Discussing life-altering injuries, turning tables and dealing with rejection, the A Town Called Malice actor urges all to continue pursuing a passion.

FULL LOOK Alexander McQueen

FULL LOOK Alexander McQueen

When passion is deeply rooted in what you do, success is just a step away. And Jack Rowan is a clear example of it. Thanks to his love for acting, his undeniable determination and mesmerising charisma, the British actor is paving his own path in a strenuous industry, no matter how glamorous it might seem from the outside.

Becoming an actor might not have been the plan growing up, but the profession eventually stole Rowan’s heart. Tables turned after an unexpected back injury that kept him away from his first passion – boxing – forced him to redirect all his energy towards acting lessons. But this seeming misfortune would ultimately allow his natural affinity for acting to come to light. And shortly after that, he landed his first job.

From Bonnie Gold in Peaky Blinders to Sam Woodford in Born to Kill, which earned him a BAFTA nomination for Best Leading Actor, the list of roles since then has been growing, exponentially. Now, he’s impatiently waiting for the release of A Town Called Malice – available on Sky Max from March 16th – a performance that he cites as his best to-date. Sitting down with Zoel Hernández, Rowan talks birthday celebrations, the concept of family and how to deal with rejection.

Hey Jack, how are you feeling today? What have you been up to?
Good! Nothing much today. Just chilled this morning, waiting for this interview really.

Your birthday – which is surprisingly the same day as mine – is coming up soon. What do you have planned for the day? Do you have any specific birthday rituals?
Oh man, we were born on the literal same day? That’s insane! We’re brothers now. To be honest, I have nothing planned. But people around me keep asking what I’m going to do, but I’ve never been that sort of guy – being the host is always the most anxiety-inducing thing to me!

After having a look through your Instagram, I saw that you bought a house last year. How’s the life of a house owner?
This is it right here. It’s paradise! I can’t express it enough. It’s always been a dream of mine. I grew up with my mum and I’m used to everything being shared, but even though I’m a mama’s boy – and she was always the sort of mum that never wanted me to leave – I love being in control of my own life. Even the simplest things like going to the grocery store, getting what I want and what I am going to cook for the week, are amazing. It’s been emotional in really good ways – getting in this house is the proudest moment of my life. My mum and dad also felt proud when they came here since it almost felt like a ‘we did it’ moment for them.

Can you talk to us about the start of your acting career? What led you to this particular career?
I always enjoyed acting. It’s not like I’ve always wanted to do it, but if there was ever a play in primary school, I’d always want to be involved. There was that natural attraction to it. But then, in secondary school, I started boxing, which is what I thought I wanted to do. After 27 fights, it was basically my life. Boxing was my passion but acting was sort of on the side. Then, I got a back injury, so I needed to let it rest. At such an important part of one’s life, I thought I had lost my passion, which led me to take acting more seriously. All the passion I had for boxing ended up going into my Saturday acting classes. Then I got my first job, and after that, it was like a snowball.
I experienced the real job and had a buzz for it. I always look back and say that the injury in boxing was a blessing and a curse. It felt like a curse at the time, but it’s actually been a big blessing too.

You’ve done Peaky Blinders, Born to Kill and Benjamin, among others. Do you have a favourite project that you have worked on over these? Maybe there is one that you thought you learnt the most from?
They’re all different. But my favourite job is actually the one I’ve just done in A Town Called Malice. I love every job equally, but it’s simply the biggest job I’ve ever had. Filming in Tenerife, such long character development, the people I got to work with, the people I met, the clothes I wore… Everything was perfect. But my first ever job will always have a special place in my heart because it was the first time anyone took a risk. I’m just glad that there was a director out there that felt I was right for it. Born to Kill was also special because it was my first lead role. It made me believe in myself.

Now you play the youngest and smartest son of the Lord crime family – Gene – in A Town Called Malice. Would you say that you share any similarities with him?
Gene is the character I’ve connected with the most, and I’ve played some oddballs. He feels the most central to who I am. His character development from the first episode to the eighth is huge. And the fundamentals of his personality are that he is someone you can trust, someone who means what they say, someone who’s got your back. And I like to think that the people I have in my life have got my back. But more importantly, I want them to know, I’ve got their back too. Gene also has parts of his personality that I don’t connect with – he’s a natural in the crime world. But he doesn’t act with his fists, he acts more with his brain and if I was a criminal, I’d also be more logistical.

After filming, you posted on Instagram that it was the best job ever. What was one of the standout moments that you’ll never forget?
There are so many. But there’s one that sticks out since we spoke about our birthdays. We started filming in London first, so by the time we were filming in Tenerife, we’d worked together for around three weeks. So, even though my birthday was only two weeks into Tenerife, it didn’t feel too early to have a birthday – we were all friends at that point. I was filming on my birthday. It was a Friday. It was me and Dougray Scott, who plays Uncle Tony. We met up early, at six in the morning, and we sat in the vintage Rolls Royce, driving around these beautiful locations along the road. We were just sitting there, doing aerial shots with the camera on the car and we didn’t have to do anything apart from enjoying what we were doing. We were there with the wind blowing and the sunshine and I was like, “Man, what a way to enter a quarter of my life.” It was paradise.

What kind of role would you like to try next?
I haven’t the luxury of growing up in the 80s, but I filmed a show set in the 80s. My dream is to look back at a body of work one day, and see that I’ve done all these different things, I’ve worn all these different outfits, I’ve had all these different haircuts, spoken all these different accents. Maybe I’d love to do a war film, which is something so far removed from me.

Lastly, do you have any advice for all those upcoming actors that might be reading this?
Just be patient. And have confidence. It’s a tough business to break into, so don’t be too disheartened when stuff doesn’t go your way. Rejection is part of it. And once you get over that rejection part, suddenly you find out you have the power. The toughest thing is feeling like you’ve put in all the effort in for nothing. But don’t lower your effort because it will work out.

Rhys Frampton at Monday Artists
Kate Sinclair
Zoel Hernandez
Editorial Director
Huw Gwyther
Erica Rana
Deputy Editor
Ella West
Charley McEwen at Frank Agency
Art Directors
Aparna Aji and Livia Vourlakidou
Production Director
Ben Crank
Isabella Coleman
Production Intern
Frankie Baumer