It’s early April and despite a chill in the air, Richmond-upon-Thames, just outside London, is looking like the French Riviera. Sunlight shimmers on the river and shines onto the face of 22-year-old actor Harrison Osterfield, perched on a jetty above, like it knows he’s the next big thing.
There’s an undeniable air of Dickie Greenleaf from The Talented Mr. Ripley about Osterfield. Not just the piercing blue eyes, easy tan or the mousy blonde sweep. There’s a poise about him. Confidence beyond his years. A sly smile. The wrist tucked under the chin.
It’s all an act. “I find photo shoots nerve-wracking,” says Osterfield. “I find it easier to hide behind a character or a load of lines. When you put on these clothes that make you look a bit different then I just try and get into the character who would wear these clothes. Channeling a bit of Dickie Greenleaf, a bit of James Dean.”
The comparison is appreciated by Osterfield who sees Jude Law, who played Greenleaf in the film version, as a major source of both style and career inspiration. (It’s also a reason why we styled him in this exclusive shoot in easy-wearing spring/summer trends.)
By the looks of it, Osterfield is on a similar path to the older actor. His latest role finds him taking a pivotal role in George Clooney’s new TV adaptation of Catch-22. And he follows that with walk-on appearances in two Marvel superhero films, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War.
“It’s a grand war epic,” he says about Catch-22. “I play a tail gunner called Snowden that has just come from America to Europe for the Second World War and is thrown into the mix right away. I have a pretty close relationship with the lead character who is played by Christopher Abbot. We have some really intimate scenes together that have a great effect on the grand scheme of things. It’s nice for me as even though it is a small part it has a big effect on the series.”
It’s not just the looks and the style that draw comparisons to Jude Law. Back in 1993, Law was splashed across the front page of magazine and culture bible The Face as one of the New Brit Pack, a group of British actors in their early 20s, all tipped for greatness. Osterfield seems to be in one of his own. It includes friends Asa Butterfield, star of Hollywood blockbuster Ender’s Game and Netflix sleeper success Sex Education, and Spider-Man himself Tom Holland.
“As a young actor, you’re just thrown in at the deep end. You know what you want to do but unless you’ve got some sort of mentor who’s been through it before you haven’t got a clue and with Tom, I just so happen to have one who’s the same age as me and who I’ve known since I was 15.”
The two met at the Brit School (other famous alumni include Adele and Amy Winehouse), before Holland went off to Hollywood, and Osterfield to the competitive London Academy of Dramatic Arts. Holland invited Osterfield to come over to Tinseltown and with that, the school’s traditional theatre training started to jar with the excitement of working on a Hollywood blockbuster.
“LAMDA is an amazing theatre school but it doesn’t teach you how to work on a film or TV set. If you got given a call sheet at LAMDA they’d probably think it was a menu or something.”
Osterfield is focused on acting but as is the case with modern celebrity, it’s not just his roles that his fans and followers are interested in. Half a million people follow his movements on Instagram. With that kind of audience, he’s worked with the likes of Armani and Dsquared2 during Milan Fashion Week and has just partnered with luxury watch brand Tag Heuer.
It’s not enough to just have the big name drama school and George Clooney on your CV these days. You have to have the full celeb package ready, adoring fans in tow.
“It’s very strange to me that I can upload a video of me cooking baked beans at home and that gets viewed by a 100,000 people. It is a game changer. If I’m lucky enough to get cast in something then I’ve already got 500,000 people behind me,” he says.
Still, there’s no diva behaviour here. There’s hard work behind his castings and the social media currency, and every success Osterfield mentions is backed up by an affirmation of how lucky he is. He notes the down-to-earth behaviours of A-listers and fellow Marvel cast members Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans as an inspiration.
“I was Face-Timing my mum outside some of the trailers at the back of the lot and one of them opened and out walked Robert Downey Jr. Now she’s loved him since Natural Born Killers and I gave him a passing glance and he came over. My mum just freaked out and spent the whole time shouting ‘oh my god’.
“There’s a common conception that there are big divas out there but someone like Robert, he’s the most down to earth guy, so friendly and accepting. It doesn’t have to be like the stereotype.”
At the time of speaking, Osterfield was in the midst of endurance training for the Virgin London Marathon as part of his association with Tag Heuer, which is the official timekeeper of the race. He’s keeping an eye on the watch (an Autavia if you’re wondering). “I signed up a bit late so I’ve been on a crash course for ten weeks but only just found out that the marathon training app lasts for 24. I’m worried.”
Training gives him order in his day-to-day, he says – something he likes. Despite the Hollywood buddies and big name brands backing you, being a young actor chasing jobs can be an endurance race of its own. “[The training] gives me a consistency in the day. Those weeks where you have four or five auditions a week but nothing else it gives you a bit of extra oomph for those auditions.”
For all of Dickie Greenleaf’s hubris, he was effectively a gadabout wayward son. Osterfield is anything but. Driven, ambitious and incredibly personable, he’s the model of what the modern day young actor needs to be, complete with the lit Instagram feed to go with the casting tapes.
Harrison Osterfield trained for the Virgin Money London Marathon 2019 and gave this interview as part of his association with TAG Heuer, the Official Timekeeper for the fourth consecutive year. For more information visit www.tagheuer.com, @tagheuer #DontCrackUnderPressure
Look 1: Jacket, Reiss; polo shirt, Reiss; trousers, Reiss; sunglasses, Cutler & Gross; Watch, Tag Heuer
Look 2: Jumper, Brunello Cucinelli; trousers, Reiss; glasses, Cutler & Gross; Watch, Tag Heuer
Look 3: Jacket, De Bonne Facture; shirt, Reiss; trousers, Reiss; shoes, Converse; Watch, Tag Heuer
Look 4: Shirt, Gant; trousers, Reiss; shoes, Russell & Bromley; Watch, Tag Heuer
Look 5: Shirt, Basic Rights; vest, Marks and Spencer; trousers, Trunk; Watch, Tag Heuer