Sam Claflin on channelling "the struggles of life" in his acting career
On The Radio Times Podcast, Sam Claflin talks to Kelly-Anne Taylor about his new role in Daisy Jones & The Six, handling fame and what kickstarted his acting career.
No stranger to on-screen adaptations, Sam Claflin has starred in a host of them from appearing as Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games film series from 2013 to 2015, Me Before You alongside Emilia Clarke and Love, Rosie with Lily Collins.
The English actor is currently starring in Prime Video's Daisy Jones & The Six, a '70s-set musical drama based on the best-selling novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The series puts Claflin's talents as not only an actor, but also as a singer and musician, front and centre. Before this lead role, Claflin most recently starred in Peaky Blinders as Sir Oswald Mosley opposite Cillian Murphy.
With the final batch of Daisy Jones & The Six episodes landing on Prime Video in the coming weeks, Claflin sat down with The Radio Times Podcast to chat about the starry series, whether he feels as though he's "made it" in the industry and swapping life in Norwich for London in the early stages of his career.
He also chats about how his life as a father has impacted his TV viewing habits, his Pirates of the Caribbean audition and how far he's come with his initially "lacklustre" musical knowledge.
What’s the view from your sofa?
All the furniture is pointed at the television. I have an open-plan kitchen and living room area. It’s circular, my kids are happy because they can run around – and I can see them watching television while I’m cooking.
What have you enjoyed watching on TV recently?
I don’t watch that much television, which is a pretty bad thing to say as an actor. Mostly, I watch children’s TV and that usually means the same movie 7,000 times. I’ve seen Encanto and Toy Story countless times.
Toy Story is a classic…
That’s the wonderful thing about having kids – I’m watching these movies [from my childhood] again! I try to do anything to make it exciting for myself. This is my life now!
When did you decide you wanted to be an actor?
My mum would say she always knew I would end up as an actor. She used to watch me playing football on a Sunday and I was very dramatic when I got injured or when I scored a goal… Then I figured maybe football and sports weren’t for me. I always enjoyed any class at school that meant I didn’t have to read or write much – which meant drama was the other option.
You swapped Norfolk for drama school in London — what was that like?
I didn’t grow up with money – as a family we never travelled. I’d always wanted to move to London. I knew there was more to life than Norwich! I love visiting – it’s beautiful, clean, safe – but it was too quiet for me. I was petrified going to drama school, though.
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I didn’t have any money. I became an honorary caretaker; my teachers would hire me to do little jobs – gardening, buffing floors, painting walls, whatever I could to keep myself going.
You quickly landed a role in Hollywood blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean.
I’ll never forget the audition. I called my mum afterwards saying, “I just auditioned for one of those pirate movies. I’m never going to get it!” Then, when I was sent out to Hawaii – it was insane! During the read-through, I had Johnny Depp to my right and Penélope Cruz to my left. It was a pinch-me moment – every five seconds.
You’ve since starred in Peaky Blinders and a couple of hit films — can you relax now and feel you’ve “made it”?
I’m just really happy to be doing what I love and to be paid for it. [On Me before You] I worked with an acclaimed theatre director alongside Emilia Clarke – great material, deep characters. The gift of what I get to do is to explore and learn more about other people’s worlds.
Your latest series Daisy Jones & the Six follows a fictional band that’s loosely based on Fleetwood Mac. How musical are you?
I can’t bear to look at myself [on screen]. But for this series, I wasn’t only having to watch myself, I was also listening to myself [sing] for the first time. Anyone who’s listened to their own voicemail will know what it’s like hearing your own voice! When I went to the audition they started playing Come Together by the Beatles and asked if I knew it, and I said, “Yes! It’s Michael Jackson!” That’s how far I needed to come on this journey… my musical education was lacklustre.
Your character Billy struggles to handle fame — did you connect with that?
There are huge similarities between myself and Billy – the struggles of life, the fear of being a dad, the fear of not being accepted, abandonment issues. I’ve got that in spades. It felt therapeutic for me. I think with lockdown everyone went on their individual journey. I went through a very, very low moment in life and coming out of that and being able to channel that into a character – I thought this is something. This is what I want to do for the rest of my career.
Daisy Jones & The Six is available to stream on Prime Video now, with new episodes landing every Friday in March. Try Amazon Prime Video for free for 30 days.