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The father of two—and face of DKNY—fills us in on how he’s getting dressed these days.

Sam Claflin is keeping busy these days. Aside from his movie career—he played the famously handsome Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games franchise and stars in the upcoming crime thriller The Corrupted, slated for release in 2019—he’s the face of DKNY’s spring fashion campaign. Oh, and the 31-year-old Englishman is also a father of two, which means balancing time in front of the camera with all the responsibilities of being a young dad.

We managed to get a few free moments while Claflin’s on set in the UK to discuss how having kids changed his approach to style, what it’s like to rep for a New York brand when you were born in Ipswich, and the ever-changing nature of the fashion world.

He’s English, but he’s got a soft spot for New York.

I love New York as a city; I’ve visited a few times now. It’s a lot like London in terms of accepting you for who you are and the way you dress. I love getting inspiration from street style whilst I’m there. I’m lucky enough to work all over the world, so although I’m an Englishman at heart, my style incorporates the places I love too.

Acting changed the way he approaches getting dressed.

I’m not sure how much acting has changed my personal style, but with my job I do have to prep a lot more now. I like to get my outfits ready the night before, so I can just get up and go, whether it’s filming or going out with my friends or family. I suspect when I first started acting there were some fashion mistakes—but that’s all part of the journey.

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The actor on being a doting dad, working with Jennifer Lawrence and watching rubbish films

Born in Ipswich, Suffolk, Claflin, 31, grew up with three brothers in Norwich. He was a keen footballer until he broke his ankle and then turned to acting. He trained at Lamda in London and has starred in Me Before You, The Hunger Games and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. He lives in west London with his wife, the actress Laura Haddock, and their two-year-old son, Pip. They are expecting their second child.

Pip wakes us up about 6am or 7am — he’s a good sleeper and we know we’re lucky with that. One of us has to shower while the other is getting him breakfast, then it’s straight into playtime. Pip started nursery recently and thinks he knows everything. We have two toy cockapoos, Rosie and Maisie, who are also very demanding of our attention.

Breakfast might be scrambled eggs with chorizo on sourdough. I’ll usually make a big pot of coffee while Laura drinks tea. It doesn’t take me long to get ready — I basically use deodorant, that’s it. I’m just not a moisturising kind of guy. I have very basic shampoos and shower gels — it’s Laura who buys all the nice stuff. And I don’t do all that much exercise. When I can, I go for a run, but I’d rather spend that hour with Pip.

If I’m not filming, my mornings are spent catching up on what I’ve missed while away — seeing friends in London or family in Norfolk. We might go on an adventure with the little one, often to the Southbank Centre. For lunch, we have to find a restaurant that caters for children. Some days I get recognised a lot, other days not so much.

I went to drama school when I was 16 and my love for it grew. Laura also acts — she’s fantastic. There’s a confidence in her that she’s gained since she had a child. For me, acting is about making other people feel something. I’m never myself when I act: I enjoy hiding behind the characters and wearing a mask.

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Sam Claflin is sipping on a peanut butter and banana smoothie in a hotel room on a Monday morning in December when he tells me to get out.

‘How can you not like peanut butter? I didn’t think that was possible,’ he exclaims as he grins at me. It’s not exactly the way I thought my short time with the British actor would go, beginning with a joke threat to kick me out of the room and then my explanation of the whys and wherefores of peanut butter hatred.

But that’s how it goes with Sam, the 31-year-old who has starred in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters and romantic comedies but who can make you feel like you’ve been pals with him for years.

Dressed down and relaxed, Sam is with me to talk about his new film Journey’s End, based on the 1928 dramatic play by English playwright R. C. Sherriff.

Set in the trenches of World War I, the story gives a short glimpse into the experiences of the officers of a British Army infantry company, playing out in the officers’ dugout over four days in the run-up to the real-life events of Operation Michael.

It’s an experience not many of us would be able to connect with these days, where war no longer always means hand to hand combat and trenches but instead drone warfare and secret missions – and one that the cast, including Paul Bettany, Asa Butterfield, and Tom Sturridge, tried to understand by talking to ex-servicemen who are today battling PTSD.

‘We don’t talk about war, the papers don’t talk [about war], it’s weird – there is a full-on fight going on and people are dying but no one talks about it,’ says Sam. ‘Or we do for five minutes but then go back to Kim Kardashian’s baby, its a weird disconnect.’

The ex-servicemen, says Sam, ‘came in and talked us through the challenges of having the disorder – and the way they described it is that it is us who live in the bubble and they live in the real world’.

‘For servicemen now, they are expected to fit back in the bubble but they have seen best friends dying…,’ he adds.

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The ‘Hunger Games’ actor stars as Captain Stanhope in Saul Dibbs’ World War 1 drama about life in the front-line trenches in northern France

British star Sam Claflin likes to drink vodka and hates whisky. Nonetheless, on particularly hard days on the set of World War 1 drama Journey’s End Claflin would start the day by reaching for the water of life.

“I hate whisky so much,” he complains. “I had a shot of whisky on some days during filming because it makes me kind of harden and kind of a bit aggressive and just a little taste of whisky on the lips, it gave me fire.”

It was also a way for the charming actor to tap into the character of Captain Stanhope, a man living on the edge of the abyss who has witnessed atrocities that have ensured whisky has become his closest companion in the trenches.

Journey’s End is an adaptation of R.C. Sheriff’s anti-war play set in the trenches of the Aisne in March 1918 as the Germans are closing in and the smell of death hangs in the air. In Saul Dibb’s movie version, timed to coincide with the centenary of the events depicted, Claflin’s Captain Stanhope is already war-weary, way before the arrival of Raleigh (Asa Butterfield), whose elder sister used to dote on Stanhope when they were at school together.

The other cast members depicting life underground included Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham, Tom Sturridge and playing the cook Toby Jones. Claflin would reach for the source on days he needed intensity for a scene but other than that would remain quiet, almost stoic on set; “Paul Bettany took the reigns of being the class clown, if you will, but generally I tried to remain sombre and quite quiet and observe.”

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Sam Claflin plays a charismatic young British officer coming apart under combat stress in First World War drama Journey’s End. Screen talks to the actor about his passion for RC Sherriff’s 1928 play.

For Sam Claflin, it was seeing Journey’s End on the stage that first ignited his passion to play the role of young First World War officer Captain Stanhope. The Suffolk-born actor was in his second year at London acting school Lamda when students in the graduating year presented the 1928 RC Sherriff play.

“I just remember being completely spellbound,” says Claflin. “Being completely in awe, not only of the performances, but the story and the characters and the relationships and the world that was created. I remember sitting there in the audience thinking, ‘I have to do this play. I have to somehow find a way of doing this professionally.’”

That chance seemed to come when theatre director David Grindley, who had mounted a successful version of the play in 2004, sounded out Claflin about starring in a revival. “We sat in the Groucho, and I was basically swearing, very excited,” recalls the actor. “But we couldn’t. I was in the middle of doing The Hunger Games. There was an array of scheduling conflicts.”

Instead, the 2010 Screen International Star of Tomorrow became attached to a film version, adapted by Simon Reade and produced by Reade and Guy de Beaujeu — who had previously collaborated on the 2012 film version of Michael Morpurgo’s First World War novel Private Peaceful. After two years of rather tentative momentum, the film finally came together for a pre-Christmas shoot in 2016, with Saul Dibb, whose credits include The Duchess and Suite Francaise, in the director’s chair.

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It’s strange, perhaps, to hear an actor express gratitude for a character not being complex. It’s usually the opposite: you’ll hear about how much depth was offered, how much there was to explore.

But Roger Michell’s new adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier classic My Cousin Rachel presented star Sam Claflin with something else entirely: the enticement of a character utterly straightforward, yet in the most fascinating way.

“The thing that really drew me to him was the fact that he’s actually quite simple and two-dimensional,” he admits to me. “He’s like a child, you know? In the sense that he says what he wants and he’s so used to getting it. If he doesn’t get it, he has a hissy fit. And I think that was quite unique, playing an adult-child, it was quite different and a departure.”

Indeed, Claflin has largely crafted a career fit for the dashing male lead: in his breakout roles in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Hunger Games series, or as a romantic interest for Me Before You and Their Finest. On paper, a period drama like My Cousin Rachel would seem to offer more of the same, but Daphne du Maurier was no conventional novelist.

Claflin’s Philip goes from headstrong, dedicated bachelor to fawning puppy in a mere gaze directed at the bewitching Rachel (Rachel Weisz), the widow of his own guardian and cousin, Ambrose, who died in such mysterious circumstances in Italy. In short: he’s not too difficult to figure out.

“I’ve spent my entire career thus far begging to get more complex and three-dimensional characters, with lots more layers, but I quite enjoyed the boyish charm of him,” Claflin adds. “The kind of impetuous nature of his personality. It was incredibly enjoyable and fun to explore that.”

The key to his personality, inevitably, is in Philip’s childhood as an orphan brought up in a strictly masculine environment. As Claflin explains, “He’s never grown up with a woman’s touch at all, to the point that we discussed his backstory, and that he never really had a girlfriend. He’s a virgin. He has Louise [played by Holliday Grainger], who’s a friend, but someone who he’s grown up with so he sees her more as a sister figure.”

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Upcoming Appearances

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Current Projects
Journey's End
Sam as Captain Stanhope
News    Photos    IMDb
RC Sherriff's Journey's End is the seminal British play about WW1. Set in a dugout in Aisne in 1918, it is the story of a group of British officers, led by the mentally disintegrating young officer Stanhope, variously awaiting their fate
Sam as Richard Sharp
News    Photos    IMDb
A young woman sails into the eye of a hurricane to save the man she loves.
Red Shoes & the 7 Dwarfs
Sam as Merlin (voice)
News    Photos    IMDb
Princes who have been turned into Dwarfs seek the red shoes of a lady in order to break the spell, although it will not be easy. A parody with a twist.
The Nightingale
Sam as Hawkins
News    Photos    IMDb
1825 Tasmania. A young convict woman seeking revenge for the murder of her family, takes an Aboriginal male outcast with her through the interior and gets much more than she bargained for.
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