1883 Magazine
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Will Payne’s first ever photoshoot was less than a year ago for NYLON’s Young Hollywood issue, an experience he describes as “quite terrifying”. However, today, shooting for 1883, he is more nervous about his flight to Romania that afternoon to begin filming Fright Night 2, than he is about having a camera pointed in his face. It’s a sign of how far he’s come in a year.  

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Jacket - vintage @ Rokit / Shirt - Topman / Jeans - French Connection

The 22 year old, RADA-trained actor will play the part of Charley Brewster, formerly played by Anton Yelchin, in the sequel to the vampire themed comedy. So while the rest of us were doing our Christmas shopping, Will’s schedule consisted of “running around Romania screaming about vampires,” as he puts it. “You can’t go wrong there, it should be a lot fun,” he adds.

Whilst the release date for Fright Night 2 is some way away, we’re looking forward to seeing Will on our TV screens this month as Tony Travers in ITV’s new period drama Mr Selfridge.

Set in 1909, the show centres on the life of Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of department store Selfridges, who was notorious not only for making women’s dreams come true with his ground-breaking store but also for his lavish lifestyle and illicit affairs. “It’s not really the same as your Downton Abbey or The Paradise. It’s a bit edgier and it’s got a modern feel to it,” explains Will.

Will plays the toyboy of Lady Mae, played by Katherine Kelly, who finds himself thrown into the debaucherous world of high society; a character Will compares to Dorian Gray. We were hoping he might compare Tony to himself, with tales of celebrity parties and backstage mischief, but Will is more comfortable with adopting these characters temporarily: “I don’t think I’ve ever played a character particularly like me. I hope not because a lot of the characters I play are complete bastards!”

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Leather jacket - Schott NYC / T-shirt – FCUK / Jeans - French Connection

One role Will does have fond memories of is George Harrison, who he played in the West End in The Beatles musical Backbeat. “I was playing an icon and that was incredibly daunting but an amazing experience. Especially working with the director David Leveaux, a massive Broadway director, and he’s a genius,” Will explains.

The six month stint on stage was not only physically tiring, but has also left a lasting imprint on Will’s music taste: “To be honest with you now I’m a bit like ‘Please nobody ever play a Beatles song in front of me’ because I’ve heard all of them so many times now.”  

Much like the 18-year-old George that he was playing, Will is just a young guy, exploring the world and absorbing the experiences around him. He is analytical of his early experiences in acting, always reflecting on what he has learnt from each job. In this respect he has been fortunate to work with some great people.

“An actor that I’ve worked with that I really admire is Rupert Evans,” says Will of his on-set father in British horror Elfie Hopkins. “We got along really well and he taught me a lot actually. He made me feel a lot more comfortable with myself and not feel quite so nervous about stuff and understanding the career path that I want to take and not being pushed in to things.”

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Jumper – Topman / Jeans - French Connection

There’s one actor in particular though who inspired Will to pursue acting as a serious career, his brother. There’s potential for rivalry between Will and big brother Tom, who is best known for his role as Brett Aspinall in TV series Waterloo Road, but Will explains that’s not the case: “He’s seven years older than me and he’s been doing it a lot longer than me. I love my brother very much and I’m just so happy for him and to see him succeeding and doing what he’s always wanted to do is amazing.”

Would they ever work together on something? “Err… Maybe later on in life because right now I think that would be a bad idea. I think it probably would get competitive.”

After his Romanian vampire adventures, he will be heading back to the UK for a family Christmas. Whilst many actors dream of starting a life in the sunnier LA climate, Will is a chap who knows where his heart is. “Obviously if someone offered me a job in Los Angeles I’d love to, absolutely, but I think right now London is where I live, it’s my base and this is where I’m happiest.”

Grounded, critical and enthusiastic, Will is a young star more concerned with improving his skills as an actor than reaching the dizzy heights of fame, but it may just find him anyway. He has no ambitious motto, no philosophical mantra to get him through, just a simple attitude of “Wait and see what happens.”

We’ll be doing the same.                             

Mr Selfridge begins on ITV on Sunday 6 January.

Words by Olivia Pinnock

Photography by Christine Kreiselmaier

Fashion by Ginger Clark

Groomer by Polly Mann

Fashion assistant by Sofia Khan

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