'Everybody’s Talking About Jamie' about a queer hero who isn't victimised: actor Max Harwood
My understanding became incredibly deep as I got further into the process of developing the character, he said.The film takes a deep dive into chronicling the journey of Jamie as he navigates sexuality, prejudice, bullying and races towards his dream of becoming a drag queen.I love drag, so wanting to be a drag queen wasnt a challenge.
British actor Max Harwood says he gravitated towards his screen debut ''Everybody’s Talking About Jamie'' as it portrays a joyous coming of age story of a queer hero with incredible sensitivity.
The film, which marks the directorial debut of Jonathan Butterell, is an adaptation of the hit musical of the same name that showcased the story of teen Jamie Campbell who aspires to become a drag queen.
''It was a script centred on a queer hero who wasn't victimised, who wasn't the comedy side kick and who didn't die in the end. Those queer stories are completely valid and important. It was refreshing to see something like this, something that I hadn't seen before. That drew me to the role, it was so incredibly joyous.'' Harwood hopes through his screen character of Jamie New, the audience resonates with the film's central theme: of being free to be oneself.
''I hope the film brings everyone an immense amount of joy, that's what is the centre of this piece. It walks the line of what we call 'happy sad'. There is a duality in the film, the moments that make you cry also make you feel joy. I hope people spread the message that you don't need permission to be you,'' he added.
The 24-year-old actor's journey with ''Everybody’s Talking About Jamie'' began in 2019 when a friend encouraged him to apply for an open casting call for the titular role. Harwood, born in Basingstoke in south central England, had watched the musical in London a year before he auditioned for the movie and had loved it.
''But it wasn't until I was auditioning for the role that I went back and watched Jamie's documentary called 'Drag Queen at 16', which is essentially the story of our film. My understanding became incredibly deep as I got further into the process of developing the character,'' he said.
The film takes a deep dive into chronicling the journey of Jamie as he navigates sexuality, prejudice, bullying and races towards his dream of becoming a drag queen.
''I love drag, so wanting to be a drag queen wasn't a challenge. I was just so excited to step into drag and have fun with it. I got to work with some amazing creative people who took me along a coaching process of putting on heels and learning how to do the choreography. The challenge for me really was to keep fit and healthy during the long hours on set and continue dancing,'' Harwood said.
''Everybody’s Talking About Jamie'' is the actor' first professional job after a series of amateur local theatre.
Harwood said facing the camera for the first time was ''nerve-racking'' but the process became smooth thanks to his team and co-stars, including Sarah Lancashire, Lauren Patel, Shobna Gulati, Ralph Ineson, Adeel Akhtar, Samuel Bottomley Sharon Horgan and Richard E Grant. ''I worked with three personal coaches. One was an accent coach, the other was a vocal coach and there was an acting coach. At each moment I was encouraged... When I met other actors on set, the process became fun because they were so easy to work with. The more I did it, the less terrifying it became.'' Harwood, in particular, praised director Butterell for not only trusting the actor but for giving him the space to explore the character.
Since ''Everybody’s Talking About Jamie'' was a first for the duo, Harwood said they had agreed very early on that they would ''look after each other.'' ''We had this freshness and naivety that enabled us to create with no boundaries in terms of what was expected. It was a collaborative process. I was encouraged to voice my opinion, give feedback about my character. ''I really got to put my stamp on the role. I don't know if that would have been the case if I was working with a director who was not as new as Jonathan because he wanted everyone's opinion and wanted to collaborate,'' he added.
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