New York Moves Magazine Interview + Photoshoot






Photoshoots > 2016 New York Moves Magazine

A strong jaw complimented by sky blue eyes and floppy sandy blonde hair easily lend itself to be manipulated into a wide range of characters, an ideal canvas for any director—and a powerful quality for any successful actor whose able to match their own transformation with talent. In Ed Speleers’ case, his IMDB page speaks for itself.

Born Edward John Speleers in Chichester, England, he’s been on stage since he learned to walk. Notably, in his secondary school years, he played the lead roles in his school’s productions of ‘Richard III’ and ‘Hamlet.’ Though in 2006, his career took a giant leap from the stage to the big screen when Speleers landed his breakout role as the lead in the Eragon series, the film adaptation of its teen fantasy novel written by Christopher Paolini. Since then, Speleers is top of the list for indie films, TV shows, and Hollywood productions.

But he isn’t just a pretty face— far from it, he’s able to match the demands of the production with his dedication to the characters he plays.  Speleers tells us, “You have this body of work as an actor that certain people naturally – because they might not know you personally or they may not know what to think about putting you in a different world – they see you in a certain light and that’s kind of quite often you follow that path for quite a while.” In fact, to further distance himself from being labeled as a “pretty boy” in Beowulf on ITV, he put together quite a drastic look for his character. “I didn’t want to be seen yet again like slightly sloppy blonde hair. I wanted to get rid of it, and people are either going to hate it or love it – but I said, ‘I don’t really give a fuck let’s just try it!’” Bravo Mr. Speleers, bravo!

But beyond his haircut, Speleers confesses the intense physical and mental preparation the character calls for, “You know you have to be as fit as you possibly can because for seven months you’re gonna be charging about on a horse and sword fighting while having to do so much regular storytelling.” That’s right, Ed keeps his body in tip-top shape to be able to ride for hours on horseback, wield heavy long swords in battle, and take off his shirt with absolute. Whoops! I mean put on his armor and dramatically seduce damsels in distress.

Luckily Speleers’ was able to give his body a break when he joined the cast of Downtown Abbey during its third season as the handsome new footman who catches everyone’s eye.  The show already had a cult following, “a juggernaut,” as Ed puts it. All his character required was a footman’s costume, a set of manners, and a devilishly handsome smile. In the show, all the female staff – and at least one of the men are taken with him; and he soaks up this attention with gusto. He’s sexy and he knows it. But despite the nuances of his character, Speleers remarks that there was one woman in particular who captured his attention on set, “I would be there watching and listening with the likes of Maggie Smith in the room – yeah – she’s great!”

Ed admires filmmaker, Julian Gilbey, director of “A Lonely Place to Die,” an indie flick and fictional drama where a group of mountaineers in the Scottish highlands come across a kidnapped girl and are subsequently pursued by her captors. Looking back on his experience, Speleers’ speaks fondly of Gilbey’s authenticity, “He learned how to climb himself [and] had become a very experienced mountaineer as a result. I think [it] always rings true when people are creating something that’s close to their heart.”

In comparison to the free form of the indie film industry, Speleers gushes, “I think some of the reasons why I love actors today is because you get to create your own opportunities to tell the stories you really want to [share] that you normally wouldn’t get the chance to tell for whatever reason.” He goes so far as to comment on the almost formulaic aspect of Hollywood, “If you’re doing commercial television or sometimes Hollywood movies, there are certain parameters you have to keep within and sometimes you feel restricted. What’s nice about the indie experience is [that] you get the chance to open up, try things out, and explore.” Gilbey enjoyed working with Speleers so much, the director cast him as the lead in his next film, “Plastic,” alongside Game of Thrones star Alfie Allen.

While visiting friends, family, and vacationing in Los Angeles, Speleers cannot escape the theatricals of the 2016 Presidential Election. And he certainly can’t avoid being bombarded with Donald Trump political propaganda everywhere he goes.

Asked about the Republican frontrunner, the Southern England native responds quite viscerally, “I think he should not be allowed to come into England and should be stripped of his house in Scotland.” Of course there is no legal precedent for Trump to lose his property in the United Kingdom, nor does he pose a security threat be refused entrance into the country—yet. But as we saw in Chicago last week where his own rally was cancelled to due the escalation of violence between his supporters and protesters, Trump may not be an individual threat to security, but he can provoke the masses on both sides of the aisle.

Unfortunately like the liberal majority in America, members of Parliament were forced to acknowledge the very real possibility that Trump may in fact be the next President of the United States.  Not just in the comfort of the own homes, no, Parliament was legally obligated to bring the proposition to the floor after receiving a petition with over 574,000 signatures. Ultimately, the authority to ban someone from the country rests with the Home Secretary, not with Parliament; but that didn’t stop them from spending over three hours discussing the Republican frontrunner and weighing in on American politics at length. Unanimous in their view of Trump as a perpetuator of xenophobia, the House of Parliament agreed that a ban on Trump would set a precedent on restricting free speech.

Despite the controversy Trump creates, he genuinely appreciates the opportunity America affords its average citizens, especially in the government.  Speleers admits, “I kind of like in America that anybody can be president,” whereas aross the pond in the UK, “you still have to mix with the posh boys, attend University, and draft your way up.” Speleers himself is an Ambassador for UK charity YouthNet, a news organization that aims to provide pertinent, unbiased information to enable young people to make informed decisions. We need more of that in the United States – cough cough Fox News.

Speleers was shocked watching a news report recently where a very opinionated woman was telling people to not let the immigrants into America and advocated for gun ownership for the safety of true Americans. “I was alarmed that that could be preached on national news.” Freedom of Speech does have its consequences. But he goes on to analyze the surge of power Trump seems to draw from his supporters.“You kind of look up to people in the public eye, [who may not be] upstanding citizens of society. And if someone is going on and preaching that — to me that’s no different than hate preaching.”

We couldn’t agree with you more.


Esquire Network To Air All 13 Episodes of ‘Beowulf’

While ITV will air a truncated version of ‘Beowulf’, Esquire Network will air the original 13 episodes in the US. Thanks to linkworshiper for piecing this news together from social media.

So I’m not sure how many people in our Beowulf squad are aware, but iTV has really been screwing over promotion of the show, even as far as editing down the show into a mere 12 episodes instead of the original 13. They’ve done this by chopping down episodes 8 and 9 to ribbons. But Esquire is airing the original, full version in the States, meaning American viewers will get all 13. If you’re in the States, please make sure you tune in so iTV can see what a mistake they’ve made by shortchanging the show!


Harper’s Bazaar Interview

Ed Speleers is fast becoming a fixture of Sunday nights on ITV. Best-known for playing cheeky footman Jimmy in Downton Abbey, he’s now back on our screens in new drama ​Beowulf: Return to the Shadowlands​. We caught up with the 27-year-old actor to talk about his love of television, what he’s learnt from working with some of Britain’s finest stars and his role in the upcoming sequel to Alice in Wonderland.

​You’ve got so many exciting projects coming up in 2016 – how do you decide which ones to say yes to and which to say no to?

I never really say no. I believe that in order to for me to grow as an actor, I have to graft in as many different facets of the industry as possible. I would rather be out on set than sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring, hoping Scorsese is going to call. Naturally, it’s a balancing act and I’d like to think the more experience I gain, the more work I get under my belt and then the better the opportunities become. You can only go with what’s in front of you but you have to be savvy along the way.

You’re starring in another TV series for ITV – Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands – what is it about TV that you like?

What I admire about TV is that as an actor you get to go on much more of an elongated journey. A character’s story can take place over 10, 12 or 13 episodes in a series that allows you time to develop a person, potentially making the arc seem more gradual or subtle as a opposed to a 100-minute movie. Sometimes you get to inhabit these characters for a much longer period, especially if the show is a success – then you get to revisit them year in year out, potentially adding more layers or making adjustments along the way. But I by no means have a preference, both films and TV are great to work in, and I hope that I can do both for a long time to come.

How would you describe your character?

In Beowulf, I play Slean who is the son of the old thane Hrothgar (William Hurt). The truth is I should have been made thane after him but because my father hated me, he believed I was unworthy and weak and so made my mother Rheda (Joanne Whalley) thane instead. This rejection from a young age has had a massive impact on Slean’s life. He always had to fight for his father’s affections and when Hrothgar took Beowulf in as his own, he was shunted even further down the pecking order. He grew up with a loathing of Beowulf so his return is somewhat unwanted. His relationship with his mother is now under immense strain as she has been chosen to rule Herot ahead of him. So, at the beginning of the series, his head is a cloud of conflict. This pressure and torment in his mind only causes him greater issues whenever he’s confronted with big decisions to make. He wants to rule and believes he can do a better job and his ambition may get the better of him.

How did you prepare for the role?

I knew it was going to be a very long and physically demanding shoot, so spent a lot of time getting as fit as possible, a lot of running along the river Tyne with the dog, combined with lots of bodyweight workouts that I was able to do anywhere if I didn’t have access to the gym. My dog, Frank, and I went off exploring old Iron Age hill forts in order to get a sense of what it could have been like to inhabit a township in such a barren and dangerous period in history. Barbury Castle near Swindon, Cadbury Castle in Somerset and Maiden Castle in Dorset were all places we went to. It’s one of the major perks of the job going off exploring worlds that I had no previous knowledge of, all in order create a new character, a new human; I love that side of it.

You’ve done a lot of period dramas – is there part of you that’s longing to do something set in the present day?

I think people are fascinated by that world, especially in America, that part of British history offers a lot of intrigue to a huge demographic. Downton Abbey came on our screens at a time when people wanted to escape and maybe were even looking for some good old-fashioned nostalgia, and that was coupled with some excellent writing and a variety of characters, both upstairs and downstairs, set in a grand location. It was a joy to be a part of.

Have you watched the last series of Downton Abbey?

Not yet – since becoming a dad, time to watch anything is a fleeting luxury.

You also star in the upcoming sequel to Alice in Wonderland – what was it like working on such a big project?

It was a lovely thing to be a part of and to film scenes with Lindsay Duncan was an honour.

You’ve worked with some great British actors – including Mark Rylance, Hugh Bonneville and Maggie Smith – what have you learnt from them?

I’m not sure you can pin point what you learn along the way. My aim, when I get the chance to work with people I have a lot of respect for, is to observe them as much as possible, enjoy working with them and hope something useful is somehow sinking into my thick skull.

Are there any British actors you’d like to work with in the future?

There are so many –  the ones who spring to mind right now are Olivia Colman, Judi Dench, Vicky McClure, Michael Fassbender, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan and Stephen Graham.

There’s a generation of incredible British actors in Hollywood at the moment – what do you think is the key to their success?

I don’t know, but I wish one of them would tell me.

When did you first know that you wanted to be an actor?

This may sound silly, but for as long as I can remember, I always wanted to act.

If you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing?

I would be sulking about the fact that I wasn’t an actor. I did always liked the idea of being a pilot, but I am a doughnut when it comes to maths.

What’s your dream role?  

I don’t think I will know until it happens. I’m hoping there may be more than one…