Get used to the name Callum Turner, the 27-year-old British actor at the heart of the new film The Only Living Boy in New York; The film’s director, Mark Webb, has had a hand in the careers of some of Hollywood’s most iconic manic pixie dream boys. After breaking out with (500) Days of Summer starring Joseph Gordon Levitt, Webb directed Andrew Garfield in two Spider-Man installments. Now, Webb is reprising his flair for indie romance with The Only Living Boy in New York, which, like (500) Days of Summer, is a stylish coming-of-age story featuring two precocious, young would-be lovers played by Turner and Kiersey Clemons.
Turner plays Thomas Webb, a young Upper West Sider navigating the waters of post-grad life – somewhat of a stretch for Turner, a Brit who skipped university. “I never went to college. I left school at 16. It wasn’t really for me and I couldn’t wait to get out,” Turner says. But judging by his preparation for the role, he could have been given every dude from your Intro to Fiction class a run for their money. “Since I couldn’t really relate to the college thing, so what I did was I read How Fiction Works by James Wood and I read a lot of Raymond Carver,” says Turner.
He further immersed himself in the role by spending some quality time on the Upper West Side. “On the weekends I would go to Riverside Park and just felt the energy and the vibe. Because New York is divided into segments and Upper West Side has its own energy, I tried to feel that as much as possible,” says the actor. “And it’s extraordinarily different from London; New York has more of a relaxed attitude and a higher energy level, and people in London don’t talk to each other and do their best to avoid eye contact on the tube.”
Turner was especially impressed by the hospitality shown by costar Kiersey Clemons, with whom he partook in a quintessential New York pastime. “We got pretty drunk and we did karaoke together,” says Turner. “I got booed off stage because I’m really bad at singing.” It wasn’t the first time Turner had gotten up close and personal with a DuJour cover star; in 2015, he starred as Lily James’s love interest in War & Peace.
Turner’s next project is another geographically-based, but slightly less true to life, film; Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2 reportedly takes place in 1920s Paris. “We’re five weeks into shooting and it’s amazing,” says Turner. “I was obviously a reader of the books and really loved that world, so it’s a really beautiful thing to be a part of.”
Main image: Callum Turner and Kate Beckinsale in THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK. Photo credit: Niko Tavernise, Courtesy of Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions