Sam Claflin has a bone to pick with the film industry. Why aren’t there more roles where men fall in love with older women? In fact, he asks, why is it such an issue in general?

“Hollywood just doesn’t allow it to happen,” he tells us. “In film, you don’t even see it with couples of a similar age – it’s always the case that the girl is 20 and the man is 40. And I don’t know why, maybe it’s because that young-woman thing is desirable to male audiences. It goes back to the point of it still being a very male-driven world.”

Claflin’s wife, the actress Laura Haddock, is a year older than him – hardly the dramatic age gap he’s referring to – but he remembers pining over an older woman in his younger years.

“When I was a teenage boy, well, I mean every teenage boy has had a fantasy about a female teacher at some point,” he says. “It’s still seen as odd that an older woman would be with a younger man, but not the other way round. It should be equal; I wish I had an answer.”

The Suffolk-born actor’s latest movie sees him explore such a relationship. He stars in the Daphne du Maurier adaptation My Cousin Rachel, in which his character falls for an older woman who may or may not have murdered his late guardian.

This storyline aside, Claflin relates to the role in more ways than one – firstly, they both have a penchant for romance.

“He is the epitome of a hopeless romantic,” he laughs. “He likes to think that he’s quite romantic, which is something I relate to. I mean, I’m not but I like to think I am. Sometimes he’s quite stubborn and I think my wife would be the first to admit that I’m quite up there with that as well.”

He also drew on his own experiences in portraying the obsessive, all-consuming passion that his character feels for his mysterious cousin Rachel, played by Rachel Weisz.

“I just remembered what it was like falling in love for the first time when I was 14, experiencing women and girls for the first time – especially when they’d all gone through that very difficult transition over puberty,” he says, adding, “I remember trying to understand women and constantly feeling on edge, confused and hurt – and then happy. That battle is one I’m all too familiar with.”