It was early on that Harrison Osterfield learned the need for a thick skin in the pursuit of an acting career. He comes from an academically focused family and realized he wasn’t going to follow their footsteps at a young age, thinking maybe he’d try out the arts instead.
“I started doing school plays at school and doing musicals, and my granddad sort of famously said to me, at the dinner table one night, ‘You are on the road to disaster, but we support you all of the way,’” Osterfield recalls. “I was like, ‘Oh, thank you.’”
Osterfield was undeterred though, and stayed the course. After seeing the inner workings of Hollywood through the eyes of his best friend, Tom Holland, he’s now in the spotlight himself, starting with new Netflix series “The Irregulars.”
After completing drama school at 18, Osterfield was ready to hit the ground running but was struggling to find work straight away. Holland, his best friend, called him one day to say that the movie he was working on in Atlanta — a small little film called “Spider-Man: Homecoming” — allowed him an assistant, and would Osterfield want to come hang out on the set of a Marvel movie?
“To have that opportunity of going straight from drama school to one of these sets, not working as an actor, but learning from an experienced actor and just seeing how these big steps work, was a real amazing experience,” he says.
He spent the next year-and-a-half shadowing Holland, learning how to be an actor working on set in the process, until it came time for him to take a leap of faith.
“I said to [Holland], ‘Look, man, I’m going to try and make a go of this and see what happens,’” Osterfield says.
He first learned of “The Irregulars,” which is a Sherlock Holmes adaptation of sorts, through his agent, who suggested that the role he would be reading for was right up his alley.
“And I read the character description, it was ‘17’ — I was cool, love that — ‘incredibly smart’ — so that might be a bit difficult’ — ‘and also physically frail.’ And I was, like, that’s interesting to know what my agents think my perfect casting is,” Osterfield says. “But as soon as I read the script, I just fell in love with it.”
He was apprehensive about signing on to yet another Sherlock Holmes project, but after reading the first episode, he realized it was a completely alternative take on the classic narrative.
“It focuses on these five kids who were mentioned in the book for about four or five lines, but our showrunner has taken those four or five lines and created an eight-hour episodic extravaganza and draws from characters from the Sherlocks we’ve seen before and the adaptations, but focuses on these five kids who we don’t really know anything about,” Osterfield explains.
He doesn’t know what is next, aside from riding out the latest London lockdown from his flat, but he’s interested in something more sinister from the sweetness of his “Irregulars” character.
“The whole point of me acting is I want to be able to show that versatility and tell different stories and get people to connect with different characters,” he says. “So something that will switch my career on its head would be ideal.”
That said, if Marvel is looking for another Batman project, he does have a contest with Holland to settle.
“We’ve always had an argument of who would win against Spider-Man and Batman. But when your best mate becomes one of those characters, you’ve got to go and get the other character,” he says. “I’m trying to beef up a little bit and see about Batman in a few years.”
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