With a BAFTA nomination already under his belt, Josh O’Connor is one to watch.
God’s Own Country, the gritty love story set in rural Yorkshire, was a standout amongst queer cinema this past year and has rightfully catapulted Josh into the spotlight.
With so much buzz surrounding him, and a new Loewe campaign coming up, we caught up with Josh for our February issue to discuss the film’s success, straight actors playing gay, and the ins and outs (don’t) of the films more intimate scenes.
Because the film has such little dialogue, character development happens almost entirely visually – this made preparations for the role a little more method for Josh:
“I’d talk in accent and we’d discuss Johnny from the day he was born. We’d go through where he was born, what was the name of his first friend, his first sexual experience, his first sexual experience with a man, and we went through everything in such detail so we had a memory bank for him.”
The on-screen chemistry between Josh and co-star Alec Secareanu was what made God’s Own Country so beautiful. In order to cultivate the genuine initial nervousness between the two, the pair didn’t rehearse together until they were on set. Once they had met, however, they based their performances upon a foundation of mutual trust.
“When you’ve got two actors that are engaged and willing to listen and are kind to each other and support each other, you can have so much fun and be wild and take risks and so I never felt – and I don’t think Alec ever felt – unsafe. We had to feel vulnerable because there would be moments where I’d do something a bit mental and we’d have to just run with it – and likewise for Alec. We’d do what we thought was right and Francis would guide us that way.”
This also helped when it came to filming the love scenes in the film, which while graphic, truly gave an insight into the internalised battles the characters were waging.
“Amazing to think about how safe it felt. One scene, me and Alec had to meet before we shot, so we choreographed it – it was so detailed. There was a twenty-point plan so it was like, ‘Jonny grabs his crotch, grabs Ghoergie’s shoulder, pushes him down, they roll’. It’s like every single detail was planned.”