ACTOR Sam Claflin — star of The Hunger Games movies, last year’s hit romance Me Before You and upcoming British comedy Their Finest — says his introduction to Australia was “honest to god, the most crazy first week in any place I’ve ever been”.
The 30-year-old Englishman is in Hobart to shoot The Nightingale, director Jennifer Kent’s follow up to The Babadook, the horror film that made the Aussie hot property internationally. Claflin landed in Sydney at the start of March, stepping straight into the colour and buzz of Mardi Gras. “Very unexpected,” the actor told News Corp Australia with a chuckle.
After three days, he decamped to Canberra where an Outward Bound guide took Claflin and a couple of his Nightingale castmates into the bush for a team-building exercise. It also doubled as preparation for the film, which is set in the 1820s and sees Claflin’s character pursued through the Tasmanian wilderness by a young, female Irish convict who is seeking revenge for the brutal murder of her family.
Writer-director Kent has said while not a horror film, The Nightingale will be “horrific”. Claflin describes it as “quite a dark film” and “very compelling and authentic”. The Londoner said of his introduction to the bush: “I never felt like my life was in danger, so it wasn’t fully like this film. It was a way for us to get used to the outdoors and some of the terrain that we’d be working in. But we were obviously very well looked after and were wearing contemporary clothes as opposed to 1820s boots.
“We saw quite a lot of wildlife — I had the kangaroo experience.”
Starring alongside Claflin in The Nightingale is young Irish actor Aisling Franciosi (The Fall, Game Of Thrones) and locals Ewen Leslie and Damon Herriman. First-timer Baykali Ganambarr plays the Aboriginal tracker who leads the convict through the wilderness.
Claflin will be in Tasmania working on the movie until early June. His wife, fellow actor Laura Haddock, and baby son have joined him for a few weeks over Easter. The Brit said he has found the remoteness of some of the film’s locations — and the resulting lack of phone reception — to be “quite refreshing, actually”.
“And the people are wonderful and the locations are stunning,” he added.
Though he’s only just started working with Kent, Claflin said he’d collaborate with the Australian filmmaker again “in a heartbeat”.
The Nightingale will likely reach cinemas in early 2018.