From a real-life prince in The Young Victoria to a ruthless assassin in Hitman: Agent 47, Rupert Friend’s career has been nothing if not varied. Since his 2004 film debut in the The Libertine, Friend has become one of the most prolific actors of his generation, with a list of credits that includes 57 episodes of Homeland. The 39-year-old Brit-turned-New Yorker tells us about shunning social media, smuggling cigarettes, and stepping outside of his comfort zone.
When did you move to the States? Was it when you were cast in Homeland?
Yes, exactly. In this job you go where the work takes you. This Homeland thing came up and it was a very strange scenario for me. I’d never done television in any country, but here you sign up with an open-ended contract… and [my character] Peter Quinn became very beloved, so we kept on exploring him.
But you weren’t keen on doing TV initially?
I never wanted to sign up for anything that was going to have a hold over me indefinitely but, in the end, jumping in with both feet and saying, ‘Oh stuff it. Let’s go for it,’ was actually a blessing in disguise… I think was in a bit of a grenade-throwing mood when I said yes.
Your next release is Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch. What can you reveal about it?
It’s divided into three [stories] – all linked by a newspaper in Paris – [and has] all of that Wes Anderson beautiful design we’ve come to know and love and about the greatest cast I’ve ever been privileged to work with. I don’t play a real person. I play a kind of version of somebody in somebody’s mind if that makes sense? All I can tell you is working with Wes was one of the greatest things I’ve ever had the luck to do. He’s the consummate gentleman, one of the most witty, focused people I’ve ever met. Just heaven. If I could go to work nine to five, he would be my office.
Did you feel like you’d entered the Wes Anderson ‘family’?
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On The Phone With Rupert Friend
Schön! talks to Rupert Friend about working with Wes Anderson and why variety is the spice of life.