this colouring is rubbish oh well

Metro UK Digital Edition, June 22, 2017

60 seconds
James Norton

The Happy Valley, Grantchester and War & Peace heart-throb, 31, now pops up in new romcom Hampstead

by Larushka Ivan-Zadeh

Where are you today?

I am in Belgrade at the end of an eight-month shoot for a new drama series called McMafia, created by some of the people who did The Night Manager. It’s a look at the new globalised Mafia. We’ve been to lots of places but I am getting a bit homesick for London now.

That’s where your new film, Hampstead, is set. It’s being called the new Notting Hill…

It definitely has a similar feel and tone to Notting Hill. Hampstead is an area of London that has a villagey feel, like Notting Hill.

You have a small role. Was that because of TV commitments?

Yes. It was fortuitous because I was in between two jobs. The producer of Hampstead rang me and said, ‘You only have about three or four scenes but they are with Diane Keaton.’ And that’s a pretty big draw for any actor.

Is Diane Keaton like Annie Hall, her character in the Woody Allen film, in real life?

Yes! She is so bubbly and full of this wonderful lightness and I was taken aback by how so incredibly engaged she is with you. She was genuinely interested in what my mum was up to and how my girlfriend was. She was like that with every member of the cast and crew.

Which celebrity do you most get mistaken for?

I don’t get confused with anyone else, which is quite nice. Though someone came over to me recently and was like, ‘Can I just say that I love Endeavour, it is one of my favourite shows?’ She’d mixed up Grantchester with Endeavour and you don’t know if you should correct them and make them feel awkward or just go along with it. In this case I was very British and polite and signed my name ‘Shaun Evans’.

Hampstead has bathing ponds. Do you like wild swimming?

Yes I do, especially in the summer. In fact, swimming in Hampstead Ponds is one of my favourite things.

Is it true you started out as a kids’ entertainer?

Yes. I worked for [children’s party company] Sharky & George to keep myself financially afloat during drama school and loved it! It was perfect for a jobbing actor because you got to run around and shout and play. I still do the odd one on the side. I kind of miss it.

What’s your favourite party game?

There is just something about playing with the parachute, this huge billowing and colourful thing. I am still just a massive kid inside.

You were schooled by Benedictine monks, then studied theology at Cambridge. Did you ever contemplate the priesthood?

Oh no, no, no! I studied theology very much from an academic perspective. I was never destined to be in the Church. The closest I got is playing Sidney Chambers in Grantchester and he is a pretty rubbish vicar anyway. He means well but is pretty wayward and I’d be probably way more wayward than him.

Were you in the ‘luvvie’ set at Cambridge?

At school, it was all about rugby or sport and theatre was a little less cool. Once I got to Cambridge, I just wanted to do everything. I’d try to go to about four parties in a night and it meant I was sometimes a mad manic mess but that’s what university is for, I think.

You’re tipped to be the next James Bond. Fancy it?

The press and public love to speculate and it is very flattering to be part of that. As far as I know, Daniel Craig is going to do one or two more. I hope he does.

Your parents have been extras in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Death Comes To Pemberley, War & Peace and Grantchester. Is this now in your contract or something?

No, it is not, but I bet my dad would love it if it was! It is something we did as a way for my parents to experience what I do because, in my family, no one is from this industry. My parents are both teachers.

What is your essential picnic item?

I am a massive fan of portable speakers. I’d also bring a Frisbee and fresh strawberries. You can’t get more English than that.

Hampstead is in cinemas now