Wonderland.

DOUGLAS BOOTH

Anna Smith finds out why, despite his high energy LA excursions, there’s really no place like home for British screen talent, Douglas Booth.

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Navy and white striped cotton shirt and black leather belt with white stitching both by PRADA and brown wool trousers by TOD’S 

“I HAD THIS SPACE ORGY. I’m floating pretty much naked with all these spliced half-human, half-animal beautiful women all over me.” Douglas Booth is talking about his role in Jupiter Ascending, the new sci-fi film from Matrix creators Andy and Lana Wachowski. As we sit in the lobby of a London hotel, the 22-year-old is excited about the film, but keen to point out that the above scenario is not as fun as it sounds. “I’m on this tiny little chair, which is just under my bum and I’m having to use all my tummy muscles to keep myself upright. And all these models are crying because they’ve been hanging from wires all day. All the crew are like, ‘I bet you’re enjoying this.’ I’m like, ‘guys, it’s pretty tiring’.”

Booth plays Titus, a kind of playboy space Lord and sibling to Eddie Redmayne’s and Tuppence Middleton’s characters. “Our mother dies and leaves her inheritance – the crown jewel being the Earth – to herself, to her reincarnation. They say her genetic code will one day come up somewhere again,” he says. That somewhere is in Mila Kunis’s character, something Titus may not be too happy about. “On his spaceship, there are all these statues modelled on him, because he’s quite vain.”

Vain isn’t a word that appears to apply to Booth himself: he’s friendly, London-centric and keen not to appear to be a “wanker” or
a “twat”. Does he reckon his good looks have played a part in his success? “I don’t want to sit here and say, ‘No it didn’t help,’ because then I’d sound like a twat. But the biggest reason why I don’t get parts now is: ‘He looks too much like a leading man’.”

Refreshingly, he admits to checking himself about prejudices regarding other beautiful people. “Some of the most beautiful people I’ve met, [I’ll] meet them and think, ‘Oh my God, you’re really nice.’ Why wouldn’t I think he was nice? Or, ‘Oh my God, you’re an amazing actor.’ Why would I think that he or she couldn’t act? People often seem to [associate] looks with something else, like arrogance.”

It may be hard for him to avoid the heartthrob tag, but Booth does actively seek out diverse roles. “If you put all the characters I’ve played in a line, it changes quite a bit.”His first role was in the 2006 fantasy Hunters of the Kahri, followed by a small role in time travel fantasy From Time to Time, directed by Julian Fellowes. Booth’s big break was Worried About The Boy, a 2010 TV movie in which he played the young Boy George. More small screen jobs followed, including a role as Miley Cyrus’s love interest in LOL; a starring role opposite Hailee Steinfeld in Romeo & Juliet; a part as Russell Crowe’s son in Noah; and a key role in ensemble drama The Riot Club.

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Navy knitted wool jumper with embellishment by GUCCI 

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Orange knitted wool jumper by HERMES and navy wool trousers by DUNHILL 

While his character in The Riot Club was a raging snob, Booth (who wears a Topman t-shirt and jeans for our meeting) has just been keeping it real by sharing a bed in an apartment on a holiday with his mates. “I was in Chamonix with a bunch of old school mates. Some of them have been living there on ski seasons. There were five of us in this tiny apartment. I was sharing a bed with my mate Felix. We had to move our bags to one side of the room and fold out the bed to go to bed.”

He reckons about two thirds of his friends are old mates, and a third are industry mates. “Freddie Fox became one of my best friends in Worried About The Boy and we worked together on The Riot Club. All of the Riot Club boys became really close, really good friends.”

A highlight of his year is Glastonbury. “I’ll be doing Glastonbury. All agents hate Glastonbury. None of their clients are free. Everyone’s got their “brother’s wedding” in June, it drives them mad.” Any other festival plans? “I want to go to Burning Man,” he says. When I tell him that I’ve been, he turns the tables and starts to quiz me. “That sounds like heaven. I love finding myself in places where in any other situation you’d think it was a dream. I’ve always had a massive imagination. When I go to sleep I can get lost in bizarre worlds. When such places come to life in the real world it’s quite satisfying.”

Let’s test this imagination, then. If he could time travel – just for a short while – would he go back or forwards? “Back, I think,” he says, before correcting himself. “Maybe forwards… but no, you’d never be happy with your iPhone again. You’d be like, ‘I want what he had.’ You don’t want to know your future. Life’s exciting because you don’t know what happens next.”

He may not know exactly what’s next, but Booth does have an intriguing role in the bag, as Mr Bingley in the upcoming Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Yes, you read that correctly. “It’s so much fun. I’m not very interested in doing a zombie movie [where I’m] being chased from A to B, but it’s not like that. It’s Pride and Prejudice set in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. What makes it hilarious is the upper classes trying to survive the same way. Jack Huston is Wickham, Lily James is Elizabeth Bennet and Sam Riley is Mr Darcy. It’s brilliant.”

Meanwhile he’s testing for “one big exciting thing” and has “another three or four things on the cards that begin probably in the spring.” Then, he says, he’s going to California for his mum’s 50th birthday. That would be Vivien, a painter, who raised him in London and Kent along with her financier husband. Booth seems like a well-adjusted, intelligent, middle- class chap who enjoys a party and hanging out with his mates. If he didn’t look like a movie star – and indeed work as one – he’d be one of the guys.

While clearly committed to his career, the actor is no workaholic, openly admitting that the British pace is preferable to the work-heavy Hollywood scene. “I am so glad I came from here. When you launch yourself in America, there’s so much work over there, so many TV series – these guys get pulled into doing all this stuff, to do this series and that series, to be in Gossip Girl 2. Here, you have a much smaller industry and a smaller pool of talent and agents with really great taste. You can protect yourself here. You’ve got time to incubate your career. That’s what I’ve tried to do. If I was in America, I can’t imagine my first performance being Boy George – shaving my eyebrows off and being able to take that risk. I love being a British actor and being able to live and work out of London and drop into America to get the best of both worlds.”

While most actors hedge their bets on the subject of moving to America one day, Booth seems very certain that he won’t. “I would never move there. If I was ever in the position to, I would love to buy a house there, if dreams come true, but I’d always live here. It’s always been my base. I love it. I cycle everywhere, I love the streets, the people. I love going to LA too, one of my best friends lives there, but after four weeks I’m ready to come home and have a reality check.”

What does he miss about England when he’s not home? ”I miss the narrow, bendy roads which you don’t get in America. A really narrow, bendy road in the fog that leads to a beautiful old pub with a fireplace and I walk in and all my mates are round the fire, drinking beer and ale and laughing – drunk, having a good time.”

Currently single and hot acting property, Booth can count the world as his oyster,
but you’ve got to love his devotion to his homeland, and his homeland’s fashion scene. He recently attended London Collections: Men. “I discovered new, little brands at LCM. At the opening drinks they had all these young designers with stalls, you see all these young designers creating really great stuff. There’s a lot of talent out there – in acting as well as in fashion. It’s a good time to be British.”

That said, he is also a fan of international designers, citing Tom Ford and Dolce & Gabbana among his favourites. “Stefano [Gabbana] and Domenico [Dolce] are such lovely people, so warm and kind – their spirit comes out in their clothes. Same with Tom. You feel them in their clothes.” He found the Wonderland shoot “very relaxed and comfortable, with nice clothes in a stylish setting. Me being myself. It was shot in the screening room and bar – two of my favourite things: movies and the bar. What more can you want?”

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Brown cotton T-shirt by LOUIS VUITTON and blue cotton suit trousers by FENDI

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Navy tricotine jacket by PRADA 

Photographer: Thomas Cooksey

Fashion Editor: Andrew Davis

Words: Anna Smith

DOUGLAS BOOTH

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