Joe Dempsie first hit screens in an explosion of pills and chaos as party animal Chris in Skins and he’s since graduated on to cult hits Game Of Thrones and This Is England ’86. Wonderland caught up with the Nottingham lad for an exclusive photoshoot and to find out about his lead role in BBC drama Murder.
You first came to public attention with Chris in Skins. Do you have any plans to reprise the role for its final series?
The show was a massive break for all of us and I think what they’re doing with the last few episodes is a great idea, but if I’m honest I doubt I’d reprise my role. It opened a lot of doors for me but it also closed one or two initially. I kind of spent a few years after doing Skins living in the shadow of the show.
Nicholas Hoult and Dev Patel have gone onto have amazing big screen success. Do you still keep in contact with the guys?
Yeah, we’re pretty much all in contact. Dev is in L.A a lot being world-famous and going to the Oscars and stuff, but when he’s in London or if I’m in the States then we’ll always make time to meet up. Nick is here, there and everywhere. All we normally get to know about Nick is that he lives on planet Earth. He’s filming something new at the minute so when he’s done we’ll be sure to hang out.
Did you carry on watching the show once you’d exited after the second series?
I did for a while. I’m friends with Jack O’Connell who played Cook, so I was keeping tabs on him via the show. Barring that I haven’t really seen any of the new series but I’ve met the cast and they seem like a great bunch.
Was it a conscious decision for you to break your ground in the UK rather than to try and crack America?
Not really. Nick had already had a successful career in movies before we did Skins and everyone knew him from About A Boy. That’s kind of what Skins was initially sold on, that weird looking kid from About A Boy is all grown up and looking sexy, having sex and doing drugs. Nick was always destined to graduate into the big league. With Dev, I think him landing the part in Slumdog Millionaire was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was amazing to watch him and the year that followed.
Do you think that Skins was the right platform for you to kickstart your career from?
Yeah, without a doubt. I don’t think the Skins cast didn’t get the credit they deserved for the performances that they gave. The programme dealt with a lot of issues and wasn’t just about teenage hedonism.
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What was your first ever role?
I got my first role before I’d even thought about acting as a career. I took part in a Junior Television Workshop in Nottingham, which was kind of like a drama youth club. It was set up in the 80s by ITV as they had studios up north and they wanted to get some local kids involved. In my first year I landed a part in Peak Practice. Attending that workshop has definitely moulded me into the actor that I’ve become.
You play the lead role of Stefan in upcoming BBC drama Murder. Can you tell us a little bit more about it?
We shot it in Edinburgh and it’s directed by Birger Larsen, who directed The Killing. I spent a week helping various actresses perfect their Nottingham accent as that’s where the show is set and that’s where I’m from. I started reading their scripts and noticed a couple of male parts so decided I’d try out for an audition. The character was 37 in the script so I thought I’d try my luck anyway and hopefully they’d call me back to try for the younger guy’s role. They ended up bringing the age down for me.
You play Gendry in Games Of Thrones which has a massive cult following. How did that happen?
I auditioned for a couple of roles before landing the part of Gendry. My character could be the heir to the throne and he just doesn’t know about it. There are people out to get him. I hadn’t heard of any of the books before, but I mentioned to a friend that i was up for a part and he could’t believe it. He’s a massive fantasy fan. At the time I had none of the physical attributes that was required for the role so I hit the gym and dyed my hair. Unfortunately though, I’m still a bit short.
You also took on a role in Merlin. Is fantasy a favoured genre?
The weird thing is is that it’s a genre that I have no interest in whatsoever. I think the reason why Game Of Thrones is so popular is because those fantasy elements are used very sparingly. It’s not all monsters, dragons and wizards. It has more in common with a show like Sopranos than it does Lord Of The Rings.
What else is in store for you for the rest of 2012?
Filming Game Of Thrones is going to keep me occupied until late October. It’s been a good year all in all and I just want to keep on working. And I’m not usually one for patriotism but it’s been really good year to be British.
Murder will premiere on 26th August on BBC2 at 10pm.
WORDS: Shane Hawkins
IMAGES: Luc Coiffait
STYLING: Krishan Parmar