Thomas Brodie–Sangster

by India Blue van Spall

I Think We Need to Fly In an Expert
The lovesick kid from Love Actually, the one who plays Liam Neeson’s stepson who learns the drums to impress his classmate crush and who ultimately hops the turnstiles and eases through post-9/11 security at Heathrow to profess his love to said crush, is, of course, all grown up. This is Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and a lot has changed in 11 years. Sangster’s illustrious career has seen him play a wide range of characters—from Jojen Reed in the infamous fantasy series Game of Thrones, to the voice of Ferb Fletcher in animated series Phineas and Ferb. Now 24, despite garnering so much success, Sangster remains humble.

Of this spiraling success, Sangster says, “I just feel lucky that I’m still getting jobs and getting to do what I love to do. That’s all I want.”

Playing all-around good guy and second-in-command Newt in the post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller The Maze Runner is the next gritty film role into which Sangster is sinking his teeth. In the film, Newt and his band of brothers must form a community as a means of survival. Likewise, while shooting on-location in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the crew had only each other to keep themselves company.

“I don’t often get the opportunity to work with people my own age,” says Sangster. “They’re all really good up-and-coming actors of English and American descent, so it was amazing to work with these people that are in the same situation to what I’m in. We bonded and couldn’t escape because we didn’t have any cars, so we just stuck together and cooked for one another and looked after one another.”

Their apparent chemistry is a driving force in the film: “If we hadn’t have got on, the clashing between us… I don’t think it would have been such a good film. You can see there’s a good dynamic between all of us.”

Despite his years of experience, Sangster still feels nervous during his initial days on-set. “The first day I don’t sleep very well…you don’t really know your way around and you’re doing the first scene. I’m not so comfortable in my character.”

So how does Sangster create a well-rounded actor? “I’m not a method actor, I don’t take that home with me,” Sangster says. “You just have to be present, alert, grounded, and real, that’s the most important thing.”

Growing up in a performing family (his mother is a ballet dancer and his father a singer-songwriter), Sangster was in good stead to becoming a multi-faceted performer. This familial versatility has led Sangster to be accomplished in guitar, bass, and drums. “I’ve always had a bit of an ear for music,” he says. “I grew up with the blues, l used to listen to a lot of J.J. Cale, Lou Reed, Velvet Underground.” In fact, on the rare occasion that Sangster manages to get some downtime, it’s music he turns to for a bit of relaxation. “I don’t actually watch a lot of films, I don’t think it’s on purpose. Whenever someone usually comes around my house, I usually have music on. I don’t really like having the TV on. Sometimes at the end of the day it’s nice to remove yourself from your job. Especially if you’re playing quite heavy roles, it’s quite nice to just relax with your mates and have a beer or a nice meal.”

So what lies in store for this driven young Brit? “It depends on what comes up with my auditions, what I end up getting. It always takes me by surprise. The beauty of it is I don’t know what comes up and sometimes it can surprise me. I like the spontaneity and surprise of not knowing.”

 

Photographer: Chad & Paul for EllisonLee.com. Stylist: Hannah Elwell at HannahElwell.com. Groomer: Carol Morley for CarolHayesManagement.co.uk