Last time we spoke to Sam Claflin he was on a winning streak. Fresh out of drama school, he had already secured roles in two big budget films, Pirates of the Caribbean and Snow White and the Huntsman, and he was staring stardom right in the face – he couldn’t believe his luck.
It doesn’t look as though much has changed since; the blockbuster roles are still coming in thick and fast, and the 27-year-old Norwich native still has his feet firmly on the ground, assuring us that he “never wanted to be famous” in the first place.
However, with a leading role in the film adaptation of Posh on the horizon, titled The Riot Club, and the small matter of the final two instalments of The Hunger Games, it looks like the self-styled pessimist might have to start believing his own hype. After all, everyone else does.
HUNGER: WE LAST SPOKE TO YOU TWO YEARS AGO. TALK US THROUGH WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING SINCE THEN?
Sam Claflin: I think I was engaged then, and I can now safely say that I’m a married man. That’s probably one of the biggest steps I’ll ever take in my life. Other than that I’ve been involved in a few projects in the industry, one being The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which is the second instalment of The Hunger Games trilogy. I also managed to squeeze in a romantic comedy, and a drama based on a play, called Posh. I think that’s pretty much my life in the last two years. Squeezing in a wedding in the middle of all that was near impossible.
HOW’S MARRIED LIFE TREATING YOU?
I don’t think there’s a huge amount that has changed about our life, other than the added responsibility of looking after a puppy. We bought a Cockapoo, which is a mix between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle. I think the fact that I could say cock and poo in one word was what sold the idea to me.
IS IT DIFFICULT BEING AWAY FROM YOUR WIFE LAURA [HADDOCK]?
It’s always been difficult. I don’t think you can ever get used to the distance. It’s not only my wife and the puppy, it’s England in general. I really struggle, and I miss the lifestyle that I have here. I miss my local pub and waking up in my own bed.
YOU’VE SAID BEFORE THAT YOU’RE NOT INTERESTED IN FAME. BEING PART OF THE HUNGER GAMES TRILOGY, DO YOU THINK IT’S SOMETHING YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO GET USED TO?
Maybe, but it’s hard to predict. I didn’t do the movie to be famous. I chose to do it partly as a way to get my face and name out there and to hopefully open a few more doors, but also because it’s a project that I’m hugely interested in. I watched the first movie and I was a huge fan, so it has been a real creative curve in my career to be able to work with this incredible cast of actors, directors and producers on [something] that I’m proud to watch back.
THE HUNGER GAMES IS A HUGE HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTER. DO YOU THINK THAT TO MAKE IT AS AN ACTOR THESE DAYS YOU HAVE TO HAVE HOLLYWOOD IN YOUR SIGHTS?
To be one hundred percent honest, I did not at all have Hollywood in my sights when I left drama school. I just never assumed that it was a possible dream. Part of me was expecting to lose from day one, and I definitely had no higher hopes than to be on the stage in some sort of touring production.
IN YOUR LAST INTERVIEW WITH US YOU SAID THAT YOU TEND TO LOOK AT THE NEGATIVE SIDE OF LIFE RATHER THAN THE POSITIVE. IS THIS STILL THE CASE?
I think so. It’s only because I don’t want to guess at what might not happen. I don’t want to live in disappointment. My expectations are very low, so in that sense I look at life in a negative way. I do dream big, but I don’t ever think those dreams will come true. Luckily so far those dreams have gone quite well, but I know full well that it could all end tomorrow, and people might work out that I can’t act! [Laughs]
THAT’S VERY BRITISH.
I save half of everything I earn purely because I think, “I don’t want to be overtaxed”. I don’t want to get caught short. I’m basically preparing for an apocalypse.
YOU USED TO BE A CARETAKER AT DRAMA SCHOOL. HAVE YOU SPLURGED ON ANYTHING SINCE THEN?
Nothing except the house that I’m currently living in, and the dog, and perhaps the wedding. There’s no yacht moored in the Mediterranean! My house was very run-down, an absolute shithole to be honest, before we did it up. I remember Laura’s face, walking in for the first time. She quite literally gagged because it stank so much. I was like, “Cover your nostrils and look at the potential!”
WE’RE NEXT GOING TO SEE YOU IN THE RIOT CLUB, AN ADAPTATION OF LAURA WADE’S PLAY POSH. WHAT DREW YOU TO THE ROLE?
I think the fact that I’d heard so much positive feedback about the stage version of it. When I read the script for the first time I was blown away. It’s a world that I’m not familiar with whatsoever, so I knew it was going to be challenging. I thought that it was my opportunity to prove to the world that I can do more than just be the guy who falls in love. Thankfully I made my feelings clear to the director and she was happy to oblige!
YOU’VE SAID BEFORE THAT YOU’RE NOT TOO HOT ON POLITICAL JARGON. ARE YOU MORE UP ON IT NOW?
No, not at all! Even though I didn’t have to learn about what I was saying as long as I could say it, it was important to me to read essays from university students that were very similar to the ones my character wrote, so I had an idea of the surrounding elements of what he was talking about.
SO PERSONALLY YOU’RE NOT VERY POLITICAL?
Oh God, part of me hates to admit this, but I’ve never voted, and it’s not because of a conscious decision not to, I just don’t understand politics and I’ve never believed what politicians say enough to be swayed. It all seems so farcical.
HOW WAS THE SET OF THE RIOT CLUB? WAS IT EASIER HAVING A CAST OF PEOPLE YOUR OWN AGE AROUND YOU?
Yeah, it really added to the chemistry. What was great is that out of the ten of us there were seven or eight boys who I knew very well already. We all hung out off set despite being in London. Normally when you film in London, people have a tendency to go home and go back to their lives, it’s like an office job, but we made it very clear that we all wanted to socialise off set too. Recently we all met up for a night out.
HOW IS THE THIRD INSTALMENT OF THE HUNGER GAMES COMING ALONG?
We’re actually filming it now, and as much as I’m enjoying being back in London and having a lovely month off, it’s going full steam ahead. I’ve only filmed one day so far!
HOW INVESTED ARE YOU IN YOUR CHARACTER FINNICK? HE COMES TO QUITE A GRISLY END.
It’s definitely going to be difficult to admit defeat, but it’s all to look forward to, and I don’t know exactly how it’s going to play out. Sometimes the unknown is more exciting.
INITIALLY YOU GOT A FEW NEGATIVE COMMENTS WHEN YOU WERE CAST FOR THE ROLE. HOW DOES NEGATIVE PRESS AFFECT YOU?
If anyone were to say that it didn’t affect them, I think they’d be lying. I genuinely think that it affected me in a good way, though. It drove me to work harder and made me want to prove to the world and to those doubters that I could do it. I found Finnick a very difficult character to play because he’s sexy and tanned and blond, and I’m none of those things, so a transformation was in order. Physically I spent months and months in the gym. Whether or not I did the character justice isn’t for me to decide.
Read more of Sam’s interview in issue six of Hunger magazine, out now.
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