Freddie Highmore talks Johnny Depp, stolen identities and The Art of Getting By...
|INTERVIEWS - FILM|
The chocolate factory was just the start...
In 2004, Freddie Highmore landed a role that child stars the World over could only dream of; the role of 'Charlie Bucket' in 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. While a competent actor thus far, it was Freddie's endearing rendition of Charlie that earned him Worldwide recognition, gaining the respect of his peers, the audience and the plaudits in the process.
Since then, the talented actor has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, in front of - and behind - the camera, and continues to please audiences with his heart-warming, authentic performances. In the run up to his latest release, The Art of Getting By, Freddie sat down with Shadowlocked and spoke openly about his career to date...
1. Freddie [Highmore], you’ve made a brilliant transition from child prodigy to adolescent actor. How have you found the transition?
It's odd really; it seems to have come very natural to me. Some people can see it as being a lot trickier than it actually is; making that transition from child to adult acting.
Obviously, in terms of my preparation I've changed a lot - as to have the characters I portray - but I don't feel my approach to each role has. And therein lies the premise of The Art of Getting By; that tricky moment in life when you are stepping away from being a child and becoming a man...
2. Of course Freddie. However, I’ve heard - via numerous blogs, websites and previous interviews - that you have little interest in acting during your adult years. Please, fill us in...surely this is not true!
Haha...everyone seems to bring this up!
No, if I did say that I must have said it many years ago. I guess what I was trying to say was more that I'm not particularly shut on doing anything in the future, let alone acting. For the time being at least I'm happy here at Cambridge [University], and will be for the next two or three years.
I'm not closing the doors to acting - far from it in fact - but for the time being I need to concentrate on other avenues in my life. If, in years to come, there came a day that I wanted to try an alternative full-time career, I'd like to be in a position to do that.
3. Well that's good. Anyhow, let’s jump into your new project – The Art of Getting By. Talk us through it...
Yes, so as I was saying, it's about that moment in life where you feel the World is on your shoulders, and there's no-one left to turn to. All those emotional roller-coasters we have to deal with - falling in love for the first time; wanting to succeed but struggling to deal with the pressure; loss - come together during the screen-time of George's [Freddie's character] life, so he is forced to deal with each and face the consequences.
4. In a prior interview, you described The Art of Getting By “a depiction of life as someone comes towards the end of high school”, in specific that of the first love. You're a successful actor; movie star cute and still just 19 years of age, but has Freddie Highmore felt the sharp pinch of cupid’s arrow?
Haha...well, whether it's been 'love' I'm not too sure - but for roles such as this I have certainly drawn on personal experiences. It's an exciting feeling, one I'm sure I've yet to truly feel, but portraying someone in this mindset has certainly been an exciting opportunity.
5. I’d like to skip back to a personal favourite of mine...Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). To this day, I still remember - fondly - the joy of that film. The music; the casting; the exuberant special effects - it all worked so well. What was it like to be involved in such a well known franchise?
First of all it was lovely, as ever, to work with Johnny [Depp]. He's the most fantastic guy; not only as an actor but as a person, and I'm truly blessed to have worked with such a talented individual.
As for the set - the whole scale of its transformation - I can only say it was surreal. The chocolate room had been the latest Bond (Die Another Day) set - which was burnt down and has since been rebuilt - and it was truly was stunning. Chocolate waterfalls; sailing round on boats - it felt like it belonged to Hogwarts rather than Warner Bros.
6. It was the second time you’d worked with Johnny - the first being in Finding Neverland back in 2004. Did you feel star struck at all? What was it like working with such a celebrated actor?
Erm, no...I never felt that way. Saying that, when we filmed Finding Neverland I was only 10 years old, so you don't really have the notion of him as a celebrity figure. Instead, I came to see him as a friend; someone to look up to on a set in terms of his behaviour and his professionalism. But that's credit to Johnny - he's such a humble guy, despite his status and talent, and I think that's why I felt so relaxed around him.
7. Back in 2006, you were cast as the voice of Arthur in Arthur and the Invisibles (aka Arthur and the Minimoys), directed by a personal favourite of mine, Luc Besson. What was it like working with Luc; and how aware of his previous work were you prior to this?
Luc and I are still good friends. He may be the biggest thing in European film but he’s never lost touch with the kid inside him. He still wants to operate the camera, direct every angle and help out the crew with hauling the heavy scenery, When we first worked together I was too young to see many of Luc’s films but now Leon and Nikita are two of my favourites.
8. Is there any particular director/actor/actress that you'd like to work with, and why?
Now that I’m at university my availability for acting work is limited. If you’ve been as lucky as I have with the people you’ve worked with is it too much to hope you’ll get to work with them again? There is just so much talent in the creative world that, in my experience, each new project introduces you to the most amazing new people.
9. Now, on a personal level, I understand you’re a bit of a soccer fan. Is that correct?
Certainly is. We've got season tickets for Arsenal, and try and get there as much as possible. Unfortunately, what with University and acting commitments, the opportunity's are sparse...but I love getting there when I can.
10. Growing up, who were icons? Were they film orientated, or did this develop at a later stage?
Growing up my icons tended to be football players. Thierry Henry was the striker for my team, Arsenal, and he was sublime. We also had a midfielder called Freddie Ljungberg who ran his heart out on the pitch. As we shared the same name I kind of imagined that this might somehow make me as good as him as a footballer!
Of course I also grew up on film sets [Freddie's mother is a talent agent and his father is an actor]. Working everyday with people like Johnny Depp you idolize them, not because they are famous but because of their skill and because of the way they treat others.
11. Again, I hear you’re partial to a videogame session or two. Console of choice?
Ah, I hope I'm not going to upset anyone, but it's got to be Sony's PS3. I've had one for a while now and I just feel the graphics, realism and built in hardware make it the superior console...sorry Microsoft.
12. Clear something up for me. You achieved 10 A*grades at GCSE; got accepted – and are currently studying – at Cambridge, and speak French fluently while learning Arabic and Spanish. How the hell do you manage everything?
Haha...another question I get asked a lot. I suppose it's just something I've gotten used to, having a hectic schedule that is. Plus, I've always been interested in languages, so getting the opportunity to devote four years to them is a real pleasure.
As for Arabic, I figured since I had four years of University that I should do a course that actually challenges me. Unlike French, Arabic offers me this - it's got a totally different structure with a unique alphabet, so its like learning a language for the first time...it's exciting.
13. In a recent ‘tweet’, you asked fans to let you know if they’d be taking your form – from any of your films – over Halloween. So, any luck?
Well, I hate to say...but I don't have Twitter. I've never had Twitter.
Saying that, I'm not surprised - these fake accounts spring up on a daily basis, and while many get shut down it's not possible to stop them all. I just hope he's doing me proud...
14. That's incredible. Maybe you should consider it Freddie; your main imposter - @AlfredHighmore - is currently enjoying a following of 17,113...
Haha, maybe I will. I suppose I should take it as a compliment - people would kill for that sort of a following.
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