Interview by JANA LETONJA

Actor Leo Woodall first turned heads with his performance in HBO’s ‘The White Lotus’, which earned him a SAG Award alongside the rest of the cast. Now he has captured global attention in Netflix’s limited series ‘One Day’, starring as Dexter Mayhew opposite Ambika Mod in an adaptation of David Nicholls’ bestselling novel.

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On 8th February, Netflix premiered ‘One Day’, an adaptation series of the bestselling novel and 2011 film. How did you get cast on this show and what made you want to be part of this project?

I wasn’t familiar with ‘One Day’ before I auditioned, but was instantly drawn to the story and Dexter as a character. I did about five auditions and it was a gruelling process. It played out while I was filming ‘The White Lotus’, so I flew back and forth between the two. I have told the story a few times about how I arrived at one audition with Jack’s ‘cowabunga’ tattoo still on my neck, causing panic among the casting director and producers who thought it was real. Thankfully, I still got the role.

What did you enjoy the most about this story of Dexter and Emma meeting on the same day over 20 years, and about your character Dexter?

I loved that each time you drop in on them, in each year and each episode, they are in different phases of their life and relationship. It felt like a new challenge and a new part of life to experience that was fun and fascinating to play. Particularly as Dexter goes through so many different things and his life changes rapidly throughout the series, it felt like a good playground to explore a range of emotional and human experiences.

Have you read the novel and watched the film before you started filming? What are the biggest differences between all three, novel, film and series, in your opinion?

The series is faithful to the novel. One difference that we all loved is the relationship between Emma and Tilly. It was so lovely to see her have this other friend, who was an anchor in her life that she could always turn to and who never caused her any stress or pain unlike Dexter. She was just a good friend to her throughout the series, whereas in the book that was not quite the case. As for the film, the obvious answer is the series’ length, which created room for it to be faithful to the book.

You initially wanted to go into sports, before deciding to pursue a career in acting. What prevailed about acting and contributed to this decision?

I think it felt more correct in my gut, for reasons that at the time I couldn’t quite explain, even though on the face of it I come from a family of actors, so it’s not that surprising. I think it seemed more fun. I could see that acting is an ever changing career and has a very long path. You can do it for as long as you want, which was very appealing to me. There was something about the craft and always being able to work on your craft. It felt like a lifelong project. You can fail plenty and keep going.

How did you coming from a family of actors impact you becoming one as well?

They have always been very supportive, which has really encouraged me and kept me going knowing that I have their backing.

Your breakout role was back in 2022 when you starred in the second season of the hit series ‘The White Lotus’. How was the experience of this series for you, from the ensemble and story, to fiming location?

It was the best summer of my life and Jack was an incredibly fun role to play. I felt like I had lots of freedom and working with such great people gave me a newfound confidence.

What makes ‘The White Lotus’ so popular in your opinion, and how big of a fan of the show are you personally?

The characters are so wonderfully written. They’re outrageous, but they are real. And just not knowing what the hell is going to happen next is incredibly gripping. I love the show and can’t wait for season three.

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Being constantly in the public eye due to your career, how do you make sure to stay true to yourself?

With the people around me and not taking myself too seriously. Being able to laugh at some of the madness, focusing on the work and keeping those close to me as close as possible.

2024 is looking like a busy year for you. What can you share with us about your exciting, upcoming projects?

I am currently filming ‘Nuremberg’ in Europe and have the Apple+ series ‘Prime Target’ on the horizon too. There is a lot to look forward to. I feel very lucky.

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photographer LEE MALONE
interview JANA LETONJA
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