Adopted at birth by teachers, he explains that they instilled in him curiosity and a desire to question things.
It was his questioning mind that made him leave the juicy role of Matthew Crawley, a character in the popular British historical period drama Downton Abbey who marries his distant cousin Lady Mary, in search of something more challenging.
It would have been simple, he says, to “Walk into a first world war trench drama off the back of Downton but not necessarily straight into something like The Guest. Those kinds of movies and explorations led to Legion, which is a wonderful amalgamation of a number of things I’ve been working on.”
“It’s a continuation of the exploration of different things and trying things in different ways.”
“I think growing up around people with faith is a very interesting thing to have witnessed. I feel very lucky. My grandfather is a very devout man, and I found that dedication and the spirit with which it infused his whole life was very inspiring, really. I could only ever hope to be that at peace,” he says.
“I’m very lucky to have witnessed that. I think it’s a common mis-selling that religion is going to fix everything. I don’t know if religion with a capital ‘R’ is necessarily going to fix anything. But I think faith and a certain belief in certain things are helpful qualities. When it’s transmuted into something a bit more institutional, then it becomes problematic, I find.”
I think for an actor it’s a very healthy thing to think about somebody other than yourself.
“Acting, he says, is something he has done – in one form or another – ever since he was a child.”And I think it’s the sense of play, the sense of collective play.
“Becoming a father influenced me as a person, but as an artist as well, in terms of what I think about, how I think, the things that I read, the things that I choose to exclude from my life,” he says.