Harry Lawtey’s Walks in the Shoes of the Characters He Portrays
Written by Vaughn Stewart
Photography by Lee Malone
Harry Lawtey is a stickler when it comes to portraying the characters that he plays. Cool America sat down with Harry and got him to share a few secrets on how he becomes the characters that he plays, and what next in his acting career.
Harry, how did you get involved in acting?
I think the way that most actors do – through school productions and pantomimes. But I always knew it was something I was really interested in. Even as a toddler I was always strutting into the kitchen in different costumes I’d cobbled together to show my Mum. But in my teens I really started to take it seriously as something I wanted to go for.
For our aspiring actors, how do you prepare for an audition? How do you nail the character you’re auditioning for?
I used to have a teacher that said: ‘Don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong’. So, it’s all in the preparation for me. When I’m comfortable and confident in the work I’ve put in, that’s what really frees me up in the room and gets rid of any nerves. It means you can just concentrate on having fun.
Tell us about your character in Industry?
I play Robert Spearing, who is a young university graduate on an internship at an international investment bank. He’s very charismatic and relies on a lot of charm and bravado to get by. But underneath all that he’s a bit of a lost boy, who is just looking for some validation but probably looking to get it from the wrong people.
“I practice until I can’t get it wrong.”
What’s the most challenging part to getting in touch with a character?
I think the hardest part is just making it feel lived in, as though you have really walked in their shoes. It’s easier to create a voice, a walk and put on a costume. But what really sells it for me is if an actor really gets the character’s way of being. And that’s much harder to find. I find creating a really detailed backstory helpful. It’s not necessarily the kind of work that will show up on screen but it sits at the back of my mind influencing the little choices I make along the way.
“I just love having great conversations.”
When you’re not working what do you do as an actor to increase your skills?
I think all actors are constantly looking for different ways to feel productive when they are not working – it’s the hardest part of the job. For me, I love exercising. It makes such a difference for my body and my mind – and hopefully it helps with the work too. I also play a bit of guitar, and try to write whenever I can.
Name a director and actor that you would love to work with.
I would love to work with an actor called Peter Mullan. I just think he’s incredible. And Paddy Considine as a director too! I think his films are so powerful.
On another note, how has the Pandemic affected your life?
Just like everyone, there has been ups and downs, I suppose. It’s certainly been an odd year. But in the grander scheme of things, I’m fortunate enough in my life that I’ve managed to get by okay – which just hasn’t been the case for some people I know. Of course, it’s stopped me from doing any acting work, which has been a shame – but hopefully there will be more time for that.
Do you think the world is going through something with all that’s going on globally?
For sure! There is no doubt that this is a moment in history, and it’s quite something to be living through that. We’ll all look back and remember what we did and where we were. But I hope it’s given everyone a time to assess things as they are, personally and globally, and maybe learn a few things going forward.
What do you think you’ve learned during this time?
It has reminded me of the importance of family and my home. I’ve kind of fallen in love with my actual house in a way that I didn’t think I would. But it’s almost re-taught me to just accept the things you cannot control and to make the most of the things you can. That’s a useful thing to remember now and then!
What do you like to do on your spare time?
I love going to the gym. But I’m not one of those big show-off gym guys, I just like finding a corner and going about my business with some music or a podcast that’s on. It really chills me out. Other than that, I’m a huge football fan (soccer). So, I love going to games with my Dad and my brother – which is something I’ve seriously missed this year since they stopped letting fans in!
What’s something you like to do with friends?
I really like just going out for food with them actually. The people in the year above us at drama school always used to make fun of us for going out for dinner all the time, rather than getting drunk. But we just loved having a great conversation. London has some brilliant parks so I like catching up over a walk. God, I sound like an old man!
“I’m fortunate enough in my life that I’ve managed to get by okay.”
How do you like to dress normally?
I guess I’m into good, well-made basics and workwear. Nothing too flashy but nice materials and interesting fits and colors.
On the red carpet?
I like a kind of retro look. A sharp suit ideally. Double breasted, with a good tie.
Any favorite designers?
Burberry. I was lucky enough to be a part of their festive campaign back in 2016, which was amazing for me. They’re just such a classy designer, and so iconic. You can’t go wrong with them We are called Cool America.
What do you find cool about America?
It’s vastness. Living in the UK, which really is just a small island, it’s almost impossible to really comprehend the size of it. And every state seems to have such an individual character and identity. It’s incredible.
What do you find cool about yourself?
I’d like to think my taste in music is pretty cool. The people I listen to are the people I find cool anyway!