Punk is back in full force: an interview with Pistol star Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Thomas Brodie-Sangster spoke at the Cambridge Union this termTobia Nava with permission for Varsity

When I first met Thomas Brodie-Sangster, I was struck by two things: first, his outfit. A vintage-looking patterned yellow collared shirt, framed by a blue suit and accessorized with a small gold earring. He’s a man who, much like the subject of his new series – the Sex Pistols – isn’t afraid to make a statement. The second thing I noticed was his attitude. Her fashion statement might have suggested extravagance and ostentation to her persona. It wouldn’t have been out of place considering his rise to fame as a child actor appearing in films such as love in fact (2003) and Nanny McPhee (2005). But he was, on the contrary, sincerity itself, handling each of my questions without any hint of ego or personal importance.

Although he has been widely acclaimed in recent roles such as the maze runner Netflix movie series and hits The Queen’s Bet for which he was nominated for an Emmy, it’s clear that Brodie-Sangster has managed to stay grounded. Despite his characteristic youthful appearance, there is a wisdom that emanates from him beyond his years. He is a man who was shaped by both passion and an innate understanding that quality work takes time and effort, and above all patience.

I was eager to find out if Brodie-Sangster had a favorite past role. “No, not really,” he replied, noting that “They’re all very unique and special. I guess because I’m in a different place — in my own personal life — as I get started. in one of them. I was [acting] for 20 years, so I grew up doing that. He feels like he still learns a lot about each job and tries to bring this new knowledge to his next role.

Therefore, “it’s quite difficult to compare them,” he says, because “they’re different jobs and characters.” He’s still most excited about his latest roles, however, noting that Malcolm McLaren, Brodie-Sangster’s new character from the biopic Sex Pistol is “quite a thumbs up, so I have to say Gun.” Watching him stage Malcolm’s despicable manipulations of unwitting band members in Gun, I fully accepted. Malcolm, flamboyant and provocative, eager for a cultural revolution at all costs, is as far as you can get from the polite and thoughtful man I sat before.

“I like to mix as much as possible”

I asked if there were different types of characters he preferred to play. “It depends on my mood, I guess, and previous job. I like to mix as much as possible. I would get bored too quickly otherwise, so I’m quite happy to change it. I don’t have much experience playing villains, Malcolm is probably the baddest character [I’ve played]but i try not to think of him as a villain […] most bad guys don’t think of themselves as bad guys,” he shrewdly pointed out.

What he expects from a role is “something that definitely challenges me: something that challenges myself and hopefully the viewer as well. […] Anything interesting. Anything I can get my teeth into.

Brodie-Sangster isn’t afraid to play a villain. Pictured as Malcolm McLaren in GunInstagram: @pistol

The Sex Pistols’ short career was particularly controversial. Brodie-Sangster’s character has been repeatedly accused of encouraging the band to engage in dangerous behavior to gain press attention. I asked what his process was for filming darker scenes. “It’s so much easier, especially in the toughest times, when you’re surrounded by talent. We have Danny Boyle, who is a fantastic director, passionate about emotions and able to capture something authentic. It allows you to be very free. And also to have a cast that really feels confident to experiment; it creates an atmosphere on set that is both productive and liberating. You feel very comfortable letting go and seeing what happens. And in these dark times, it is imperative.

I asked if he ever looked back on his own projects. “I like to start, he says, because I like to see how everything is linked together, because what you do during the day is not necessarily what ends up on the screen. Editing, for example – editing alone – could change the whole story. Does he often get to see things he’s starred in before they’re released to the rest of the world? “Nope […] I like to see it when it’s polished. I love seeing it at the premiere for the first time.

“The flamboyant and provocative Malcolm, eager for a cultural revolution at all costs, is as far as you can get from the polite and respected man I sat across from”Instagram: @pistol

For the actors, the final cut can sometimes surprise. “A lot of times if you cut a scene that you liked, it’s kind of boring because you think ‘Damn, I spent hours doing this!’ but it’s not mine at that time, it’s the directors. Brodie-Sangster has a healthy relationship with the way his shows are produced, saying, “It was mine the day, then it’s the directors, then once it’s out it’s not his anymore. , it is that of the public. So you have to let go and realize that it’s good for the project.

“People come up to you all the time and say how brilliant you are, but you have to be careful to keep your head screwed”

Many young students idealize “fame” and equate it with success. I wondered if Brodie-Sangster had any advice from his years in the industry about living in the public eye. “It’s hard, it’s a very unnatural place. People want to be accepted, people want to be seen, people want to be heard, but then have [attention] constantly, and from people you don’t know personally, it’s pretty overwhelming. People come up to you all the time and tell you how brilliant you are, which is lovely, but you have to be careful to keep your head screwed on and your feet on the ground, and accepting that the thing you love to do happens. translated into a product that people love and invest in, then pair it with youpersonally.”

“Although these people look up to you, they don’t know who you really are. You can kind of confuse and mix the two and believe that you are your public persona. I have to remember that their reaction to me is sincere for theirbut not something i should consider to be really me.”

“Real acting is seeing the truth in something and trying to believe it yourself”

Many Cambridge students want to pursue a career in acting alongside their university degree – which is often quite different, for example if they are primarily studying a science subject, such as engineering. I wanted to know what advice Brodie-Sangster had for young people who want to break into the business while managing academically demanding degrees. “I’ve always said that one way to play is to exercise your mind in different ways, because acting is a very strange thing: you pretend to be other people for a living,” he said. , adding that “I think doing, for example engineering, is a wonderful way for your mind to just be active.”

“As a word of advice: real acting is seeing the truth in something and trying to believe it yourself. […] Even when auditioning for something really shitty, just try to find the element of truth and the casting director will see it.

Finally, I asked the question I’ve always been dying to ask: if Brodie-Sangster really learned to play drums as 10-year-old love interest Sam in the iconic “All I Want For Christmas is You” scene in Love in fact. “Yes!” he replied proudly, “My dad taught me: my dad was a drummer, oddly enough in a punk band, and he was a bit of a punk rocker, so I sat in my grandpa’s basement — my dad set up his old drum set – and for weeks we just listened to this song over and over and over and over, and of course it wasn’t Christmas – trying to get that intro. And curiously, I only got it on the day of the shoot.

Music is something that has had a significant influence throughout Brodie-Sangster’s illustrious career. From learning the drums to appearing as manager of the most famous punk band of all time in Gunit’s clear that Brodie-Sangster is back in full force, and I for one can’t wait to see what project he takes on next.

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