It was an unusually sunny afternoon in Rafferty law’s new home of Los Angeles, a city where ‘autumnal vibes’ often fall victim to 90-degree heat. But today, in this town, the weather isn’t the only thing off-kilter. It’s been almost three months since the Screen Actors’ Guild went on strike and the UK-native is another actor aspirant penned in by picket lines. Like so many who journey to Los Angeles in pursuit of stardom, Raff Law’s vision is singular—and not without sacrifice. His surf rock-reminiscent band, Outer Stella Overdrive, was gaining real traction in London when he left the group to pursue acting full-time. Then there’s modeling–a career he once shared with sister Iris—that became much less accessible outside Europe’s fashion epicenters.
Some might say Law’s career has already been forged under fire. He entered the industry at the dawn of streaming platforms, an era wherein meaty character roles and actor residuals were forced out of fashion. For his first adult collaboration with his famous father, Law shot in isolation. His next filmic endeavors also came on the heels of COVID-19. It seems inevitable that Law would pack up his momentum and jump the pond, only to be met by the first union-instigated industry shutdown in 60 years.
“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions for a few different reasons,” he says, adding there’s no other choice but to take setbacks “on the chin.” “No one really knew exactly how long it could last for or what it actually meant. It was like, I’ve just moved to America and now I can’t work in America.”
For creatives, unemployment has become synonymous with internal crisis, yet, Raff Law seems suspiciously centered. The summer prompted real reflection, and Law has come away with definitive purpose. Specifically, it’s time to try his hand at screenwriting. Music composure is more fulfilling without commercial imperatives. Pottery is also remarkably soothing.
If given the choice, though, Law would rather be acting. He has no interest in delving into his famous family tree (from which it’s unclear if he professionally benefits). He is not prone to promoting any creative projects. He’s not even tempted by the kind of navel-gazing delighted in by most performers. Mostly, Raff Law just wants to talk shop. Teachers, techniques, even the extracurriculars necessary to keep actors “fighting fit” off-season. More than anything, the time off has renewed the performer’s vigor for the craft — and what it takes to master it.
And as for studios, casting directors and film fans, you heard it here first: when there’s justice for the union, expect to see a whole lot more Law.
Did a career in the arts always feel inevitable?
Literally since I could walk, I always loved performing. From the age of five or six I was creating stories with friends, recreating films that you’ve watched. I loved school so much, but I was definitely a kid that enjoyed the artistic side rather than the academic side. I realized that’s really what I wanted to do. I think in my teens I had a few years where I was trying to really understand what I wanted to put my main focus on —I was being pulled in two directions between acting and music and I really wanted to figure out where I wanted to go. In those few years I kind of maybe leaned more towards music.
I know your band, Outer Stella Overdrive, had real momentum.
We were gigging a lot and I was very much in that kind of rock and roll London lifestyle. But then very quickly I realized that I really missed being able to tell a story. Although I love writing songs and being on stage, there’s something that you get as on set or even workshopping with people where you have that real human connection, and can relate to people in so many different ways. So I think really in my late teens I decided acting is what I want to do—I wanted to work on it and push myself. Since then, it’s just been tunnel vision.
How was that transition for you?
I think it was a bit of a shock to the system when I fully stopped playing with the band because we had a lot going on.
Sometimes you do find yourself thinking, I haven’t had an audition for a while, what can I be doing?
Since then I think I’ve matured and grown in my acting world because I’ve just given my full focus to it. And I’ve realized how much you can do as an actor to improve, whether it’s dance lessons, going to the gym, playing different sports, working on an accent, watching every film that you can think of, going to the theater, going to art galleries, going for walks, immersing yourself within nature. There’s so much to keep yourself fighting fit and ready. I think putting music on the back burner was the best thing I could have done for myself.
What’s your relationship to music now?
I still write all the time. I still definitely want to be involved within music in some shape or form, and I think I’m still figuring out what that is, but for me it’s more of like I’m not trying to set a career out of it or make profit from it. It’s genuinely just a release and a creative outlet that I love to do. Yeah, there’s something so freeing about not monetizing your hobbies in an era where everyone is trying to build a brand. I actually think since I stopped writing with a band from a “let’s make it” vibe, I found my writing a little more honest. Sometimes I’ll write a song and I’d be like, I wouldn’t even want to put that out or anyone to hear it. I can play it to my friend or play it to my girlfriend and that’s it. And that’s all it is.
Obviously, you come from an entertainment family, but because there’s so much rejection and heartache in this business, I wondered if they ever tried to dissuade you from pursuing acting.
It was never, “Don’t do this, don’t do that.” As a family, we’re all very supportive and I know that I would’ve always been supported in whatever kind of channel I wanted to go down. I’ve always been pretty driven, and I think it’s natural growing up with creative parents to then want to be creative. So I kind of just followed my instincts and they let me do that. It’s always kind of been up to me.
It must also be nice to have a support system that understands. A sounding board in the truest sense.
Yeah, definitely. But at the same time, I take my time with my family very seriously now that me and my siblings are grown up and we don’t see each other all the time. More than anything we speak to each other in a friend and family way. I wouldn’t say I really rely on them for much advice, but I know that I always could.
Have you ever felt like you’ve had to fight against the family name?
I always want to be viewed as my own person, but at the end of the day, there’s only so much you can do and say to change or to change people’s opinions. But I’ve never felt like I have to prove anything. I know what I want to do and what I’m passionate about and why I’m passionate about it. So to get to where I want to be, I just need to focus day-by-day, step-by-step.
You and Iris have emerged as fashion darlings, what was it like for you early on to flirt with that industry?
Working a lot with some really amazing designers was really my first taste and experience of traveling on my own and working abroad, which more than anything was just a really amazing experience to have at that age. Honestly, I think it brought me into the world of TV and film and theater even more—there are so many cogs all moving together to make this thing happen as smoothly as possible. I love being a part of a team. Being a part of something where we’re all working together to create that end goal. And I think that’s the beauty of music and art and film is that people with different talents and different passions come together to create this one thing.
How do you find the experience of modeling overall? It feels like there’s so much vulnerability there.
Definitely. You need to be confident within yourself. You need to not put too much pressure on yourself and realize that everyone is on your side and everyone’s there to have a good time. But I mean the vulnerability of modeling is completely different to the vulnerability of acting. You need to forget about being on camera and be true and honest. You’re not trying to look good, you’re not trying to pose to make the photo work. It really is about stripping all of that away and being completely vulnerable and honest.
Speaking of, the SAG strike has left actors more vulnerable than ever. How has it been for you from a mental health perspective?
I think initially when I found out about the strike, I was pretty frustrated and a bit bummed because I’d spent the months before in LA making this new step, meeting new people and excited for this new chapter. I’d been in LA for most of the year, so I hadn’t really seen friends and family, so me and my girlfriend went back to London and I literally just had a month of enjoying myself not putting the pressure on the work. When something like that happens and it’s out of your power, it’s best to hold your hands up. I started writing more music than I was before. I started wanting to paint more. I did a pottery class.
Would you write a project?
That’s something that I’m really, really keen to do. I’ve got a load of different ideas and I’ve personally never, not since I was a teenager, written and shot anything properly.
What is it that attracts you to a particular piece of material?
What I’m really looking to sink my teeth into right now is depth in character. A big story arc that’s true and relatable. I’m just looking for variety and opportunity to show the variety within my work. It’s a feeling you get when you are reading something. It could be any end of the spectrum: a really cool, nice guy, or a super crazy person. If there’s something to hold onto, then it’s exciting.
A kernel of truth, right?
I love character work. Being in my own bubble a bit more in LA has given me the opportunity to really find my own pace on camera. From doing so many auditions [to the strike], I found a pace where I’m no longer going for something, I’m letting it come to me. So anything that comes my way, I’m happily going to throw myself into.
It’s so exciting to hear your optimism. It’s such a tough business, that usually being jaded is the default.
I think it is really important to be optimistic. When something’s tough, it can also be really enjoyable. I remember when I used to train with my football team when I was a kid and we had this one coach who trained us so hard, but we’d always be the best from them. I’ve always kind of taken that mentality into any type of work I do: if something’s worth fighting for, it’s worth really putting in the work.
What did success look like to you when you were starting out? Has it evolved over time?
My definition of success is always evolving and I think there are so many different forms of success. People think of success as money or people think of success as a personal triumph or making your family proud. I think naturally, I’ve grown up a bit and I’ve really taken an understanding of what I love. Now, I don’t put pressure on ticking off goals—I’m just grateful to be alive and have an amazing family and people around me. For me, success is just feeling comfortable within my creative outlet — feeling like those muscles are being used. I really enjoy working and I really enjoy pushing myself. So as long as I get to do those things and that makes me happy, then that is success to me.
You grew up in one of the most viscous media landscapes in the world, were your parents able to shelter you from that? Did you ever feel its effects?
I think I was always very sheltered, in a positive way. My parents went through a lot of different things with the media, but I was always just a happy son. I’ve been watching the David Beckham documentary and they obviously touched a lot on the effect of the tabloids in the late 90s-early 2000s, I’m happy that maybe it’s not as vicious as it once was.
Interestingly, in the documentary Victoria Beckham describes LA as “rehab for famous people,” but a lot of expats also find this city really lonely. How does it compare to London for you?
I think LA definitely has got a lonelier feel than London. But I also think there’s so many benefits. The pace of the city. You can drive two hours and go snowboarding or then you go into the desert or you go on these crazy hikes or you’re by the ocean. There’s always going to be things that I miss about London, being able to walk places and the community aspect of London. But I think I’m really lucky that I’m spending my time here right now, making new friends, being the new guy in the city. But I think right now this is the experience that I want to be having.
This is the ‘Besties’ issue—how does friendship inspire you, both professionally and personally?
I’ve been very, very lucky to be surrounded by people who are all very talented in their own way. I had friends who were doing music from a young age and wanted to be fashion designers or write or were really good at sport, and we all kind of pushed each other. As I’ve gotten into my twenties, I don’t like to have too many close friends around me. It’s a really beautiful thing when you start to really realize who your true friends are, and the people that are going to be there forever. When I think of friendship, I don’t just think about friends—I think about friendship within family and [romantic ] relationships.
How do you process a ‘no’ now?
Just take it on the chin and carry on. Honestly, that’s just all you can do.
That’s incredibly British.
Very British. But you have to just realize that there’s so much competition. It’s very rarely a case of anything you’ve done wrong—they’re just looking for something different. And I think it’s always important to remind yourself of the setbacks that bring you to a certain place. You’ve just got to trust that you are doing everything that you can in your power to be the best version of yourself. The ‘yes’s will come eventually.
Is trusting the process a new concept for you? Or has it always been kind of innate?
I think it’s always been there with me. My mom’s got a very, very beautiful outlook on life, and I think I’ve always bought into that. I’ve become more understanding and trusting that things happen for a reason. Learning from mistakes.
Are you in therapy?
No, I’m not anymore. But I mean, I’ve been in and out of different kinds of things since I was a kid. My mom and dad have always spoken it in a positive way, and I think it’s a really good tool to have. Without trying to ‘big’ myself up, I’ve realized within some of my friends or some other people that some people don’t like looking inwards and try to block things out. And actually, when you work on yourself, you come out a lot stronger.
Styled by Christopher Campbell
Written by Beatrice Hazlehurst
1st Assistant: Tommy Blanco
2nd Assistant: Winston Kingstro
3rd Assistant: Allison Lopez
Digital Tech: Kevin Leupold
Flaunt Film: Isaac Dektor