Esquire Magazine released a digital article today with Harrison, talking about his career evolving from assisting Tom Holland on big Marvel sets to starring in The Irregulars! It’s quite the read, so check it out below.
Harrison Osterfield Didn’t Know Sherlock Holmes Before Starring In The Irregulars. It Helped.
Harrison Osterfield has been rearranging the furniture in his living room a lot. He moved into a new flat in South London with a friend last November, and while his roommate is at work, he’s been changing things up around the place out of boredom. There hasn’t been much else to do, aside from wait impatiently for The Irregulars, his first big acting role, to drop onto Netflix for the world to watch.
Finally, on March 26, it will. The series is a twisted, magical Sherlock Holmes spinoff unlike any of its Jude Law, Benedict Cumberbatch, or Robert Downey Jr.-led predecessors. Instead, the show is led by an ensemble cast playing a group of poor young teenagers hired by Dr. John Watson to help solve a series of supernatural mysteries occurring in Victorian London. It’s gruesome, dark, and also thoroughly modern.
The Baker Street Irregulars are a real part of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes universe. They are, in the books, a gang of young street boys that Sherlock Holmes would employ to help with his cases. In Tom Bidwell’s Netflix adaptation, they’re a group of diverse young men and women who live on the street, and it’s the women who harness the power needed by Watson to help solve crimes.
Harrison Osterfield’s character, Leopold, is not one of the misfit gang. He’s a prince who stumbles across them by chance, is immediately taken with Beatrice, the leader of the pack, and decides he must tag along at all costs. Hemophilia has kept him within the palace walls his entire life, and the young group of friends present a new, unrestricted world to him, one he never knew existed before. He also happens to be pretty well-read, and so quite helpful when it comes to solving mysteries.
Osterfield himself is also entering a new world. He’s a working model, has had small acting roles before in George Clooney’s Catch-22 Hulu series, and also served as his best friend Tom Holland’s assistant on Marvel sets, but The Irregulars is the first time the spotlight is really on him. It’s daunting—daunting enough that moving the couch again seems like the best thing to do in the meantime. Esquire zoomed with Osterfield before The Irregulars premiere to talk about pandemic filming, Marvel set life, and of course, Sherlock Holmes (whom Harrison didn’t know much of before he landed this role, but we won’t tell).
Have you been working recently?
I’m not really. I’ve been just kind of getting into sort of the publicity schedule for the show that’s coming out next week and it’s been relatively quiet. A few self-tapes here and there, but it’s a bit difficult at the moment with the current climate of everything.
So this is your big breakout role. How are you feeling about the Netflix premiere?
It’s very daunting. It’s daunting but exciting. I’m obviously incredibly proud of this show. It’s been close to two years in the making, so we’ve been on it for what feels like a very long time and it’s amazing that all that accumulation of stuff comes down to the release. But I’m really proud of the work and I know a lot of the cast are as well, so we’re just excited for people to see it and see what they think.
Have you seen it yet?
I have, yeah. They sent us the episodes and I tried to do, oh, maybe I’ll do one episode a week, leading up to release. But I blitzed through all of them in a day. I couldn’t help myself. I just kept watching, which is a good thing. The show is very bingeable, and there’s a lot of action in each episode. As the episodes go on, the momentum really increases. So once you’re hooked, I think you stay hooked.
Are you a Sherlock Holmes fan or were you growing up?
I mean, this is really bad, but I didn’t know much about Sherlock Holmes before this. I watched the Robert Downey Jr. version and I really enjoyed that adaptation, but I’ve never actually seen the Sherlock series with Benedict. But my character is very new to London and new to the world, so I thought it’d be a good idea to come in with a blank slate and then just take in the world as my character would. So it’s all part of the process.
Sherlock is such a classic character and the center of gravity of this iconic franchise, but The Irregulars flips that on its head and makes young female characters the sources of power instead. So what did it mean to you to take part of this kind of series, which is not classic Sherlock in any way?
It was really exciting. In fact, when I heard it was another Sherlock Holmes adaptation, without reading it first, I thought, oh that’s kind of interesting, I guess. But then I started reading the script and realized that that wasn’t the case, that this wasn’t just another remake. This was something sort of completely different. And the fact that it focuses on these five kids who are referenced in the books, the Baker Street Irregulars for maybe four or five lines. Our showrunner Tom Bidwell has created an eight hour episodic extravaganza. And the fact that there is a lead female character and casting the right people for the right roles, regardless of sort of the period of time or anything like that, is a real special thing to be a part of.
What kind of research did you do for your role and what was your process of getting into character like?
So it was a new one for me, playing a character that was actually a factual person. Prince Leopold was Queen Victoria’s youngest son, and to be able to sort of read what his sort of peers would say about him, his mum would write about him in her journal about how clever he was and how talented he was. So it was nice to have that sort of backdrop and also having our showrunner only really a text away if I ever had any questions. But for preparation, one of Leo’s sides is his illnesses that have basically defined him his whole life, with hemophilia and sort of any bump or bruise has a lasting effect. So he’s constantly battling that and putting on a brave face for people. So I bought myself a little collapsible walking stick because Leo also has a cane and I was basically just wandering the halls of our hotel that we were staying at, just to get an idea of what that would be like on the physicality side.
Where did you guys film?
We were in Liverpool, so North England. Liverpool, Sheffield, Manchester. And because those sorts of cities have still got that Victorian aesthetic with the cobbled streets and the amazing architecture, it was really amazing. And Netflix just sort of put their weight behind that, and then would add on Victorian streets to a stately home or anything like that. So it was very easy to get into character and slip into that world, because you were literally walking into 19th century London.
Did your filming overlap with the pandemic at all?
Yeah. I mean, we were filming for about seven months, and when we had two weeks left to film we got an email over the weekend saying, “Hey guys, we’re just going to take a three day hiatus to see how this COVID thing plays out. It’s probably nothing. I wouldn’t worry about it.” And then obviously five months later, we ended up going back to work. But it actually worked out in our favor I think, because it was such a long job and the last two episodes are a big sort of finale, and I think everyone was getting a bit tired. The stamina for these jobs is something you really need to have. And to be able to go back with that renewed energy and finish it off safely and securely and with this extra amount of energy, was very lucky to do. I would say, too, that it was the safest place to be. I mean, obviously we were very apprehensive because no one really knew anything about the pandemic and how it was going to work filming, but the production team put together some amazing protocols. And we were one of the first UK productions to start back up after the first lockdown. And to go back and be tested every day, and each department had colored wristbands so you could only interact with certain people at certain times. So it felt very safe and the paramedics and the medical team did an amazing job of making us feel safe and making us able to do our best work, really.
In the series, your character embodies this class tension, and this tension between where you come from and where you choose to go in life. What did you take away from Leo in that sense, or what can he impart?
For Leo it’s an interesting one because his class is all he’s ever known. And the fact that he’s sort of been kept away at Buckingham Palace his whole life, when he encounters people that are a slightly different class than him, he doesn’t see the separation in classes. He sees them as one of his own. And at the end of the day, one of Leo’s main goals is just finding friendship and finding love. And I think for him, he is one of the few from the palace that doesn’t see that sort of disparity between the classes. And it’s actually in one of the first scenes that Leo has outside of the palace, where he sees this person standing up to what he would see as his elders is a really exciting thing for him. And as soon as he sees, oh wow, it’s just a free ball game out there, anyone can be whoever they want to be, that’s where he wants to spend a lot of his time and make a name for himself.
Do you have a favorite memory from filming?
I mean, there’s lots. It was such a new, big experience for me. Every day was a joy. There was one time where Leo is telling a joke to the cool kids of London, and I thought it’d be a good idea to test out some of my own material and tell one of my own jokes in the rehearsal, to get everyone in the vibe and see how everyone’s feeling. So in the rehearsal, it came to my line and I said, “Oh, Velcro, what a rip off.” And no one laughed. Everyone in the room just went silent and the director came over and was like, “Cut, cut, cut, cut. Okay. For this scene to work, we all need to pretend that Harrison is really, really funny, okay guys? Yep. Just bear that in mind and carry on.” And then from then on, I just said the normal line. I wasn’t going to try out any of my own material.
I was actually going to ask if you guys played around with the characters or if any of your ideas made it onto the show.
Well, clearly not. I mean, it didn’t really fit the Victorian aesthetic to… It was just too new age for them. I think that was the problem. But we were very lucky with the costumes and the fact that they were so grungy, urban, Victorian style. Even being a Prince, it was amazing being in the Royal attire. And you just felt very relaxed. And I think the show has done an amazing job with the costumes, and with the music that’s very different from the setting. It’s a show that breaks a lot of barriers, being a period show. And it doesn’t feel like that at all, and it’s very modernized.
Tell me about the cast. Are you close with them?
Yeah. Beforehand, none of us had met each other. So it was an interesting thing going off for potentially a year of filming with people that you didn’t know, spending every day with them. But instantly from that first read-through, we all just really clicked and we were very lucky that we all got on well with each other. We’re all very close and I’m close with the two guys, especially. We spent a lot of time sort of patrolling Liverpool, going to restaurants, going to bars, just having a good time. And yeah, we were very lucky to have each other. And get through it as well, because it’s such a long job. And when you’re working 15 hour days, getting up at 5 a.m. and you’re away from home as well, you need to have people sort of support you and be around. And the fact that we could sort of carry each other through that, was a real special thing.
Do you know anything about a Season Two?
The answer is no, but I would love to carry on this exploration of this character. I had such a fun time doing this job. And the great thing about the series is that it wraps up a lot of things, but it also leaves everything a bit open-ended as well. So there is massive scope to explore those relationships and narratives that have been left in the final episode. So we can just hope that people get behind the show and connect with the characters and want to see it as much as I do.
What would you hope to see Leo do in Season Two if it came to fruition?
I feel like, throughout the series, Leo really starts to find his footing as the episodes go on. Considering he’s been wrapped in cotton wool his whole life, he starts to find his feet. He starts to stand up to people that have been putting him down his whole life. So it’s a great ending for him and also a starting block for his new journey. But to narrow it down, I’d love to see some more Buckingham Palace stuff. To see him grow in the Royal family, add more responsibility, maybe some interaction with his mother, who we’ve not met before. There’s so much scope, there’s so many possibilities.
I know you’re a friend of Tom Holland and you’ve assisted him in the past. Are you a big Marvel guy yourself?
I wasn’t until we became mates, but now, yeah. Now I’m hooked.
If you had to pick an MCU dream role for yourself, what would it be?
I mean, I’ve heard that they’re casting… They’re going to make the new Fantastic Four, and I think Johnny Storm would be quite up my alley. But there’s so many characters in that universe that I would love to play, and it’s a great universe to be a part of. So it’s definitely one of the aims to get into that superhero world.
What’s a Marvel set like? Or something that would surprise people about it?
Just probably the scale of things. I mean, coming out of drama school my first time and going with my mate to see the huge budget action films in the US was a real treat. And to have that experience of CGI and coming onto this Netflix job, was a real advantage. To know how they work instead of wondering what everyone’s staring at a tennis ball for. I mean, it’s pretty daunting the first time, so I was lucky to have that experience beforehand and go onto this with an understanding of it all.
What’s next for you? What else interests you?
It’s an exciting time. I’m excited for the show to come out obviously, and I want to see how that does. But outside of acting, I’m having some really promising conversations with some in the fashion world, talking to some big brands and stuff. And that’s been a key interest of mine from a young age, so I’d love to keep exploring that world and hopefully have some exciting opportunities on the horizon.