When “My Policeman” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this fall, it was just another red carpet appearance for seasoned pros Harry Styles and Emma Corrin, two of the film’s three main stars, and designated red carpet veterans.
For their third costar, however, it was a much different experience.
“I’ve never done a red carpet before,” says David Dawson. “So that was a very special experience. Plus, I didn’t realize until we got there that the theater in which we were premiering the film I actually performed in about 14 years ago. It was a play called ‘The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby,’ it’s a Dickens epic.”
Dawson, a seasoned theater actor, joins Corrin and Styles in the new film “My Policeman,” which is available now on Prime Video. The film follows Tom, played by Styles, who is a closeted gay policeman living in 1950s Brighton, England. He marries the sweet teacher Marion, portrayed by Corrin, but soon falls in love with Patrick, played by Dawson, and they begin an affair.
Dawson had previously worked with the film’s director Michael Grandage in the theater world, when Grandage was the artistic director at a theater in London called Donmar Warehouse.
“When I was at drama school, all the shows he put on there, the way he programmed, everybody in my year wanted to be a part of that,” Dawson recalls. “I worked with him then and learned so much from him. He creates such a supportive space. And so when he came to my agent with the script, even before I read it I thought ‘I would love to work with Michael again on screen this time.’”
The character of Patrick intrigued him immediately.
“I loved the challenge of playing a man who is incredibly skilled, out of necessity because of the society he lives in, of these personas he has to have,” Dawson says. “A public persona, which allows him to achieve his life’s ambitions and travel the world and bring art to the public of Brighton, and then the private man where you get to see the vulnerabilities of him.”
Dawson, Corrin and Styles first met over Zoom because of the pandemic restrictions, but their first in-person meeting took place in a sound booth, a move Dawson suspects was intentional.
“There’s a song that we sing when we’re all getting drunk together in a restaurant. And so they put in a sound booth to sing the song around a piano,” he says. “I thought it was a really clever way for us all to break the ice and get rid of any kind of butterflies in your tummy about meeting new people.”
Especially when those new people happen to be international pop stars.
“Harry makes it incredibly easy to forget that as soon as you meet him,” Dawson says. “So yeah, it was very easy just to become friends and colleagues on an equal playing field.”