Hector Bateman-Harden has recently finished filming for his upcoming regular role of Giles in the new TV adaptation of Four Weddings and a Funeral, which will be released later this year. Still at a young age, Hector has also appeared in an episode of Endeavour and played Young Holmes in the 2018 feature film Holmes and Watson starring Will Ferrell. Speaking with us, Hector chats about getting into his acting career, playing Young Holmes and his upcoming productions.
You have recently been filming as Giles in the new TV adaptation of Four Weddings and a Funeral, is there anything you are able to say about your experience on set?
I have to be careful not to give anything away! I had an amazing six months filming the series, working with Mindy Kaling was wonderful and having her and the other writers like Tracey Wigfield on set meant I could talk to them about how I think Giles would do something, and they would add extra lines or bits that made it feel natural and authentic. All the cast were lovely and so talented, I learnt a lot and got to hear stories from Hollywood and about behind the scenes of movies and shows I have seen on TV. Giles was a great character to play, he changed quite a bit from the original casting and I was lucky that his scenes covered so many emotions and activities. I had the best time, I was sad when it all wrapped.
Can you tell us about your character Young Frankie in Homeless Ashes and what was he like to play?
Frankie is the boy in a family where the dad is nasty to him and his mother. Frankie is scared of his dad and worries about his mother, he spends a lot of time by himself, outside by the sea playing with his boat or in his room studying his rocks and science – he can lose himself in his science and engineering, I think that is his sanctuary. One day, Frankie can’t take anymore, something terrible happens and he ends up running away and getting into all sorts of trouble.
Frankie was a great role, it needed a lot of work and studying how he would be in all the different scenes. It was very emotional, and I was glad Angela (Dixon), who plays my mum, was so good to work with and be in the intense scenes supporting me. I had a stunt coach to teach me how to hit and use a weapon which was cool. It was sad to learn about what can happen to people in domestic abuse families and on the streets, some of the things Frankie goes through are awful. I felt very safe with Marc (Zammit), the director, working through the scenes with me, there was a hard bit with Lew (Temple) that I was nervous of but both of them made sure I was happy and could take my time to get into it.
How was it playing Young Holmes in Holmes and Watson?
Amazing! It was such a cool role, a great mix of comedy, sadness and drama which I love doing. I liked how he was there to explain why Sherlock Holmes was so strange when he grew up.
What was it like being involved in a large film and being part of the cast?
It was a great experience being part of a film for big studios. The cast were lovely, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly were very kind and it was wonderful seeing them work, I was pretty starstruck meeting them! I was lucky to have some improv from Will Ferrell for scenes which was awesome as he’s one of my comedy heroes. I also got to work with animals – a tortoise who was very sweet and I didn’t throw by the way, that was a stunt plastic version! There were horses, and a donkey that I had to kiss the bottom of, that was a fake donkey bottom swapped in for close-ups. They were very careful about safety and making sure I was okay and the animals were happy.
What were the auditions like for this role and where did you film your scenes?
I had to do a self-tape of some scenes first, I was excited to do it as I knew what film it was for and really wanted to work with Will Ferrell. Then I got to meet with the casting directors and they wanted to see me cry in person as that was in the self-tape. Then I met the director, and the final stage was a meeting in Shepperton Studios with the story consultant, director and people in the USA over Skype. I had to cry again and do some shouting, they wanted to see me do comedy as well as the sad parts. I was the most nervous for that one.
I filmed on location in a beautiful old house in Buckinghamshire, and then in Shepperton Studios for the special effects and CGI parts.
Last year, you appeared in an episode of Endeavour as Steven McLean, can you tell us about your time on set?
I loved working on that, we filmed in quite a few locations and some of the ones in Oxford were in public places which made it a challenge. Production looked after me really well and made sure I was happy with the shooting scene, taught me how to fall and act unconscious. They had to be very careful about showing me hurt because of my age. The props for the games scenes were so funny, there were massive giant costumes that must have been so hard to run in!
How long were you filming for Endeavour and how was it working alongside Shaun Evans?
I did quite a lot of days over a few weeks. Shaun was great, I was so shocked to hear his real accent, he does an amazing job of dialects, you would never know! He gave me advice about acting and career, he is very professional and wonderful to see how he plays Endeavour, getting into his character. Roger Allam was lovely too, I had some great chats with him and hearing about his stage work and Shakespeare was fascinating. I had some nice scenes with Jimmy Bradshaw and he was good fun.
You have also worked on short films, what are they like to appear in?
They are fun but faster, and have had smaller cast and crews so you get to know everyone.
What do you enjoy about acting?
I love being able to play a new character, coming up with their backstory if there isn’t one, learning all about them and figuring out how they might react to the other characters and what happens to them. It never gets boring!
Do you remember what first drew you to an acting career?
I was watching the behind the scenes extras on a Star Wars DVD, George Lucas was talking to the actors and it showed everything about how a film works. I thought it looked so much fun, how they got into the detail of the story and represented the character in each scene – I just wanted to do that too and hopefully be in Star Wars one day.
What do you remember from filming the Coasts music video for Take Me Back Home?
That was so much fun! I made some friends with the rest of the boys who played the band members, and being able to rock out on stage was just the best, definitely let my inner rocker out!
Can you tell us about some of the commercials you’ve filmed and what’s it like seeing the completed adverts on TV?
The most fun commercial I did was shot in Cape Town, you can imagine how awesome that was! I got to see some of the country which was beautiful, the beaches and Table Mountain especially, teeming with wildlife, the penguins were hilarious and so cute. I don’t like watching myself on TV at all, I will watch takes back on the monitors on set, or doing ADR but don’t like seeing it on screen.
What are some of your favourite TV shows to watch and do you have any favourite actors?
I love watching movies and all sorts of TV programmes, my favourites are probably Horrible Histories, science or history documentaries with David Attenborough – a hero, and Lucy Worsley. Young Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory make me laugh. I admire Adam Driver and John Boyega, and Christian Bale especially, he is extraordinary in Empire of the Sun, I practice some of his scenes from that. I also like watching Chris Pratt and Chris Hemsworth and how they can be sensitive and funny.
What are your summer plans?
It depends on what happens with filming, hopefully some horse riding and spending lots of time outside playing with my dogs.
Do you have any roles coming up that you are able to talk about?
I can’t say anything yet but I’m excited about doing more acting.
Hector Bateman-Harden is represented by David Lazenby at Vivienne Clore http://www.vivienneclore.com
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