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Alex Lawther: 'I was doing my A Levels and leading a West End show'

Actor Alex Lawther, 19, who was nominated for a WhatsOnStage Award for ''South Downs'', tells us about his latest play ''The Glass Supper'', which premieres at Hampstead Theatre this week

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Alex Lawther (center) in rehearsals with Michael Feast and Michelle Collins
© Helen Murray

Tell us about The Glass Supper
In a sentence, The Glass Supper is a play about longing and the lengths we go to in order to feel like we belong. It's a comedy but with a very dark underscore. I hope that doesn't sound too cryptic. My character, Jamie, is a sort of Lolita. On one hand he is an ingénue, on the other he is a killer.

What drew you to the project?
I hadn't yet played a character that sees the world so differently from me. I liked the idea of getting behind a part like that.

Are you enjoying working with Michelle Collins?
I feel very lucky. Michelle is hilarious in and out of the play. I feel in particular this cast bumbles along very happily together.

What do you hope people take away from the play?
I don't think I could say. I hope we do Martyn Hesford justice, and they go away reminded of what a bloody good writer he is.

You seem to have a lot of film projects on the go – how are you fitting it all in?
Good timing I suppose! I finished a film project just before rehearsals began and will be going onto another one after the run ends. It has just sort of worked out.

Describe the impact that being in South Downs had on your career
David Hare's South Downs was my first job. I was doing my A Levels and leading a West End premiere. I can't get my head around that I am to be able to say that. The time I was working on South Downs will always be really special for me.

Have you always wanted to act?
Yeah. I have this theory that it's in part to do with being the youngest in my family. A noticeable size of actors that I have met is the youngest child. Maybe it's because you learn how to entertain—in order to keep bigger siblings' or adults' attention—and if that doesn't work then you learn to make up stories to play out by yourself, if you're the littlest.

Who are your acting heroes?
I have a lot. But I'm working through and loving a Tarkovsky box set at the moment. And I got a chance to work with one of my heroes Sally Hawkins last year, in X Plus Y. I reckon she is one of the best actors in England right now'.

Where would you like to be in five years?
Hope I'm working in film and theatre like I'm getting to now, learning a lot, and I hope I'm still very happy.

Martyn Hesford's The Glass Supper runs in the Hampstead Downstairs until 26 July