For those who live for a costume drama, allow us to add another to your Netflix queue.
There’s a reason why The Irregulars, a Victorian-era supernatural series, skyrocketed to cinch the top spot on the streaming service when it dropped last month. Though Harrison Osterfield may look familiar, it is not just because of his stint in the George Clooney-directed Catch-22. And it’s not because he looks like a young, dashing James McAvoy. It might be because the internet has made much to-do over his friendship with Spiderman actor Tom Holland (the duo are best mates who attended the BRIT School together).
Osterfield got a first taste working behind the scenes as Holland’s assistant on Spiderman: Homecoming, which proved to be exceptionally helpful as he was tapped for his first major lead role in The Irregulars. Though it was an eye-opening few weeks, it was showing up for work on the set of The Irregulars that helped Osterfield grow. Cast as Leo, a character based upon Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Leopold, Osterfield was tasked with playing a whip-smart young man who was chronically ill as a child. “I kept second-guessing on set and having the feeling of ‘Oh, they are definitely gonna re-cast me tomorrow if I don’t do a good job,'” Osterfield shared. “It took me a bit of time to realise that I was doing a good job and I was there for a reason.”
While our fingers are crossed for a season 2, Osterfield is looking forward to taking it all in and enjoying some time with friends. “I’m looking forward to spending some proper time with my family. Before the pandemic, there would be around twelve of us who would meet up for Sunday Roasts, birthdays, BBQs, so I’m looking forward to that.” Below, Osterfield talks to L’OFFICIEL about doing his own stunts, a practical joke gone awry, and learning to trust himself as an actor.
L’OFFICIEL: Did you ever expect The Irregulars to have the kind of audience it has, hitting number one on Netflix here in the UK?
Harrison Osterfield: It’s crazy! The last few weeks have been a bit overwhelming but also incredibly rewarding. I think The Irregulars is a show that really breaks down barriers of being a ‘period show’ or another Sherlock Holmes remake; it’s very unique in the story that it tells and the characters that it focuses on. Overall, I’m just immensely grateful for the support that the show has received.
L’O: Though the show and storyline are purely fictional, your character is based upon a historical figure. How did you draw upon the actual Prince Leopold, Queen Victoria’s son, for your role in The Irregulars?
HO: Well, both the factual and fictional versions of Leo are incredibly smart characters, so I knew I was going to have to get the dictionary out to start to understand some of the vocabulary he uses in the show! Also, to be able to draw from research and information about the factual Leopold was a real gift, and one that I could transpire into the character on screen as well.
L’O: What was the most fun scene to shoot? Any hilarious stories to share from set?
HO: There’s a scene in the final episode where Leo is being drowned by a villain in the sewer water of the cellar where the other Irregulars live. To make the water the grim colour it needed to be, they chucked a load of these mushrooms in the water to make it a lovely brown colour. I wanted to do all of the stunts, and I think we did two days of me just being constantly held underwater. A week later, my hearing was a bit funny, so I went for a checkup and found out I had gotten two ear infections from those days in the water. Still, the scene turned out great!
L’O: This was your first leading role, any learning curves?
HO: Wear earplugs? Haha, I’m joking. I think a massive thing for me was just learning to enjoy every moment and have the confidence to know I was doing the right thing. I kept second-guessing on set and having the feeling of “Oh, they are definitely gonna re-cast me tomorrow if I don’t do a good job,” and it took me a bit of time to realise that I was doing a good job and I was there for a reason. So, I think moving forward, just be more confident in my decisions and just enjoy it when the opportunities come along.
L’O: Your character in The Irregulars has led a sheltered life, and his first experience out in London was eye-opening. Growing up in nearby Kent, was going up to town when you were younger eye-opening in a similar way?
HO: For sure! Growing up in the English countryside is a very different world to growing up in London. I remember doing a few trips up when I was younger but didn’t really experience it properly until I started at Drama School at LAMDA. I was still living at home at the time so it would take me an hour or two to get into school. It was definitely a lot more lively than back home! So yeah, Leo and I are quite similar in that respect. Bit harder to sneak out to London without my mum knowing when you live so far away though!
L’O: Speaking of sneaking out… your friendship with Tom Holland is well-documented, as you both met as students at the BRIT School. What kind of trouble did the two of you get into at school? Were you both always on your best behaviour?
HO: If I told you some of the stuff we got up to, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t let us come back and visit that school! We weren’t terrible, per se, but we definitely caused a lot of mischief, a bit of broken school property, [we were] the usual troublemakers. We were always pretty good at coming up with excuses that made us get out of it; after all, that’s what we were there to learn at theatre school . . . sort of!
L’O: Numerous shows and movies have focused on Victorian London lately, not to mention the everlasting popularity of Sherlock Holmes. Is there another period in London history that you would like to explore in the future?
HO: I think the World War I era is such a big part of British history and a period of time with so many incredible stories. I was lucky enough to work on the Hulu series, Catch-22, directed by George Clooney, which explored topics around World War II. So in the future, I would love the chance to be part of a story which focuses around the time of 1914 in London.
L’O: How do you fill your free time?
HO: I’m a big sports fan. So, training and fitness is quite a big thing for me, I find it helps me just zone out from everything else and I can just focus on that. I’ll also happily watch any sport on TV; I found myself getting quite teary at a live darts match the other day, so anything goes.
L’O: Well, we can tell you have a good sense of humor to you. We heard that you played a bit of a practical joke on your mum recently. How upset was she when you first told her you didn’t get the part in The Irregulars?
HO: She was pretty angry! So, when I got the call that I had got the part in The Irregulars, I actually told my Mum that it wasn’t good news. I didn’t say anything else until that evening, maybe leaving a bit too long. I eventually rang her saying, “yeah, it’s not good news. . it’s really good news because they gave me the part!” We are all pretty easygoing as a family, so we are always making jokes between each other, but I might have taken that one a bit too far.
L’O: Do you think we’ll see you in a second season of The Irregulars?
HO: I mean, I would love another season! I think the series does a great job of wrapping up themes and storylines from earlier episodes but also leaves a lot of doors open for new possibilities. I think there’s so much more scope for future narratives, new relationships, and I just hope that audiences and fans want to see it as much as I do.
L’O: June 21st looks like it’s going to be a big day this year. Any plans, anything you’re looking forward to once all restrictions are lifted?
HO: First of all I’m looking forward to spending some proper time with my family. Before the pandemic, there would be around twelve of us who would meet up for Sunday Roasts, birthdays, BBQs, etc. so I’m looking forward to that. Also, my birthday is on the 4th of July so that’s not too far away either! I hope we can all enjoy whatever the universe brings us next.