Jack Lowden’s unofficial guide to self-betterment
The charismatic star of Apple TV’s ‘Slow Horses’ and BBC One’s new drama ‘The Gold’ shares his thoughts on creative, physical and professional transformation
Friday 6 January 2023 By Andy Morris
At the ripe old age of 32, Jack Lowden worries he may already be past his best. Despite his considerable success as an actor, including winning a BAFTA, stealing scenes from Kristin Scott Thomas and Florence Pugh, being directed by everyone from Steve McQueen to Christopher Nolan, Lowden has a different metric of success.
Ever since childhood, growing up on the Scottish borders, he has measured himself against the milestones of his first choice of career: a professional footballer. ‘I’ve peaked physically, according to the world of football, and that is the only world I adhere to,’ he patiently explains. For anyone who, like Lowden, worries they too may have missed their true calling, or that change isn’t possible during their career, here are some of the key ingredients to the Scottish actor’s considerable success.
Experience is essential
Lowden credits much of his achievements to his early grounding at the Galashiels Amateur Operatic Society, where, since the age of 11, he would perform in the likes of Les Misérables, South Pacific and Guys And Dolls, alongside amateur actors from all walks of life. His Slow Horses co-star Gary Oldman had a similar onstage apprenticeship, working at The Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. ‘Gary told me that he once played a dog on stage at The Citz. Imagine, 40 years ago, going to the Christmas show and seeing Gary Oldman on all fours with floppy ears. I wondered whether that was the moment people stopped and went, “That guy is going to be something…”’
Put in the work
Lowden can soon be seen in The Gold, a blockbuster BBC retelling of the real-life Brink’s-Mat robbery in 1983 where gold bullion worth £26m was stolen. The actor plays hardman Kenneth Noye, found not guilty of killing a police officer in self-defence, but who subsequently served 21 years for a road rage attack. Lowden had to bulk up considerably to play the threatening figure of Noye, going from 79kg to 90kg in three months. He worked with personal trainer Chris Ball, an ex-professional boxer from south London. ‘I wasn’t trying to become a quarterback or anything like that. I wanted to put some “chunk” on. It was just a sh*t ton of pain really… and a lot of eating.’
One hack he deployed was the same he used when playing a wrestler in 2019’s Fighting With My Family. ‘A go-to thing I do is crack four eggs into a NutriBullet with massive handfuls of spinach, a banana and frozen raspberries. Whizz that up and you’ve had four eggs… but you wouldn’t know because it doesn’t taste minging. And it works – none of my clothes fit me after that.’
Ego is the enemy
Lowden has faced his share of tough crowds – once during Black Watch, his critically acclaimed Iraq drama, he saw one audience member reading a book during the performance. While that awareness keeps him grounded, his best advice to young actors and directors alike is to remain creatively open. ‘I think the biggest thing that people get wrong is pride with an ego in ideas. I just think you really have to leave that at the door, because so much gets lost in the sh*te between people. Some of the most effective film sets are those that are under the complete dictatorship of one person – but they can still be open to whoever has the better idea. It’s just that they have the final say.’
Despite the range of his roles he has proven so adept at, the film industry decided Lowden’s specialism for him. ‘In terms of the scripts I was getting, it was a lot of very feckless men. Incredibly feckless men, who really had their finger on self-destruct all the time. I don’t know why.’ For his part, he has much more interest in pursuing more fulfilling projects – he created his own production company Arcade Films to start putting things into practice.
‘It really came out of that idea of trying to trap myself into creating rather than talking. It’s lovely to operate in an industry that I love in a more practical way.’ It will surprise many to know that even with Lowden’s Oscar®-nominated partner attached, producing a low-budget independent film still proved challenging. ‘We had Saoirse Ronan as the lead – who is in a league of her own – and got a good team together, but it’s not like we walked into rooms and everyone said, “Yes, OK”.’ I guess it makes it more satisfying, but getting an independent film funded is a miracle in itself.’
Surround yourself with inspiration
Lowden’s first Soho House experience was a visit to The Electric Cinema in Notting Hill five years ago. Ever since, he’s had countless interactions in various Houses across the capital. ‘It's amazing. As an actor, if you walk around certain parts of London, every single street you go down, you have a memory of an audition. The different Houses have these memories because of the different meetings that I’ve had in there about prospective films.’
‘I’m not gonna lie, I love the decor. It’s wonderful. I’ve only been to Soho Farmhouse a couple of times, but it’s really nice to be out there.’ His one request? A location closer to home. ‘I do wish we’d get one in Scotland. Why have they not done that in Edinburgh? People would lap that up there.’
The Gold will be shown this spring on BBC One. The first two seasons of Slow Horses are available to stream on Apple TV
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