Actor Douglas Booth: "I love to cycle around London"

ELLEN E JONES
Getty Images for Vanity Fair

How is it that at 24, Douglas Booth already seems like a veteran British actor? Here, he tells Ellen E Jones why south-east London’s still home

First we were in Greenwich Village and then we moved to a road right by the edge of the heath. I remember getting lost in the rose gardens there. I have this vivid memory of the summer and, like, 30 or 40 kids trying to climb this tree and, just, pine needles and bits of bark coming down and getting stuck in our eyes, as we endeavoured to get to the top.

I tend to frequent Maltby Street Market (right) at the weekend. It’s by a train line, in some arches. In the week it’s carpenters’ workshops and they turn into bars and food stalls at the weekend. There’s amazing peri-peri prawns from this South African stall.

I’ve been working since I was 16, but Speech And Debate is my proper West End stage debut. It’s a great opportunity to reconnect with the city because you work in the evenings, but have your days free to explore. Dinner totally, totally varies from nipping across to Pizza Express in-between a matinee and an evening show, or going to The Ivy afterwards. They really look after the theatre community there and stay serving quite late. A late, late supper for me is probably some prawn dish. I like prawns!

Peter Ackroyd writes London so well. You can always see it and smell it on the page. Limehouse does have that sense of the past. You can imagine the fog hanging very low there and my movie The Limehouse Golem [out September] captures that all very, very well.

MaltbyStreet Market

I’m not a super hardcore cyclist, but I do my best to cycle, rain or shine. If you stop cycling when it rains in London, you’ll never get back on again. I cycle into town most days and one of my favourites is going across Waterloo Bridge. I feel connected to the heart of the city everyday by that route.

I’ve had a strong connection with most of my female co-stars. Emma [Watson] is obviously doing incredible things for feminism and I really respect her for that. Elle [Fanning] is just a fantastic, young, wonderful actress. Miley [Cyrus] I don’t really speak to so much anymore, but she’s busy and we have a lot of fun whenever we hang out. Hailee [Steinfeld] is great. She’s doing her own music right now, she’s turned into a major pop star. You spend so much time with these people working, you create a bond that doesn’t just disappear because you finish the job.

I have a trusty Burberry leather jacket and I also have an APC jacket that I’ve just bought, which I’ve been living in this winter. But you know what? I’d put the jacket in the closet, if it would mean it got nice and warm soon. Although spring is coming, I can feel it’s on the way.

Speech and Debate runs at Trafalgar Studios until 1 April

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