Douglas Booth says that, after almost a decade of acting in film and television, he now feels ready to make his West End debut.
The actor, who has starred in Riot Club and Noah on the big screen, will appear in Speech And Debate at the Trafalgar Studios next year.
Booth, 24, said he was looking forward to swapping film sets for the “intimate space” of the Whitehall venue to play a misfit teenager caught up in a high school sex scandal.
He said: “I feel ready. I’ve got three films coming out next year and then I’m going to shoot another movie so it feels like I want to go on stage and it feels like the right time.
“There is nowhere to hide but that is just how I want it. I’m very fortunate in that I started working when I was 16 and kept getting screen jobs and film jobs but I always wanted to come back and this is the perfect transition.”
Booth will play a gay teenage boy called Howie who joins two other members of the school’s speech and debate club in a ploy to expose a sexually predatory teacher.
The actor said the show, by American playwright Stephen Karam, is “a dark comedy that touches on serious issues” and brought back memories of an awkward adolescence.
“I’m playing 18 and I’m 24 now but I vividly remember those years,” he said. “Also I was just speaking to my cousin, who’s that age, and I was saying I’m going to have to come and hang out with her and her friends because it is about that very specific way you carry yourself when you’re a teenager.”
Booth, who will soon be seen in cinemas as real-life music hall star Dan Leno in The Limehouse Golem and poet Percy Shelley in A Storm In The Stars, is looking forward to playing a fictional character in the stage show. He said: “Stephen has drawn a character that I’m going to portray but it gives you a certain freedom to play with.”
Speech And Debate is at Trafalgar Studio 2 from February 22 to April 1
Casting has been announced for the UK premiere of Stephen Karam’s play Speech and Debate.
Tom Attenborough will direct the piece for Defibrillator, which runs at Trafalgar Studios 2 from 22 February to 1 April.
Film and TV stars Douglas Booth (The Riot Club and Noah) and Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel) will both perform in the comedy which follows misfit high schoolers as they are brought together by a sex scandal involving one of their teachers.
The piece is Tony Award-winner Karam’s first play to be produced in the UK. His work The Humans won the Tony Award for Best Play this year. A film version of Speech and Debate adapted by Karam, will be released in 2017.
Further casting for the show is yet to be announced.
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Juan Carlos Medina’s The Limehouse Golem received a rollicking Ryerson roll-out this week, injecting much-needed genre thrills into the Toronto Film Festival program, outside the Midnight Madness section. Based on Peter Ackroyd’s 1994 book, the story is a fictionalized account of a Jack the Ripper-esque serial killer in Victorian London, stalking the grimy streets of Limehouse (an area now mostly terrorized by tony property developers) and frightening the denizens residing within – which include historical figures like Karl Marx and Dan Leno. It’s brilliantly adapted by Jane Goldman, fast becoming one of the hottest screenwriters in Britain, and stars Bill Nighy, Douglas Booth and Olivia Cooke. The film is produced by Stephen Woolley, Elizabeth Karlsen and Joanna Laurie of Number 9 Films.
Stopping by Deadline’s TIFF studio, Booth and Cooke both enthused about the detail Goldman had included in her script. “It’s so dense and it’s so cleverly thought out and intricate,” noted Booth. “You’re kept guessing until the very last moment. She writes with great detail and she drops hints about things throughout the script.”
Agreed Cooke: “I felt the tension that is just seething through the script. The twist I didn’t see coming at all, and it felt like such a rich environment and a rich character to play.”
Cooke is Elizabeth Cree, accused of poisoning her husband who then turns out to be the prime suspect in the Golem murders. As Bill Nighy’s weary inspector starts to put the puzzle pieces together, much is made of the the plight of women and the lower classes in that period of history, and the film makes inventive use of the various suspects as they each are seen to commit one or more of the murders. Booth plays Dan Leno, a performer who helped make a star of Cree on the stages of London’s music halls, as she longs for a role in a legitimate production.
“I was looking for something interesting,” Booth told me. “As a young guy, it’s easy to get pigeonholed into something, and all you want to do is be given an opportunity to play interesting characters.”
We’re used to seeing Douglas Booth and his amazing cheekbones in stuff like Great Expectations, The Riot Club and And Then There Were None – but now he’s gone against the grain with a part in an arty music video.
The actor shows off his ridiculously good bone structure in the video for singer Johnny Lloyd’s new single, Pilgrims. And it’s all very quirky indeed.
In the video, Doug sits down at a table, and slowly starts to smear sun cream all over his face and mouth as he looks directly into the camera.
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