There are lots of familiar faces in Paula Milne’s new supernatural drama, but who is previously unknown star Fionn Whitehead?
ITV’s new three-part drama has several unusual elements. Its lead character has no name. It mixes realistic family drama with spectacular supernatural chills. And its star is someone who’s never been seen on TV before.
HIM tells the story of a 17-year-old boy, whose name we never learn but whose life is in turmoil. His parents have divorced and have both started new families, making him feel left behind and frustrated. He keeps those feelings bottled up, but something’s got to give…
Fionn Whitehead plays HIM
Whitehead has never appeared on television or done any professional acting work before now, yet he plays the anonymous lead character.
“I started acting in primary school,” he says. “The classes were few and far between but when we did do them I really enjoyed it.”
Whitehead joined the Orange Tree Youth Theatre in Richmond, Surrey, and then completed a two-week summer course at the National Youth Theatre. “I’d set myself up for a life of doing little jobs and trying to make ends meet. I was working in a café and just doing acting because I really loved doing it. Then when I got this role it blew it all out of the water.”
So how did he get it? “I saw the audition posted on the National Youth Theatre website and applied for it, but I didn’t hear back. I was encouraged to apply again by an old Youth Theatre director. So I re-applied and included a very clear photo. The casting director called me within 10 minutes.”
Katherine Kelly plays Hannah
Hannah is HIM’s mother. Having got divorced two years ago following her husband’s affair, she’s now set up home with new partner Victor and his daughter, who is about the same age as Hannah’s son. Plus, she and Victor have a new baby. She doesn’t have as much time for her son as she used to, but she loves him dearly and doesn’t believe he could ever do anything really bad…
“She’s a bit of a jaded character in many ways,” says Kelly of Hannah. “She’s definitely not had the life she thought she was going to have. Like many women, she sacrificed a lot for the family unit. I hope people can relate to [her] as she’s just a mum doing her best.”
Kelly is well known for her appearances in Happy Valley, The Night Manager and Mr Selfridge, having made her name playing Becky for six years on Coronation Street. She’ll star next in BBC3’s Doctor Who spin-off Class.
James Murray plays Edward
Edward is HIM’s father, a dashing surgeon who now has a new wife, Beth, his first marriage having ended due to Edward’s affair. Beth brings with her a 12-year-old stepson and is heavily pregnant: she and Edward are expecting twins.
Edward is “one half of the blame as to why this boy is riddled with these issues,” says Murray of his character. “He’s caught between a rock and a hard place because when it comes to HIM because he desperately wants to keep his relationship going. But his wife is very demanding and doesn’t appreciate Edward giving any time to the boy.”
Murray is best known for ITV’s dinosaur romp Primeval. This year he joined the cast of Channel 5 police procedural drama Suspects.