British actor Ben Radcliffe is perhaps best known for playing the lead role of Ralen in CW’s Pandora.
But this year, the actor is set to expand his repertoire and expand his fandom across the globe. Next month, audiences will get to see a different side to Ben Radcliffe in Netflix’s Anatomy of a Scandal. Created by David E. Kelley, the drama revolves around James Whitehouse, a high-flying Westminster politician caught up in a scandal when he is accused of rape in his past.
Ben portrays the younger version of James in the story, whose storyline focuses on the time of the alleged act. Fellow British actor, Rupert Friend portrays the older James in the story. The limited series also stars Sienna Miller and Michael Dockery.
Anatomy of a Scandal is undoubtedly an intriguing project, which will be on the watchlist of many this year, but Ben is giving fans more. He is also filming for Apple’s Masters of the Air, a new miniseries created by Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks.
A World War II drama with shades of Band of Brothers, Ben stars alongside an ensemble cast with talents such as Callum Turner, Austin Butler, and Barry Keoghan. In this exclusive interview with AugustMan, Ben reveals what audiences can expect in both his upcoming projects.
What drew you to this role in Anatomy of a Scandal?
I instantly thought it was such a cool and exciting project to be involved in. The show is a real thriller with twists and turns and one I would definitely watch myself. The storyline centres around such topical themes such as consent, privilege and morality and I think it’s so important that shows like this exist so we can examine how to change the actions of society in future.
The unique perspective is that it focuses on the central character but takes place across two timelines. As an actor, is it harder to approach the duality aspect of the character?
Since I’m playing the younger version of James and Rupert Friend is playing the older part, I didn’t have to think about being both past and present James. I really focused on playing the James I was cast as with Rupert doing the same with his version and then our Director S.J. (Clarkson) really helped meld the two together.
How is your version of James different from the one played by Rupert Friend?
I would say that at a younger age James is filled with more cockiness and selfish exuberance. But he has a lot of qualities that carry over into adulthood – he has an easy charm, he’s warm and seemingly trustworthy. His confidence informs his view of the world in which he can never do wrong. James is a really interesting character because he doesn’t see what he has done as being wrong. The show does a really fantastic job of showing that this is a huge issue and that things needs to change, especially when people in positions of authority abuse their power.
Incidentally did you and Rupert exchange notes or thoughts on playing the same character?
As I said, I worked mostly with our fantastic director S.J. on the character. But I was told by many people that me and Rupert are extremely similar with our mannerisms so that would have helped.
What element of the younger James did you want to flesh out for this story?
The character is so interesting to me because for the most part James seems like a good person, however he was born into a world of privilege and entitlement and as such his confidence informs his view of the world in which he can never do wrong. When initially preparing for this role I found it very interesting to focus on James’s upbringing because this is what influences his thoughts and actions.
He went to an all-boys school where there was an ingrained ‘laddish culture so I tried to immerse my mind in how that would be. There was also a huge amount of misogyny during the early 90’s and I was struck by how skewed it was to the male perspective even when I was reading things like magazines from that time period. There is obviously a long way to still go but I am pleased to see that the conversation is changing.
In addition to Anatomy of a Scandal, you are also starring in Masters of the Air, can you share more about that production and the character you play?
Filming Masters of the Air was an unreal experience. I feel so lucky to be a part of this special show and tell the stories of the WW2 heroes of the 8th Air Force. I play John D. Brady, an American pilot who is highly skilled and looks out for his crew. We took part in a training bootcamp before filming began where we really learnt about these characters and what they experienced. Stepping on to the incredible sets, performing stunts and filming from the cockpit of a B-17 Aircraft made filming this show an unforgettable experience. I am very excited to see this one.
How does it feel to have these two big productions coming out in the next several months?
It is very exciting. I feel truly lucky to have been involved in both of these amazing productions.
In terms of acting, what would you consider to be your ideal dream role?
When I was younger I trained in musical theatre dance and gymnastics so I would love to play a role that uses these skills. I would also love to play an action role. Anything that involves stunts and physical activity. I love being active and filming these types of scenes has always been my most enjoyable experiences on set.
Photos: Joseph Sinclair