Iain De Caestecker

Propelled by his role as Leopold Fitz in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, Scottish actor Iain De Caestecker has jumped confidently from one challenging role to another. Having wrapped a new historical drama, The Winter King, Iain opens up about his rightfully deserved lead role and what it means to immerse himself masterfully as an Arthurian warrior.

Making it through a quiet acting period due to the recent SAG strike, Iain De Caestecker seemed eager to jump back into acting and to talk about his most recent work as Arthur in The Winter King. The series retells the Arthurian legends and set in Dark Age Britain, follows Arthur Pendragon from outcast to legendary warrior. He recalled, “It’s been a very peculiar year. I’ve been working on some personal projects, getting ready to shoot a little short film me and my friend are working on. I’m in a fortuitous position where I can, after shooting The Winter King, be able to afford myself some time to work on my own things whilst the strike has been taking place.”

Silk tank top, Wool oblique jacket, Wool trousers: DIOR Man,Rose garden signet ring: Bleue Burnham

Eager to open up about his recent personal projects as well, Iain explained, “When I first started out, I was really young. The first thing I ever did with my brother was buy a video camera and we would make short movies together. I mean, they were terrible, and I hope that they’ve all been burned and incinerated somewhere. But I’ve just always really enjoyed the filmmaking process.”

Admitting to feeling as though the filmmaking process felt like an unattainable pursuit, he expressed honestly, “I think I’ve always thought who am I to think I could be involved in that side of it. Just sort of stay in your lane. But I think now more than ever, filmmaking is much more accessible. You can really shoot something on your iPhone, there’s no excuse. I find the acting process creatively fulfilling, but sometimes it’s cool to expand the boundaries a little bit and think about, what’s the story that I want to tell?”

Working closely with one of his best friends, Iain detailed how with the help of his friend’s smart writing, they have been enjoying exploring the filmmaking process more. He joked, “I wouldn’t profess to be very good at it. I don’t say that to be self-deprecating. Writing is not my forte, but I would like to get behind the camera a bit more.”

He added, “I know, lots of people can relate to the idea of just being terrified about not being good at something. I think that it’s probably always held me back a little bit before. I think I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want to have any regrets, so I think I would like to explore that stuff.”

Discussing his journey as an actor, Iain detailed that there is an element of not being in control of the creative process that challenges you. “Your fate isn’t in your hands a little bit. You have these times in between filming and a lot of times it can be these days and times where you must try to keep yourself creative. The cool thing about writing and filmmaking is you can be your own boss, and you can decide when and how you do it.”

Plaid wool roll neck jumper and Corduroy trousers: POLO Ralph Lauren,Howard boots: Grenson

Across all his acting roles, Iain has made sure to always tap into his character, no matter how different they are from him, but also remain conscious of the impact these characters have on him overall. He explained, “I think where it all comes from is finding the human connection and understanding someone who is incredibly different from you. Finding something you can relate to in that character. I used to hear this from other people and just think, yeah right. But I am much more aware of how characters’ emotions stay in your body. I think with my work in The Control Room, from the opening scene there was this tension that built at 90 and just went to 100 and stayed there. I did find at the end of it, the anxiety stayed with me in my body.”

He continued, “I had never had to do this before, but I actually had to talk to someone and talk to a therapist about it because it really messed with my head for a while. I couldn’t let go of it. I do realise more now, blurring the lines between you and the character and just being careful about it. You throw yourself into a character, so it’s impossible to not take on what the character is about. Luckily, I haven’t played a psychopath, but I can only imagine the dark places the people who play those types of characters go.”

Discussing which of his notable roles were his favourite to work on, Iain explained, “With The Winter King coming out soon, I had such a fun time doing it. I just think playing a character like that, it’s an opportunity I never expected would come my way. I never really thought that I would be considered for something like that. As I’m not the kind of archetypal casting bracket for that or I wouldn’t have thought I was, I just really loved embracing it.”

“The great thing about being an actor is you get to throw yourself into these different worlds, characters and experiences. So, to be able to do things like horse riding on set is never something I’ve really done. Being paid to go horse riding is wicked. What a life, I absolutely loved it.

Speaking on his experiences as an actor, Iain added, “I do find I’m catching myself sometimes just being like a little nine-year-old boy and just thinking back to when I was making little, short films with a video camera in my bedroom with my brother. If I had been able to tell myself what I would be doing on the set of The Winter King, I would just be jumping for joy and bouncing off the wall.”

With such big characters like Arthur Pendragon in The Winter King, Iain often found himself navigating a sense of imposter syndrome to a character that had such centred stoicism and confidence. Revealing how he often experienced challenges from the role and inhabiting a character that was such a strong willed, natural leader, he said, “I guess there’s a lot of trial and error. Luckily, a lot is done for you when you have put the costume on. These amazing costumes, that when you put them on, you suddenly notice how it affects the way you walk and the way you move and the way you talk as well. Arthur has this rough shaved haircut with the scar shaved into his head and having all that stuff on and being able to look in the mirror, just does wonders. Being on a horse as well really helped me and I know that sounds weird, but you have to adopt some of that stoicism that they instinctively have.”

He added, “We had these amazing sets which they built, which often felt like you were on location. Which just means it’s an immersive experience. Some stuff during filming, you just figure out on the day, when you get there for the first time and everybody’s there together, they yell action. That’s the moment where things click, and the cogs spin together.”

Coat: Acne Studios at MRPORTER ,Oval pendant:Bleue Burnham, Knitted vest:Polo Ralph Lauren Leather belt:Tom Ford at MRPORTER, Trousers:Ami Paris, Leather loafers:Christian Louboutin, Flowers grow together ring, Rectangle chloroplast ring: Bleue Burnham

With longstanding acting roles like character Leopold Fritz in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, Iain discussed that he tends to stay reasonably on script as it anchors him into his role. He disclosed, “I do think that inevitably, especially when you’re doing a TV series and you’re getting to play a character over a long time, you do start to get more and more ownership over the character. But I also think at the same time, the writers will see that and will start writing to your strengths. It’s sort of a meeting of all those different things together.”

Reliving his time in America during Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, he reflected on the production value of the show. “Filming in America and being a part of the whole machine and the whole studio thing was something that you couldn’t ignore. It was very present. There are good and bad parts to it. Every actor will tell you that having good craft services is an incredible experience. I met some of my best friends in the world on that show, so I wouldn’t take any of it back. But I do prefer a more independent, lower budget sort of vibe. I think it allows you to be a bit more involved in the process.”

Speaking on staying grounded as an actor, he added, “Before the strike, myself and Ellie James, who’s in the show, [The Winter King] is fantastic. We went out to LA together to do some screenings where they put up all these big posters. I forget sometimes because I’ve been around that stuff quite a few times, that I had begun to become a bit desensitised to it. But she just loved it and embraced it in such a cool, lovely way. It really reminded me to not forget to savour those experiences. Not everyone gets to experience something like that and what a cool thing it is to be able to do this job.”