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July 1, 2024   Comments Off on Ben Hardy Talks ‘Unicorns’ Role, Career Path: ‘Acting Is Very Close to Anthropology’   Ben Hardy Interviews Projects Unicorns

VARIETY – British actor Ben Hardy, whose credits include “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Netflix’s “Love at First Sight,” is one of the leads in upcoming film “Unicorns.”

Co-directed by BAFTA nominee Sally El Hosaini (“The Swimmers”) and her long-standing collaborator James Krishna Floyd, from a script written by Floyd, the film follows a queer South Asian club performer (Jason Patel) living a double life who meets Luke, a straight, single-father mechanic, with whom unexpected sparks begin to fly.

Hardy, who plays Luke in the LGBTQ+ romantic drama, was drawn to the project by the unique story and the opportunity to work with director El Hosaini. “It was a challenging role for me, something I’d never played before,” Hardy said of portraying Luke, a working-class mechanic who enters the world of “gaysian” clubs in London.

“We spent hours and hours going through Luke, going through the script and story,” Hardy said. “To the point where we got to day one, I knew this story inside out. I feel like I really know this world and this story, and I’m ready to play it.”

Hardy initially had reservations about the co-directing arrangement, as he had signed on when El Hosaini was the sole director. “I was a bit like, ‘You guys [are] going to be arguing the whole time, how’s this going to work?’” Hardy said. However, his concerns were quickly dispelled. “They’re a couple in real life and their dynamic just seems to work. They have a good balanced relationship on set and offset. It was a joy to work with both of them.”

El Hosaini emphasized keeping Luke “very much in the moment,” which proved challenging for the forward-thinking actor. “She even bought me ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle to read,” Hardy revealed. “It was interesting playing someone very primitive and instinctive.”

The actor’s preparation included exploring Luke’s background and physicality as a mechanic. He also worked on Luke’s voice and movement, considering the physical toll of being a mechanic and the expectations of masculinity in Luke’s community.

Hardy intentionally limited his research into the gaysian scene, wanting his character’s reactions to be authentic. “I wanted my reaction to be as real as possible,” he said of Luke’s first encounter with the club scene. “I embraced my own ignorance and went on that journey with Luke learning about it.” The actor also enjoyed portraying Luke’s journey out of depression, crediting his co-star Patel for much of that character development.

“Unicorns” has received positive feedback since premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. “Everyone who’s seen it seems to love it,” Hardy said.

Reflecting on his career choices, Hardy looks for original scripts, relatable characters and roles that challenge him. “I want to be nervous,” Hardy said. “I want to feel like this is something that I’m not sure if I can pull off and take on that challenge. I don’t want to play the same character over and over.”

Interestingly, Hardy likens acting to anthropology. “I think actors are, or I’ll speak for myself as an actor, I think it is very close to anthropology,” the actor said. “You just want to study humans and step inside their shoes. It’s like, what is there that I can bring my own life experience to, but also use the realm of imagination and research to explore and get a sense of what it would be like to be that person?”

Hardy’s path to acting began with amateur dramatics after a sports injury sidelined his athletic pursuits. “To be brutally honest, at a young age I was very much just an attention seeking little kid. I was always making a show and a dance,” Hardy said. He fell in love with the craft at drama school, describing acting as “an amazing job” despite its instability. “I get to play for a living,” Hardy said. “As far as a way of making a living, I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to do this, to still be playing around like I was as a kid playing make-believe.”

Since Toronto, “Unicorns” has had a stellar festival run, with playdates at BFI London, Flare, Goteborg, Palm Springs and Sydney. Protagonist is handling international sales. Signature Entertainment is releasing the film across the U.K. and Ireland on July 5.