Alexander Jonathan Lawther
4 May 1995
|Alma mater||National Youth Theatre|
|Known for||The End of the F***ing World |
The Imitation Game
|Height||5' 9" (175 cm)|
Alexander Jonathan Lawther (born 4 May 1995) is an English actor. He made his professional acting debut originating the role of John Blakemore in Sir David Hare's South Downs in the West End. He made his feature film debut playing a young Alan Turing in the Academy Award-winning film The Imitation Game (2014), for which he received the London Film Critics' Circle Award for "Young British Performer of the Year" and was declared one of BAFTA's 2015 Breakthrough Brits.
He achieved more mainstream success for his role as Kenny in "Shut Up and Dance", an episode of the Netflix anthology series Black Mirror (2016), and for portraying the lead role of James in the Channel 4 series The End of the F***ing World (2017–2019). His other notable work includes his roles in Freak Show, Howards End, Goodbye Christopher Robin, and Ghost Stories. He is known for his frequent portrayals of emotionally unstable or disturbed young men and LGBT youth.
Lawther was born in Winchester, Hampshire and raised in affluent Petersfield. He is of English and Irish descent. The son of two lawyers (Yvonne Lawther; Michael Terrence), Lawther has described himself as having come from a "white middle-class bubble". As the youngest of three children, he claims that his aspiration to be an actor came from having to make up his own games to entertain himself as a child. Both of his siblings live and work in the United States, with his older brother, Cameron Lawther, being an Hollywood film producer, and his older sister Ellie Lawther working in public policy.
Lawther was educated at Churcher's College, a selective independent school in the British public school tradition. While at Churcher's, Lawther was heavily involved in the drama program, where he once played Ratty in The Wind in the Willows. In 2009, a fourteen-year-old Lawther was allowed to write and direct his own full-length play based on a song by Sara Bareilles entitled Rejected Fairytales as part of his drama club involvement, where he received laudatory coverage in the local press as a "theatrical whiz kid".
In 2010, he was accepted into the prestigious National Youth Theatre, where he received his training as an actor. He also collaborated with his brother as an actor on his short film The Fear, made when the elder Lawther was applying to film school. He did not study drama at GCSE or A level. He initially planned to read History at King's College London, but ultimately gave up his place after being cast in The Imitation Game; instead, he moved to London at 18 to pursue acting professionally.
2011–2016: South Downs, The Imitation Game, Departure and early roles
Lawther's professional debut came at the age of 16, when he appeared as John Blakemore in Sir David Hare's South Downs at Chichester Festival Theatre. Lawther found out about an open audition for the play through his school, as the casting directors were scouting real students attending elite private schools in the South Downs for the play's public school setting. He travelled to London, where he beat hundreds of other young actors for the lead role. After a local trial run, the play then went to the West End, where he performed the role at the Harold Pinter Theatre in sold out runs whilst still studying for his A Levels. He received critical acclaim for his performance and, having previously viewed acting as only a hobby, he was encouraged to pursue a career in film and theatre. Shortly thereafter, he signed a contract with a film agent.
Following his performance in South Downs, Lawther spent much of his early career playing wealthy English schoolboys. After several small television roles, he portrayed Benjamin Britten as a schoolboy in the television docudrama by Tony Britten, Benjamin Britten: Peace and Conflict (2013), also featuring John Hurt as the narrator. Lawther received his breakthrough film role as a young Alan Turing during his time at the Sherborne School in the Academy Award-winning film The Imitation Game (2014), with Benedict Cumberbatch portraying the older Turing. The role won him the London Film Critics' Circle Award for "Young British Performer of the Year". Subsequently, he appeared in a supporting role as a math prodigy in the critically acclaimed coming-of-age drama film X+Y, alongside Asa Butterfield and Sally Hawkins. He also starred as a young castrato in Virtuoso, a pilot produced for HBO by Alan Ball, but the show was not picked up by the network. He returned to the theatre doing various small productions in London during this period, playing a sexually precocious young gay man in The Glass Supper, and the lead in the post-apocalyptic Crushed Shells and Mud.
In 2016, he starred alongside Juliet Stevenson in his first lead film role, playing Elliot in the British film, Departure, the debut film of director Andrew Steggall, filmed in a mixture of French and English. This highly sexualized role required him to perform an extended, underwater nude scene, helping establish his reputation as a sex symbol in the popular consciousness. Lawther was required to undergo extensive training in order to safely film these scenes, including developing the ability to hold his breath under water for over fifteen minutes at a time; he was able to breathe only about ten times during the three- to four-hour period that these scenes were shot.[failed verification]
2016–present: Black Mirror, The End of the F***ing World, and wider recognition
In 2016, Lawther played the main character Kenny in "Shut Up and Dance", an episode from series three of the British science fiction anthology series Black Mirror. While the episode overall received mixed reviews, and Lawther himself later expressed lukewarm feelings for the episode, he received universal acclaim and significant recognition for his performance. He also performed in the mockumentary film Carnage, directed by his frequent collaborator, comedian Simon Amstell.
In 2017, Lawther played Tibby Schlegel in Howards End, a BBC One adaptation of the E.M. Forster novel that starred Hayley Atwell, as well as the lead role of Billy Bloom in Trudie Styler's Freak Show, where he was supported by Bette Midler, Abigail Breslin, AnnaSophia Robb, Lorraine Toussaint and Larry Pine. Freak Show marked his first (and thus far only) appearance in an American film; Lawther has expressed a lack of interest in performing in more American films.
Later that same year, he also starred, alongside Jessica Barden, as James in the Peabody Award-winning television series The End of the F***ng World. The role also brought Lawther more acclaim from critics and further raised his profile in the entertainment industry. He would go on to reprise this role during the show's second and final season, which received a BAFTA Award for Best Drama. He also originated the role of Sam in the Stephen Daltry-directed play The Jungle, which focused on the refugee crisis in Calais, in both its London and New York productions. Lawther spent time in France meeting with refugees for this job, and ultimately found it to be one of his most challenging roles due to his character's right-wing views which were antithetical to his own. Subsequently, Lawther played the lead role of Amberson in Toby MacDonald's debut film Old Boys, as well as a supporting role in the horror film Ghost Stories.
In 2020, Lawther played the lead role in Régis Roinsard's thriller, Les Traducteurs (The Translators), his first non-English language film. To prepare for this role, he became completely fluent in French within the span of only one month, having little experience with the language prior. As a result of fans of both Lawther and English singer-songwriter Declan McKenna frequently pointing out their resemblance, Lawther made an appearance in the music video for McKenna's song "The Key to Life on Earth". Lawther was expected to replace Andrew Scott in the titular role of Hamlet when Robert Icke's adaptation was brought to New York City, but this revival was ultimately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, Lawther is expected to make a brief appearance in Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch, though Lawther has questioned whether or not his scenes would end up "on the cutting room floor". In 2021, Lawther will appear in Ridley Scott's The Last Duel, in which he will be playing a young King Charles VI and is slated to star in his second French film, Earwig, directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic. Lawther will also be playing both Caliban and Ferdinand in a French production of Shakespeare's The Tempest at Les Bouffes du Nord directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne.
Lawther stopped using social media as he began to take more high-profile roles and considers himself to be "technophobic". He divides his time between Paris, France and London, England. He has described himself as politically left-wing, and generally tries to avoid discussing his private life when possible. He considers his biggest inspirations as an actor to be Ben Whishaw, Sally Hawkins, and Andrew Scott.
Lawther has been a Francophile and a fan of French cinema from a young age. In addition to his native English, he speaks fluent French, which he quickly learned for the 2020 film Les Traducteurs. Régis Roinsard, the film's director, has remarked that he has developed a larger French vocabulary than most native speakers.
In 2020, Lawther co-signed an open letter to the government of the United Kingdom to ban conversion therapy for LGBT youth. He has also been involved in climate activism with Extinction Rebellion. He is a feminist and has critiqued the lack of diversity in the film industry. He became involved with causes supporting refugees following his work in The Jungle and supports the charity "Choose Love".
After seeing a sixteen-year-old Lawther's West End debut in South Downs, Dame Maggie Smith reportedly remarked to him that "most of us spend our lives trying to do what you've achieved". For that same performance, he was nominated for a WhatsOnStage Award for "Best Newcomer" and named one of London's "Top 25 Under 25" by the Evening Standard. He has since received the London Film Critics' Circle Award for "Young British Performer of the Year" for The Imitation Game for and the Dublin Film Critics Award for "Best Actor" for Departure. With the cast and crew of The Jungle, he received a Special Citation at the Obie Awards for the play's off-off-Broadway production and was cited for his "deeply funny and moving performance" in The End of the F***ing World when the show received a Peabody Award.
In the media, Lawther was declared a "teenage prodigy" after making his film debut in The Imitation Game, and soon after was named as one of BAFTA's Breakthrough Brits for 2015. His acting style has been compared favourably to actor Ben Whishaw, whom he cites as an idol of his.
|2010||The Fear||The Boy||Short film|
|2013||Benjamin Britten: Peace and Conflict||Benjamin Britten||Docudrama|
|2014||The Imitation Game||Young Alan Turing|
|2014||X+Y||Isaac Cooper||Released in the US as A Brilliant Young Mind|
|2015||Yussef is Complicated||Rory||Short film|
|2016||Narrated By||Sam Simpowitz||Short film|
|2017||Freak Show||Billy Bloom||Credited as "Alex J. Lawther"|
|2017||Goodbye Christopher Robin||Christopher Robin Milne Aged 18|
|2018||Ghost Stories||Simon Rifkind|
|2018||Old Boys||Martin Amberson|
|2018||Alex's Dream||Alex Morin||Short film|
|2019||The Translators||Alex Goodman|
|2019||Miss Fortunate||Jack||Short film|
|2021||The French Dispatch||Morisot||Completed|
|2021||The Last Duel||King Charles VI||Post-production|
|2014||Holby City||Fred Bamber||1 episode|
|2016||Black Mirror||Kenny||Episode: "Shut Up and Dance"|
|2017||Howards End||Tibby Schlegel||Miniseries|
|2017–2019||The End of the F***ing World||James||Main role, 16 episodes|
|2021||The Owl House||Philip Wittebane (voice)||2 episodes|
|2022||Lloyd of the Flies||Abacus Woodlouse (voice)||unknown|
|2011||South Downs||John Blakemore||Chichester Festival Theatre|
|2012||South Downs||John Blakemore||Harold Pinter Theatre|
|2013||Fault Lines||Ryan||Hampstead Theatre|
|2014||The Glass Supper||Jamie||Hampstead Theatre|
|2015||Crushed Shells and Mud||Derek||Southwark Playhouse|
|2017–2019||The Jungle||Sam||Young Vic Theatre & Playhouse Theatre (2018), St. Ann’s Warehouse|
|2021||The Tempest||Caliban/Ferdinand||Les Bouffes du Nord|
|2013||South Downs||John Blakemore|
|2014||How to Say Goodbye Properly||Toby|
|2014||Rock Me Amadeus||Charlie||BBC Radio 4|
|2015||Decline and Fall||Peter|
|2020||Murmurs||Lloyd||Episode: "Man's Best Friend"|
|2018||The London Necropolis Railway||Barney||Main Role, 7 episodes|
|2020||The Painkiller Podcast||Leo||Episode: "Object"|
|2020||"The Key to Life on Earth"||Declan McKenna||Zeros||Himself|
Awards and nominations
|2013||WhatsOnStage Awards||Best Newcomer||South Downs||Nominated|||
|2014||BFI London Film Festival||Best British Newcomer||The Imitation Game||Nominated|||
|2015||London Critics' Circle Film Awards||Young British Performer of the Year||Won|||
|2016||Audi Dublin International Film Festival||Best Actor||Departure||Won|||
|Dinard British Film Festival||Special Mention - Actors||Won|||
|2018||Fright Meter Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Ghost Stories||Nominated|||
|2019||Obie Awards||Special Citation - Cast and Creative Team||The Jungle||Won|||
- "Spotlight: ALEX LAWTHER". www.spotlight.com. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
- "London's top 25 under-25s: they're young and successful - deal with it". Evening Standard. 28 March 2013.
- Bellotti, Alex. "Teenage prodigy Alex Lawther following footsteps of Ben Whishaw and Benedict Cumberbatch". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
- "Alex Lawther, interview: 'I was brought up in a white, middle-class bubble'". inews.co.uk. 21 June 2018. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
- "Actor Profile". Archived from the original on 16 June 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
- Parkes, Tom (16 February 2015). "New star in the game". Archived from the original on 17 June 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
- "Bordon Post". Retrieved 4 November 2016.[permanent dead link]
- "Old Churcherian Alex Lawther has continued to enjoy a successful and varied acting career since leaving Churcher's". Churcher's College. Archived from the original on 19 January 2015.
- "Profile: Alex Lawther – Katie Strick". 14 April 2019. Archived from the original on 14 April 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
- Rose, Steve (23 May 2013). "Benjamin Britten: Peace and Conflict – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
- Bellotti, Alex. "Teenage prodigy Alex Lawther following footsteps of Ben Whishaw and Benedict Cumberbatch". Ham & High. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
- Zakarin, Jordan. "Meet the Actor Who Plays a Young Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'". Yahoo. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
- Barnard, Linda. "Alex Lawther's performance as teen Turing gave director goosebumps". The Star. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
- "'Boyhood' Wins at U.K. Critics' Awards as U.S. Talent Triumphs". Variety.
- "Departure review – stifling holiday drama". the Guardian. 22 May 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
- Harvey, Dennis (18 January 2016). "Film Review: 'Departure'". Variety. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
- "The Stories For 'Black Mirror' Season 3 Have Been Revealed (Spoiler-Free)". The Verge. 9 September 2016. Archived from the original on 18 June 2018. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
- "Alex Lawther". 1883 Magazine. 20 February 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
- Barone, Joshua (14 November 2019). "Park Avenue Armory Unveils Its 2020 Season". The New York Times.
- "Spotlight: ALEX LAWTHER". www.spotlight.com. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
- "Alex Lawther interview: "Technology is like a surveillance tool in your pocket"". NME Music News, Reviews, Videos, Galleries, Tickets and Blogs | NME.COM. 6 April 2018. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
- "The End of the F***ing World star Alex Lawther in the winter issue". Wonderland. 2 January 2020. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
- "Alex Lawther, interview: 'I was brought up in a white, middle-class bubble'". inews.co.uk. 21 June 2018. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
- "Exclusive Interview - Alex Lawther on The End of the F***ing World, his creative influences and more". Flickering Myth. 22 November 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
- "Out Magazine". 3 August 2020.
- 0. ""Departure" star Alex Lawther talks the importance of telling LGBT stories". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 7 March 2021.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
- "Silver Linings: Alex Lawther - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
- "The End of the Fxxxing World". www.peabodyawards.com. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
- "BAFTA Breakthrough Brits 2015". www.bafta.org. 2 November 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
- "Alex Lawther Tickets - Tour Dates & Artist Information - ATG Tickets". Archived from the original on 23 June 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
- "Alex Lawther: Actor". The Stage.
- "Alex Lawther: Actor". Peccadillo Pictures. Archived from the original on 19 August 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
- "South Downs/The Browning Version, Minerva Theatre, Chichester, review". The Telegraph.
- "South Downs/ The Browning Version, Harold Pinter Theatre - review". London Evening Standard.
- "Fault Lines Cast and Crew". Hampstead Theatre. Archived from the original on 19 August 2018. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- "The Glass Supper, Hampstead Downstairs - theatre review". London Evening Standard.
- "Crushed Shells and Mud Official site". Southwark Playhouse. Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
- "The Jungle". Young Vic website. Archived from the original on 19 August 2018. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
- "Afternoon Drama on BBC R4". BBC Radio 4.
- "Rock Me Amadeus". BBC Radio 4.
- "BBC Radio 4 - Drama, Evelyn Waugh - Decline and Fall, Episode 1". BBC.
- "15 theatre faces to look out for in 2015 | WhatsOnStage". www.whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
- "The 58th BFI London Film Festival 2014". BFI. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
- "The 35th London Critics' Circle Film Awards". Critics Circle. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
- "Audi Dublin International Film Festival Awards winners". Breaking News. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
- "Dinard British Film Festival (2015)". IMDb. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
- "Fright Meter Awards 2018". Fright Meter Awards. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
- "2019 Obie Award Winners". Obie Awards. 21 May 2019. Retrieved 28 October 2020.