Following on from last year’s success of Moonlight, this season, we’ve seen a slew of emotional films that explore the often-tough journey of discovering sexuality. For 21-year-old newcomer, Harris Dickinson, his debut role in Beach Rats happens to be one of these important stories. Ahead of its release, we caught up with the Walthamstow actor to talk personal style, getting his break on the big screen and the importance of encouraging openness among 20-somethings.
STYLE AND CULTURE
HARRIS DICKINSON'S STYLE FILE
By Sam Higgins, November 22, 2017
How did you get started in acting?
"When I was about 11, I went to film, theater and television school Royal Academy in Walthamstow to try it out and I fell in love with it. Ever since then I was just trying any kind of extra acting I could do. Then I was doing it at school a lot and I was doing my LAMDA qualifications. Then at RA, I was doing youth theatre and when I was 16, I got an agent and started kicking on from there."
How would you describe your everyday style?
"Some people think I look a bit scruffy, to be honest. My mom tells me I need to smarten up sometimes. I just like being comfortable... comfortably stylish. I can appreciate lovely designs and amazing clothes. I do like it — it’s nice to be in clothes that you wouldn’t necessarily go out and buy, too. And seeing things develop from the catwalk and then into the high street. It’s cool, I enjoy it."
Tell us about Beach Rats...
"Frankie’s living in the outer-edges of Brooklyn in a hyper-masculine and very traditional environment. He’s part of a very traditional family with constricted exceptions of what you should be as a man, boy or teenager. It dances on the line of tragic sadness and the brink of happiness, but there are moments when he’s just lost in his sexual desires. There’s a lot of like visual metaphors to create that atmosphere that he shouldn’t be [meeting up with men in the middle of the night] but when he’s doing it, he’s happy."
How did you find the experience?
"It was a challenge, 'cause it was an area that I was so unfamiliar with and it was set on outer-edges of Brooklyn, which I’d never been to. There was pressure to do that struggle justice, as I wanted to portray it correctly. It’s not really a coming-out story, which I think is more real and it’s not glamorized, which I think is important."
What do you want people to take away from the film?
"I want people to take away how toxic it can be to suppress things inside of yourself and how harmful it can be to suppress your true identity. It’s an expectation of masculinity – baring your feelings is something men in general struggle with I think."
What advice do you have for 20-somethings?
"I think we’re easily so disillusioned by things and disillusioned by people that have never been through what we can go through as young people. Just think, continue to ask questions and continue to challenge things. Don’t just accept things for what they are, dive below the surface and don’t be afraid to say no."
Your plans for 2018 include working with Danny Boyle...
"Yeah, I feel so lucky to be playing ball with him. He’s one of the people I watched growing up and been inspired by, he’s just incredible. He pinpoints every single notion in a scene but he also allows room for freedom. 2018 will be a year of further development for me, I just want to keep on growing."