He is a typical teenager who goes to school, has fun with his friends and uploads photos to social networks. But the difference is that he stars in two of the most popular shows on television.
In Game of Thrones, Sebastian Croft plays a young Ned Stark, who grows up to become the honorable hero that fans of the show know, and in the mystery series Penny Dreadful, he embodies a deadly vampire which must deal with Vanessa Ives, played by the actress Eva Green.
In an interview with this newspaper, Croft, 14, speaks about his characters and the difficulties of being a young actor.
What do you think are the biggest challenges of being an actor at your age?
Well I’m fourteen and have been acting professionally since I was seven, and guess I never really thought about challenges until recently, apart from the obvious one that is – not getting parts I desperately want! For as long as I can remember I just knew I wanted to act. That probably sounds strange, but it’s true.
The barriers for my age are: hitting 5ft (which pretty much rules you out of playing a child in the theatre), your voice changing, and all the rules of employing a child actor, meaning it’s often easier to cast a sixteen year old to play a 13/14/15 year old, than have the hassle and expense of taking on a child for the role. I have been very lucky to keep working in flim/tv and on stage up untill now, but when a lean patch happens (which it definitely will) I just plan to keep training hard, keep learning and growing as an actor and carry on throwing everything I can into finding my next role!
In case you watch the series Game of Thrones, Who is your favourite character and why? And if you don’t watch the series, why is that?
I hadn’t seen Game of Thrones until I was asked to audition for it last year (June 2015) but my older brother Nick was a massive fan, and always talked about it. At the time I didn’t know what character I was being seen for, as my part was given a code name. When I found out I had been cast in the show my brother loaned me the box set of Seasons 1-5 and I binge watched it all in ten days over the school summer holidays!
Obviously my favourite character hasto be Ned Stark. He really is the moral heart of Game of Thrones and it’s increidble how his influence lives in so much of what has happened since he was killed in Season One. It felt like a huge responsibility playing Ned, as I know how loved he is by the amazing Game of Thrones fan base. I really wanted to do him justice. I can also really relate to Bran’s character too. I have loved watching his journey from a boy, a victim in the story, to a young man carving out his own destiny and taking his place in the world.
Bran Stark has the power to travel back in time through visions. That way he knows you when you play the young Ned Stark. Would you like to travel back in time? If you could, when would you go and why?
I think the time travel in Game of Thrones is brilliantly done. Bran is at the point in his life (a couple of years older than me) when I think we all believe anything is possible. I definitely do! Bran has experienced so much as a child, including his dad dying, so you can really imagine his need to understand the father he barely knew and to know where he came from so he can proceed with his life. It really is a brilliant narrative. If I coud travel back in time I would go to Ancient Rome. I am fascinated by what an incredible society existed thousands of years ago, and would want to experience that for myself.
In the series Penny Dreadful you play a vampire boy. What do you think of the concept of immortality? Would you like to live forever or do you think it has its disadvantages?
Well at 14, hopefully I am just at the start of a long life, so right now it does feel like I have forever ahead of me, but obviously I know that’s not the case. If I was living a happy life, of course I would want to enjoy more of it, and I think people can leave a print on the world, through what they do and who they influence, without having to be here physically.
The vampires, Werewolves, etc, are classic monsters that scared children and young people in the past, in this day and age, what do you think are the things that scare young people and children now?
I think there is a reason the classic horror figures have been the same over centuries, as they represent evil in most people’s minds. Penny Dreadful is amazing because it’s not black and white, good and evil, but there is so much depth to all the characters. That’s probably the scariest thing of all, that there are monsters and demons living in eveyone, but also that there is some ray of good in even the darkest characters.
In a way the series Penny Dreadful is about lonely characters. About people who don’t fit into the normal world. What do you think are the advantages and (or) disadvantages of being different?
I am only just starting to appreciate how lucky I am to be sourrounded by people in my life who respect and celebrate difference. Working on lots of acting projects, and being in and out of school all my life has given me the chance to meet lots of diverse and interesting people and getting to know more about them. I have played lots ofyoung characters who live on the edge of society – Oliver Twist, Gavroche, a young Jewish immigrant, and even an orphan plague rat! All get treated badly by society and develop strength and courage because of it, and are more interesting for it. That’s a great life lesson. I definitely felt I could bring a lot of that to my role in Penny Dreadful, although my young vampire is by far the most evil character I have played yet!
Could you tell us a little about your future works?
Right now I am performing in London in one of Shakespeare’s less well known plays called King John, playing the role of Prince Arthur. It’s been such a privilege working with Sir Trevor Nunn, one of the greatest directors of Shakespeare plays of all time. The whole cast are so experienced and I am learning so much. I also worked on a feature film called The Hippopotamus (an adaptation of a Stephen Fry novel) which is due out next year, and have one final scene to shoot over the summer for a movie called Music War & Love in which I play a young music prodigy growing up in 1940s Poland, who meets an even more gifted female musician who is Jewish. The story follows them as children and then later in the film as adults. It is due out late 2017 I think. My hope in the future is definitely to do more TV and Film work and I have lots of castings coming up thanks to my amazing agents, Oriana and Richard at Curtis Brown, and my manager Josh Glick at Grandview. My ambition is to make acting my career. I know how tough the industry is and of course I feel very lucky to have done what I have so far, but it really is my passion, so I plan to keep working hard and making the most of any chances I get to do what I love so much in the future.