(LEFT) Jacket ZEGNA, jumper MAISON MARGIELA
(RIGHT) Shirt VIVIENNE WESTWOOD, vest DIOR HOMME, trousers DIOR HOMME, shoes MAISON MARGIELA
Oliver Greenall’s story of apparently serendipitous, boundary blurring success would be liable to induce pangs of envy in any aspiring twenty-something toiling for work in the creative industries. Were it not, that is, for his firmly grounded charm and softly spoken modesty. Not that you’d blame him if he was a little cocky: the willowy beauty has already found success as a model, a filmmaker and an actor – and he’s only 23.
Spotted aged 18 by a modelling scout during, as he adorably phrases it, a “jaunt down to London with my gran” – see what I mean about grounded? – Greenall ended up putting his plans for drama school on hold to go on what sounds like the ultimate gap year adventure. “I thought, well, that seems like a good thing to do,” he tells me, perched on a sofa in a Haggerston studio. “So I took time out, going around the world and doing fashion weeks, and shoots and all that. I come from quite a small town in Scotland and I’d never really been as far afield as places like Tokyo. Travelling like that was great when I first started.” Full Moon Party backpackers, eat your heart out.
Following a year in which he’d walked for international heavy hitters like J.W. Anderson and Missoni and been featured in the pages of every magazine that matters (this one included, of course), Greenall realised he wanted to learn how to work behind the camera as well as in front of it. So, heading back to Scotland for film school, he spent his final months of college conceiving and directing a short film on, naturally, a student’s shoestring budget. True to multi-talented form, that short was entered into the London Film Festival last year and more than held its own against some heavyweight art house competition: “We were up against other films which had massive budgets and big name actors and we were just this little film with a crew of three and a cast of two that was filmed in one day.”
(LEFT) Jacket MAISON MARGIELA, jumper CERUTTI
(RIGHT) Jacket MSGM
As fate would have it, Greenall was then promptly signed to a talent agency in London and given the chance to fulfil his lifelong acting ambitions. That’s how he’s ended up beguiling the nation on ITV’s precision plotted mystery The Loch: his elfin beauty an eerily good fit for the mysteriously comatose character he plays. It’s not spoiling much to say that thankfully, for us and him, he wakes up a few episodes in.
Like Twin Peaks and Broadchurch before it, the series itself is part of that rich lineage of shows to capitalise fruitfully on the paranoiac tensions of small town murder. As Greenall coyly teases, “everyone’s a suspect. Every single person in this community has some secret and could be the murderer.” And it’s just that atmosphere of claustrophobic communal tension which has had viewers waiting in nail-biting fervour for the impending series finale.
But, filmed on location amid the sublime landscapes of Inverness and Loch Ness, there’s also a potent sense of scale to The Loch: characters are found framed isolated and insignificant among the jagged coastlines and sweeping mountains of northern Scotland. Ironically enough however, the first weeks of interior shooting took place in a converted warehouse that was “literally a 10 minute drive” from Greenall’s family home: the globetrotting loop thus closed.
Jacket MAISON MARGIELA, jumper CERUTTI, trousers CERUTTI, shoes DIOR HOMME, belt STYLIST’S OWN
So, where next for the budding multi-hyphenate star? Well, with a feature length screenplay currently attracting attention in the marketplace (“there’s so much waiting involved in modelling so I used to do a lot of writing in hotel rooms”) and plenty of auditions lined up, it looks like Greenall’s cross-disciplinary journey is just beginning. Nonetheless, with the wry self-deprecation of a seasoned professional, he confesses he’s currently enjoying the short “resting period” between projects which any jobbing actor knows all too well.
Luckily, he’s bravely determined in the face of industry instability. “I know it’s so uncertain, but the rush you get when it actually happens outweighs the worry of waiting for the next phone call. It’s that fulfilment of knowing you’re doing what you always wanted to – no matter how hard it is to do it. ”
Suffice to say, if I came expecting to meet a pretty face on a lucky streak, I left convinced that Greenall’s big dreams of helming his own features and collaborating with legendary auteurs like Andrea Arnold and Nicolas Winding Refn might not be such a stretch after all. Something tells me he won’t be resting for long.
Oliver Greenwall is with Models 1 ; The Loch finale airs this Sunday 16th July at 9pm on ITV.