Joe Dempsie (Gendry!) is the latest working class bloke to complain about posh actors

The Southbank Sky Arts Awards 2016

Here in America, we just don’t have the same kind of consistent problem with films and television showing depictions of blue-collar Americans, or so called “working class” Americans. When Chris Pratt tried to make that argument months ago, he was shouted down… mostly because he was basically saying “but what about uneducated white men, what about US?” Like, dude, you have the country, the presidency, the media, most of the film roles and 90% of films are directed towards non-college-educated white men.

It’s different in the UK, where posh actors have been on a steady rise over the past decade, or past two decades. The working-class British actors – the Michael Caines, the Sean Beans, the Idris Elbas – are steadily being replaced by an array of pale, private-school-educated thespians with impeccable credentials and family estates in the country. Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston and Eddie Redmayne soak up all the work and there just isn’t a lot of stuff being written for non-posh blokes. Which brings me to Gendry! Gendry’s real name is Joe Dempsie, and he’s from a working class, non-posh background. In a new interview, Joe talks about what it’s like for him as an actor these days. Some highlights:

He began studying acting at the age of 13 at his mum’s suggestion: “I wanted to watch football for a living. I was going to try to be a sports journalist.” With parents who worked in the social care and education systems, Dempsie didn’t have acting in its blood, nor is he from a privileged background.

The disparity between the opportunities given to posh actors versus working class actors: “There’s more that can be done. Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne or Tom Hiddleston – they’re all great actors in their own right. It’s not their fault. But we seem to have, in the past 10 years, been making a lot of films and TV that seems to be geared towards stories about privilege. Some of them are done incredibly well but some of them really aren’t. I still think we can tell far more working class stories. I miss the mid-1990s to the early 2000s where a lot of films were about working class people. They didn’t have tiny budgets. The Full Monty, one of our biggest success stories, East is East, Brassed Off – I feel like those films have disappeared from the landscape. You can’t just leave it to Shane, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach.”

A little shade for Hiddles: “As a working class actor you really do have to fight to be given a range of roles. I think Jack O’Connell is one of the most exciting actors out there. They were looking for a Bond: would Jack get a look in? I’d much rather watch him than Tom Hiddleston. There needs to be more open mindedness.”

He didn’t really work his Game of Thrones stardom: “I didn’t really make the most of that opportunity at the time. I didn’t hot-foot it straight over to LA and start banging on doors and auditioning endlessly. I stayed here and concentrated on the stuff that was being made here. I’m still in the position where I have to audition for everything I do and there have been months where work’s been hard to come by.”

He doesn’t want to live in LA: “In between auditions or when things aren’t going so well you must be surrounded by billboards for shows you didn’t get. F–k that. It’s not a great recipe for sanity.”

[From I News]

“I think Jack O’Connell is one of the most exciting actors out there. They were looking for a Bond: would Jack get a look in? I’d much rather watch him than Tom Hiddleston.” You know what? I wouldn’t hate that either – Jack O’Connell would be more in line with the Daniel Craig-style 007 too, more rough-and-tumble. Plus, Jack is…um, a better actor than Tom Hiddleston. Yeah, I said it. Anyway, I’m pleased to learn that my beloved Gendry is actually a thoughtful class warrior intent on changing the British film and television industry to make it more welcoming for working class stories. Good for him!

2015 MTV Video Music Awards (VMA's)

Photos courtesy of WENN.

Related stories

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

126 Responses to “Joe Dempsie (Gendry!) is the latest working class bloke to complain about posh actors”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Moon says:

    I never thought about it…by now that he’s inception-ed that thought in my brain i can’t help but see and agree that Jack would make a great 007.

    I blame American audiences for the posh mania happening across the pond. American (and foreign) audiences have this starry eyed nostalgia for all this old and posh about the U.K., which is why we keep getting dull shows like downtown abbey or silly rich boys like Sherlock. We don’t see any kitchen sink dramas anymore, because American audiences want fancy lords. You know who these usually are? The less educated white populace who fantasize about trump.

    • Chinoiserie says:

      Wanting see historical series isn’t a sing or being a Trump supporter type.

      But it’s probably the foreign demand which is driving this. It’s a brand thing where it’s seen that UK does great period things so more is made instead of trying to find and market different things.

    • WendyNerd says:

      I wrote this story recently that was sort of posh adjacent about the Head Cook in a castle, and my OG plan was to make it all about how she’s really a witch, but as I explored her character more, I became sort of fascinated with a side of the story about the different factions within the House staff and how they operate together. Basically, what I thought Downton Abbey would be when I started watching, before it disappeared up its own privileged butt. But what got me thinking was that outside those who serve the upper class, you can have really fascinating stories about the inner-workings of the working class. The thing about the “lower” class is that the stakes are going to be more pressing and present. When the working class go broke, we ACTUALLY go broke. We don’t sit around in a house we’ll never lose and fuss over having to possibly sell an heirloom or two and avoid calls from debt-collectors. People legitimately go hungry. And, let’s face it, it’s working class people who actually hold the world up. All the crap that can happen to privileged folk happens to them, and to a more pressing degree. There’s just more meat on the bone.

    • huckle says:

      I resent that. I’m the most opposite of trump lover you can get but I still really enjoy period drama like Downton Abbey. It isn’t something newly acquired either as I’ve enjoyed that stuff since I was young. I think I got it from my mom because she always watched Masterpiece Theater when I was growing up. Please don’t make assumptions about people.

    • Kat says:

      I loooove how British people always blame the U.S. for everything. Really? Your genre is going to shit because of us? REALLY? How about they’re just producing shitty work. I like a good British drama as much as the next American but more relatable shit than Downten Abbey. I actually loved Skins, TOWIE is a guilty pleasure, and Fassbender might be your greatest export since the Spice Girls.

  2. Maple Girl says:

    Again my ignorance about the class system, but with parents in education and social care wouldn’t he be middle class? But then Lupita said she was middle class and her dad was a diplomat, so what do I know.

    We don’t have a very big film industry, but the only way into acting here is going to a state funded academy ( actors without a MA in acting are extremely rare). And then most actors end up as permanent employees of state theatres. They don’t make millions, but the industry is much more fair than in the UK or America.

    • LAK says:

      Our class system isn’t predicated on money or types of jobs your parents have.

      That is always a difficult one to explain to people because, as an example, we have posh billionaires like Richard Branson, but we also have working class billionaires like Bernie Ecclestone.

      There is a tv docu-series about a Norfolk farmer on BBC where he is barely making ends meet, lives in a house that has threadbare furniture and has seen better days, but he is extremely posh. Stereotypically so. He is the perfect example of poor posh person.

      • Fran says:

        It’s such a weird one ‘class’ in the U.K. feels blurry, even to me as a Brit. Where I live in London it feels like there’s a growing fashion by people who would have come from traditionally working class families to identify as ‘middle class’. It’s usually accompanied by that horrid word ‘aspirational’. Personally, I have to work for a living so I call myself working class!

      • LAK says:

        Working for a living doesn’t make you working class as many upper class/ aristos need to work for a living like everyone else.

    • Tan says:

      I have some doubt about Lupita too ever since I went to kenya

      My kenyan born and brought up friend laughed off her struggles

      Apparently her father is quite corrupt and she quite sailed through life with her father’s corruption money

      Ever since I heard that, I somehow can neither see her as beautiful nor take her seriously

      Maybe it is not true. But my perception about her has changed a lot.

      • Chinoiserie says:

        How is beauty related what kind of person you are? I guess for these reason popular people are constantly praised for beauty while unpopular people are critized for every flaw in their looks. Do people really believe in the fairytale ideal that good people look beautiful?

      • Tan says:

        Its for me, I don’t see anything to appreciate in her, and she is an actress, so finding them beautiful is a part of the appreciation.

    • Lena says:

      A lot of it is the way you speak (I think he has more of a northern accent which is pretty working class) though I do t know him that well so might be mistaken and kind of a general way you were raised. So if his parents came from a working class background and while they got decent jobs they still might have raised him more in a working class way and that’s how he identifies.

    • Jellybean says:

      I don’t think it is all about class, money matters too. If you go to one of the really posh schools like Eton (Redmayne and Hiddleston), Harrow (Cumberbatch) and Stowe (Cavill) you get huge opportunities there and a massive list of contacts to help get you through the door. Simply being rich means you can attend one of the top drama schools without worrying about the crippling debts that come with being a student in London, it means you can keep trying to break through for longer without ending up on the streets, it means you can be selective in the jobs you take and you don’t have to juggle auditions with waiting tables and stacking shelves. Nothing gets on my wick more than rich/posh actors being given a pat on the back for ‘maintaining their artistic integrity’ – try going without food for a few days and see how long that integrity lasts.

      • Cirien says:

        This. Pretty Much

      • ichsi says:

        Double underlining this. THIS is the problem, not so much that there aren’t any shows about working class people. You can still play a Lord or a Lady, doesn’t matter if you’re from a working class background or not. Accents can be faked and it’s much easier to sound believably posh than to believably sound like you’re from a distinct town in Yorkshire f.ex..
        If you’re posh, you have the luxury of studying something “artsy fartsy”, your family’s money will get you through school fast and later into the right circles when you’re job hunting. It’s plain privilege that’s draining the creative pool of different voices, and not just in the acting world either. It’s a problem across all the arts.

      • Luna says:

        I originally thought of posting this on the Beyonce-mansion thread. That artists of any kind take a big gamble with their lives. They might forego education, experience and training in other fields to go-for-broke at stardom. A one-in-a-million gamble and the people who win get extravagant rewards, but they always risk losing and that means losing everything for some. Now the fashion is posh actors — un-posh are losing. But is this new? Surely contacts have always helped. Is greater percentage of poshdom going into acting these days? If so, why? Is greater percentage of less-than-posh going into acting? Why didn’t they “know the score” and seek a more stable career? Can they afford this big gamble monetarily or emotionally? Anyway, ideally the audience should have the final say. [And it's not ideal, I know.] Is the audience being short-changed? Are there just too many actors? or are the actors, who serve at their majesty’s pleasure … or whim … just whining because someone told them they were the next big thing … and then better/prettier/perhaps-posher people stole their one-in-a-million “sure thing”? Sorry, I did go on — don’t even know these actors, other than Hiddles.

      • Tan says:

        To be honest it is not just British industry and it is not just arts section

        Even in Bollywood, the chances of a non insider whose family is/ was not big shot insider breaking through, getting more chances is getting less and less

        Movie industry is stagnating all over the world maybe

  3. bluhare says:

    I loved Brassed Off!! I wish more films like that were made . . . you know, the ones about working people with accents so thick they need subtitles for American audiences! What was the one about lottery winners in Ireland? Waking Ned Devine? Loved that one too.

    • Sixer says:

      I was thinking the other night, whilst watching GoT, that this is probably the most exposure to a variety of Britisher accents a US TV viewership is ever likely to get!

      I don’t know if it will be streaming anywhere you can watch it but the BBC recently had a Jimmy McGovern series on the BBC, starring Sean Bean. He’s a priest (with his own conflict of faith and troubled past) who is the fulcrum for the social problems experienced by various parishioners. Really good series, so if you get the chance… Broken.

    • Skylark says:

      @Bluhare – ‘Brassed Off’ will always be in my top 10 best films ever! I (re)watched it recently (I’ve seen it about 20 times at least) and there are very few films that continues to be as fresh (not to mention as funny) and as richly anger-making and as heart-breakingly touching as this one.

      The only recent, equally powerful ‘working class’ film that’s come close to that was ‘Pride’ in 2014. It has that same beautiful fierceness, defiance, irreverence and heart.

      • thrid ginger says:

        PRIDE was wonderful. I laughed and cried all through it!!

      • Lightpurple says:

        Thank you! I came back to add Pride. I really love that film. Although it does have posh Dominic West dancing his butt off.

        Also, Trainspotting.

        The thing is, and it has nothing to do with working class or posh actors, but nobody is bankrolling small or independent or even mid-budget films these days.

      • Skylark says:

        @thrid ginger – It was so full of everything important, wasn’t it?

        @Lightpurple – ‘Posh Dom’ was so perfectly cast!

        He was an example of good director vision: not caring who comes from where, but who can best inhabit the role in their mind’s eye.

      • Sixer says:

        We can like Dominic West because he’s on record disapproving of class exclusion in acting.

        Pride was perfect – even more so because it was true. That group did more to create LGBT acceptance in working class communities that, at the time, were economically left wing but quite socially conservative (we call that Blue Labour here). AND they had legislative effect because the NUM put their name to removing anti-LGBT laws at the Labour Party conference and got the motion passed. This was important because the unions have a huge impact on Labour Party policy.

        I think it’s wonderful that they knew they would face quite a bit of homophobia but did their thing anyway, out of solidarity.

      • Skylark says:

        @Sixer @ “We can like Dominic West because he’s on record disapproving of class exclusion in acting.”

        Seriously, stop. Stop using ‘we’ as if you’re speaking on my (others’) behalf and/or as if I/we should be swayed by or give a tiny shit about your (oftentimes seriously irrational) take on the actors that fail to live up to your ‘standards’.

      • Sixer says:

        Oh, sorry. Seriously. I was a) talking to Lilac and b) putting a silly/ironic bit into a serious comment. But without flagging. I wasn’t intending to drag you in, really. Reading it again, I sound thoroughly obnoxious. I needed an exclamation mark or something to distinguish. Apologies.

      • lightpurple says:

        Well, okay then.

  4. Lucy says:

    HAWT. Err, sorry, I meant to say I really like everything he says here, and I agree w/him about Jack. Also, the other day I was daydreaming about Gendry and Arya meeting again, for some reason. Not that I’m dying for it to happen or anything.

  5. Guest says:

    I honestly can’t hear or read about that anymore. You know what? There will always be people around who were born into rich families. That does not mean that those posh people can’t work or are stupid. Redmayne did not tell his mom that he wants to stay in her tummy just because she is rich. Sure it bothers me when people get better Jobs because their mommy is rich, but i don’t moan about it 24/7. If i am good in my job, I still get chosen.

    • Maple Girl says:

      Yeah, those pesky poor people, wanting opportunities and shit. If they could only shut up already.

    • Bridget says:

      The point is that the people who come from money and fancy backgrounds have a much easier time getting in front of those who make those casting decisions. Acting is all about connections – working class actors who start from the ground up have to hustle their hindquarters off even to get a meeting. THAT’S the difference.

  6. K says:

    This kid looks like Gary Oldman, right?

  7. LAK says:

    Superficially, it seems to be cyclical. In the 60s and 70s, there were so many name working class actors though not working class actresses because posh actresses were preferred.

    In the 80s, and early 90s, it swung to posh actors. You couldn’t move for heritage films or TV shows. Working class actors had to posh UP pronto.

    Then in the mid/late 90s to mid 00s it went working class again. Cool Britannia was definitely not posh. Except for Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley who remained resolutely and defiantly posh. Everyone else quickly found their inner mockney.

    Since the late 00s, the pendulum has swang back to posh actors. Guy Ritchie can stop pretending to be a mockney.

    The current situation is not helped by the funding situation, but we are ripe for the pendulum to swing back the other way.

    • Anon says:

      I agree. Fashions change and I think we might be coming out of the Downton cycle.

      I have to say, I also do think there is a hint of the Chris Pratt about this, meaning white working class guys moaning about underrepresentation, without much thought of intersectionality. It is still a lot easier to get a tv gig (say on a British soap) if you are a white male working class actor, than it is as a POC. And if you as a white working class male do get one of those roles, the recent disclosure of the salaries of the highest paid BBC employees indicates that you are likely to get paid a lot more than if you are a woman. I’d like to see a bit less white working class man whingeing and a bit more of a general concern for diversity in the arts, tbh.

      • OhDear says:

        Yeah, it’s not as if they don’t have a point, but I’ve noticed that the conversations are about working class (white) actors, with not much from/about working class (white) actresses. And as you said, some, but not much from POC actors/actresses, posh or not, either.

      • Lena says:

        @OhDear actress Maxine Peak has spoken about of the problems of being northern and working class and working as an actress but yeah, would love more.

      • thrid ginger says:

        It’s the same discussion with the same actors mentioned again and again. I have learned more from UK friends here on CB about this problem than from any articles.

      • Sixer says:

        I think the lack of class diversity in CCIs is a lot more than a cyclical fashion phase, LAK. We might well have cycles in narrative interest but even if we do – who is going to write, produce, direct and provide the creative technicalities when the storyline fashion changes? Same people who are making posh stories now. So even if the fashion changes, all we’ll get is a simulacrum of working class narrative and experience told and made by the same folks who were responsible for the posh people stuff. Same, of course, for BAME, who are, thanks to structural racism, over-represented within the working class.

        Here’s Labour’s Acting Up report to add into the recent BAFTA one:

        https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/campaigncountdown/pages/1157/attachments/original/1502725031/Acting-Up-Report.pdf?1502725031

        Here are some interviews from an upcoming doco dealing with this:

        Christopher Eccleston http://twitter.com/actingclassdoc/status/895675808953507840

        Maxine Peake http://twitter.com/actingclassdoc/status/856424190634864640

        Julie Hesmondhalgh http://twitter.com/actingclassdoc/status/792816178393677824v

      • LAK says:

        Sixer….as i started, ‘superficially speaking…’

      • Sixer says:

        I genuinely think it’s going to be a big problem going forward. All the infrastructure that could have either a) fixed the problem or b) responded to a cyclical change (depending on whether it’s me or you describing the situation!) has been dissolved.

        Our CCIs are in danger of stagnating, as you’d expect when any industry has a recruitment pool of <10% of the possible talent. And by the time anyone takes it seriously, it will be too late.

      • A says:

        @Anon, what he’s saying isn’t out of place with the conversation for more diversity though. A lot of POC in Britain, if I’m not mistaken, would qualify as working class. You’d be hard-pressed to find a lot of them with the same type of cut-glass posh accent as, say, Claire Foy. If the main sort of work that’s available at a given place is period work that is, by design, intended to keep out “certain types” of people unless they’re in a specific sort of role, that’s excluding a lot of people.

        POC in Britain are not going to get a chance to expand the sort of work they do unless the working class do. And the hope is that if POC are provided with more opportunities to do so, then horizons will broaden for working class actors as well. It isn’t an either or situation, it’s both. And whether we like it or not, we need to broaden the types of stories that are told.

      • Lightpurple says:

        @ohdear, Julie Walters and Maxine Peak have spoken on this topic quite a bit.

    • QueenB says:

      Its a general problem in entertainment: The “this one movie was succesful now lets all do the same stuff over and over again. Hi @ Superhero movies.

      If they got away from that there could be more different stories.

  8. Missy says:

    I love that he gave Jack O’Connell a shout out! They worked together on the show Skins, I believe, and I just find that so sweet.

    But I agree. Jack is an amazing actor – far better than Hiddles. And yet Hiddles is everywhere…

    • justme says:

      In what way is Hiddles everywhere? He is playing Loki three times in the last year and a half. In none of these films is he the lead. And he is in a fundraising Hamlet at RADA (part of the fundraising is to provide accommodation for RADA students who are not able to afford to live in London by the way – typical selfish upper class behavior there /s) . He hasn’t been seen even out in public much since he finished promotion for Kong Skull Island (occasional running or coffee picture). Why is that everywhere?

      • thrid ginger says:

        One actor is not better than the other. Hiddleston has complimented Jack many times in interviews. They are just different types. We need all the good actors we can get.

      • thrid ginger says:

        I think people here are talking more about fame than opportunity. Actually, Jack and Tom are in the same place, on stage in London.

      • justme says:

        @thrid ginger – THANK YOU! It is not a competition for heavens sake! I do get sick of hearing about Hiddleston/Cumberbatch/Redmayne as though they have taken every role in the universe from other actors.

      • Missy says:

        In terms of publicity and fame, he was everywhere last year. Thank you, @thrid ginger.) He dated Taylor Swift, for god’s sake. I’m sorry if that statement offended your pro-Hiddles sensibilities.

        I love Jack as an actor and wish he had more public interest in him. And I hate to break it to you guys, but yes, acting is indeed a competition – at least in Hollywood. Actors often audition for the same role, hoping to win out over the other. That’s a competition.

      • justme says:

        The publicity and fame of last year do not seem to have helped his career much though has it? Are you suggesting that Jack should therefore date a pop singer? It would get him loads of publicity and fame, but I can’t see it helping him otherwise. I know him from roles and he is a fine actor who seems to be a good position in his career. He has been in plenty of films and will be in more and is appearing on stage in London. He is nine years younger than Tom and I think they are unlikely to be after the same roles, but if they are, he probably has a good a chance as Tom, who as I said, has hardly grabbed every role in the English-speaking world recently. In fact he has only played Loki for the past year and a half.

      • jammypants says:

        When Tom was Jack’s age, he didn’t have nearly the same opportunities either. But he did some fine theatre work and won awards for them.

      • Missy says:

        Sigh. No, I am not suggesting Jack should therefore date a pop singer. That’s quite the leap in logic. I was merely answering your question “in what way is Hiddles everywhere?”

        I didn’t realize an offhand comment about Hiddles would hit such a nerve with so many. I will be more cautious in the future. But I maintain that Jack O’Connell is underrated and underappreciated, despite being one of the better actors out there.

      • Luna says:

        Sorry to post again, but have you seen the photo of the scrape down Hiddles’ side, I’m assuming from TayAmerica last year–? Pretty nasty. And so a little slip on the rocks caused Hiddles to want to hide his physique, so he went along with the “heart” t-shirt joke, and the rest is history. For want of a nail. Ain’t nothing fair.

      • jetlagged says:

        @Luna, I didn’t think photographic evidence of the legendary scrape existed, at least not that I’ve seen and I’m 98% sure I’ve seen every Hiddles photo there is to see. Please link if it’s viewable online. Could the one you are thinking of possibly this photo http://www.amc.com/shows/the-night-manager/season-1/episode-03-episode-103
        If so, definitely not from Taymerica.

    • justme says:

      Jack O’Connell is 28 years old and doing very well as far as I can see despite his being working class. His one big breakthrough role in Unbroken was not a big success, not through any fault of his (he was excellent in it although I first noticed him in ’71). What I mean about dating a pop singer was that dating Taylor Swift did make Tom Hiddleston better known in a general public’s eye, but it hardly helped him. In fact it made him a target of derision and scorn which hasn’t yet ceased. I hope that Jack doesn’t become “everywhere” in such a way, but becomes famous for his acting.

      • Missy says:

        I do hope that for Jack as well. I’ve had a soft spot for him ever since his Skins days. Cheers!

  9. Leelee says:

    I lust after this man. That is all.

  10. mp says:

    Skins was really a trainning camp for good actors amirite?! Even Daniel Kaluuya was on the show – 1st generation (Posh Kenneth!).

  11. justme says:

    Gee from all the bitching and moaning you would think that Benedict, Tom and Eddie have hoovered up ALL the roles available in the English speaking world. Also somehow the desire of people to see 19th century upper and upper class life portrayed on the screen (green estates! country houses! BONNETS!!!) is a grave error. We should only want to see crime-ridden estates with heroin addicts dammit! I’m exaggerating here – of course films about the working-class can be just as satisfying – although I think that the fact that so much of the territory covered in the 1950s and 1960s kitchen-sink drama is so changed (no more mills or mines) makes it less interesting, less distinctly British somehow. A movie like Saturday Night and Sunday Morning told of a particular subculture which had developed over the years and was still in existence. Brassed Off was about a subculture in its last days.

    People are always going to have an interest in stories from British history and literature in its glory days (through the first half of the 20th century) which will require the use of actors who can handle an RP accent – they don’t have to be born to it of course – look at Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery for example. I suspect however, that most of even these kinds of productions will be on television today. In films the only thing that gets funding today are superheroes, aliens and the apocalypse (or some combination thereof).

    • Sixer says:

      The only British working class stories you can imagine are of heroin ridden sink estates? Since de-industrialisation, there is no more British working class culture to tell stories about? All those millions of lives and nobody could even think of a single interesting story to tell about them?

      This is exactly the paucity of imagination being described as the problem!

      Working class British people have interesting stories to tell – in white communities, brown and black communities, and mixed communities. And they’re not all tales of misery.

      • justme says:

        Nope – not saying that – I was (as I said) exaggerating (just like the green estates and bonnets was an exaggeration). However the distinct working class culture that emerged from industrialization was fascinating and rich and did drive the “kitchen sink dramas” which so many are harking back to. I’ve seen some of the films that are about working class life which have been made in the modern era – and the television as well. Just don’t resonate with me in the same way. It may be that this is not a particularly British problem (I see it in the US as well) but one that has resulted from globalization of culture. Something distinct has been lost in all our lives. It is probably just me – but I’m glad to see movies and TV about the past and hope that the British keep doing them – and about the working class past too. Britain has an incredibly rich history and literature and I hope that it continues to be a source of inspiration for filmmakers. And I hope that those of you who want gritty yet hopeful films about everyday life in contemporary vibrant multicultural communities get those too.

      • Sixer says:

        But you’re evidencing the lack of output for your assertion of the lack of culture!

        A yawning chasm of culturelessness doesn’t open up because one set of cultural environments change. New ones happen. People don’t sit there saying “Oh. No more brass bands so I’ll just stare at the wall instead.”

        If more recent stuff hasn’t resonated with you, does it not occur that they may have lacked authenticity? Because there are no genuine voices to narrate them?

        Because that’s the problem being described.

      • justme says:

        Actually a yawning chasm of culturelessness does seem to have opened. I work with people who could be described as “working class” Americans. And their current culture seems to revolve around watching TV and playing video games, eating junk food and shopping at the mall. A lot of them are on various forms of welfare. (Before I am accused of racism these are all white people). When you talk to them about their grandparents they did come from families where people worked, raised children, participated in their churches and neighborhoods etc. I’d consider them more interesting people and their stories more interesting. It is not their fault by the way. The jobs that supported this life are gone and nothing has really replaced them.
        You could I guess make an interesting film about this and some filmmakers have, but they are depressing as all get out (think Winter Bone for instance.) So I just hope that historical films still get made!

      • LAK says:

        Sixer: From a professional standpoint, kitchen sink estate is exactly what gets funding. Ditto heritage films/ tv. Or Richard Curtis comedy Britain.

        The stories that diversify from that formula are seen as risky and or “other” in their exceptionalism.

        You can rail against it, but that is the reality. Misery, heritage or Richard Curtis.

        And foreign buyers only want the heritage drama, kitchen sink drama, Richard Curtis comedy britain.

        Infact, we joke amongst my friends that the only way we’ll ever squeeze money out of the BFI is if we find a script that is a Richard Curtis comedy set on a sink estate involving black/ Asian/ white paraplegic, pregnant, druggie, feral teens who will be patronised at every turn and rescued by a salt of the earth toff with a stiff upper lip starring the usual suspects as cast in MARIGOLD HOTEL.

        Ticks all their funding criteria at once.

        The people who succeed outside this formula eg Guy Ritchie or Mathew Vaughn received financing outside the system and thus have more freedom in their output than those that rely on the system.

      • Sixer says:

        Justme – OMG. You can only conceive of working class people as welfare scroungers and nothing more? All those millions of people?

        LAK – this is why front of camera is the least of the problem. But funding priorities are as limited by social network perception as by actual risk. That’s the bit you don’t seem to credit, you know? I give you, for example, grime in the music world and Straight Outta Compton in the film world. Things will sell. But only if they are authentic and not funnelled through the prism of the elite infrastructure. Plus, what the bloody hell else is the BBC for?!

      • justme says:

        @Sixer – I come from working class roots myself. Nothing posh or upper class about me. I see what I see and what I see is depressing in the extreme. I work in a working class neighborhood and the loss of culture is palpable. Children born without any father, drug (especially opioid) addiction and lack of jobs. But enough money coming in to allow for forgetful immersion in TV and video games and food. And these are people who come from what would have been described as sturdy working people. I think that is why you have seen so many people voting for Trump and tending to the alt-right. They know something is wrong, but have no idea what to do about it. So they vote for an idiot (but he was on TV!)

      • LAK says:

        Sixer: what is the BBC for? Hell if anyone knows. They are unfit for purpose despite holding all of us to a tax which should make them diverse in their output as the entire country regardless of race or situation has contributed to their annual budget.

        ..BUT it’s not as simple as you think. I’m not in the music business, so i can’t comment, but STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON is actually a very standard generic film. It has several elements that work for it’s funding structure. And i’m not talking about the fact that it’s a black film telling a black story. It already had an inbuilt audience of fans, the story and the players are/ were familiar, the main players endorsed it which means whatever the outcome, it already had authenticity. It was less risky a prospect than you imagine.

        Going back to my point, front of camera (actors and story) is important for film funding depending on preferences of foreign buyers and or source of funding.

        The BFI also has a mandate to show diversity on camera, if not behind it. And if you can tick any of those boxes, the sooner they throw money at you.

      • A says:

        @justme – “Culture” is never a good hallmark for a story that’s worth telling. And it’s saddening that people think the story of opiod addiction, or poverty, or the lives and circumstances of the working class as it is right now is not worth telling. I don’t think television representation is a cure all for everything, but it can provide a lot of insights into who we have sympathy for and who don’t. And the fact that many people are content to write off the working class as “culture-less” and that this alone is a sufficient reason to not see the stories about them or their lives on television says a lot about what people prioritize and what they don’t.

        Personally, I think the lives and stories of the working class are more relevant and important in the context of today than the millionth story about an 18th/19th century aristocrat.

      • justme says:

        @A — you have every right to that opinion. And I hope you get the kind of movie you want to see. Which is why I said: “And I hope that those of you who want gritty yet hopeful films about everyday life in contemporary vibrant multicultural communities get those too.” I can watch some of those kinds of movies, but dear me don’t lets lose the other kind as well! As far as I can see all movies anymore are about superheroes, aliens and the apocalypse with a few horrid crime stories thrown in for good measure. I personally enjoy stories about 18th century aristocrats myself – and 13th century ones too (and 17th and 16th and you get the idea!) But I haven’t seen anything resembling that lately at the movies. I was so thrilled just to see Dunkirk because it was about something real, not a fantasy. But all the trailers preceding Dunkirk were for some form of fantasy (or serial killers).

      • A says:

        @justme I think you missed my point, which is that the types of stories we’re receptive to viewing, and the types of stories we as an audience want to be told, are indicators of the types of people we have or don’t have sympathy for. That is a systematic problem. It’s not answerable by something as arcane or arbitrary as “this is my preference for what I want to watch.” It’s up to you if you want to see stories of aristocrats framed by fantastic scenery, but “preference” isn’t the problem here.

      • Justme says:

        @A. Well I guess I’ll need to head to a reeducation camp so as to have the “correct” preferences. I will actually watch all kinds of movies and do – most of what I’ve been watching lately on DVD have been movies from what is usually known as Developing countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. But I’ll be damned if I don’t also like a good movie set in the English countryside with breeches and bonnets. I’d hate if they stop making them.

  12. JA says:

    Yummmm :-) and to be not so shallow, yes more opportunities for the working class Brit! Never been a fan of the posh royalty-like actors like Hiddlewhatever or Benedict. I love an actor who has range and can play it rough or a dapper gentleman with edge.

  13. thrid ginger says:

    Sorry. Please know show business history. O’Connell is a terrible example of lack of opportunity. He was supposed to be Hollywood’s next big thing in UNBROKEN. The film did not live up to expectations.Ironically, the chance of stardom in a serious, big-budget film is not one that Hiddleston has had; all his good roles have been in small indies. O’ Connell is great,and his lack of stardom is just luck so far, not because of working class roots. There must be better examples. I find it silly to pit actors against each other based on class. Have answers for the lack of opportunity. Isn’t the RADAHAMLET PROJECT part of addressing this inequality?

    • jammypants says:

      Tom has talked about opportunities and access for quite a few years now. Sure he’s posh, but he’s not an entitled snob. He’s part of the BFI trying to expand access to arts for all. He’s consistently worked with RADA, training students and fundraising. He emphasizes, regardless of background. It’s easy to snark at Tom, Benedict, and Eddie, but I think all three have shown to be vocal and active supporters of changing that. But they didn’t create the system. Individually their voices aren’t strong enough. But they work individually with their alma maters and organizations. I agree with Joe. It’s not their fault, yet they consistently are used as the faces of privilege for criticism.

  14. Ana says:

    I’d hit that so hard.

  15. .... says:

    Most of hiddleston and cumberbatch fangirls are working class. You’ll find them right here on celebitchy. They daydream about these guys saving them from their working class lives.

    • Missy says:

      100%

    • spidey says:

      Think I might have missed the boat there – by about 30 years. :)

      @ says However, I do think that is a bit of a wild assumption

      Can I just make the point that it isn’t just in acting where it is more difficult for the working class to afford the profession. It is probably only in sports like football that players are mostly working class. I think the majority of doctors/barristers/ etc., will come from middle class families. Is that purely a financial situation though or are family aspirations (sorry for that word) at work too?

      • third ginger says:

        Hi, dear! I too am puzzled. As a Yank, most of the fans of these two actors I know are either my college students or fellow professors at the university where I teach. As you know, I am also far too old to be a fangirl. Fan mother?

      • spidey says:

        Hi there, just fan will do! :)

  16. khaveman says:

    I have to say he was a major highlight of that season where Gendry and Arya were traveling together. He gave his character a lot of spunk, humor and intensity. I’m glad he is back, but not loving how he is being portrayed as “a little dumb” or whatever by the writers. I didn’t get that impression from Gendry in the earlier season. I saw him with greater depth. Maybe it’s because Season 7 is being rushed. Not loving the show as much.

  17. kimbers says:

    I’ve never seen a movie with any of those posh actors. They’re all boring AF imo and don’t have that “it” thing. Never knew why just don’t get attracted to their projects or them personally.

    I would watch Joe bc he’s far more genuine, or at least it seems that way.

  18. WendyNerd says:

    Did I also detect some shade for Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke during his comments about heading to LA? Both of them immediately jumped for AWFUL would-be blockbusters (Pompeii, Terminator: Genysis) and went full Hollywood (not to mention, both are posh AF). The full Hollywood move has worked out for some GoT folks (Natalie Dormer [though she was pretty established already thanks to The Tudors], Gwendoline Christie, and Sophie Turner. Granted, those three each fart more talent than Harington and Clarke will have in their entire lives) but, yeah, it hasn’t worked beautifully for the supposed two BIG STARS of the show (Dinklage doesn’t count. He was a Hollywood regular for years and years before GoT, even if that’s what he’s best known for. Plus he’s American anyways).

    • Maple Girl says:

      Sophie Turner was awful in Xmen. And in GoT most of the time.
      Havig said that, you have to strike iron while it’s hot. I don’t blame Kit and Emilia for jumping at every opportunity. Natalie and Gwen did too, but they were smart in taking supporting roles ( and for Gwen, as sad as it is, she probably will never get lead roles because of her height).

    • LAK says:

      O/T: when POMPEII came out, i had a brain fart every time i saw the poster because i thought it was a sequel and kept wondering when no 1 had been released!!!

      • WendyNerd says:

        @LAK LOL! When it came out, I was just like, “This is going to be so terrible, I simply MUST see it!” It was disappointing in that as bad as it was, it wasn’t fun-bad… At least, not when you’re sober. However, sometimes my friends and I, when we’re drunk, will pop it out and the inaccuracies and stupidity go from frustrating to hilarious (my friends and I are huge nerds).

      • LAK says:

        I love a so bad it’s good movie. Especially when it’s cheese upon cheese.

  19. Bridget says:

    He will never NOT be Chris from Skins.

    I as well am not a huge fan of this generation of posh actors, though I get the impression that I am not the only one as those gentlemen haven’t really been lighting the box office on fire (unless it’s a huge, can’t fail property).

  20. Anon says:

    Here we go again. Funny thing: none of my friends know who Hiddleston is. I think you always need someone above you who sees talent and more. Fassbender = McQueen, Hiddleston = Branagh, Hardy = Nolan……

  21. jetlagged says:

    Honest question. How many of the actors on Downton Abbey were actually from privileged backgrounds? Seems to me even the ones playing the lords and ladies were mostly un-posh. If anything, the poshies can make a case for those dastardly middle-class actors taking roles that should be rightfully theirs.

  22. seesittellsit says:

    Ben Whishaw – working-class. James McAvoy – working class. Cumberbatch worked for nearly 12 years as he put in doing “small roles in big films or big roles in small films” before Sherlock put him on the international map. Hiddleston did mostly smaller roles like the detective in Wallander before Loki put him on the international map. Both Whishaw and Redmayne did Richard II – but it was Whishaw, not Redmayne, who got the role in The Hollow Crown. Charlie Hunnam: working class. Tom Hardy – middle class. Christopher Eccleston – working-class. Daniel Craig – working-class, his father was a pub landlord in Cheshire, where, by the way, Tom Hughes is also from.

    Look, I’m all for the discussion, but the idea that the three actors whose name people know are “getting all the work” is ludicrous. Frankly, Hiddleston’s only really big film role is Loki – I Saw The Light flopped, Crimson Peak flopped, and his role in Kong was silly. He hasn’t had a decent film role since. His and Redmayne’s and Cumberbatch’s careers are not interchangeable pegs. If it comes to it, I think McAvoy is doing better than both Whishaw AND Hiddleston.

    You need to add a bit of nuance to discussions like these.

    • A says:

      It isn’t a question of just roles–it’s a question of the types of stories that are told as well. And it’s a question of the sorts of roles that people like Tom Hiddleston take vs. the sorts of roles that people like Tom Hardy take. You wouldn’t see Tom Hardy in a period piece anywhere near the sort that Tom Hiddleston’s done. The last movie he did that might qualify is that movie about the Kray twins, and they were gangsters. Hardly the sort of upper-class aristocracy type roles that Tom Hiddleston takes. Not to mention that in terms of publicity and exposure, Tom Hiddleston and Eddie Redmayne outstrip every other working class actor in the business right now. James McAvoy, bless him, I LOVE him, but he’s hardly out here playing a heck of a lot of lead roles in the same way that Tom Hiddleston is. As for Charlie Hunnam, again, very very talented, but most of his success is attributed to him playing a gangster, and he’s not the sort of household name that Tom Hiddleston is. And Christopher Eccleston, while successful, had to fight to keep his Northern accent on Doctor Who (“Lots of planets have a north.”)

      You’re pointing out a lot of actors who are immensely talented, but their success is varied. And a lot of these folks have had different degrees of success in the UK vs in Hollywood. And even when it’s in Hollywood, there’s a marked difference in the types of roles they take and the exposure they get as a result. And in an industry where exposure = money, yeah of course it makes a difference.

      These things DO deserve some nuance. But when you have an industry that favours just one type of story, that has a discernible template for the “best” type of British actor and British role, it’s not surprising that many people are being left behind or looked over.

      • justme says:

        What are these incredible roles that Tom Hiddleston is taking? As far as I can see he has recently been in a few movies which did not do that well although he was fine in them (and I’d hardly call Hank Williams an upper-class aristocratic type) . He was in Kong Skull Island, which did well, but not because of his role, which looked like it was cut to the bone in the cutting room. He is Loki of course. And then . . . what? I don’t actually think that Tom is a household name – except maybe for dating Taylor Swift – and because he is Loki. And Loki is not a lead role.

      • jammypants says:

        Hm, I think his other notable role is The Night Manager. It won awards after all. Pine is the polar opposite of Loki.

      • Lightpurple says:

        On what planet is Tom Hiddleston a household name? I know a lot more people who are familiar with Hunnam because of SOA than know who plays Loki.

        Also: Tom Hardy doesn’t do period roles? The guy has Oliver Twist and Wuthering Heights on his resume, along with Taboo and Peaky Blinders. And MacAvoy works a lot

      • justme says:

        @jammypants – yes of course the Night Manager which was great (but all those ETONIANS!!). But it is not a period piece or a film, which is why I didn’t mention it.

      • seesittellsit says:

        Tom Hardy also has The Revenant, speaking of period pieces – an American frontiersman is hardly modern stuff! Hiddleston and Cumberbatch may be household names in Britain, but I can tell you that only sharpie movie buffs in my area know who either is. If you mention “Loki” or “Dr. Strange” , it’s “ooohhhh, that guy!” They’re not even “Sherlock” buffs, tbh, it can feel pretty lonely out here.

        You have to remember that what’s common knowledge in Manhattan and L.A., and what is common knowledge in Hattiesburg, Mississippi or Duluth, Minnesota, are very different things.

        Night Manager was TV. Sherlock, still Cumberbatch’s biggest success, is TV. I watch tons of British TV – I was watching darling crazy and working-class Robson Green (I STILL have the hots for him) years ago in Reckless. Touching Evil, and Wire in the Blood, and more lately, in Grantchester) – father a miner, mother a cleaner.

        I’m not saying that certain kinds of actors don’t have certain kinds of appeal – especially to Americans – look how fascinated we are with the royals. But the idea that the are getting all the work doesn’t ring true. Just watched The Game, and Tom Hughes is from Cheshire (with that darling accent that’s close to but not quite Merseyside), Brian Cox also in it, he’s working-class and RC . . .

        With all the stuff on British TV, the idea that only 3 actors are “hoovering up the work” just won’t wash.

      • A says:

        @justme You can’t possibly equate the sort of prestige that Tom Hiddleston is held in with the sort of prestige someone like Charlie Hunnam or Tom Hardy are held in. And you missed my point which I stated in the first sentence–it’s not a question of just how many parts they get, but what SORTS of parts they get and are considered for, and the sort of cultural space they occupy in popular culture. People can compare actors by different metrics, sure, but everyone who likes Tom Hiddleston likes him for a particular reason that has everything to do with what class he’s from. His public image subsequently plays a direct role in the sorts of parts he is offered and how receptive his audience is to those parts. That’s likely one reason why he’s failed in Kong, and why his relationship with Swifty went pear shaped so fast. It didn’t match with the sort of upper-crust “classy” image that people had constructed for him. Rehabbing his image is the primary reason why he’s likely gone back to doing Shakespeare, and not just any Shakespeare, but Hamlet, which is widely considered a major benchmark of talent for every British actor, especially the posh sort of actor that Tom Hiddleston is. It’s part of the reason why Tom Hiddleston got in the news for doing Hamlet at all, whereas an actor like Daniel Craig, who wants to be taken as a “serious actor” who can play roles of that sort of calibre, elicits almost no response when he chooses to do Shakespeare. Because people don’t “see him” in that sort of role. And that idea, of who fits what roles, of who projects a certain type of public image–that is influenced in a major way by class.

        It has nothing to do with your personal preferences for a particular actor. Nor does this mean that posh people make for bad actors. But how we perceive actors and what we expect of them and how we react to their work is constructed in a big way by their class. This is a systematic problem that doesn’t make much sense when viewed from an individual perspective, which is why trying to approach it from a point of, “Well I like these types of stories but not these other types of stories,” is ultimately unhelpful.

      • lightpurple says:

        Both Branagh and Hiddleston were hinting at their version of Hamlet as early as January 2016, months before Hiddleston even met Swift, so no, doing Hamlet is not an attempt to reclaim any image.

        Craig got written up in publications in London and New York and magazines for his Othello.

        Perhaps you should focus on the actual issue of access to training and the behind the scenes/behind the camera people, which is where the real problems are, because you really don’t seem to know that much about the actors and what they have done. Again – Tom Hardy has done a LOT of period pieces. Wuthering Heights!

      • spidey says:

        @ A the first time I saw Hiddleston was in the Hollow Crown and I had absolutely no interest in or idea if his class. I think you are making one hell of a leap to say that folk are interested in him because of his class. I thought some of his acting was brilliant and yes he was very easy on the eye, but his class meant and means nothing to me. I do not like/dislike/judge people on their class.

    • Sixer says:

      You can read either the BAFTA report or the Labour report I linked to above.

      17% of people working in CCIs in the UK (so in front of and behind the camera) are from working class backgrounds.

      Almost half went to private schools. (7% of the population went to private schools).

      It’s the least anecdotal thing EVER. The same names get mentioned because they are illustrative as people have heard of them. It’s blindingly obvious that there is a wholesale ignoring of potential talent going on, which is unhelpful for everyone.

      • thrid ginger says:

        Sixer, the reports are what I meant above when I said I had learned more from UK posters on CB than from articles interviewing actors, however well-intentioned they may be.

      • Sixer says:

        It’s a shame because the problem is a structural one and it gets personalised. It would be better if journalists stopped asking Old Etonians about it – they only make a whiny defensive hash of their answers anyway and we’ve all seen it and argued about it a gazillion times by now – and started critiquing the system and giving a platform to the tireless souls like Josie Long who are trying to do something about it.

  23. A says:

    He’s got a rather nuanced perspective on the subject and I think that’s great. It’s a heck of a lot of an improvement on the sort of sh*t that Damian Lewis came out with anyway. And he’s not the first person to discuss this in any sense, I remember James McAvoy was asked about it on Colbert. He wound up choosing his words a lot more carefully when talking about his colleagues or whatever, but he said that if acting is something that a lot more posh people are getting into, then it speaks to the fact that funding for art/drama programs in schools not attended by the upper-crust of society is being cut. Which in turn will obviously mean that drama will not be available as an avenue of pursuit for the working class. And I think that is one part of the problem, in that a lot of these types of programs have been increasingly undergoing cuts.

    The danger, of course, with this is that if it’s mostly posh folks in a given field, they inevitably wind up closing ranks and turning it into an old boy’s club. In many ways, it’s always been that way. If you wanted to make it as an actor in the 50s or 60s, you had to train your working class accent out of you. Michael Caine was maybe the first actor who got roles with his accent. There’s still an enormous amount of emphasis on “classically trained” actors, which is almost always just a term for the sorts of actors who do Shakespeare as their main form of stage work.

    As for the period drama take over–look, you can have a personal preference for them all you like. But let’s not pretend as if they aren’t just a sanitized version of history that leaves out all the inconvenient parts to present to the British people some form of feel good entertainment about their history. Not to mention, the idea that the British working class have not had a hand in creating their own history, just as much as the “great” kings and queens of England have, or that their stories are not as interesting or as worth telling just because they lack the glamour we want, has got to die like, yesterday. And the fact that people prefer only one of those stories, and think that only one of those stories is worth being told, it’s something that’s very telling and something that people need to examine.

    • seesittellsit says:

      I hear your points, but there is a long list of classically trained actors who aren’t doing Shakespeare for their bread and butter – in fact, no one can do the Bard for his bread and butter, really. The days of Gielgud and Olivier in that regard are long over.

      Why else do you think Craig agrees to do another Bond? So he can go off in-between and do Betrayal on Broadway, Lucky Logan, or Iago in Othello. Even Cumberbatch, Hiddleston, and Redmayne don’t “mostly” do Shakespeare – no one does these days. They make rare and highly touted appearances of same. Hiddleston only got Coriolanus AFTER he became a star in the THOR films.

      These are all RADA trained and thus all qualify as “classically trained”; do we know them all as mostly doing Shakespeare?
      Alan Rickman (RIP, I loved him!)
      Anthony Hopkins (best known role: Hannibal Lecter)
      Peter O’Toole (though I think he left early)
      Clive Owen
      Sean Bean (he did do a “Macbeth” in the West End once but I missed it)
      Roger Moore
      John Hurt
      Liev Schreiber
      David Warner
      Tom Courtenay
      Imelda Staunton
      Alex Kingston
      Sophie Okonedo
      Janet McTeer
      Fiona Shaw
      Diana Rigg

      None of these actors’ careers were built on doing mainly classical theater. No one today can build a career on that. Does the appeal remain? Yes. But is that what they do? Mostly not.

      Television is the big equalizer in my view, these days. “Luther” is tons better than any big-screen role Idris Elba’s gotten – it beats Pacific Rim and THOR and Dark Tower ten ways from Sunday.

  24. msw says:

    Loved him ever since he was Chris on Skins <3 <3 <3

  25. SM says:

    I will not get tired of saying but Peaky Blinders is one of the best shows out there. It is set in Liverpool with a range of great actors, the lead is Cillian Murphy, a working class bloke only from Ireland. So in support of working class actors and the stories you should all give the show a try

  26. Helenka says:

    Chris from Skins…? My my, you’ve grown up into a handsome, thoughtful man!