Growing up in Fordingbridge, England, the son of a Church of England Canon, head boy at his school and graduating with a first in English Literature from the University of Manchester; David Oakes sounds too good to be true. However I soon learn that his acting is not just brilliant, it’s brilliantly dark. Let’s just say his real-life background is a huge contrast to the roles he’s accepted for both theatre and TV, so I seriously didn’t know what to expect when it was time for me to sit down and have my way with him. All will be revealed...
Since graduating from Bristol’s Old Vic Theatre School in 2007, Oakes has had a number of great opportunities to push the boundaries and shock audience members, including members of his own family. Later this year, he will make his feature film debut in the horror ‘Truth or Dare’ in which he plays a psychopath who abducts a group of teenagers. Smooth. But it’s all fun and games for this 27-year-old pro. His current project, ‘The Borgias’ sees him taking on the role of the arrogant (and not to mention cowardly) Juan Borgia. The show was a huge success in the US when it first launched on cable network Showtime, delivering the strongest drama premiere in seven years. It was recently renewed for a second series.
From Shakespeare to psychopaths, here I meet the man himself to get some truth behind his choice of roles and to find out if he is as holy as his upbringing suggests. His beard isn’t a grand piece but it is there, looking as manly and rugged as ever. Nice. He wears his hair as it falls naturally, to one side, almost like a 90’s curtain effect, but not as specific as Ben from ’A1’, more towards the old-school Dicaprio. Got my approval. Wearing an average t-shirt, jeans and boots, this fella screams ’what you see is what you get’, and it suits him, no extras needed. We immediately get down to business and I jump straight in by asking about his upbringing. "I grew up with horses and a Vicar for a Dad!" Sounds all very innocent. "People are judged accordingly, I’m true to myself and like to live genuinely." And he does just that. He isn’t living a lie, he knows what he wants, how to get it and then he goes for it. Job well done.
I asked how it feels being linked to iconic actors such as Kevin Spacey; Oakes once performed under his management in the ‘24 Hour Plays’. He begins to chuckle and through the laughter he manages, "Kevin Spacey. How do I sum up Kevin Spacey?" Giggling still, I wonder if I’ve missed something. "Kevin really is something." Seeing as he’s on first-name terms I can only assume they’ve met more than once. "Yeah, he’s a good guy, I wish he’d championed me further but he gave me a chance and that’s great." No shit. Not to mention he’s currently starring alongside Jeremy Irons in the miniseries, ‘The Borgias’. "Jeremy and I are from the same place, we even went to the same drama school so we get on and we have a laugh." They get on so well, they often get told off by the director to "wrap up" due to their severe case of improvisation. He describes his time on set, "fun and manic".
Despite his lifestyle David really doesn’t care for keeping up to date with fashion and music. "Rhianna? Who’s that? Something to do with an umbrella?" Bless. He’s well into his folk music, cheap H+M pants and confessed to "shitting himself" when he was forced by his friends to pay Dolce & Gabbana a visit to purchase a two piece suit. That’s as fancy as he gets. This is just a single guy, who enjoys life whilst focusing on his flourishing career, not just as an actor but also with an end goal to directing his own work. All in good time.
Words by Ceri Davies
Photography By Karoliina Barlund
Grooming By Ben Talbott