interview by JANA LETONJA

Olivier Award winning and Tony nominated actor Anthony Boyle most recently starred in Disney+ Tudor murder mystery series ‘Shardlake’ and Apple TV+ series ‘Masters of the Air’. Next up, we’ll be seeing him in the FX limited series ‘Say Nothing’, which will premiere later this year.

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Anthony, we were just able to watch you in Disney+ series ‘Shardlake’, a Tudor murder mystery set during Henry Viii reign. What excited you the most about the story of this series and your character Jack Barak?

What excited me most about working on the project was to work with Arthur Hughes. I’ve been a huge fan of him for years, since I’d seen him in a play called ‘The Solid Life of Sugar Water’ at the National Theater in England. I remember when he came on stage I was just blown away by the talent that he was, and I thought I’d love to work with him one day. So when ‘Shardlake’ came through and I heard that he was attached, I really wanted to be a part of it. And then I fell in love with the character, just reading the scripts. I just thought he was so funny and so likable. 

I had also been a huge fan of Justin Chadwick, with ’The Other Boleyn Girl’ and ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’. I thought they were two really special films. When I met with him, we had a really sort of clear and succinct vision for the piece, and I really wanted to be a part of it. Also, I grew up watching a lot of kind of like ‘Sherlock Holmes’ films with my dad. I like that murder mystery element to it. 

Before ‘Shardlake’, you also starred in Apple TV+ ‘Masters of the Air’, another historical series. What kind of specific preparations did you have to undergo for both of these projects?

When we were prepping for ‘Masters of the Air’, we had to do a three week boot camp. All the actors involved in the show, which was about 200, showed up to this army base that they had built and we had an old army general from the Vietnam War who turned us from actors into soldiers, which was no easy feat. He had us doing drills and press up in the morning, we were learning in these sort of B17 old planes, which were hard to fly and hard to navigate. It was really intense, but it was really good and really interesting way to prep for a job. We met each other in our character names and everyone was wearing costume from the first day. It was really an incredible experience. 

And then for ‘Manhunt’, when I was prepping for that, I went to Savannah, Georgia a couple weeks before we started filming and was just riding horses every day and chewing tobacco and trying to get into that sort of period of history as much as possible. So, it was very different preparation for both of those projects.

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What did you enjoy the most about the historic eras you got to explore through your characters, and what did you find the most challenging about them?

I think what I enjoy most about these period dramas is the world building. Like being on set and looking around and feeling as if you’re in a completely different time, a completely different period. Feeling totally immersed in the work is a real thrill.

Out of all the roles you portrayed so far, which one made the biggest impact on you and why?

Probably ‘Masters of the Air’, playing Harry Crosby. We started shooting it when I was 26 and we shot it for a year. It’s definitely the biggest thing I’ve done in terms of skill, but also in terms of time. I spent so long with the character and I made so many lifelong friends. It was just an incredible experience from start to finish. This sort of amazing array of different directors and producers, like Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman, really helped me and was a good learning curve. I really enjoyed it. And the work with all those different amazing actors, like Austin Butler and Callum Turner, was such a joy and it was great to come on set and just work with them every day and learn from them.

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Besides your work on screen, you’ve also performed both on West End and Broadway. What presents the biggest thrill for you when performing live on stage?

The biggest thrill about working on stage as opposed to film is that on stage it’s an actor’s medium because you control the pace, you control the edit, you control what the audience sees. Whereas on film or TV, it’s the director’s medium ultimately. You could do anything and it could end up on the cutting room floor or they could not use that scene or whatever. In theater, it’s all you setting the tone, so there’s a real buzz for that because you can’t just start again, there’s no retakes, it’s all live. Each night you’ve got like hundreds or thousands of different people coming in to watch you, and they bring in their own energy to the space and you sort of work with them. 

Years ago, people used to go and receive their parables and stuff from church, whereas now we get it through TV or film or the theater. And it’s not often you have 2000 bodies in a room with no phone or no other sort of thing going on, and they’re just there receiving a story. There’s something kind of powerful about that.

For your career defining performance in ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ you won the prestigious Olivier Award and were nominated for a Tony Award. How did this role change your life and your career?

It changed my life and career because before that, I was at drama school. It afforded me so many things. It afforded me to be able to move to London and have money, and not have to work at a call center or a coffee shop or something. And then that gives you more time to work on auditions. People take financial freedom for granted, but that’s why there’s so many working class artists getting edged out of the industry. So it gave me that and that was a huge thing.

But also, the producers or directors saying to me they saw me in that play really changed my life. I’m so thankful to John Tiffany and Sonia Friedman for taking a gamble on me when I was quite young to do it. It was definitely a real life changing experience.

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What are your biggest career aspirations for the future?

I just want to keep working with good people and keep having fun. I would also love to work with the Swedish filmmaker Roy Anderson one day.

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Next up, we’ll be seeing you in the FX limited series ‘Say Nothing’. What can you share with us about it? What can we expect from it?

‘Say Nothing’ a political thriller. It’s about the murder and disappearance of a mother of 10 in Belfast in the seventies during The Troubles. I play a man called Brendan Hughes, who was officer in command of the IRA in 1970s. I used to walk past the mural of him coming home from school. It’s kind of surreal to play him. I think it’s going to be a pretty challenging piece of work. It’s very, It’s a very interesting period of time and it’s very intense. Hopefully it’s going to be an interesting drama that people will like and will maybe sort of ask themselves questions about their own life and morality and love. 

I think the book’s also amazing. Patrick Radden Keefe has written an incredible novel, and even though I knew majority of what was happening in the book, I still felt like I couldn’t turn the pages quick enough. Hopefully if we can do justice to the book, then it’ll be a good show and people will like it.

photographer ELLIOT WILCOX
styling assistant CENSI LUCENA
set designer JOSH STOVELL
editor-in-chief TIMI LETONJA
interview JANA LETONJA