forgiven for forgetting that Thomas Brodie-Sangster is only twenty four years old.
From a young age, Brodie-Sangster set himself apart from his contemporaries. “All the other children at auditions would read the script in the exact same tone,” he recalls. “I would think, ‘That doesn’t sound right, how can I do it so that it sounds different?’” This desire to bring a character to life was sparked whilst watching his father on stage: “It was so much fun watching my dad getting such a positive response from the audience. I thought, I have to do that.” From the start, Brodie-Sangster enjoyed the responsibility of being in front of a camera. His first job, at the tender age of 10, as the lead in Station Jim, a small independent film for the BBC, confirmed his maturity beyond his years. “I was fascinated with the passionate people on set. Everyone had come together for one thing. I felt I had to do my job properly.”
Despite missing out on the opportunity to play Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter franchise, Brodie-Sangster was propelled into the limelight at just thirteen years old, playing Liam Neeson’s scene-stealing son, Sam Emerson, in the heartwarming film, Love Actually. Roles in Nanny McPhee and Nowhere Boy followed, firmly cementing Brodie-Sangster as a household name. Yet, he still remains uneasy about his recognition. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s great when someone compliments you in the street because they’ve found a connection with your work,” he ponders, “but it soon starts to get a little weird.” Perhaps he is referring to the gathering of girls who have congregated outside his hotel window, although he modestly insists that they are here for fellow actor, Dylan O’Brien. Brodie-Sangster’s dismissal of celebrity only serves to emphasise his desire to play the most intriguing of characters. “For me, acting is about portraying life in its entirety. Being different is not something we should shy away from.” It is this level of maturity, along with his versatility, which has contributed to his success.
Having recently flexed his acting muscles on Game of Thrones, as Jojen Reed, Brodie-Sangster won the hearts of the series’ most zealous fans. Poised with the right mind set, he explains, “I went into GOT knowing that I was never going to please everyone. A character from a book is very personal to you, so as an actor, you just have to understand your character in order to make them as true as possible.” It is that mentality which proved invaluable when filming his latest cinematic venture, The Maze Runner, also based on a bestselling book. Unlike many teen movies, this adventure film about a band of boys trapped in a fantasy filled maze has no hint of romance, a refreshing concept that Brodie-Sangster felt compelled to be a part of, playing the courageous Newt. “I liked that the story was about a group of boys who genuinely care for one another and how that was not considered a weakness.”
In a far cry from the days playing the beloved Sam Emerson, Brodie-Sangster is set to appear as Rafe Sadler in BBC Two’s hotly anticipated adaption of Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel’s critically acclaimed novel following the court life of Thomas Cromwell. Relishing the challenge of working with natural candlelight and hand held cameras, Brodie-Sangster thrived, acting alongside Mark Rylance and Damien Lewis. Despite garnering such a varied and mature résumé, his boyish good looks often mean that he is cast as characters a lot younger than himself. Far from feeling aggrieved, he embraces it. “I’m used to it now, and it ultimately makes things easier. I’ve been a sixteen-yearold so it makes it easier to play one.”
This young, but experienced, actor remains infectiously enthusiastic about his trade and, in particular, the parts he has played. “Every role is special to me as they all represent a part of me as I was growing up,” he explains. “When I think of myself at 19, I think of myself playing Paul McCartney.” With many more roles to come, Thomas Brodie-Sangster undoubtedly has plenty more memories to make.