Luke Treadaway: the day Angelina Jolie asked me over for tea: http://t.co/DgRTvpQ1ad
— Guardian culture (@guardianculture) January 25, 2015
Luke Treadaway on his film role as a PoW in Jolie’s Unbroken, starring in TV’s new Arctic thriller Fortitude, and saying no to rotten shark meat
Luke Treadaway wants to make sure I’ve done my preparation. The first thing he asks when we meet in a London hotel is whether I’ve bothered to watch any of Fortitude, the forthcoming Sky Atlantic crime drama in which he stars as a young scientist dispatched to an isolated Icelandic research base. I am able to reassure him that I have and that I thought it was very good.
“It is, isn’t it?” he agrees.
We talk a bit about filming in Iceland (he and other cast members including Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon and Sofie Gråbøl were there for about 10 weeks). He says he enjoyed swimming outdoors in big hot tubs surrounded by snow and that the landscape was “stunning”. He didn’t, however, sample hákarl, an Icelandic dish consisting of rotten shark meat; he’s been a vegetarian since he was six.
He grew up in Sandford, Devon, where his father is an architect and his mother a primary school teacher. (“Good,” he says when I mention this. “Done your research”).
Treadaway, 30, who has a twin, Harry (also an actor), and an older brother, Sam, went to the local comprehensive where his drama teacher inspired him to take acting seriously. “ He was a massive fat Cockney bloke who suddenly arrived at the school, talking a million miles an hour, completely singing off his own song sheet and singing beautiful, banging songs, and opened our minds really.”
After studying at the London Academy of Music and Drama, he landed the lead in two of the National Theatre’s most successful productions in his 20s. In 2007, he played Albert in the original War Horse and six years later received an Olivier for best actor as the autistic hero, Christopher, in another book adaptation, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.
He has chalked up notable appearances in all manner of film genres, including most recently Unbroken, the wartime biopic directed by Angelina Jolie in which he appears as a malnourished inmate at a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp.
Jolie had contacted Treadaway out of the blue and asked him over for a cup of tea to discuss a film she was directing. A car picked him up and deposited him at her hotel outside London. “We had a chat, she gave me loads of photographs of the men in the camps and a Life magazine from 1940.” A couple of days later, confirmation came through that he had got the role. “I ran lots and ate not lots and went and shot it,” he says of the preparation. Jolie is, he says “hard-working… I think she’s remarkable.”
“Acting,” he says, is “a passport into a different time and place… By doing preparation, by just filling your palette with as many colours as you can to paint the picture, then it becomes richer and more enjoyable to do.”
Fortitude begins at 9pm on 29 January on Sky Atlantic