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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Sam Claflin interview (exclusive)

Sam Claflin

Interview by Rob Carnevale

SAM Claflin talks about the pleasure of playing Philip in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – on 3D Blu-ray, Triple Play and DVD now – and some of the lessons he learned from being around Johnny Depp.

He also talks about his career in general, including giving up hopes of becoming a footballer following injury, and why we can expect a very different take on Snow White when we see him as Prince Charmant in Snow White & The Huntsman alongside Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth.

Q. Have you had chance to get used to all the pinch me moments your film career has started to bring?
Sam Claflin: No, they’re still happening. Even sitting in a room right now with a giant statue of Johnny Depp behind me is another pinch me moment. But I think that’s a good thing…

Q. How was working with Johnny and how much do you take away from an experience like that as a young actor?
Sam Claflin: Too much… you kind of start trying to take note of everything but it’s hard to carry a notepad around in your costume! So, you try and take mental notes, but even then there were a fair few too many. He truly is quite an inspiration for any young actor… seeing how he deals with things like publicity, his fans, other actors, the crew, filming. He seems to have found the perfect balance of family life and work and he manages to stay away from any bad publicity but equally he is just the most generous person I’ve ever met. He made me feel very welcome. I mean, just for him to come and say ‘hello’ first of all was kind of unexpected for me. He really blew me away.

Q. You saw the first Pirates film when you were only 16. Did you ever imagine you’d become a part of the franchise? Did you even dare dream of being a part of it?
Sam Claflin: No… I didn’t even dream it could be a possibility, particularly as I didn’t even want to be an actor at that stage. I was keen on becoming a footballer, so to go kind of full circle and realise perhaps a younger childhood dream is definitely a shock to the system.

Q. How come you eventually decided on acting?
Sam Claflin: I broke my ankle at the age of 16, right about the time I saw the first Pirates. So, that kind of put a dampener on my hopes and dreams of becoming the next David Beckham [laughs]. But I always enjoyed drama at school and while I was in a plaster-cast I needed something to keep me busy and got deeper and deeper into acting in high school and then joined an amateur dramatic group in Norwich, where I grew up. I then went to drama school and auditioned and auditioned and auditioned and auditioned, boy did I audition. And then eventually Pirates of the Caribbean happened, for which I was very, very thankful.

Q. You’d also just done Any Human Heart
Sam Claflin: I literally just finished Any Human Heart and then flew to Hawaii and it was a very, very different experience. It was three weeks of very intense work all day, every day doing Any Human Heart, but then working in Greenwich and then flying to Hawaii, first-class, was like entering a different world. I had never experienced anything like it before. I remember sitting in that first class seat and not knowing how to use anything, or where the toilets were or even how to make the chair into a bed. So, I guess it was all kind of wasted on me. So, it was a very, very different experience. They’re like polar opposites.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Q. Did it help to have [co-star] Astrid as a fellow newcomer?
Sam Claflin: Astrid and I met during the audition process first of all and she kind of broke the news to me that I had got the part accidentally over Skype. She sent me a Facebook message first of all saying that we needed to talk, so what was my Skype name. So, we then started Skyping and she said: “I found out you’re Philip…” She’d found out about being cast herself on the Saturday and this was Wednesday, so she kind of figured I would have been told the news on Monday. But no one had called me until about three hours after she spoke to me. So, she was there from the start and we felt like a proper little team experiencing everything for the first time together. If there were scary moments, we held each other’s hands and screamed together and if there were fun or exciting moments we did the same. Basically, there was lots of screaming involved – although she screamed in a higher pitch than me!

Q. How was meeting someone like Jerry Bruckheimer for the first time?
Sam Claflin: I have to be honest, when I was a kid I didn’t know who he was but then you look at his CV and he’s pretty much done every film I’ve ever loved, so it was a little daunting I think. When I first initially met him I didn’t have a clue who he was [laughs] but very, very quickly I knew, especially after seeing all the posters around his office. I was like: “Oh god, no way… he’s that man!” But he’s so generous with his time and his money as well. And he’s obviously doing something right if you look at his history of success and the films he’s made. Hopefully, I made a good impression because I’d like to work with him again.

Q. I was going to come to that… will you be coming back for future Pirates films if they’re made?
Sam Claflin: If… I mean, the options there… but who knows if Philip comes back. I guess it’s down to whether the writers liked me because I’m kind of in their hands. They could go anywhere and nowhere with this character, which is equally scary. I think it’s best to be open minded about these things – so I won’t kill myself if I don’t get the opportunity to do it again but I would equally roll over and jump off a cliff if I did!

Q. You’re currently working on another blockbuster, though… Snow White & The Huntsman, which looks unlike anything we’ve come to expect from the Snow White story we know…
Sam Claflin: Yeah, I’m Prince Charmant. It’s very different from Pirates and what we know of Snow White and it’s great to be able to challenge myself with new things in that way. As much as the character may sound similar to Philip, they are different, so there’s plenty of opportunity to keep myself on my toes and try and find new things to do with the characters I play within these fantasy stories. And as you say, it’s going to be very different from how most people perceive Snow White & The Seven Dwarves.

Q. Is it fair to assume it’ll be darker?
Sam Claflin: A lot darker… every single character has a darkness to them.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is available from September 12, 2011 on Disney 3D Blu-ray, Double Play & DVD.