Josh O'Connor on his latest film: 'Patriarchy also gags men'

Since his role as Prince Charles in Netflix superhit The Crown Josh O’Connor is suddenly world famous. The 31-year-old actor has specialized in charming men with unspoken secrets – including drama Mothering Sunday

Screaming girls stood in front of his hotel in Cannes, where Mothering Sunday premiered. It’s new experiences for Josh O’Connor since the role of the charming but hapless Prince Charles in The Crown brought him to the attention of the general public. The cheerful actor does not yet know how to give himself a good attitude to such scenes, he confesses. “It’s not so bad that people are always looking at me. But I am also increasingly stopped on the street for an autograph or a selfie. It’s not bothersome yet. But of course I have no idea how I will feel about that in a few years.”

O’Connor has been in the movie business for over ten years. But only since The Crown, for which he won an Emmy and a Golden Globe, among other things, he experiences what it is like to be a sought-after actor. “I was always happy with any role that was offered to me. I’ve been on stage for years, I have two sentences in it Dr Who done. After auditions I always had to wait again. And now I suddenly receive daily scripts from big names who really want to have me.”

It was always his dream to do this work – he consciously chose to train at the Old Vic Theater School in Bristol. The actor got his sense of language from his father, an English teacher who already took him as a boy to the great classics at the Royal Shakespeare Company: King LearOthelloRichard III† After seeing the pieces, father and son had conversations about the main characters. “We then discussed what drove these men, or what drove their opponents like Edmund or Iago. He taught me that bad people themselves rarely think they are doing wrong things. That’s a basic rule I’ve remembered as an actor: always understand why characters make certain decisions, even if you don’t agree with them.”

This helped him shape Prince Charles and the raucous farmer’s son Johnny in the gay drama God’s own country – his most notable role before The Crown† And also with Paul in the stuffy Mothering Sunday much is brewing beneath the surface. The aristocratic scion of 1920s Britain skips the traditional family lunch to meet his secret love, maid Jane (Odessa Young). Their being together obviously has no future – Paul has already been promised by his greedy parents to the daughter of a befriended wealthy family.

“I love playing men who struggle to accept their place in life,” explains O’Connor, sipping a very British cup of tea. “Charles had to learn to accept that he had to keep waiting for his mother. Johnny discovers that he likes men in a conservative farming community. And Paul tries to understand that the place where his cradle stood has completely determined what his existence will look like. I know of few stories that even men sometimes saw their lives shattered by the laws of patriarchy.”

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