Culture

Trial and Error May Have Been the Best Thing to Happen to Callum Turner

The Fantastic Beasts star talks failed jobs, not having social media, and how acting was never really in the cards.
Reading time 3 minutes
Photography by Blair Getz Mezibov ​​​​​​​Fashion by Julian Antetomaso

For Callum Turner, acting was never really in the cards. The 28-year-old British actor left school when he was 16 years old. And while his teenage self was trying to determine his life’s course through experimentation, the whole acting thing finally hit him...hard. “I tried a ton of different things. They all didn’t work out. Slowly, I came around to the idea that if you want to do something as big and daunting as acting, it’s going to take time...and work.”

His next step? Acting classes in between his local retail gigs. “I got an agent when I was 21 years old, just trying to see if I liked it, and it turns out, I was really dedicated to making it happen,” he says. His commitment to learning the ins-and-outs of his new craft may have begun in his acting classes, but it continued to evolve on his own impetus outside of the classroom. “I would watch film after film,” he says, “and I would go home and write down in a journal things about each film that I liked or didn’t like, such as ‘I loved that scene because...’ or ‘That film was so ghoulish.’ I would read the scripts, watch the films, and then write in my journal. It was complete self-education.”

These days, Turner’s acting classes and encyclopedic knowledge have paid off, and he’s been fortunate to be cast in roles under the direction of greats like Marc Webb, John Boorman, Vladimir de Fontenay, and now David Yates in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second installment of J.K. Rowling’s series. “Every single director that I’ve worked with has taught me something new in their own way,” Turner explains. “For instance, the best note that I ever received from a director is when he didn’t give me a note at all—not a word. And it was one of the best moments of my career, so far. There’s an understanding of what the film is and what the director wants in that specific moment.”

For those in the public eye, social media use can seem like almost as much of a work commitment as showing up to set: Post a film promo, hawk a product, throw in a selfie from set, and so on. But this social-media phobic star takes a different approach from most. As Turner explains, “It’s just because I’m already addicted to my phone enough. It’s a simple question with a very simple answer... and that’s the truth. If I had social media, I’d be a proper phone addict.”

Continuing to chat about his favorite films and his commentary on artistic direction brings us back to that journal he used to keep—diarized entries that date back to the beginning of his career. “I wish I still had it, to be honest. When I moved with my mum, she was on this purging vibe, and I kind of just picked up on her energy and I threw a ton of stuff out. Sadly, my journal went away in the purge,” he recalls. “Luckily, it’s still all in my head.”

Credits

Grooming: Min Min Ma using CHANEL Les Beiges
Casting: Ian David Monroe
Digital Technician: Eric Bouthilier 
Photo Assistants: Ricardo Fernandes and Iain Gomez
Stylist Assistants: Mina Erkli and Emily Drake
On-set Producer: Spencer Sailey
Location: Milk Studios
Catering: Lemon & Olives Inc.

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