Harry Lawtey is in the middle of a lot of changes — he’s moving apartments from north London to west and finishing up his new TV show “You & Me.”
The 25-year-old is a rising star in HBO’s “Industry,” which follows a group of young graduates at an investment bank in the City of London. Lawtey plays the handsomely naive Robert Spearing, an endearing character that’s always putting his wrong foot forward on the stern trading floor while seeking validation from all the wrong places.
“Naturally there’s an acorn of you in every character you play. He was a bit of a hellraiser and a lot of my friends found that very funny when I told them what I was going to be doing,” says Lawtey on a Zoom video call during one of London’s biggest summer heatwaves, adding that when his friends watched the show, they didn’t quite recognize him.
Lawtey may not relate to Robert’s Weltschmerz, but he sympathizes with the feeling of “a lost boy that wants to be liked and respected by those around him. I can certainly relate to that.”
“When we made the first season, the core cast of us who were taking that show forward were all very new to the industry and very inexperienced, very green and naive, which was handy because that’s the exact same as our characters,” says Lawtey, explaining that they were all feeling a touch of imposter syndrome on set that forced them to embrace the naiveté.
“I can’t say I’ve come away from ‘Industry’ knowing tons about banking,” he admits. The episodes are filled with financial jargon, but it’s much more important to have an understanding of the stakes of what’s being said and what it means to the audience.
The second series loosely incorporates the COVID-19 pandemic into the narrative by portraying the new normal of office life. Sartorially it’s the end of the tie for the trading floor, which the world saw demonstrated on world leaders at the 48th G7 Summit.
“In the banking world, the higher you progress, the more casual you become, which is a status thing,” says Lawtey, an ardent dresser who nabbed himself a pair of trainers from the Adidas x Wales Bonner collection.
Since “Industry” premiered, he’s forged relationships with the likes of Hermès and S.S. Daley. “I think his stuff is so distinctive and feels very personally driven by just his taste and he’s got such wonderful interpretation on things with a real genuine homecraft in all of his work,” Lawtey says about the British menswear designer.
During his online browsing, he’s come across Scott Fraser Collection’s ’50s-inspired pieces. “I often think I was born in the wrong era. I’m a sucker for high-waisted trousers and his stuff is inspired by ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley;’ it’s such an interesting film aesthetically, it’s just luscious, bespoke and has this great color palette to it.”
Lawtey was born in Oxford, England, but at the age of four his family moved to Cyprus, where his father worked with the Royal Air Force. However, he grew up on a diet of cult British classics instilled in him by his northern parents, who predominantly follow life as working-class Britons, including “Brassed Off”, “Kes” and “Billy Elliot,” which he recalls as his earliest childhood memory of wanting to become an actor.
“It sounds naff to say because Margaret Thatcher’s Newcastle is probably nothing like a military base, but they’re both worlds apart in so many ways and the thing they have in common is they’re similarly detached from the center of where things are happening,” says Lawtey of his adolescent daydreams.
At the age of 13, his parents sent him off to the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School in London, attended by notable alumni such as Dua Lipa, Nicholas Hoult, Rita Ora and more.
“I had this instinct that where I needed to be was London, primarily the same as in the film [‘Billy Elliot’]. This sounds so embarrassing, but I suppose I had my own little ‘Billy Elliot’ story.”