Sam Claflin is sat in a really rather plush hotel, the chosen location for a round of interviews promoting his latest film, The Riot Club.
Just another day at the office for a movie star, but Claflin can’t help pausing for a moment to take it all in.
“Five years ago, the thought of this was just so far away,” says the wide-eyed 28-year-old, who’s just polished off a plate of scrambled eggs on toast. “Hollywood felt like a distant dream, something so far out of reach, that you didn’t even think it possible.”
Now, of course, Hollywood is well within his grasp, having recently enjoyed starring roles in The Hunger Games and 2012’s Snow White And The Huntsman.
He describes his life and career as being “blessed”.
Claflin isn’t, however, so unassuming that he can’t differentiate between success borne out of hard graft – like his – and success achieved because of one’s heritage, like that of his Riot Club character, Alistair Ryle.
Based on Laura Wade’s hit play Posh, it tells the story of an exclusive Oxford University undergraduate dining society, on the hunt for two new members. Though Wade has always denied that the story’s based on the real-life Bullingdon Club (members of the controversial club, often from very well-to-do backgrounds, were once notorious for trashing Oxford restaurants, leaving the owner a cheque to cover the damage), there are certainly similarities.
In the fictional film, tasked by President James (played by Freddie Fox), the club finds suitable candidates in likeable Miles (Max Irons) and angry “loner” Alistair, chosen largely on the basis that he’s the younger brother of a legendary ex-Rioter.
Soon, Miles and Alistair find themselves pitched against each other in a bid to win the approval of the other club members. When events get out of hand, both students are forced to face up to the consequences.
Growing up in Norwich, the third of four brothers to classroom assistant mum, Sue, and accountant dad, Mark, Claflin’s background is far removed from the pomp and privilege that he plays on screen.
“I’m not posh in any way, shape or form,” explains the die-hard Norwich City FC fan, who worked in Sainsbury’s for three years, and then as a caretaker, while training to be an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
“I’m so far detached from that world that if people ever met me, they’d realise that I’m not Alistair Ryle, or even one of the people who could potentially be from that club.”