Spotlight on Freddie Wise
The actor who starred in Poldark as Geoffrey Charles and will now appear in Maleficent. The Hollywood epic starring Angelina Jolie in the lead role is out in cinemas in the UK on 18th October.
Introduction by Ram Shergill
Interview and Set Design by Daen Palma Huse
Photography by Ram Shergill
Styling by Alicia Joseph
Grooming Celine Nonon at terri manduca using it cosmetics and kerastase by L’oreal
Whilst taking Freddie Wise’s portrait I paused and there was a moment of silence in which I could not recall who Freddie reminded me of, I felt that I had seen or met him before. Was he a great actor who I had seen in a Hollywood movie? He could easily be cast as a young James Dean in Giant or as a protagonist in a Gus Van Sant film such as My Own Private Idaho either playing in the cohort of River Phoenix and friends, or one of the boys from Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders. What I did realise was that Freddie has the unique quality of an actor that is not only mesmerising to work with but also adaptable as an actor. Freddie has played the role of Geoffrey Charles in the final season of Poldark and is a British actor who has experience in film, television and the stage. He has appeared in stage productions such as The Young Gentleman, The Cherry Orchard, Leap in The Dark and is playing a part in Disney’s new Maleficent: Mistress of Evil with Angelina Jolie.
Generally, when I photograph someone who is up and coming, I visualise where I can metaphorically place them in a role in my mind. Looking through my lens and photographing Freddie reminded me of films such as Call Me By Your Name produced by James Ivory, which made me think of the great films that Merchant Ivory made, such as Maurice, Howards End, and A Room With a View. During my afternoon with Freddie it felt I was photographing the protagonist of some of my favourite films. With his foppish blond hair and piercing blue eyes and the sophisticated demeanour of a true Hollywood star, The Protagonist sees big things for Freddie. We talked to Freddie about his role in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
How did you feel on the set of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil?
For one of the scenes they made glowing flowers – it was incredible to see, and as an actor, I didn’t have to pretend that I was amazed because I saw it right in front of my eyes. Working on the set of Maleficent was such an experience, it showed how as an actor you are really a small part of something much bigger, all the people that make the set and put so much work into it, as well as the people cutting and editing the final product. They are really the people, and the director, that tell the story. That is the difference between theatre and film; in theatre the actor is the direct medium in a way, telling a story on stage, but in film it’s all about editing and telling that story using different actors and characters.
How was it like auditioning for the part?
Auditioning for Maleficent was interesting because I did not expect to get the part. The part was specified for someone tall, bold headed – and I thought that I would not fit. This was also nice because I went into it without any inhibitions. We were given an idea of what the scenes might be like. I had to pretend to be scared seeing a big monster or catching fairies with my hands, I probably made a fool of myself [laughs], but I was ok with that! Going into an audition with a very open mind has proven to be more successful for me than thinking ‘this part is the one I want to get’.
How is fantasy portrayed through the new film?
As a child I was obsessed with the Maleficent comics. I was scared of her and even had bad dreams about her. For the film production the director wanted to stress the dark part of Maleficent more than in the first film, something that comes across in the comic with her elongated legs and sharp bone structure. In the film, the prosthetics play an important part as well – especially for Maleficent. The costume for Angelina Jolie is incredible. She is also getting help with the cheekbones - not that she really needs [laughs] - and for the rest of the film it’s a lot of camera angles making things look big or small. It is hard to imagine the final product sometimes because there are so many different parts coming together.
What is your role in the film?
I play a peasant boy who comes in at the beginning of the film. He is set the task of catching a certain type of fairy for the bad side – when Maleficent interrupts. A lot of my scenes were also filmed at night. A lot of it was filmed at Pinewood – but sometimes I’d be filmed alone in the woods in the middle of the night. All the people working on it, the crew, they had such amazing stories to tell and were some of the loveliest people I have ever met.
How do you see the role of the superhero Protagonist change in contemporary cinema?
I think over the years, superhero characters have become darker, or having a darker side to their character. We can see that in the progression of the Batman films as well. It is great to see characters like Wonderwoman or Black Panther coming into play. When I was a boy I always identified with Robin or Spider Man, their still relatively slender physique and look, I think children identify with superhero characters that they can imagine themselves ending up being. My brother was always a bit more Batman. It is great to think that children nowadays grow up that can identify with Wonderwoman – or Black Panther.
If you could choose a superhero character to play in a film adaptation, which would it be?
Ohh, I must say, I have always been mad about Robin. How the story around him unfolds and the character itself. I would love to play Robin. When I was little I made my mother bring me to gymnastics class, where I would make her watch perform me doing gymnastics really badly. I really was like “I want to be him!
Was this already the fascination with the character from an actors’ approach or purely the fascination with the character itself?
At that point it was the fascination with the character – I did not really think of becoming an actor when I was that young. I was never a child who was desperate to perform in front of people. I had quite a good singing voice, which I think is all gone now, but I didn’t feel the constant urge to perform. Later on, I started enjoying acting because it felt like it was the only thing I was really good at. I felt I wasn’t very good academically and didn’t always enjoy that part of it. But when I acted I felt I was good at something! When I was about eleven I played Scrooge in a school play. I thought I was the kind of the world, that I made it! Of course, after school you realise you are not really as important as you think you are and you have to work hard. I went and studied in Sussex for a year and realised it was not what I wanted to do. In the end, my parents were very supportive, I went to acting school in London, which was a great experience. I really just wanted to do what I love at that point and what I knew I was good at – being with people who love doing the same thing I love doing. There were long days, and it feels good for me to perform.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is out in the UK 18th October 2019.
The set for this photo shoot was designed using the GP & J Baker fabric “Rockbird” in multicolour. Rockbird was originally drawn by the talented textile designer William Turner in the early 20th century and has been consistently included within the GP & J Baker collections since 1912. Inspired by Chinese artwork that Turner had seen in the British Museum, it features a magnificent flowering magnolia tree and exotic flowers with two pheasants perched on rocks at the base of the tree. It was first produced as a block print using seventeen colours.