You star in HBO/BBC drama series Industry, what was it about the script that drew you to the project in the first instance?
It’s such an exciting script. It’s got this fascinating world of international finance as a backdrop, which is really much more a lifestyle than it is a job. But in actual fact that’s just a cauldron for the show to throw all of these young, ambitious people together. In many ways, it’s a personal study in what it means to be a young adult in a culture that is constantly in evolution. It’s so sharp, raw, witty – but really carries some big ideas too.
What was it like filming in Wales? Do you have any funny stories you can share from set?
Filming in Wales was a joy. I really loved my time there. It’s such an antidote to London, everything is a little calmer up there. And I know it’s something that all actors say, but we really did have the best cast and crew working on this job. Everyone was just unbelievably kind and silly. There are too many fun stories to mention.
Do you think yourself and Robert would ever be friends in real life?
I actually semi-based the character on one of my best mates! So I guess we would be friends, yeh. But we don’t have all that much in common. I certainly can’t party as hard as him, that’s for sure.
If you had to play any other character on the show, who would it be and why?
It would probably be Eric. He’s the big boss. The character is so dynamic and complex – brilliant but flawed. Maybe a lot of that is just what Ken Leung brings to it, as he’s just a supremely talented actor. But watching that performance from afar definitely made it look a lot of fun.
How did this project differ from others you have completed so far?
The scale of it. I’m still pretty early on in my career, so having the opportunity to be part of such a huge creative machine was mind blowing. I’d never experienced anything like it. Of course, that can come with a lot of pressure but once you move past that and get to work with the other actors, you realise it’s just a privilege to be involved. I really tried to make the most of it.
Which roles/characters have inspired you over the years?
So many! I go through phases with actors and genres, so it’s hard to pin one down. But while I was up in Wales shooting Industry, I watched a tv show called Fosse/Verdon with Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams. Their performances in that piece are on another level. Their work has so much texture. The scope and detail that they both manage is so impressive, and really inspiring.
Do you prefer doing theatre or filmed jobs?
I love both. They are very different but ultimately exactly the same. You have a lot more autonomy in the theatre, whereas in film you have to leave your performance in someone else’s hands. But also, things can go wrong on stage whereas you can always try again on screen. But to carve out a career where I would be able to switch between the two would be a dream for me. At the end of the day, they are both about sharing a story with an audience – that audience just start watching at different stages in the process.
If you couldn’t be an actor, what career do you think you would be doing?
I think I’d probably be giving journalism a go. I’ve always loved writing, and I’m a huge sports fan. So I imagine I’d be trying to become a sports writer.
What is your motto in life?
‘Have the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’
Lastly, if you were stranded on a desert Island and could only take three items with you, what would they be and why?
A football, my guitar, a photo album.
Industry premieres on BBC Two (UK) Tuesday 10th November at 9.15pm and on HBO 9th November