Sam Claflin

Sam Claflin is a tricky man to pin down. Between a busy filming schedule and two young kids at home, when I reach the 31-year-old actor on the phone after a few reschedules, I’m all ready to apologise for stealing him away from a rare moment of free time, but I’m beaten to it. “I’m so sorry!” He insists. “I’m on such a busy filming schedule right now and it’s just been crazy, so I’m sorry about all the time changes!”

It’s pretty likely that if you don’t know Claflin by name, you’ll certainly recognise his face. Landing his first professional acting role back in 2010, Claflin has gone on to appear in some of the biggest movie franchises of all time. His first ever film role saw him joining the likes of Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, playing the role of Philip Smith - a missionary who falls in love with a mermaid. The character saw Claflin propelled to certified silver-screen heartthrob status and what followed was roles in similar huge franchises, including Snow White and the Huntsman and The Hunger Games, in arguably his most recognisable role as Finnick Odair.

Although these roles saw him reach international fame, the similar characters - all brooding heartthrobs who end up falling in love or experiencing some kind of a redemption towards the end of their story - found Claflin being somewhat pigeonholed into playing these kinds of roles. “There were certainly a lot of similarities.” He tells me. “With Pirates and Snow White, they were a year apart, both supporting roles, both romantically involved, both with no great characterisation. They were very well written pieces - I’m not holding it against them - it’s just I creatively have so much more to offer and I was too afraid to speak up for myself. I feel that now that I have been through the experience I would definitely go into that same experience being able to speak up for myself and come up with my own ideas. Back then, I was too nervous and I think I’ve grown in comfort and I’m excited to get an opportunity to prove that I am now a collaborator and not just someone who just gets told where to stand.”

I ask if he would ever consider playing another character in a big-budget movie franchise and he’s adamant about pulling away from those roles. “In all honesty, I’ve been trying to avoid those sorts of films.” He explains. “I loved those experiences that I learned so much from and that really made me grow - in confidence and as a person - and I met great people, but I think there’s a part of me that has always felt creatively unfulfilled, purely because I like a challenge.”

“I want to play three-dimensional roles.” He continues. “I want to challenge myself as much as I can. I think I’ve made conscious decisions and done things that are very challenging, be it learning new skills or working in difficult locations, playing very complex characters. I just need to have the opportunity to test myself as an actor and know what my strengths and my weaknesses are. Going for the same character in the same sort of big-budget thing that everyone knows, for me there’s no fun in that.”

Making a move away from these kinds of films, Claflin is now trying to score roles that will push him to his limits with loads of exciting projects set to come out this year. When we chat on the phone, he’s in the car on the way home from a long day of filming new British crime thriller, The Corrupted. “It’s based on the corruption behind the building of the Olympics and how that sort of affected the East End housing market and the working class.” He tells me. “It’s been a great experience with all the research we’ve done and spending time in the East End in general. I’m a West London boy and I’ve never really got to know the East, so that was really fascinating.”

Alongside this, Claflin is also starring in upcoming Australian period thriller The Nightingale. Directed by Jennifer Kent, who’s the mastermind behind the brilliant horror The Babadook, the story follows a young convict woman seeking revenge on the man who murdered her family - a stark contrast to Claflin’s previous flicks, I think we can all agree. “It’s something I’m very proud of.” He says of the film. “We made it with little to no money and it got very, very nice reviews, which, for me, is very rare and I am so proud to be making such a beautiful film. I play a very, very dark character which is really exciting for me, and again very detached from what I’ve done before.”

Certain to prove himself as the truly talented actor that he is, Claflin is destined to shake that previous typecast of the “romantic interest” and start to fulfil the starring roles that he was meant to do. Forgive us if we still refer to him as a “heartthrob” though…

Photography - Aitor Santome

Fashion - Kamran Rajput

Grooming - Lee Machin

Rollacoaster Magazine Spring/Summer 2018 Issue