From Nev­er­land to Wales, via Afghanistan and Scot­land, Ge­orge MacKay’s roles have been bril­liantly eclec­tic. This win­ter sees the young tal­ent turn side­kick for Hol­ly­wood boys Viggo Mortensen and James Franco.

Schon! - - Let George Do It - Words / Pa­trick Clark Pho­tog­ra­phy / Yu­val Hen Fash­ion Editor / Kay Korsh Groom­ing / Francesca Brazzo us­ing Rad­i­cal Skin­care and Bum­ble and bum­ble Pho­tog­ra­phy As­sis­tant / Liron Weiss­man Fash­ion As­sis­tants / Becky Chong & Paula Dam­berga Lo­ca­tion / Stu­dio

Keep­ing up with Ge­orge MacKay’s ca­reer path is a task in it­self. He first graced screens in 2003 as cute Curly in Peter Pan. When we meet, he’s still got that boy­ish charm, ca­pa­ble of melt­ing hearts the world over. In 2014, his bril­liantly soul­ful de­pic­tion of Joe in Pride was an ir­re­sistibly sen­si­tive per­for­mance. The year be­fore that, three high-pro­file films ( How I Live Now, Sun­shine on Leith and For Those in Peril) landed him a Bafta nom­i­na­tion for Ris­ing Star. When we speak to him, he’s off to Toronto to start film­ing the Stephen King mini-se­ries 11/22/63 as Franco’s side­kick. He’s just wrapped a six-week stint at the Young Vic in Eu­gene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilder­ness! and is en­joy­ing some short but sweet down time.

“The big­gest ad­van­tage of work­ing when I was younger is that there weren’t any tri­als and tribu­la­tions be­cause I wasn’t aware,” MacKay ad­mits. His train­ing al­most adds up to a decade in drama school – with just un­der 10 sil­ver screen ap­pear­ances by the time he was 18. “I was ba­si­cally re­ally spoilt; I was al­lowed to have all these amaz­ing learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties with­out think­ing about it too much.” In fact, his two au­di­tions for drama schools – one for RADA and the other for LAMDA – got him nowhere. “So I just thought I’d try to keep work­ing, and, touch wood, I’ve been lucky so far.”

We’re quick to no­tice that ‘luck’ is a word he uses re­cur­rently – an ac­cu­sa­tion he shrugs off with a laugh: “I guess [not go­ing to drama school] makes you work ex­tra hard. I don’t have the bedrock of skills so I’m hy­per­aware that I have to re­ally pay at­ten­tion,” he ex­plains. “The play was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. I was try­ing to soak in ev­ery fa­cil­ity that’s in the re­hearsal room be­cause I’ve not had that be­fore.” MacKay’s first stage ap­pear­ance was in Ian McEwan’s The Ce­ment Gar­den last year – not too hum­ble a de­but on the boards.

“Some­times it’s about learn­ing more, so you want to do a dif­fer­ent kind of work to things you have done be­fore… whether it’s a dif­fer­ent kind of story, or with dif­fer­ent peo­ple or dif­fer­ent meth­ods of work­ing,” he tells us. “Ev­ery story takes time, so it needs to be some­thing worth­while. So I just try to be true to that.”

Road movie Cap­tain Fan­tas­tic is set for re­lease this win­ter, where MacKay takes on the role of Viggo Mortensen’s son. “It’s emo­tional, but within that there is room for a fair amount of com­edy about some­one from the very far left meet­ing pop­u­lar so­ci­ety, with these chil­dren who are too far in one di­rec­tion,” ex­plains the young ac­tor. “I play the old­est of the six chil­dren. He’s ap­ply­ing for all these Ivy League col­leges and he’s got to the point where he’s 18 and he’s re­alised that he lit­er­ally can’t speak to any­one.” Trav­el­ling be­tween Seat­tle and New Mexico for Cap­tain Fan­tas­tic, the young Lon­doner has more of­ten than not been on set film­ing. “When you’re work­ing you have such an in­tense time with ev­ery­one that you are work­ing with,” he tells us. “You don’t get to see any­one from home. Even when you’re film­ing in Lon­don, it’s hard to get away from the job, phys­i­cally.” Pre­par­ing for his roles takes up the rest of his time: “Most of it is in the script, and it’s just suss­ing that out. You never film chrono­log­i­cally, so you’ve got to get a strong sense of what’s go­ing on from A to B, and all the mile­stones in be­tween.”

For some­one who has so much media ex­po­sure, Ge­orge MacKay is re­mark­ably hum­ble. With gen­tle­manly re­serve, he at­tributes much of the suc­cess of projects he’s worked on to the team. “It was so lovely that peo­ple re­ally took to Pride. That’s down to what those guys ac­tu­ally did, and then [Steven Beres­ford] dis­till­ing that into such a won­der­ful script, and Matthew [Warchus] for ex­e­cut­ing it.” Lit­tle does he men­tion the fact that he es­sen­tially had the role that glued the whole nar­ra­tive to­gether, hold­ing the most screen time, along­side Bri­tish greats such as Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton (we’ll do the name drop­ping for him, since he’s too mod­est to do so him­self).

MacKay’s mod­esty be­lies all the praise and awards he’s had heaped on him “It’s not some­thing I want to think about too much but you also don’t want to pa­tro­n­ise how mean­ing­ful it is,” he muses. “It’s some­thing that’s re­ally lovely. But ev­ery­thing moves so quickly, I don’t think it’s some­thing to hold on to.”

Set to make his mark on the up­com­ing wave of young Bri­tish ac­tors, this ris­ing star is guid­ing us higher and fur­ther than Nev­er­land. MacKay is well on his way to earn­ing his place along­side the icons.

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