From the wilds of Russia to the grit of Happy Valley, James Norton’s life is not short of adventure. But what really makes him tick? We sat down with James to find out what inspires him, both on set and around London.
Watch our Around London with James Norton film
“People always talk about the word ‘play’ as in…I’m playing at this theatre or what was it like to play with them… directors in a rehearsal room often say let’s play, let’s mess around, let’s see what we come up with…and really what they’re referring to is exactly the same as when you were 7 or 8 and you were playing mums and dads or cowboys and Indians in the garden, it’s playing it’s fun, it’s basically just an interaction between two people or three people and seeing what happens in that moment.”
It in these relationships that we see coming to life on stage or on screen that the magic happens. For James, every role he plays teaches him something about himself and it is often in the smallest scenes or improvised moments that true nature of the role comes to fruition.
“The main way I prepare [for a role] is by spending as much time as I can in the headspace of the character. I like to engage with really mundane everyday rituals like brushing my teeth or going shopping or taking a shower, all those things which fill up the everyday but doing them in the headspace of the character. It can lead to slightly problematic moments walking around my local area as a psychopath or a Russian prince…”
Whilst it would not be completely out of the ordinary to spy a prince (or a psychopath) walking around the streets of London, we wanted to get to know our favourite city through the eyes of James Norton.
“My London is a mixture of the fast and furious life of Soho and the quiet little oases up on the Health or on Parliament Hill. I think I need to mix the two up to say sane.”
“I love going into Soho on a night at about 5 o’clock and having a drink and then meeting a friend, going to the theatre and going up to the Donmar and seeing friends at the court or walking down the Southbank as the sun sets, all those wonderful signatures which make London so special.”
“London is vast and intimidating, it’s this huge sprawling metropolis. When you stand on Parliament Hill it’s an incredibly reassuring feeling because you suddenly see the city as a whole and it’s containable, it’s just a town.”
“I get around London on my bike. I’m a die-hard cyclist and it’s not just my means of transport it’s also my time to switch off and empty my mind of all the stuff which goes on and can clutter up your mind.”
Images shot by Simon Annand and sourced via Pinterest.