Actor, Charley Palmer Rothwell may be a fairly new name on our lips, but he is certainly creating a bit of a buzz right now.
Charley can currently be seen alongside Tom Hardy in the hit film Legend, Playing Ronnie Krays “friend” but the 23-year-old actor has already started to make moves on the big screen in The Guvnors. At this point you may think he strikes an uncanny resemblance to our very own Patsy Palmer (that’s right the loudmouth treasure that is Bianca from Eastenders), that would be because he is her actual son.
We had the opportunity to pose a few questions to Charley and he took it all in his stride, He certainly won us over and we will be following his career closely from now on.
You’re currently starring alongside Tom Hardy in Legend playing Leslie Holt, a Gay croupier who had a relationship with Ronnie Kray. As an emerging actor what was it like to land this role?
Firstly he wasn’t a croupier. That was one of the many myths. Although, they did meet each other in and around the casino tables. For me, the most interesting fact Leslie brought to the table (excuse the pun) was he introduced the Krays to the Aristocracy. He was the middle-man in their inevitable fall from grace. As an emerging actor, landing the role was quite like landing on a beach in St Lucia after your plane was going down over a snowy mountain top. Very unexpected but very nice.
We can imagine working alongside Hardy is big deal for a young actor, how was your experience with Hardy?
I watched ‘The Take’ on BBC when I was 17/18, at that time I was still debating what I actually wanted from life. I watched Tom’s performance in that and remember thinking “I can do that”. So when I heard I was going to be, not only in his presence, but doing actual scenes with the man, it was one of those moments where you honestly think I’ve made it (until you hopefully get that feeling again, of course). Working with Tom, I felt like Uma Thurman as ‘Black Mamba’ in Kill Bill when she is being trained by Pai Mei. Like being trained by somebody you have unlimited respect for, but you know you need to work very hard to gain his. It was unforgettable.
With the lack of a budget for CGI, And Hardy in both lead roles, was it difficult filming some scenes twice?
For me personally it was fine, For the camera team and obviously Tom it was a lot harder and took a lot of preparation. It was triumph what the CGI team did. I don’t think you can tell in any way there was a lack of budget. They were editing it live, it was mind blowing.
What attracted you to this role?
The writer/director/genius Brian Helgeland was the first attraction. Even being in a room with him in the audition felt like a privilege. His work speaks for itself. My family also knew the character I was playing, I can’t say too much about that, but it was a beautiful coincidence.
Was being born and bred in Bethnal Green a help or hindrance for you to understand the Legend of The Krays and to get into character?
Most definitely a great help. Everybody comes out of the woodwork when a film like this comes around. “I knew Reggie’s dog’s cousin Sheryl’s mug’s sister auntie Frank” but being in around all that can help beyond belief. My great uncle Roy had a very close relationship with Leslie Holt. It felt like I was method acting with having to do the initial research, just recording an uncle telling you old tales. It was really nice.
Although we have seen you in the likes of The Guvnors, It’s A Lot and a couple of TV series, Do you feel Legend will give you your much deserved big break?
I have no idea. I’ve never been in this position before so I couldn’t say. I feel like I work really hard at what I do and try to stay true to what I believe. I don’t know if it’ll be my big break. There’s a long way to go and until I’m a bond villain and until then I won’t be happy to die.
You are due to star in an American Documentary about Action Heroes alongside Luke Evans and Arnold Schwarzenegger. What is your role in this and how did you get involved?
It’s a documentary that covers the world of action heroes/superheroes in movies, from the days of early cinema, beginning with the likes of Douglas Fairbanks, and Errol Flynn, right through to Superman Christopher Reeve, Arnold Schwarzenegger ‘s era to the present day. I won’t say too much about the documentary just yet but even just Fairbanks himself, achieved some incredible feats. He is up there with Charlie Chaplin, who is one of my idols by the way. I got involved and was approached as a result of my role in “Legend” through US Documentary Maker Mimi Friedman, who directed the Emmy-Nominated “Steve McQueen – Essence of Cool”. I will be talking about ‘Anti-heroes’ and more specifically the Krays.
We have to put in the obligatory question about your Mum, being the legendary Patsy Palmer, did you always want to follow in her footsteps as an actor?
Not intentionally. I believe you have to have a certain personality to be an actor, which my mum clearly had. Obviously, I would have picked up on that. She actually told me not to be an actor so….
What are your aspirations for the future? Who would be the one person you would love to work with most?
I am obsessed with French cinema. I can’t speak French (clearly a slight hindrance) but just the way they leave it all up to the imagination…. In good French cinema, you will not find one single gimmick. They make movies for the love of art & the love of life. Adèle Exarchopoulos is an actress I would love to work with. Director wise, David O. Russell, David Finchner, Scorcese. You know, just the little ones!
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
There’s a project I’ve been working on for a good few months now that I can’t speak about but it’s going to be very different from the work I’ve done so far. Also just filming a bit in Ripper Street, my character in ‘Ripper’ isn’t your normal guy either so check it out. Or don’t. I am also writing as much as possible at the moment so hopefully at some point we’ll see what happens with that. Who knows??!