When preparing for roles, actors can be a bit, y'know, funny. Especially the method-y ones. Dustin Hoffman famously stayed awake for days on end in order to appear suitably dishevelled while filming Marathon Man. Marlon Brando spent a month laid up in a veteran's hospital to play a paralysed former soldier in The Men. And then there's the exploits of Daniel Day-Lewis, who lived in the wilderness while filming Last of the Mohicans, spent two nights in prison without food and water before filming In the Name of the Father, and caught pneumonia while shooting Gangs of New York because he refused to wear a modern coat.
To this pantheon, we can add Josh O'Connor, the sparkling British talent who plays Prince Charles in Netflix's blockbuster The Crown. In his exclusive cover interview for the new issue of Esquire (out now – subscribe here), O'Connor reveals an unorthodox method for getting into character: a stinky scrapbook.
"I ordered the most public school shorts I could find. Crispy white shorts. I got those and I soaked them in mud and left them in a sports bag for a week and cut out the material and stuck that in.
"I get quite experimental. It’s purely for me, no one ever sees [the scrapbooks]. I bought some aftershave, the oakiest one I could find, the most Charles-y one I could imagine, and sprayed that in the book. Maybe it’s kind of over the top and maybe it doesn’t help me at all but I do it for fun, so who cares?”
In another Day-Lewisy moment, O'Connor explained how, in preparation for his role as a lovelorn young farmhand in God's Own Country, he "worked on the farm where we shot for three or four weeks before we started shooting, and I was still working on it while we were making the film. It was hard. I had the time of my life.”
Perhaps all this is why that film's director, Frances Lee, compares O'Connor to the Irish thesp, who's arguably the most admired (and definitely most Oscar-winning) actor of his generation. "He's a shapeshifter," Lee says. "[He's] not acting. He's being." Just don't be inspired by Daniel's winter wardrobe choices, eh Josh?
Series Four of The Crown will air on Netflix from 17 November
Josh O'Connor's exclusive interview and shoot appear in the September/October issue of Esquire, on-sale now.
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