Ben Radcliffe photographed by Jemima Marriott for The Untitled Magazine wearing a suit and jumper by Edward Sexton and sunglasses by ARIA NOIR

It’s not often you see an actor transition from the fantastical world of sci-fi to the gritty realm of political scandals and WWII drama. Ben Radcliffe, having recently starred in CW’s Pandora, has successfully proven such a range with two other major projects. Last year, the British actor assumed the role of James Whitehouse in Netflix’s thriller Anatomy of a Scandal, playing a youthful counterpart to Rupert Friend’s adult version of James, a politician accused of sexual assault. Radcliffe felt the weight of properly portraying a character that depicts such a harrowing topic, but if the response to the show was any indication, he pulled it off rather adeptly. Now, his starring role in American war miniseries Masters of the Air, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, is only further proof of his diverse palette, allowing him to play two roles from completely opposite sides of the spectrum with conviction.

The Untitled Magazine sat down with Radcliffe to talk Masters of the Air and Anatomy of a Scandal, managing the intensity of life on set, and what it was like to work on a project co-produced by film legends Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Read the full interview from “The REBEL Issue” below.

Ben Radcliffe photographed by Jemima Marriott for The Untitled Magazine wearing a shirt and coat by Scotch and Soda and trousers by Leesures by Lee

How did you get into acting?

I started acting when I was very young, and I attended classes since I was seven. One of my first professional acting roles was in the musical Oliver! on the West End in 2010.

Growing up, who were your biggest acting inspirations?

Going to a theater school, I was surrounded by actors all the time, so I have always learned the most and gotten my greatest inspiration from my close friends and teachers.

What can you tell us about your upcoming war drama, Masters of the Air, and your role in it? 

I can tell you that it’s going to be epic. All the characters are based on real people who fought in the 100th bomb squad during WWII. I play John D. Brady, a B-17 Bomber pilot from Upstate New York.

What was it like to work on such a high-profile series that was executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks? 

The production value was immense, and there was always something exciting happening: plane simulators, explosions, airfields, war camps – I always felt very immersed in the world we were recreating.

Were you a big fan of war movies/shows before signing onto Masters of the Air? What about the precursor series, Band of Brothers?

I somehow hadn’t seen Band of Brothers prior to being cast in the show but I, of course, ended up loving it when I watched it after I got the part. I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of war shows, but these are some of the most exciting projects to be involved in, and I feel extremely lucky to have been a part of this show.

Can you tell us about your recent miniseries, Anatomy of a Scandal, and your role as a young James Whitehouse?

Anatomy Of A Scandal is a Netflix series about privilege and abuse of power. The story centers around a politician who is accused of assault, and it tells the story from the perspective of the women wrapped up in the accusations and their aftermath. I play the politician in his younger days at Oxford University, and I appear in a series of flashback sequences that reveal crucial hidden secrets from the past. It’s a very topical, important show, and I highly recommend giving it a watch!

How much of Rupert Friend’s older version of James did you take into account when approaching the role of young James? 

I think myself and Rupert are quite similar in our performances, and our brilliant director S.J. Clarkson helped shape our vision for the two characters without me having to impersonate Rupert’s traits too much. I got to play young James as my own character.

Did you find it challenging to act in a series tackling an issue as heavy as rape?

I did, and I felt a huge responsibility with it, but the support I had was amazing. It really felt like we were telling the story in the right way, so I was confident and proud that the show would potentially make an impact.

Anatomy of a Scandal and Masters of the Air are intensely dramatic works. How do you balance that intensity on set with life outside of work? 

I play a lot of sports. I’m really into golf and I like to go to the gym – it helps clear my mind if I’m having a particularly stressful day.

What was it like transitioning from the sci-fi of your previous show, Pandora, to the worlds of Anatomy of a Scandal and Masters of the Air, which are more based in reality? 

The transition from alien to human was a lengthy procedure involving lots of lasers and probing… [laughs]. I was very excited to play such realistic characters, actually. It was a challenge that I was more than ready for.

How do you prepare for roles and get into character?

I like to do lots of research and soak up all the info I can, and then leave it to my instincts on filming days.

Having trained in musical theater, do you plan to take on any stage roles in the future?

I would love to at some point in my career. However, I’m loving film and TV so much at the moment that it would have to be something I couldn’t pass up.

Do you see any of the characters you’ve played as rebels? Do you see yourself in any of your roles?

Young James is a rebel, but not in an admirable way. Thankfully, I don’t see any of myself in him! I have just started working on a new project where I play a rebellious character; it’s one that I’m very excited about.

Do you have any personal words of wisdom that you live by?

There are many. A few big ones: act upon energy. Never a failure, always a lesson. Be cool.

What else can we look forward to from you in the near future?

In addition to Masters of the Air coming out, I play the lead in an upcoming project with Disney Branded Television that will eventually stream on Disney+. I am also working on something that’s currently in production that I am particularly excited about.

To read our print feature on Ben Radcliffe, pick up your copy of “The REBEL Issue” here.

Photography by Jemima Marriott for The Untitled Magazine
Styling by Rebekah Roy
Grooming by Diego Miranda
Skin by Michelle Webb
Styling Assistant Melody Rawles
Photographed on location at Jump Studio in London, UK

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