The rising British actor on HBO’s buzzy new show Industry, and the time they sent a selfie to Brad Pitt.
Taken from the Winter 2020 issue. Pre-order the new issue now.
Since graduating drama school in 2018, Harry Lawtey has been in high demand. Over the past two years the British actor has amassed an impressive number of acting roles spanning both stage and screen, with 2020 set to be a standout year with a starring role in Lena Dunham’s exciting new HBO and BBC Two drama, Industry. Ahead of its release, we sat down with the actor to talk about his role in the show, the future of theatre, and sending selfies to Brad Pitt…
Check out the interview below…
You’re currently starring in Industry — can you tell us a little bit about that project?
Industry follows a small group of university graduates as they take on an internship at an international investment bank. It’s a study of these young adults working out who they are and who they want to be in this crazy new environment. The script responds to a lot of big ideas in our culture, and I think it has a new perspective on what it means to be young in a society that is maybe changing faster than you can keep up.
Can you tell us a bit about your character Robert?
Robert is one of the young graduates who really throws himself into the banking world straight from the off. He’s a bit of a maverick, very confident and charismatic — and he maybe has a slightly outdated idea that those are the most important qualities for a young man in finance. He comes across as ‘style over substance’, but underneath he’s really a bit of a lost boy. He’s had a rough upbringing and is from a very different world to the one he now finds himself in. He really just wants to be accepted and validated, but maybe looks for that from the wrong people.
Do you have any fun stories from filming?
There was one time, before we had actually started filming, that myself and the other young actors went to Lena Dunham’s house for dinner. We were in the middle of playing this game when Lena’s phone buzzes. She takes a look and then says to us as a joke, ‘Now I don’t want you all to think I’m some Hollywood superstar, but look who just text me…’ Lena shows us her phone, and she’s just had a text from Brad Pitt! So now the rest of us are just sat there, completely blown away by how cool that is, when Lena suddenly says to us ‘Hey guys, smile!’ She takes a photo of us on her phone, and sends it to Brad Pitt. He texts back five minutes later saying what a lovely bunch of people we seem! Obviously, we ask to see the photo that she sent. My face in it is the perfect example of someone trying to work out what kind of expression they want to make to Brad Pitt. I ended up settling for this pained, beaming smile. It looks excruciating
You come from a theatre background and the industry is currently going through a difficult period. How important is theatre to the creative industries?
I think it’s hugely important; it’s the life source of it all. So many stories or actors that come to be iconic have their origins in the theatre. There is nothing quite like it. I miss being in it and I miss going to see it — simple as that. And I really feel for all the creatives who are dependent on it for their livelihoods. For those people, more than anything, I hope it manages to get back on its feet in a safe way and finds a new way to be sustainable.
Finally, what are you currently working on next?
There’s one or two things I might be in the running for, but after the year we have had I just feel incredibly lucky just to be able to
audition for stuff again. The whole industry really was put on pause. So who knows? Hopefully there is something fun not too far around the corner.