By Moonah Ellison & Sophia Fox-Sowell
Photography: Richard Grassie
A strong jaw complimented by sky blue eyes and floppy sandy blonde hair easily lend itself to be manipulated into a wide range of characters, an ideal canvas for any director—and a powerful quality for any successful actor whose able to match their own transformation with talent. In Ed Speleers’ case, his IMDB page speaks for itself.
Born Edward John Speleers in Chichester, England, he’s been on stage since he learned to walk. Notably, in his secondary school years, he played the lead roles in his school’s productions of ‘Richard III’ and ‘Hamlet.’ Though in 2006, his career took a giant leap from the stage to the big screen when Speleers landed his breakout role as the lead in the Eragon series, the film adaptation of its teen fantasy novel written by Christopher Paolini. Since then, Speleers is top of the list for indie films, TV shows, and Hollywood productions.
But he isn’t just a pretty face— far from it, he’s able to match the demands of the production with his dedication to the characters he plays. Speleers tells us, “You have this body of work as an actor that certain people naturally – because they might not know you personally or they may not know what to think about putting you in a different world – they see you in a certain light and that’s kind of quite often you follow that path for quite a while.” In fact, to further distance himself from being labeled as a “pretty boy” in Beowulf on ITV, he put together quite a drastic look for his character. “I didn’t want to be seen yet again like slightly sloppy blonde hair. I wanted to get rid of it, and people are either going to hate it or love it – but I said, ‘I don’t really give a fuck let’s just try it!’” Bravo Mr. Speleers, bravo!
But beyond his haircut, Speleers confesses the intense physical and mental preparation the character calls for, “You know you have to be as fit as you possibly can because for seven months you’re gonna be charging about on a horse and sword fighting while having to do so much regular storytelling.” That’s right, Ed keeps his body in tip-top shape to be able to ride for hours on horseback, wield heavy long swords in battle, and take off his shirt with absolute. Whoops! I mean put on his armor and dramatically seduce damsels in distress.
Luckily Speleers’ was able to give his body a break when he joined the cast of Downtown Abbey during its third season as the handsome new footman who catches everyone’s eye. The show already had a cult following, “a juggernaut,” as Ed puts it. All his character required was a footman’s costume, a set of manners, and a devilishly handsome smile. In the show, all the female staff – and at least one of the men are taken with him; and he soaks up this attention with gusto. He’s sexy and he knows it. But despite the nuances of his character, Speleers remarks that there was one woman in particular who captured his attention on set, “I would be there watching and listening with the likes of Maggie Smith in the room – yeah – she’s great!”
Ed admires filmmaker, Julian Gilbey, director of “A Lonely Place to Die,” an indie flick and fictional drama where a group of mountaineers in the Scottish highlands come across a kidnapped girl and are subsequently pursued by her captors. Looking back on his experience, Speleers’ speaks fondly of Gilbey’s authenticity, “He learned how to climb himself [and] had become a very experienced mountaineer as a result. I think [it] always rings true when people are creating something that’s close to their heart.”
In comparison to the free form of the indie film industry, Speleers gushes, “I think some of the reasons why I love actors today is because you get to create your own opportunities to tell the stories you really want to [share] that you normally wouldn’t get the chance to tell for whatever reason.” He goes so far as to comment on the almost formulaic aspect of Hollywood, “If you’re doing commercial television or sometimes Hollywood movies, there are certain parameters you have to keep within and sometimes you feel restricted. What’s nice about the indie experience is [that] you get the chance to open up, try things out, and explore.” Gilbey enjoyed working with Speleers so much, the director cast him as the lead in his next film, “Plastic,” alongside Game of Thrones star Alfie Allen.
While visiting friends, family, and vacationing in Los Angeles, Speleers cannot escape the theatricals of the 2016 Presidential Election. And he certainly can’t avoid being bombarded with Donald Trump political propaganda everywhere he goes.
Asked about the Republican frontrunner, the Southern England native responds quite viscerally, “I think he should not be allowed to come into England and should be stripped of his house in Scotland.” Of course there is no legal precedent for Trump to lose his property in the United Kingdom, nor does he pose a security threat be refused entrance into the country—yet. But as we saw in Chicago last week where his own rally was cancelled to due the escalation of violence between his supporters and protesters, Trump may not be an individual threat to security, but he can provoke the masses on both sides of the aisle.
Unfortunately like the liberal majority in America, members of Parliament were forced to acknowledge the very real possibility that Trump may in fact be the next President of the United States. Not just in the comfort of the own homes, no, Parliament was legally obligated to bring the proposition to the floor after receiving a petition with over 574,000 signatures. Ultimately, the authority to ban someone from the country rests with the Home Secretary, not with Parliament; but that didn’t stop them from spending over three hours discussing the Republican frontrunner and weighing in on American politics at length. Unanimous in their view of Trump as a perpetuator of xenophobia, the House of Parliament agreed that a ban on Trump would set a precedent on restricting free speech.
Despite the controversy Trump creates, he genuinely appreciates the opportunity America affords its average citizens, especially in the government. Speleers admits, “I kind of like in America that anybody can be president,” whereas aross the pond in the UK, “you still have to mix with the posh boys, attend University, and draft your way up.” Speleers himself is an Ambassador for UK charity YouthNet, a news organization that aims to provide pertinent, unbiased information to enable young people to make informed decisions. We need more of that in the United States – cough cough Fox News.
Speleers was shocked watching a news report recently where a very opinionated woman was telling people to not let the immigrants into America and advocated for gun ownership for the safety of true Americans. “I was alarmed that that could be preached on national news.” Freedom of Speech does have its consequences. But he goes on to analyze the surge of power Trump seems to draw from his supporters. “You kind of look up to people in the public eye, [who may not be] upstanding citizens of society. And if someone is going on and preaching that — to me that’s no different than hate preaching.”
We couldn’t agree with you more.
photography by Richard Grassie
stylist Michelle Kelly @ carol hayes management
groomer Madeline Scantlebury @ carol hayes management
location Richard Grassie’s estate
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