In conversation with Disney’s most likeable villain.
(LEFT) All clothing OLIVER SPENCER, brooch stylist’s own
(RIGHT) Jacket OLIVER SPENCER, brooch stylist’s own
Picture this: one moment you’re working as a waiter in Edinburgh, and the next you’ve bagged yourself a role on a new Disney Channel series, making it onto Vogue’s “Fittest Boys of 2017” list along the way. That might sound like a pretty wild ride to most, but London-based actor Thomas Doherty seems to have taken it all in his stride.
Since hitting the scene as Sean on British drama series The Lodge in 2016, Doherty quickly proved his showbiz worth enough to be cast as Harry Hook in last year’s Descendants 2, the all-singing, all-dancing musical film that explores the lives of the children of some of Disney’s biggest names (and elsewhere stars Wonderbabe Sofia Carson). That’s right, I’m talking Cruella de Vil, the Fairy Godmother, and yes, you guessed it, Captain Hook.
Despite his status as a certified Vogue heartthrob however, Doherty is keeping a necessary degree of rationality when it comes to his new found fame. “I don’t want to have expectations,” he says in regards to his career’s trajectory. “Whatever comes I will throw myself into it, and who knows, that might become the dream role I never knew about.”
Ahead of what is set to be even more of a jam-packed year than the last has been, we caught up with the Disney star to talk heroes, villains and Kenny Ortega.
(LEFT) All clothing OLIVER SPENCER, brooch stylist’s own, boots DR MARTENS
(CENTRE) All clothing OLIVER SPENCER
(RIGHT) All clothing OLIVER SPENCER
Tell me about how you got into acting. Was there a particular moment that you decided to become an actor?
I always find when I speak to people that they can say the moment they fell in love with acting, but for me it was such a gradual process, one that I think is still going on. I was more into sports when I was younger, mainly football, and I was a “football lad” – cringe – at school, so all my acting was a complete secret. But I always knew that I would be an actor. I think it’s because I was so good at lying to my mum about where I’d been that night…
I think all of us have had to tell that lie at some point! And how did you land your first job?
I was working in a restaurant up in Edinburgh for a few months, and travelling down on my days off to audition. And I was fortunate enough to have booked the part of Sean in Disney’s The Lodge. And that was the beginning, the beginning of a long, successful career – fingers crossed!
So, a year or two ago you were working as a waiter in Edinburgh, and now you’re a Disney star! How has that transition been?
It has been fast and I feel so fortunate to have such a wonderful agent and family and friends to support me. The transition took me a while to come to terms with. It’s a very different lifestyle and way of life, and it took me time to really establish what I want, and I’d be always thinking ahead, thinking about the next job, what to put on Instagram, etc. Now I’ve settled into it and just ride the wave. I look forward to seeing what’s next rather than worrying.
And how have you found moving to London on top of that?
I was always up and down from London. I love the city and I’ve made some great friends down here, and my agents are the best. So I settled in quickly and enjoy the buzz – that being said I do like going home from the mayhem to walk my dog.
You’ve got a couple of very physical roles under your belt. Talk me through a typical day on a project like Descendants 2 when you’re singing and dancing just as much as you’re acting? How do you prepare for a role like that?
I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the MGA Academy of Performing Arts up in Edinburgh for a three-year musical theatre course, so I was already familiar with an intense physical schedule. The difference being on the set of Descendants 2 was that you were constantly repeating the same move for different camera angles and you had to make sure you kept it the same. So it wasn’t physically strenuous, rather mentally exhausting.
What was it like working with Kenny Ortega?
Incredible. He’s a super human and a wonderful friend with an incredible vision and passion. I always say if I could watch the best film in the world or have Kenny Ortega describe it to me, I’d pick the latter.
(LEFT) Jacket OLIVER SPENCER, brooch stylist’s own
(RIGHT) All clothing OLIVER SPENCER
Who else do you look up to in the industry?
I admire a lot of actors in the industry. I feel like you can always learn from whoever you are watching. Everyone will interpret something differently and will always ignite something exciting for you to observe or learn from, good or bad. But Leo has that special place in my heart.
Do you prefer playing a villain like Harry Hook or someone who is more easy-going like Sean?
Oh no, I much prefer playing Harry. Villains are always so much more fun to play, and working with someone like Kenny, he just lets you do your thing and explore the character. The thing about playing villains is that I feel everyone has the propensity to act that way, they just don’t. So to be expressive that way in a controlled environment is so much fun. I love my job.
Cool. What do you like to do when you’re not acting?
I love just living my wee life. I like to read and work out and spend time with my friends and family and my beautiful girlfriend. I’m obsessed with my PS4 at the moment, but I’m hoping that obsession will subside soon…
And finally, what have you got lined up in the future?
Who knows! Potentially another season of The Lodge, maybe a third Descendants, I have High Strung: Free Dance coming out summer 2018. Auditions will start up again after Christmas so who knows. But I’m heading over to the City of Angels, so look out for me in Hollywood…hopefully!