Everything we know about Joe Alwyn, from the actor’s background and career, to his personal life

While his relationship with Taylor Swift may have sparked interest in this British talent, his leading role in ‘Conversations with Friends’ has taken his career to new heights. Inga Parkel takes a deep dive into his past and present 

Inga Parkel
Wednesday 18 May 2022 11:00
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Conversations With Friends trailer

Joe Alwyn may be a newbie to the entertainment industry, only having landed his first acting credit in 2016, but he’s already managed to work alongside a host of A-list stars, including Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Russell Crowe.

The British actor is now well on his way to becoming a household name himself. Below is an in-depth look into Joe Alwyn, including his early days, screen career, and personal life.

Early Life

Joseph Matthew Alwyn was born on 21 February 1991 in Royal Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom, to Richard and Elizabeth Alwyn. He has two brothers, Patrick and Thomas, and is the great-grandson of the English composer William Alwyn. He was raised in north London and attended City of London School, briefly playing guitar for the school’s band, and a member of the football and rugby teams. Despite being a self-described introvert, he always wanted to be an actor and joined the National Youth Theatre in his late teens.

Joe Alwyn in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

In 2012, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and drama from the University of Bristol and acted in two student films at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After graduation, he applied to four drama schools and was rejected by all of them, except London’s Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, where he went on to earn a BA in acting. During his third year, he signed with an agent who helped him land the titular role in Ang Lee’s 2016 film Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which was Alwyn’s first feature.

Acting Career

While the 31-year-old’s acting credits only date back to 2016, he’s certainly had an impressive trajectory. Following his debut in Ang Lee’s war drama, which critics described as his “breakout”, Alwyn’s subsequent role was as a supporting character in 2017 mystery drama movie The Sense of an Ending.

In 2018 he appeared in four films, including alongside Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, and Nicholas Hoult in period black comedy The Favourite, which earned 10 nominations at the Academy Awards. In addition, he appeared in historical dramas Operation Finale and Mary Queen of Scots, and received a minor role in biographical LGBTQ+ drama Boy Erased, which also starred Nicole Kidman, Joel Edgerton and Russell Crowe.

Next, Alwyn portrayed a slave owner in 2019 biographical drama Harriet, opposite Janelle Monáe and Cynthia Erivo. This was followed by his first TV show, the dark fantasy 2019 miniseries A Christmas Carol, based on the classic Charles Dickens novel.

Nick (Joe Alwyn) and Frances (Alison Oliver) in ‘Conversations with Friends’

In 2021, he had a cameo in the drama film The Souvenir Part II, before his role in the movie adaptation of Jojo Moyes’s 2008 romance novel The Last Letter from Your Lover, starring Shailene Woodley, Callum Turner and Felicity Jones.

In 2022 he joined the cast of Conversations with Friends, alongside Alison Oliver and Jemima Kirke, a miniseries based on Sally Rooney’s book about two Dublin college students who form an unlikely connection with an older married couple. You can read The Independent’s full review here.

Personal Life

Alwyn is fairly tight-lipped about his personal life. Since he began dating Taylor Swift in 2016 – after having allegedly crossed paths at that year’s Met Gala – the pair have shared minimal details about their relationship.

Joe Alwyn and Taylor Swift, who have been dating for five years

A year after their supposed meet-cute, the couple made headlines. Swift confirmed their relationship during a listening party in October 2021 when she admitted that the song “Gorgeous” from her 2017 album Reputation was about Alwyn. She also revealed they had been dating for a year up until that point.

The two have kept their relationship off of social media, yet in a Vulture interview, Alwyn verified his contribution to the singer’s 2020 Folklore and Evermore albums, under the pseudonym William Bowery. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, he responded to reports that the pair were engaged, by saying: “The truth is, if the answer was yes, I wouldn’t say, and if the answer was no, I wouldn’t say.”

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