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Jack O’Connell: “I don’t shut up about Derby when I’m away from home”

DERBY’s own Hollywood star Jack O’Connell is calling on the city to get behind him after it was announced he was shortlisted for a BAFTA award.

Jack’s role in the critically-acclaimed movie Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie, has earned him a BAFTA nomination in the EE Rising Star category.

The award will be voted for by the public, with the winner being announced at this year’s ceremony on February 8.

The 24-year-old actor, who grew up in Alvaston, told the Derby Telegraph in an exclusive interview yesterday that he wanted the people of the city to get behind him and vote for him.

“I don’t seem to shut up about Derby when I’m away from home,” he said. “I’m very proud to say I’m from there.

“I could really use everyone’s support and votes and if I see anyone out in Derby who has voted for me I’ll buy them a pint.”

He is on a shortlist alongside 24-year-old Margot Robbie, who played Naomi, the wife of millionaire Jordan Belfort, in The Wolf of Wall Street and will provide stiff competition.

The other nominees include Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley.

He said that if he won the award, it would be “a little more affirmation that I’m doing my work well”.

“I don’t want to get hung up on it though,” he said. “It’s a bit of credit for what I’ve been doing and long may it continue.”

Jack cut his teeth battling his way through tough, gritty roles, often playing an aggressive and confused teenager.

Both these traits were prominent in his most notable early role, playing James Cook in the second wave of Roundview College students in Channel 4’s Skins.

A look back further at his portrayal of skinhead Pukey Nicholls in This is England, a drama set during the Falklands War and released in 2006, compared to his recent lead role as American prisoner of war and Olympian Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken shows just how far he has come.

Although he is proud of his work, he is determined to use his recent performances in Unbroken and ’71 – where he plays a lost British soldier in 1971 Belfast – as a platform to continue to branch out and take his opportunities.

Jack said: “Of course I did worry [about being typecast].

“That’s why I was as pleased as I was with Unbroken because it was different and it meant I had a piece of work that can show directors what I can do.”

But he does feel his film backlog is reflective of his journey to where he is now.

He added: “The roles that have acquired the most attention do share a common theme.

“But I didn’t come from a drama school, I was trying to forge a career and I needed to play to my strengths.

“I’m perhaps overly aware of being typecast because of it now more than ever. And it is definitely the intention going forward to keep doing new roles.

“This year is going to be crucial. I run the risk of being inverted back to it and the way I see it, I have this year to branch out.”

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