Following his breakout role as Jude Feeny in Julie Taymor’s Beatles-inspired fantasia Across the Universe, Jim Sturgess emerged as one of Hollywood’s most multifaceted young actors working in a variety of genres. He followed that acclaimed musical with Justin Chadwick’s costume drama The Other Boleyn Girl, Kari Skogland’s IRA tale Fifty Dead Men Walking, and Peter Weir’s epic adventure The Way Back, starring opposite Ed Harris and Colin Farrell. Next up is Lone Scherfig’s One Day. Dexter (Sturgess) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) have only just met, but they form an everlasting bond. Over the course of twenty years, snapshots of their relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. FAULT caught up with Jim at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel during his recent trip to New York City.

Interview by Kee Chang

Jim Sturgess in One Day

FAULT: Have you known any Dexters in your personal life, these kinds of overprivileged “fuck-ups”?

Jim: Living in London, you see a lot of those people around. They’re hanging around these swanky bars in Soho and Notting Hill. But I was excited to play someone that I didn’t particularly like at first because then you look into his life a bit more deeply and come to defend him a lot. All the girls working on the crew just hated him, but I was like, “He’s alright! He’s a good person!”

FAULT: What was it like working with Anne [Hathaway]?

Jim: We got along really well from the beginning. It was such a nice plus that we were able to become great friends. I met her for the first time in Los Angeles and she was so nice and supportive. She really looked after me throughout that experience because she had already gotten the part before I got mine, you know? We did the read-through and started the rehearsal period, which was really effortless. We got along playing cards and listening to music.

FAULT: What sort of music did you guys bond over?

Jim: All kinds of music. We made each other mixtapes. She was really into Patti Smith at the time, which I never got my head around. I was playing her all kinds of British bands that she’d never heard of like the Stone Roses. It was stuff that was coming out of the ‘80s and the early ‘90s.

FAULT: You come from a musical background, don’t you?

Jim: I started out as a musician, yeah. I still play music and it’s always been a big part of my life. My girlfriend’s a musician as well and we write a lot of music together. I’ve been in bands since I was about 15 years old.

FAULT: What’s your instrument?

Jim: I play a bit of piano, guitar, drums and do a bit of singing. I’m not amazing at any of them. Most of my friends are really good musicians, but I can’t claim to be one.

FAULT: Did you have any formal acting training?

Jim: Not really. I never went to drama school or anything like that. I did a bit of acting when I was younger in the local theater, which I enjoyed a lot. I think my mum and dad could see that I could sort of throw my energy into it. But then again, I didn’t do it for ages, you know? I was more into skateboarding and music. I thought I was going to play in a band for the rest of my life, but I guess the other members of the band had other ideas. Maybe we weren’t as good as I thought we were! They all went off to university and I sort of stayed back in the town where I grew up and worked at a restaurant washing pots, pans and dishes. I remember getting promoted to salad boy and being really excited about that. I then realized, “I shouldn’t be this excited…”

FAULT: What was it like to see an aged version of yourself with graying hair and crow’s feet for the first time in the make-up chair?

Jim: That was fun! It was fun looking at how people age from 23 to 43. I guess when I first got the part I thought they were going to do all this prosthetic make-up, but you realize that people don’t really change that drastically. Something changes in you, but you still look like the same person, you know? It was more about finding the subtleties, figuring out when to change and show that Dexter had shifted as a character by giving him a haircut or having some of that gray coming. Also, I couldn’t believe how people used to look in the ‘90s. I don’t remember people wearing suits that big.

FAULT: What were you like when you were 25?

Jim: I was growing up with music and hanging around music a lot, so that was a pretty reckless scene at times.

FAULT: You also got to work with Patricia [Clarkson], who plays your mother in this film. What’s she like?

Jim: I enjoyed working with her a lot. She’s really glamorous, cool and feisty. We got to know each other sitting on a train from London to Paris, which was the first time we actually met. She just grabbed me and said, ‘Let’s sit together on the train so we can get to know each other.’ I was terrified, but it was the coolest two hours.

Jim Sturgess

FAULT: What can you tell us about your upcoming film, Upside Down, with Kirsten Dunst?

Jim: It’s a fantasy love story. It’s about these two characters in two different worlds called “down below” and “up top.” My character, Adam, is from “down below,” which is sort of poverty-stricken. It’s sort of a communist-ruled landscape. He basically falls in love with this girl “up top” and the two worlds don’t mix.

FAULT: It sounds like Romeo and Juliet.

Jim: Yeah, but family isn’t the thing getting in their way. This time, it’s gravity, which is an interesting concept.

FAULT: You’ve already starred in a lot of films in a pretty short span of time. Do you find that directors are more trusting of you as an actor as you accumulate more and more leading roles?

Jim: Oh god, I don’t know… It changes with every director and that’s been amazing. They have their own artistic worlds and it’s sort of set in stone for them, you know? You merely visit each person’s mind for brief intervals. You just kind of learn and learn and learn. It’s a nonstop process because everybody’s completely different.