He’s often splashed across headlines as Taylor Swift’s partner. The subject of tabloids and online gossip columns, the success story of Joe Alwyn is more far reaching than what some people may realise.
A first encounter with an auteur director is something many budding actors could only dream of. Something that requires years of work, the opportunity to bust into the industry came early for the now 28-year-old, when he was cast as the lead in Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016).
After sharing the screen with the likes of Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin and Kristen Stewart, Alwyn went on to win the Chopard Trophy in Cannes for 2018 Male Revelation of the year. Coming into contact with directors Chris Weitz for Operation Finale and Joel Edgerton for Boy Erased his name and career has sky rocketed, but perhaps his most memorable work has been with award-winning Yorgos Lanthimos.
It is the early 18th century and England is at war with the French. Samuel Masham (played by Alwyn), is a nobleman of Queen Anne’s (Olivia Colman) court who takes an instant shine to her new maid Abigail (Emma Stone) and pursues a playful and odd courtship. Witty and oddly relevant, The Favourite is a quirky twist on a period drama, with the humour and outrageousness one would expect from Lanthimos.
“First and foremost, when I read the script, I just thought it was such a refreshing read, and really funny and dark,” Alwyn explained to ICON. “It felt like a Yorgos script; so different from what I’d read before, and different from other period films which are more conventional and rigid.”
“I don’t think Yorgos was too concerned with historical accuracy. There’s plenty of truth here, but it wasn’t a documentary. He wasn’t trying to perfectly capture a time period. I liked that about it too.”
Though the 2018 film was skewed on historical events and looks to the reign of Queen Anne (the last of the Stuart monarchs), its loosely based synopsis during the English war sheds an interesting and unconventional interpretation on the 18th century. An aspect of the film that was directly reflected off the screen.
Alwyn has recounted the onset drama and rehearsals that included group activities and exercises that would appear bizarre to anyone watching on. Switching roles with other cast members and dance activities were all apart of the process and something that Alwyn said makes you “lose all sense of embarrassment”.
“You feel freedom because of that,” Alwyn told ICON. “But because you go so far with each other in these exercises, on set you feel completely free and like you can’t fail … Yorgos always knows what he wants, ultimately. Even if sometimes you’re slightly in the dark.”
Behind films such as The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) and The Lobster (2015), the Greek film and stage director has been nominated for four Academy Awards across his career. Often conceiving perplexing story lines, his work has starred Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, and according to IMDb his next film Pop. 1280 reimagines a 1964 crime novel.
“There’s no conventional, “This is your intention. This is who you are,” with Yorgos. He might just say, “Faster. Slower. Do it, but stand over there.” He’s very hands-off in that sense,” Alwyn recounted. “If he’s happy, he’ll move on. I think he’d hate it if you went up to him and asked, “What does the character want at this moment?” He’d be like, “Go away!” But that’s not to say he doesn’t have an incredible attention to detail.”
Multi-Award winning film, The Favourite is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital now. Check out an exclusive BTS look below.