James Norton for Mr Porter’s “The Journal” Style Guide

Posted on September 28, 2017

Mr Porter‘s weekly style guide “The Journal” features James Norton photographed by Mark Kean and styled by Eilidh Greig.



On why he loves acting:
“Most actors would agree that the reason why you go into the job is that there’s a hunger for experience, a general inquisitiveness. When you have a group of actors at a restaurant, everyone will try everything. It’s not just a sensory thing. It’s about wanting to suck up everything that life can offer.”

On his “period face”:
“I remember early on in my career people would say to me things like, ‘You have a very period face.’ I was like, what does that mean? They’d seen me in a couple of period dramas and imagined that would be my career.”

On his role in Happy Valley:
“I will be forever grateful for that role,” he says. “To be given the opportunity to prove myself like that was just great.” He sees each role as a licence to go out and learn. “Not just from an academic point of view, but in an emotional, embodied way. The word we always use is empathy. There’s nothing more powerful than that. I’d never managed to empathise with a serial killer from any article about them, but when you’re actually inhabiting them, you have to learn to love them, however abhorrent they are.”

On being in character for Happy Valley:
I guess it’s about getting to know the part of yourself that could kidnap and torture, were circumstances different. “It’s like undergoing a crude form of psychoanalysis on your own,” says Mr Norton, but confesses that it’s also kind of fun. “I’ve been wary talking about this because it could be misconstrued,” he says slowly. “But it was incredibly empowering not to care at all what people think, to go the other way and want people to be afraid of me. For someone like me, who goes around the whole time being very polite, to be allowed to spend some time not giving a fuck what people think was fucking cool.” He smiles bashfully. “I remember walking on set and seeing people’s reactions to me with a skinhead and tattoos. People started to treat me completely differently.”

On his personal life:
“Having this dream job, it compromises family, friends, relationship, because you’re always away,” he says. “I have 12 cousins and we’re all very close, but there have been a few family occasions where I’m the only one who isn’t there. And your relationships do take hits.”

On men’s place in today’s world:
“There’s a lot of confusion now about men’s place in the world,” says Mr Norton. “There needs to be a conversation. I’m putting together a script about how a young man deals with that confusion. We’re being pulled in different directions. I think for women, the feminist movement is a lot clearer. And we do need to redress pay inequality and, of course, men are implicated in that. But we also need to recalibrate our own position. Men whose identity is to do with being a protector and provider and full of testosterone are finding it harder.”

On gender imbalance:
…he seems more than happy to take one for the team. He is a reliable source of “phwoar”-style headlines in newspapers. “Female actors have been putting up with this tenfold for ever,” he says. “So I don’t feel male actors have a particular right to cry out about this. I don’t feel objectified, put it that way.”



[Photo Credit: Mark Kean/Courtesy of Mr Porter]

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