‘My agent said I was born for the role. The description was, “young, smart and physically frail’’’
The British actor Harrison Osterfield is a new English leading man in the mould of Jude Law and Hugh Grant. He talks to The Rake about his breakthrough — playing Prince Leopold in the Netflix series The Irregulars.
Had Harrison Osterfield arrived a decade or so earlier, his Surrey accent and floppy hair would have made a fine fit for an English actor in Hollywood. But on his first day at the BRIT School, London’s college for the performing arts, the 24-year-old wondered whether it was all a mistake. “I’d just left my strait-laced boarding school, and here I was, surrounded by extroverts,” he tells The Rake. As becomes evident in our chat, Harrison is more than the sum of his posher parts. He toes the party line (there are people listening in, don’t you know?) but cracks on-point jokes, which help betray the mischief beneath those enviable Bloomsbury looks. An English leading man in the semi-traditional sense of the word — both ‘bugger’ and ‘pardon’ — he is a continuation of whatever Jude Law or Hugh Grant have done right. Harrison recently earned acclaim for his role as Prince Leopold in Netflix’s The Irregulars, a cosmopolitan retelling of Conan Doyle’s Baker Street Irregulars. Aristocratic but weakly ill, Leopold escapes the palace to join a crew of juvenile mystery solvers in London. At first the group regards him as a ‘posh dabbler’; an outsider. Perhaps the most irregular. Over time, though, “they learn to appreciate him,” Harrison says, adding affectionately: “They see him for what he is.”
How does a young actor fill the days at home? I’ve tried to keep busy, doing every online activity I can: baking, yoga, cocktail classes... The space I have in my flat is fairly accommodating. Oh, you can see the framed Nickelback poster? Usually I steer it out of shot. Their album Silver Side Up was the first album I ever got. It so bugs me they became unfashionable. However my acting goes, if I can push Nickelback, I value that as a success. What was it like playing Prince Leopold? My agent said it was a role I was born to play. The description was, “young, smart... and physically frail”. So it was nice to know what they really think of me! I tapped into the historical resources. I even spent time practising with a walking stick around my hotel corridors. But he’s got some comic moments, too. To take a prince who’s lived the high life for 17 years into a grubbier part of London is fun to watch. What kind of prince would you be? I know everyone goes down the dictator route, but I would be a good prince. More fresh fruits for all. I’m a fruit fan, you know? Let’s fill up all the aisles of the supermarkets and get everyone eating good fruits and vegetables.
Why do people online want you to eat peanut butter? The internet is so strange. I can upload a video making toast and it gets 120,000 views. It’s a running thing... There are fan accounts and articles about it. So if I’m eating peanut butter for the first time, it has to be big. You get mean comments, but thankfully most people have been nice. I’m close to my family, and have a solid group of friends. If I’m being a dick, they’re the first to let me know. How superstitious are you? At my boarding school in Caterham [in Surrey], our house master would tell us ghost stories. At night I’d be terrified, seeing the sensor light go in the empty corridor. I couldn’t even get past the first episode of Game of Thrones. So when you see me looking frightened in the show, just know that it’s not acting. The make-up team did a great job.
Fashion Direction: Veronica Perez Photographer's Assistant: Alex Ingram Fashion Assistant: Amelia Hudson Groomer: Nadia Altinbas Read the full Harrison Osterfield interview in Issue 76 of The Rake - on newsstands now. Available to buy immediately now on TheRake.com as single issue, 12 month subscription or 24 month subscription. Subscribers, please allow up to 3 weeks to receive your magazine. Our customer service team can assist with any subscription enquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org.