Though when invited onto the set of Toby MacDonald’s boarding school set romantic comedy Old Boys, we had anticipated a Hogwarts like journey into the depths of the English countryside, instead we had to suspend our disbelief somewhat, as we head right into the centre of London, at the old Central St. Martin’s art college, a now unused, rather derelict building that is perfect for shooting movies (so much so, we returned not long after to speak to Ethan Hawke on the set of Juliet, Naked).
The film’s affable, affectionate tone was more than evident during our afternoon there, as there was a positive spirit in the air, and a bunch of easy going young actors all seemingly enjoying themselves. We had the pleasure on set to grab a very quick chat with the film’s leading star Alex Lawther, who plays Amberson; a downtrodden, nerdy kid who has a creative spark within him. In what is a loose adaptation of the famous French tale Cyrano de Bergerac, he masquerades as a jock, as the means of communication between his peer Winchester played by Jonah Hauer-King, and the local French girl Agnes, played by Pauline Etienne. Question is, has she fallen in love with the Winchester, or has she fallen in love with his words and ingenuity, that do in fact belong to Amberson?
“I’ve read Cyrano de Bergerac, which this is very loosely based on, and I’ve always thought it was a very beautiful story and I think this takes that and Cyrano is now this Amberson character who I play, and I love what they’ve made Amberson into”, Lawther told us in a back room, dressed in what can best be described as pyjamas.
“This sort of slightly hopeless, but nonetheless very cheerful character who will try, and he’s such a trier, and I thought that was really charming. I also love the very sweet love triangle that does on between him, Winchester and Agnes, who is Amberson’s love interest, this French girl. Who the characters are, and their relationships to each other was most interesting.”
He’s a very endearing character who is very easy to root for, which Lawther thinks is down to the excellent writing of Luke Ponte and Freddy Syborn.
“He’s an underdog who thinks that if he tries a bit harder he can get better, and I love that relentless sort of optimism, even in the face of a school such as this, which is telling him that he’s not worth it,” he finished.
Told you it was quick chat. But hey, getting the lead star to give us three minutes of his time in set is still difficult. Right?
Old Boys is out in cinemas now.