Photographer: Jemima Marriott
Photographers Assistant: Eric Anderson
Stylist: Benedict Browne
Skin & Hair: Nadia Altinbas
Interview: Ines Shubshizky
When I meet Daryl, I immediately notice that he is just as charismatic and personable as his character in his new film ‘Good Luck to You, Leo Grande’. Despite his busy schedule, he radiates an easy-going energy both throughout the photo shoot and our conversation.
In the film he stars as Leo, a sex worker who is hired by Nancy (played by the incredible Emma Thompson) to (re-)discover pleasure, confidence and intimacy. ‘Good Luck to You, Leo Grande’ will be released in cinemas in the UK on 17th June.
Hi Daryl, I really enjoyed the depth of your character Leo. How did you prepare for such a multi-faceted role?
Most of the work happened during six days of rehearsals with Emma [Thompson] and the director. It was just the three of us meeting and talking about our own lives in relation to intimacy and trying to put ourselves in the characters’ shoes as much as possible. An important part of my preparation was to familiarise myself with sex work and especially with my character Leo. During rehearsals, I was introduced to some sex workers by the director. Getting to know them and hearing what kind of vocation they found in their work helped me a lot in giving depth to my character.
How much of yourself is in your character?
He has a certain curiosity about his intimacy and longs to pay full attention to others, which I think is the reason for his vocation. He truly wants to see how his work can liberate others. For me, connecting with someone is really the most important component of intimacy. I kind of fell in love with that aspect of him and his ability to make that connection so easily. He has this selflessness about him that I really love and admire.
‘I think when you know what’s really important to you and you don’t care too much about image and appearance, you’re more free to just be yourself.’
Is there a particular message you want people to take away from the film?
What the film taught me is that our intimate lives are intricate and deeply intertwined with our own self-identity. It has made me realise that in order to be connected to someone or to have an intimate relationship, you have to be in touch with yourself and ask yourself where you get your self-image and your confidence from. I hope that the film makes people pay attention to that more because, essentially, I think doing so will lead to a beautiful, intimate life.
What was it like working with Emma Thompson?
Emma is absolutely hilarious. I lost track of how many laughs we had during the shoot. Another thing I noticed about her was her grace. I felt very invited and respected within the process of making the film and she never made me feel intimidated by the vast difference in our experiences. This was particularly important as we had to rely on each other as we are the only characters for most parts of the film. I was very daunted by working with her at first, but she is such an incredible collaborator and made the whole shoot really fun.
What do you think is the key to success?
I wish I knew the answer to that question. I think a big part of it is the willingness to keep going. Everyone who eventually succeeds has had to follow a path of persistence and a certain amount of stubbornness. So I think it’s crucial to put all your time and effort into something you care about and commit to it as much as you can. I believe there is nothing more important for success than being fully dedicated to your goals.
‘The film has made me realise that in order to be connected to someone, you have to be in touch with yourself and ask yourself where you get your self-image and your confidence from.’
Have you always known that you wanted to be an actor?
Performing has definitely always been my instinct. I did music for a while as a teenager, and at some point I wanted to be a wildlife photographer. I actually had this dream of being David Attenborough’s cameraman and filming frogs in the Amazon forest with him. Imagine how great that would be – to have a job in remote corners of the world, diving with whales and seeing animals that live in far away parts of the world. Plus, David Attenborough could sort of become your uncle, and tell you great stories about his time in the Sahara, and you’d form an incredible bond with him (laughs). At the moment, though, I’m really happy that I became an actor.
Is there anything that keeps you motivated when you’re feeling down?
I think when you pursue a passion, you are never immune to feeling discouraged. I think the point of pursuing a career is that there will be moments of elation and moments of disappointment. I don’t think you can avoid feeling disheartened at some point. However, whenever I feel discouraged about something, this feeling in me kicks in and makes me want to try again and again. I think it’s crucial to be grateful for what you have, but to still want to push forward.
Do you think those challenges are usually an attempt to feed our egos?
I think that is definitely an element but my biggest wish is to escape and live without my ego. Obviously, this is not to say that we cannot fall victim to our ego from time to time, but when it comes to the most important things in life, it has nothing to do with status. I was talking about this with my friend the other day, and we were trying to figure out how to escape this feeling of discouragement. Eventually, we came to the realisation that you can’t, and that that’s simply the cost of going after a career in the arts.
Your job as an actor constantly requires you to be the centre of attention. Doesn’t that sometimes overwhelm and exhaust you?
No, because I see it as the nature of the job. I don’t worry about what that does to me, I just don’t want it to prevent me from making a real connection with someone. I don’t want someone to form an image of me before they actually see me. I think sometimes that organic connection can get lost because there are so many moving parts. So far I’ve managed to stay connected with myself through everything and just move through life while being kind. I let the rest just take care of itself.
Do you believe in destiny?
Yes, I think there is a certain element of things that are destined for you and things that you can kind of seek out. It reminds me of that Forrest Gump quote: ‘I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.’ That’s pretty much how it feels to me. Sometimes we think we can pursue and control things, and sometimes it’s pure luck that just finds us. Sometimes what seems right at the moment might not be right because we don’t have the full vision.
‘I think a big part of success is the willingness to keep going. Everyone who eventually succeeds has had to follow a path of persistence and a certain amount of stubbornness.’
What do you think is cool about yourself?
I think it’s my ability to be goofy and the fact that I don’t consciously strive to be cool. I think it’s cool when people just don’t make a big deal about things and when they are able to just be authentically silly, regardless of their surroundings. I think when you know what’s really important to you and you don’t care too much about image and appearance, you’re more free to just be yourself.
And what do you think is cool about America?
I actually have family over there. Apart form that, I think it’s pretty cool that you have so many different landscapes in one place, from snow mountains, beaches, huge forests, national parks, and so on. There are so many different little subcultures, the south looks so different from the east coast. That’s pretty cool.
What projects of yours can we look forward to after seeing ‘Good Luck to You, Leo Grande’?
I’m shooting a film in Hamburg next month with Richard E. Grant and Julie Delpy called ‘The Tutor’. That’s all I can tell you at the moment, but it’s going to be incredible.
Our Summer 22 print issue will be released on June 17th, to see exclusive unreleased images of Daryl please purchase the magazine.