VMEN: Dean-Charles Chapman
There’s no competition: Each a distinct mix of talent and style, these eight heavyweights have reimagined the playing field.
This article appears in the pages of VMAN 43: Overdrive, available for purchase now at vmagazine.myshopify.com.
Dean-Charles Chapman started acting when most kids start pre-K. Signed to an agency at age four, he’s been working for 18 of his altogether 22 years, alternating between TV, theater, and film. Last year, he crossed a professional threshold that precious few actors do, no matter their experience level: starring in an awards-season heavyweight, as Lance Corporal Blake in Sam Mendes’s 1917.
Both Chapman and costar George MacKay spend the World War I epic largely front-and-center, playing two British foot-soldiers who must traverse Northern France’s “no-man’s-land.” While the film, with its whopping 10 Oscar nods, was inarguably his biggest yet, it wasn’t Chapman’s first big break. He previously played the title role in Billy Elliot on London’s West End, and Prince Tommen Baratheon for three seasons of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Along the way, he’s learned not to judge a role by its clout. “As long as I’m happy playing the character and happy with the people I’m with [on set], then I’m happy,” he says over the phone from Los Angeles, his London accent thick and welcoming. “It doesn’t really matter how big or small a role is, or even how successful the [project] becomes.”
1917, filmed in various locations like Surrey, England and Govan, Scotland, is a technical masterpiece: Lengthy shots and intricately choreographed scenes of Chapman and MacKay give the appearance of one continuous take captured in real time. Despite his character’s temporal specificity, Chapman says that, over the course of the six-month rehearsal, he found common ground with Blake, a young English soldier who finds himself with a big job—sounding the alarm on an imminent German ambush. “[He] came closer to me and then I came closer to [him],” he says. “The two sort of met in the middle.”
Given Chapman’s snowballing career, one naturally wonders where he’ll be seen next. “I’m a bit obsessed with Westerns at the moment,” he says. But like a true cowboy, Chapman is just as happy being a rolling stone. “I’d like to maybe do a Western…[but] that’s what I love about the job: being blind to what’s around the corner, and taking it day-by-day. Just living to see what happens.”