5 Facts About Josh O’Connor
Actor Josh O’Connor had a crowning moment in 2021 winning a Primetime Emmy Award, but there is much more to this talented star of Emma, Romeo & Juliet, The Durrells in Corfu and Les Misérables. Learn some truly fascinating facts about the rising talent.
He initially didn't want to audition for The Crown
Despite playing such a famed member of the Royal family, O’Connor at first had no interest in auditioning for the role of Prince Charles. “I thought, I can’t add anything to this,” he told The New York Times.
“I think a bit of me felt that, beyond Prince Charles being a very rich and posh man, what’s the get-in?” O’Connor told The Guardian in another interview. “Where’s the juice to him? Where’s the stuff?”
But thanks to the persistence of The Crown’s creator, Peter Morgan, he soon came around to the idea. Morgan asked O’Connor to read a scene in which Charles compares himself to a character in Dangling Man, a 1944 novel by Saul Bellow, where the character is waiting to be drafted into the war because the war will give his life meaning.
“And then [Charles] says, ‘I’m essentially waiting for my mother to die in order for my life to take meaning,’” O’Connor continued. “I read that line and I was like, ‘Well, that’s enough to get your teeth into.’”
The series reunited O’Connor with fellow Les Misérables star Olivia Colman, who played Madame Thénardier in the 2019 MASTERPIECE series. O’Connor played the lovesick Marius. (Colman and O’Connor’s The Crown co-star Helena Bonham Carter also played Madame Thénardier in the 2012 film adaptation of Les Misérables.)
“He’s one of the most beautiful actors to work opposite,” Colman said of O’Connor to The New York Times. “He’s out there with the greats, in my mind.”
He won an Emmy the first time he attended the awards ceremony
After a two-season stint as a young Prince Charles in The Crown, O’Connor won his very first Primetime Emmy Award for the role in 2021, which, coincidentally, was the first time he ever attended the ceremony.
O’Connor admitted in an interview the following day that awards events like the Emmys can be quite nerve-wracking. “Those kinds of events, particularly the red carpet, is a kind of bizarre concept,” he told Variety. “And so walking along there, I was very nervous. And then during the show, it’s just the waiting that makes you feel anxious or nervous. … And I kind of get anxious anyway!”
Still, the experience was a surreal one he’s sure to never forget, especially when he heard his name called as the winner of the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. “Making The Crown has been the most rewarding two years of my life,” O’Connor said in his acceptance speech, where he also sang the praises of co-star Emma Corrin, the Diana to his Charles, calling her a “force of nature.”
But, after such a successful and positive run in the series, the actor, who often graces the theatre stage as well, confessed he won’t be playing a member of the royal family again. “I’m a Shakespeare man, so I guess I do some of those royals,” he admitted to Variety. “But not the royal family. I’ve sort of had my time doing that. And it’s been rock ’n’ roll, and I’ve loved it. But yeah, I’m checking out of that.”
Another MASTERPIECE star will take up role of Prince Charles: Dominic West (who starred as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables). “I’m so excited to watch it,” O’Connor told Variety.
Watch his Emmy acceptance speech here:
He’s helped birth over 150 lambs
O’Connor didn’t grow up on a farm, but picked up farm skills later, during the filming for God’s Own Country (2017). In the film, O’Connor played Johnny Saxby, a young sheep farmer whose life is changed by a Romanian worker (played by Baptiste star Alec Secareanu) he meets. To truly get into the role, O’Connor picked up a few tricks of the farming trade between takes.
“We’d be doing a scene, and then they’d call, ‘Cut,’ and a van would come in and the real farmer, John, would say, ‘Josh, we got a lamb to come out,’” O’Connor recalled to The New York Times. “You’d deliver a lamb, send it on its way, wash your hands, ‘Action,’ and you’d be acting again.” By O’Connor’s count, according to the interview, he delivered approximately 150 lambs.
“I started out a rubbish farmer,” he added, “and by the end I don’t know that I was a very good farmer. But farmer John, who’s still a very good friend of mine, said that he might employ me one day.”
Drama helped him live with dyslexia
O’Connor has discussed what it is like having dyslexia, something the actor admitted to living with for many years. During his school years, it could be incredibly frustrating for the actor academically. Luckily, it was the drama program at his school that really helped him when gearing up for his General Certificate of Secondary Education exams (GCSEs).
“Drama at my school – you chose drama because you didn’t want to do too many serious subjects,” he told The Indepedent. “This drama teacher came in who had an unbelievable wealth of knowledge about theatre. All of a sudden we were going on school trips, seeing these amazing plays by the likes of Samuel Beckett. My whole world went from ‘This is really fun’ to ‘This is fascinating to me’. Before, I would go to an English class and read Shakespeare and find it infuriating. Now, suddenly dyslexic Josh could read Romeo and Juliet and, while not necessarily understanding every word, I could visualize the theatrical magic. I became obsessed.”
Years later, O’Connor stared as Romeo himself in a made-for-television production of the Shakespeare play alongside Jessie Buckley. The U.K. National Theatre production aired on Great Performances on PBS.
He's no stranger to MASTERPIECE
The 30 year-old star has appeared in a number of MASTERPIECE hits, dating as far back as one of his first on-screen credits in an episode of Inspector Lewis in 2012.
O’Connor graced screens as Larry Durrell for four seasons of the series The Durrells in Corfu, alongside a cast that included Keeley Hawes, Callum Woodhouse (All Creatures Great and Small), Daisy Waterstone, Milo Parker and more.
He also starred in the 2019 series Les Misérables, with a powerhouse cast that also included Dominic West, David Oyelowo, Lily Collins, Olivia Colman, and more.