(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SBIFF)
Sam Claflin of the Hunger Games and Snow White and the Huntsman franchises stars in Their Finest, a historical drama about Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) and the propaganda film crew working in WWII London that employed her as a writer while the majority of the men were on the front lines. Claflin, who’s kept busy managing a successful career and being a new dad, is a huge movie fan himself.
“I could honestly talk about films all day,” he told us, when we asked him about his Five Favorite Films. “That list of five could easily fit between 700,000 that I like. The one thing, I have to say, I’m really upset in myself and quite disappointed by, is that my knowledge of a back catalog of films that were brought out a while ago is pretty lackluster. Purely because I try to keep up-to-date with filmmaking now and the filmmakers now and who I want to work with.” See which ones actually made the list right here:
One off the top of my head — I think a film that I have watched time and time again — and every time I watch it I feel that I kind of see something new. I love Notting Hill. It’s by Roger Michell. There’s sort of an English charm — [and] I’m English. There’s sort of that slight insight into the kind of acting world Julia Roberts is playing. The kind of celebrity — I suppose especially me being an actor — there’s a lot of relatable qualities about it. I have a huge entourage of people who are really far away from this industry. So, there’s a sort of connecting dots between myself and them — always sort of very similar to the the world Notting Hill is based in.
When you see a film or a play or read a book about the industry, are you more critical of it? Does it irritate you at all?
I think, honestly, when I watch any film, I tend to find myself very critical, and it’s sometimes very difficult to step out of the actor world and just enjoy it — for being it, you know? I think it is irritating, there’s no doubt about it. I sometimes — especially when I watch with, say, my brothers who aren’t actors, or my parents — if I start kind of being quite judgmental about a performance or about a way that something’s shot or whatever it is…
The one thing that I personally struggle with now more than ever, I suppose, is the amount of CGI that is sometimes used. Sometimes that takes me out. I don’t know if that’s the same, not being an actor. But I feel like, as an actor, having those things in front of you and kind of being able to live it and breathe it and sense every part of it is really important.
I prefer to watch the actors doing the physical acting myself, rather than animation.
Yeah. Well I find that animated films are probably — actually, the moment that I allow myself to kind of not think about being an actor, then I can kind of enjoy them. You know what I mean? They are what they are. I think I enjoy that kind of escapism, almost. The opportunity to not be judgmental and opinionated about someone’s performance. Especially the quality that they do them, the heart and soul that most of them have now — it’s really quite amazing.
A Prophet is a film that I saw a few years back now. That completely blew my mind, and I thought that could have easily been quite… Not cheesy; cheesy is the wrong word. They have this sort of ghost and kind of have this supernatural element of it in places. I feel that it could easily kind of be done to a point that it takes me out of the story, but I think they handled it so beautifully and subtly. The madness of it being in the prison system. I thought it was a really gritty, real film. I thought that the performances, in fact, were just wonderful. Very gritty. A Prophet, it’s a strange film. Yeah, it’s really a great film.
I think… No Country For Old Men. It was my introduction to Javier Bardem, and I think he is such a powerhouse on screen, but that performance, specifically, just kind of blew my mind completely, and it’s such an incredible thriller. It’s a film where not a huge amount happens. You could call it an action film, I suppose, but without — there’s not masses and masses of explosions. It’s a quite simple piece of storytelling, but it’s so beautifully done. And the Coen brothers [Ethan and Joel] did it. So I definitely say that.
I love The Departed. I was only talking about it the other day, in fact. I think it’s Scorsese at his best, in my opinion. I definitely love gangster films generally, like from Casino to the Godfathers. But I think The Departed, being in the modern day and being relatable — I think the cast is just amazing — but there’s something about being in the now that kind of made it a lot more… obviously relevant, but I suppose I connected with it in a much grander scale than I did with the likes of GoodFellas. I love all those films, but I think The Departed sort of resonated more than any of them.
Another film I really loved is Control. It was directed by Anton Corbijn. It was the story of Joy Division and it was black and white and it was so kind of picturesque. But the cinematography — I think that Anton Corbijn is a photographer who is [an] artist in many forms — some of the shots that he kind of captures in that film are absolutely stunning. I actually haven’t seen his most recent film that I think is called Life, which is a film about James Dean but Control is definitely one I recommend. To anybody.
Are you a fan of Joy Division?
I have to confess: I was a fan of their music before I knew who was singing the songs. So many of their songs, I’d sort of heard in my childhood without realizing they were called Joy Division. When I bought the album a few years before Control came out, I was in drama school — I just remember completely being in awe of their music. The story, I suppose, that follows them as well. I mean that’s why Control is so special. It’s really a wonderful film.
Their Finest opens on Friday, Apr, 7, 2017.