Gentleman's relish: Henry Lloyd-Hughes is set to star alongside Hollywood's finest in 'Hello Carter'

Eight years ago, the actor almost gave up on his thespian aspirations but now has a growing reputation. It’s been worth the struggle, he tells Miranda Kiek

Henry Lloyd-Hughes has ridden to the interview on a Royal Enfield motorcycle. The photographer – who is also a motorbike fan – immediately invites him to a vintage rally. Lloyd-Hughes looks keen, "I only know one or two other people who ride motorbikes – I don't yet belong to any gang." I can't say I'm surprised. His appearance is far more PG Wodehouse than Hell's Angel.

Ironically, for this gentlemanly actor, it was playing the shaven-headed school bully, Mark Donovan in The Inbetweeners that proved his biggest break.

More roles quickly followed: in television as David Miliband in Channel 4's docu-drama Miliband of Brothers (in which his younger brother, Ben, also an actor, played Ed) and as aristocratic Captain Notting in BBC's Parade's End; and in film as a hardbitten yet idealistic young raver in Weekender and a tortured professor in the philosophical sci-fi flick Dimensions. His latest film Hello Carter, directed by Anthony Wilcox and executive produced by Michael Winterbottom, will premiere at the London Film Festival this October.

As well as screen roles, Lloyd-Hughes has had stage success, receiving exemplary reviews for performances in the critically acclaimed stage-plays Punk Rock (Simon Stephens) and Posh (Laura Wade).

A neat moustache adorns Lloyd-Hughes's upper lip, oddly incongruous on such youthful features. "I had to grow it for my part in the Madame Bovary film," he explains – worried, perhaps, I would take it for a display of thespian flamboyance – "It's all part of being an actor, having to surrender control of your appearance."

However, I suspect he rather likes the look – the vintage moustache is partnered by a cream-coloured sports jacket, a cravat and, swinging casually from one hand, a glorious, glittering motorcycling helmet in bright vermillion. "If it was up to me," he goes on, "I'd probably have a shaved head, it's far simpler but that wouldn't be good for business."

And business, for this well-spoken and personable 28 year old, is currently very good indeed. He is due to start work filming a new adaptation of Madame Bovary with director Sophie Barthes at the end of this month. He will play the bourgeois doctor Charles Bovary alongside two of the hottest names in Hollywood – Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre, Stoker) as the eponymous heroine, and Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk about Kevin, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as her lover, Leon. It is, however, the chance to act with Paul Giamatti (also in the film as Monsieur Homais) which excites Lloyd-Hughes most: "He's one of my top three actors in the world."

As he talks about Charles Bovary, Lloyd-Hughes is endearingly enthusiastic – leaning further and further over the table towards me. It is easy to see why Sophie Barthes was impressed. She cast him after a brunch meeting on Verona Beach a year ago during which, he says, he just "gushed". He is gushing now or, at least, idea is following idea in a veritable torrent: "Charles Bovary is very unfanciable. You pity Emma being bound to him, this guy who gets on her nerves with his small-minded, small-town life, but that's only because so much is seen through Emma's eyes.

"In this film, rather than an older, slower, dour, slightly humourless doctor, we're making the pair closer in age. It's actually much more radical and challenging if you make Charles more appealing and therefore make betraying him tougher for Emma."

Henry Lloyd-Hughes (right) with Jack O'Connell in ‘Weekender’ Henry Lloyd-Hughes (right) with Jack O'Connell in ‘Weekender’
Lloyd-Hughes's grandfather, Basil Appleby, was also an actor, and had roles in films including The Dam Busters and The Black Knight. The young actor insists, however, that his was not a theatrical household – his dad, he adds by way of proof, works in a bank.

Instead, Lloyd-Hughes attributes his career choice to the support and encouragement of teachers and pupils at his school. "You know I didn't go to a drama school, I went to a normal academic school." Hardly normal, I suggest gently. It was the elite public school, St. Paul's.

Out of the 160 boys in his year group, he was the only one not to go to university. In his final year he had been signed by an agent and decided to find a job, any job, to support himself while building a career in acting. After a couple of years of unrewarding work and auditioning for roles unsuccessfully, Lloyd-Hughes was on the verge of giving it all up. He had been working as a landscape gardener and, with the cash he had managed save, had decided to buy a plane ticket to the Far East. Three days before he was due to leave his agent rang – he'd got a small part in Murphy's Law, "so the Far East never happened".

I put it to him that after the cloistered world of St. Paul's his experience of working in poorly paid jobs must have helped him to grow as an actor. He agrees: "If you exist in a closed world you can become incredibly blinkered. If you're blinkered you've got nothing coming in. That was what I told myself at the time anyway. The number of different situations I've been in – working in a bar, clearing up people's sick at four in the morning when I hadn't slept and hadn't had a break. I don't want to make it sound as if I was down the mines because I wasn't, but it was a reminder of real life."

Lloyd-Hughes's penchant for vintage extends to more than his choice of transport. A few years ago he wrote and directed a short film for Channel 4 called Bright New Wonders in which he mocked society's obsession with the next new thing. But is he himself the next new thing? He laughs. "You should just bracket me as a thing, which will hopefully become an old thing, a thing that will mature slowly and surely."

An unusually sensible wish for a young actor, but then clearly Lloyd-Hughes is, in the most modest and likeable fashion, entirely unafraid of following his own path.

'Hello Carter' premieres at the London Film Festival on 12 October

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls


The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury


Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas


Arts and Entertainment


Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7


Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary


Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence