1883 Magazine

Jonathan Howard has been a recurring face over the past six months performing in everything from blockbuster films like Brad Pitt’s World War Z and Thor: The Dark World to popular period dramas such as Downton Abbey. With an acting talent and natural charisma that is clearly impressing both time Hollywood honchos and esteemed British directors alike, we decided it was time to get to know the Lancashire native a little better. 


How did you first get into acting?

When I was 10 years old, I did an amateur dramatics play. I had the audience doing audience participation and I was improvising for about 20 minutes on my own on stage. I just seemed to really enjoy it. After that, I did a bit of kids modelling but, when I got to 14 and puberty set in, my nose and the chin got really big so the modelling work dried up. I thought, how else can I get time off school and not get into trouble for it? Oh, I can do acting. I got an agent and starting doing kids shows and commercials.

And now you’re appearing in one of the biggest films of the year, Thor: The Dark World. How did that role come about?

I worked professionally from the age of 14-22 and the plan was always to go to drama school. At 22, I found myself out of work so I started looking at all the parts I was doing and realised that everything I had done was very similar to myself; all Northern, middle class lads. I wanted to stretch myself so I went to drama school [LAMDA, the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art] and, when I graduated, I got taken on by a new agent in London. It was a really good agent who improved my opportunities and I went from going to auditions for one episode in a daytime television show to massive film auditions. So I just got the audition, worked on it, went in and that was it. You go in for these things and then you forget about them. Then about two weeks later, I got a call saying the director had seen my tapes and wanted to meet me. We had a cup of tea and got on really well. A week later, I got the call off my agent saying they would like to offer me this role. It shows how quickly things can change.

In Thor you play Ian Boothby. Describe your character and his relationship with the other characters?

So Ian’s an apprentice astrophysicist and he gets taken on as the new intern of Kat Dennings’ and Natalie Portman’s characters. I don’t know how much more I’m allowed to say so I will just stop there..

How did it feel working alongside incredible actors such as Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgård and Natalie Portman?

I was, to put it bluntly, shitting myself. It was ok for the part I was going to play though because my character is a bit on the nervous side. So I could actually use the nervousness I was feeling.

Alan Taylor has directed across a number of amazing series’ but this was his first big blockbuster film. What was it like being directed by him?

It was great, he gave me a lot of confidence. He was very subtle in the ways that he tweaked my performance. He was great, I mean, he’s won an Emmy for The Sopranos. That show really changed the way that television and dramas were thought of. He knows where to put the camera and he films in a very cinematic way.

So what was it like coming into an already established ensemble cast?

Once they say action I’m relieved, I can just play the part and do the acting. But the in between parts when you’re waiting around, especially when everyone knows each other, it’s like you are new and you have moved from a different school. Everyone was lovely though, Kat Dennings particularly held my hand and looked after me the first couple of days. She could see I was a bit like, ‘what the fuck?’  And Stellan Skarsgård, the last thing I saw him in was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, so imagine how scared I was of meeting him. Then I actually did meet him and realised he is one of the most down to earth, funny and friendliest of people. So I really hit it off with him. And Chris Hemsworth is a great guy and Natalie is just lovely.

Were you a big comic book fan growing up?

I can remember my mates at drama school being obsessed with comic books. I was more into The Beano. Having said that, I have always loved watching these movies, The Incredibles and Fantastic Four, stuff like that. I love super hero movies, to be able to pretend to be in the world of a super hero is really gratifying for me.

You have also starred in another of 2013‘s most anticipated blockbusters, World War Z.  What struck you most about what comes with working on these sorts of films?

I would say when you have someone holding an umbrella everywhere you walk. I had this lovely Spanish girl, everywhere I went she was next to me, anything I wanted she was there. I had to take the umbrella off her because I was like, ‘I’m really sorry, but my mum is not going to be happy if she finds out that I am letting a girl hold my umbrella for me.’  It was all pretty surreal.

So talking of World War Z, how would you fair in a zombie apocalypse?

Well, it depends what kind of zombies are coming after us. If it’s Shaun of the Dead zombies then I would feel pretty confident. I’d have my baseball bat, looks pretty fun killing them like that. But zombies in World War Z, they’re not quite as easy going. I don’t think I would fair very well against them.

Last year, you starred in ITV’s Titanic and you recently appeared in Downton Abbey as Sam Thawley [aired 29th September]. What’s more, you are set to appear in season two of Mr Selfridge. What attracts you to these sorts of period roles?

With Titanic, I was fresh out of drama school [Howard flew out to film Titanic on the day he graduated from LAMDA] so I was happy with any job and it just so happened that the jobs I was getting were these really high end, high quality British dramas. It’s my nose and chin as well, I think they are particularly suited to period. I’ve always thought that I had a big nose then, when I went to drama school, the make up lady there said I had a roman nose.

Lots of UK dramas are being picked up in the US, Downton is especially popular across the pond. Having starring in it yourself, have you noticed this?

I am going to be in Episodes as well and it’s great because all three of them are shown in America. Downton is particularly huge over there, I can’t express how much they love it. I was going to meetings and they would say, ‘ok, so you’re going to be in World War Z...and you’re going to be in Thor 2...and, oh my god, you’re going to be in Downton Abbey?! Guys, get in here, he’s going to be in Downton Abbey!’ It’s amazing.

Thor: The Dark World will be in cinemas nationwide on October 30th.

Words by Victoria Gardiner
Twitter: @vicky_gardiner

Twitter Youtube Instagram Tumblr Facebook

Glam Style