Sam Claflin has found his sea legs.
The English actor recently returned home following press duties for “Adrift,” a survival-at-sea film released earlier this month. Claflin carries the biopic alongside his costar Shailene Woodley, with whom he dominates the majority of screentime.
“To have gone through that experience with anyone less than who we had would have been a quite difficult journey,” Claflin says from his home in London, where he lives with his wife and two young children.
The actor was far from home — in New Zealand filming “The Nightingale,” the story of an Irish convict seeking revenge in the early 1800s — when the call for “Adrift” came.
“I was coming back from doing something…’different’ is a polite way of saying it; it was a very strange dark role and not bad, but I was being absorbed by playing this character,” Claflin says. “I think I needed something a little lighthearted.”
As lighthearted as being lost at sea can be, anyways. “There’s obviously a darkness to ‘Adrift,’ but it was shooting at sea — really the biggest challenge was going to be learning to sail.”
It was also a love story, a genre that has been good to Claflin. The actor ranked up through the big-budget franchise system, with roles in “Me Before You,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and “Snow White and the Huntsman.” The actor’s profile rose notably from his role as the handsome Finnick Odair in “The Hunger Games.”
The role in “Adrift” introduced him to his latest love.
“I genuinely fell in love with water, I fell in love with Fiji, I fell in love with the whole life that we lived for those few months,” he says. “There was no way I was going to be a competent sailor at the end of it, but I got to feel comfortable and know my way around. I definitely came away from it with a new skill,” he says. “The great thing about film is it’s repetition, repetition, repetition.”
Well, it’s not only repetition for Claflin. Although it may seem easy to slot him into roles requiring certain aesthetics, Claflin has managed to find his way outside that niche.
“The great thing about my career lately is that yes things have been incredibly varied, but I’m not going out of my way to make that happen. I’m fortunate enough to get a few offers come my way, and occasionally there will be a script that I’m desperate to do that won’t go my way — and you know, it’s a difficult career path,” he says. “I’m at that point in my career — I’m still youngish and new, and I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I enjoy the most. I haven’t done every genre, I haven’t worked with every director, I haven’t worked with every actor. I just want to float around and try a bit of everything.”
His next something new is a little bit in flux, with a list of projects in preproduction limbo. One of those is a voiceover role, and the action-thriller “Borderland”; he and Jamie Dornan are attached to costar, with potential to begin later this summer.
“I met Jamie Dornan really early on in my career and we got along really well, so I’m sure us reconnecting will be fun,” he adds. “I’m already preparing myself for this part.”
But even sooner will be “The Nightingale” and “The Corrupted,” the latter of which deals with corruption in the East London housing market around the 2012 Olympics. Claflin plays an ex-convict amateur boxer. Despite the subject matter, Claflin notes that the role takes him home to his beginnings.
“It’s a London gangster movie, if you will,” he describes. “Again, very different, [but] it’s sort of similar to the world I grew up in, though it doesn’t sound like it. I went to a really rough school growing up, but I also played kids that had lots of money and very wealthy and in the upper class,” continues Claflin, who grew up in Norwich of modest means. “It’s quite nice and exciting to show who I really am, if that makes sense.”