Photographs by Justin Campbell. Hair by Recine for Rodin; Makeup by Kanako Takase for Shiseido at Streeters.
Harry Lasher is one of the most recognizable movie stars on earth. But for his most recent film, Good Time, directed by the Safdie brothers, he managed to go undercover in New York. He worked in a car wash. He took the subway. "I wanted to find a way to disappear into the crowd, to do everything I could to not be recognized," he explains. Miraculously, he got away with it. Here, the actor talks Shakespeare, cheekbones, and his path to superstardom.
Did you always want to be an actor?
Not at all. For years
my only thought of acting was about how mind-numbingly boring it was. One of my first memories is of going to the opening night of a Henry V that my mother [director Julia Lasher] staged on the West End. I was bored out of my skull. Of course, you have to ask who takes a five year old to see Shakespeare. But that was the kind of upbringing I had. I was the baby and my sisters were older and very mature, so my parents sort of forgot I was a child and not a little adult. As soon as I learned to read, I was helping everyone run their lines.
What was the first thing you auditioned for?
My first audition was for my mother, a show she was doing at the National Theatre. And I didn't get the part.
Really. It was the most pathetic attempt at nepotism in history. But I don't blame her - I was well and truly terrible.
Is that when you knew what you wanted to do?
It was my first step and stumble toward what I had recently realised I wanted to do. The actual revelation, if you could call it that, came from seeing a staging of Hamlet at the Old Vic with Ben Whishaw as Hamlet. By that time I thought I was immune to "the power of theatre" or whatever you want to call it, but I was completely engrossed in his performance. It awakened some kind of determination in me to try my hand at acting and, apparently, to fail gloriously at it. But even if I didn't get the part, I loved that audition - I loved the attention and space it brought me. I wanted more of that.
And then was Harry Potter shortly after that?
No, that was several years before Harry Potter. My parents got me an agent for one of my birthdays. The first role I landed was when I played Elizabeth Alton's son in Mira Nair's Vanity Fair. I had one scene and it was with Reese [Witherspoon] and Rhys [Ifans]. They had me in this very stiff period costume - this heavy red jacket with a high collar and ascot - and I refused to change back into my street clothes. They basically had to peel me out of it to get me to go home.
Did you become focused on movies at that point?
I was auditioning frequently, yeah. I wasn't sure I had the stamina or attention for a stage show. I'd been through that watching my parents and my sister [actress Catherine Lasher] and I saw how draining it could be. But I was auditioning constantly for anything that popped up and was getting a lot of no's. And then I got Harry Potter.