Jack O'Connell talks Netflix and working naked with Sienna Millar
Jack O'Connell is quickly becoming the new British darling of Hollywood.
Having just finished a gruelling month filming with the veteran actor Jeff Bridges in New Mexico making Godless, a new Western television drama created for Netflix, in which they play a pair of warring cowboys.
On the day he speaks to Esquire, O’Connell is coming to the end of a celebrated run at the West End alongside Sienna Miller in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, in which he’s nude, in a shower, in the opening scene.
“I’m loving working with her,” he says of his alluring co-star. “In fact, I think I’ll miss her. Dunno whether she’d echo that or not. Ask her for me.”
“Theatre is a proper buzz,” he says. “But some nights are better than others. You have some sizzlers, and then some shows where it doesn’t click.
“One night I got proper nervous because we had Noel Gallagher in. This is a man used to being on stage for an hour or so, and the play goes on for three. I asked him what he thought at the end, and he just goes, ‘Well, it was long…’” O’Connell laughs.
Since playing bad boy James Cook on UK teen drama Skins in 2009, the 27-year-old has risen up swiftly through acclaimed British films — Starred Up (2013), ’71 (2014) — to working with Hollywood royalty as Angelina Jolie’s muse in 2014’s World War II survival drama Unbroken, after which he was famously, if somewhat bizarrely, taken under the actress’s wing.
O’Connell has described Jolie as a mentor and credits her and Brad Pitt with helping him straighten himself out during his hard-partying first flush of fame.
Now, in Godless, O’Connell is playing an outlaw called Roy Goode who is trying to move from a bad path in life to a good one. It is the type of role he has made his own, the young man with a violent streak, or as he puts it, “another lad that gets put through it”. O’Connell hasn’t seen a final edit at the time of writing but, as Esquire can confirm from viewing an advance copy, he’s excellent on screen, even managing to nail the accent perfectly.
“Seriously mate?” he grins, slapping the table in delight when I break the news. “That’s good to hear. Because that’s been the one thing keeping me up at night.”
Godless is available on Netflix now.