Sam Claflin This Guy

Sam Claflin Doesn’t Do Things By the Book

Believe it or not, the reigning king of book-to-movie adaptations isn’t a big reader.

With a career built on giving life to some of the world’s most beloved literary boyfriends — the internet boyfriend’s hotter, more mysterious older brother (check and check) — it’s only natural to assume that Sam Claflin’s hypothetical Goodreads profile would be just as stacked as his IMDb. But alas, as much as we enjoy the mental image of Claflin sitting in a moody, at-home library thumbing through a weathered copy of Normal People over a very British cup of tea (just me?), the actor’s actual collection of literature is admittedly a bit more ... sparse.

“I have a bookshelf at home, but basically it consists of the book adaptations that I've made,” Claflin tells me over Zoom from the backseat of a late-night London car ride (not as moody as the library image, but I’ll take it). “I only ever hear about the projects after I know there's a script out there, and someone says, ‘Oh, did you realize it's a novel?’”

Sam Claflin
Richard James coat and knitwear.

Rosaline Shahnavaz

No, the 36-year-old actor confesses mere minutes into our call, he often didn’t realize some of what are now considered his most iconic roles (see: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’s shirtless, scene-stealing victor, Finnick Odair; or Me Before You’s tear-jerking love interest Will Traynor) started off as characters in best-selling novels. But that hasn’t stopped him from bringing each author’s vision to the silver screen with enough charisma, heart, and, let’s be honest, sex appeal to earn him the title of “Book to Screen King” (according to Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club, at least) — a trend he plans on continuing when tackling ‘70s rock icon Billy Dunne in his newest project, Daisy Jones & The Six (out March 3 on Prime Video).

This is the most petrified I've ever been about a role, and I think it's partly because I knew how far I had to come.

Based on the Taylor Jenkins Reid novel of the same name, Daisy Jones & The Six documents the whirlwind rise and fall of a legendary 1970s rock band, fronted by Claflin’s Dunne and Riley Keough’s Daisy Jones, as it navigates all of the standard vices (sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, etc.) that came with the era. If the premise sounds familiar, that’s because it is; Reid says the novel was loosely inspired by watching Fleetwood Mac performances throughout her youth — but if you didn’t know that before now, Claflin can’t blame you.   

“I genuinely had to go online and google whether Daisy Jones & The Six was an actual band,” Claflin laughs. “My knowledge of 1970s rock and roll is very, very bad, so this has been a very huge learning curve for me.”

From that first introduction to Daisy Jones, Claflin says it took reading only two episodes of the script for him to become “so desperate to find out what happened next” that he tracked down the nearest copy and read it within days — a true testament to the story’s quality. As for the story’s popularity, it’s important to note that Daisy Jones is a big deal. Like, first hit bookstores in March 2019, immediately became a New York Times bestseller and announced it was getting its turn on screen just four months later, kind of a big deal. Couple that initial buzz with nearly four years of waiting thanks to pandemic-related delays? It’s safe to say the limited series may very well be one of the most highly-anticipated shows of the year.

Sam Claflin
Richard James coat and knitwear. Scott Fraser Collection trousers. Vintage Belt. Pantherella socks. Grenson shoes.

Rosaline Shahnavaz

Seems intimidating, you may be thinking. Yes, for the average actor — including a 26-year-old, pre-Hunger Games Claflin — joining a project with a massive built-in (very passionate, largely female) fan base would surely come with some understandable nerves. But for the Claflin of today — the one who’s welcomed two children and worked on projects like Enola Holmes, Adrift, and Peaky Blinders in the last decade — it’s just another day in the office.

“I definitely felt a huge amount of external pressure,” he says of taking on his breakout Hunger Games role back in 2013. “I think Finnick was such a beloved character. If I remember right, there was a bit of an uproar when I got cast, because everyone was like, ‘This guy looks nothing like him.’ No one had ever really seen me do things, so I did everything in my power to go prove them wrong and prove that I could do it.”

Credit eventual fan acceptance of (and/or general thirst towards) his portrayal of Finnick all those years ago or simply credit more life experience — “I've breathed these conversations, I've lived this life a little bit,” Claflin says of his Daisy Jones character — but the actor finally reached a place where meeting audience expectations when stepping into Billy’s fictional platform boots back in 2020 felt like the least of his worries. Instead, tasked with recording an entire 11-song studio album in addition to the regular demands of filming, he had an entirely different, equally as daunting feat to accomplish: becoming a bona fide rockstar.

Sam Claflin
Richard James coat and knitwear. Scott Fraser Collection trousers. Vintage Belt. Pantherella socks. Grenson shoes.

Rosaline Shahnavaz

“This is the most petrified I've ever been about a role, and I think it's partly because I knew how far I had to come,” Claflin, who had never even picked up a guitar prior to filming, says of the five-week Billy Dunne bootcamp he was enrolled in before COVID lockdowns. “I was so out of depth.” 

What did that initial preparation period entail, exactly? “I'd wake up in the morning, go straight to the studio and learn guitar for an hour, then I'd go for a costume fitting,” Claflin says. “I'd have an accent lesson with a speech and dialect coach, then I would probably record a bit or go and practice.” But his day wasn’t done there. Singing lessons across town followed by meeting with a movement coach and a personal training session all piled on Claflin’s schedule, leaving him “absolutely knackered” at the end of each day, realizing that he wasn’t dedicating enough time to learning the guitar, and second-guessing whether Daisy Jones was even something he could realistically pull off.

Sam Claflin
Richard James coat and knitwear.

Rosaline Shahnavaz

“It was really overwhelming, honestly. And [the production team] knew, and they were so trying to be so supportive, but it was just too much, too quick,” he explains, adding that a year and a half of COVID production delays gave him more time to master the skills he needed to (and, more importantly, grow out his hair). “I don't know what sort of show it would've been was it not for lockdown, honestly. I was petrified. I was like, ‘This is just too much. I don't know that I'm going to be able to do this.’”

Cut to today, after nearly 18 months with more time spent in the recording studio than literally anywhere else and countless hours pouring over his Billy Dunne muses while filming — Bruce Springsteen, The Doors, Jim Morrison, and Fleetwood Mac were his big four — and Claflin barely recognizes the musician he was at the start of process. “I'm shocked that they saw something in me, honestly,” he says of re-listening to his very first voice lesson years later. “I think the one thing I will say is that I’ll forever be grateful for the belief the producers and the music team had within me.”

Sam Claflin
Richard James coat and knitwear. Scott Fraser Collection trousers. Vintage Belt. Pantherella socks. Grenson shoes.

Rosaline Shahnavaz

Additionally, Claflin says, he’s grateful that he didn’t have to do it alone: Keough, the show’s (and band’s) leading lady, was with him every step of the way. And as terrifying to the average person as it may seem to learn the ins and outs of rock ‘n’ roll alongside Elvis Presley’s literal granddaughter (Keough’s mother was Lisa Marie Presely), Claflin insists it was not nearly as scary as it sounds.

“The one thing I'll say about Riley is she does not carry the weight of her granddad on her shoulders. What's so wonderful is she's such a free spirit and an individual. I never felt that intimidation,” he says of their friendship throughout the process. 

“I think there was one moment when me and her were sat in a cafe. I remember hearing an Elvis song come over the radio, and me going, ‘Holy shit. That's your granddad.’” he recalls. “But in truth, she'd never had any musical experience either, so the two of us thankfully had each other to lean on in that respect.”

After hearing about how hard Claflin worked to get to this moment (and seeing the amalgamation of that work shine through in his performance), I find myself asking if he’d ever consider pursuing music post-Daisy Jones. The short answer? “Never say never.” 

Long answer? “You know when you listen back to an interview you've done or a voicemail you've left, and you hear your voice, and that kind of  like, ‘Ugh,’ that cringe moment? I get that in spades when I'm singing … I just don't think I have the ego to be a musician. I don't have the self-belief,” Claflin explains, adding the only possibility he could see is if Daisy Jones & The Six went on a tour later down the line. “Who knows?”

Sam Claflin
Richard James coat and knitwear.

Rosaline Shahnavaz

Regardless of whether Claflin ever takes the stage again, the magnitude of what he’s accomplished as Billy Dunne is not lost on him. And while he can’t wait for viewers to see the show (whether fans of the novel or not), more importantly, Claflin looks forward to remembering this experience as one of the most rewarding projects of his career. 

“In a sense, Daisy Jones was sort of my therapy. It was a fresh start in Los Angeles, living a childhood dream of being a rockstar with my kids out in L.A. with me for a large portion of the time,” he says. “So, it was just doing the job I love with people that I love surrounded by the ones that I love.”

Read on for Claflin’s celebrity crush, the first album he ever owned (hint: it’s more spice-y than you’d guess), and what he really thinks of cheesy “chat-up” lines.

Who’s your celebrity crush?
It always was — and after seeing her new documentary on Netflix, still is — Pamela Anderson. I was obsessed with her as a much younger man, and just having an insight into her world recently, I really feel for her.

What about a non-romantic celebrity crush?
I was always obsessed with David Beckham as a kid. I was obsessed with Posh Spice when the Spice Girls were a thing and then David Beckham was my favorite footballer. One of the first times I was ever in L.A., I was at this party, and I was sort of introduced to everybody like a proper who’s who of Hollywood, and then David Beckham walked in.

My agent was the one who was hosting the party so he was like, ‘Oh, let me go introduce you,’ and I was like, ‘Oh no, I can’t, I can’t. I just can’t go over there.’ So, I never have [met him] to this day ... I’ve put him on a pedestal my entire life.

Sam Claflin Polaroids

Polaroid Photo by Sam Claflin

Who's your favorite villain?
I would say Jaws, the shark. It's my favorite monster movie, if you want to call it that.

What's the first album you ever owned?
I think the first one that I bought myself would've been the Spice Girls. As far as I remember. It's been awhile, obviously, but I definitely remember buying that record. I love the Spice Girls.

What was the last thing you read or watched that really made you think?
Everything Everywhere All at Once
. The journey you go on in that movie, I was like, "What is happening?" The whole time, I was trying to figure it out and work out what it was trying to say. And then, the ending, the conclusion, it just sort of lays it all out there. That film really, really stuck with me. I thought it was just a magnificent art piece. And performance-wise, Michelle Yeoh is just ... It's amazing.

Sam Claflin Polaroids

Polaroid Photo by Sam Claflin

What’s your coffee order?
It changes on the day. I feel like if I’m in a café, I would probably get a cappuccino just because it’s easy and there’s very little that can go wrong with a cappuccino. But if I’m at home, I’ll make myself a matcha latte with coconut milk. Wow, posh.

How closely would you say Daisy Jones & The Six’s music aligns with your own personal taste?Very, very much so. Because there is a touch of the Fleetwood Mac about it. The thing is, I'd never really listened intently to 1970s rock and roll, so this was sort of my introduction into that. But now, that's all I listen to. There's a playlist that I've made for myself, which is basically all songs from that era, and mostly from Laurel Canyon of the ‘70s. Yeah, I've turned into a full-on 1970s fanboy.

Who was on your Spotify Wrapped last year?
I have to say, I use Apple Music. I don't use Spotify. A few people have tried to get me onto it, but all my music is compiled so nicely in my Apple. I know that everyone else uses Spotify, so I really need to get on board with that.

Fine, who were you top five artists on Apple Music?
Fleetwood Mac will definitely be up there as one of the top five. Joni Mitchell would definitely be up there. Cosby, Stills & Nash. Is that four? The Mamas & The Papas.

If you were to write a memoir, what would the title be?
[laughs]. No, I have no idea. I’ve never thought about it, obviously. I have a feeling that there will never be a memoir, that I will write anyway. So, I’ll leave that up to the author. 

Sam Claflin Polaroids

Polaroid Photo by Sam Claflin

You’ve worked with some incredible actresses. What’s something you’ve learned from one of them that’s always stuck with you?
Working with Rachel Weisz [during My Cousin Rachel], she just always managed to keep me in the moment. That made me very present. She would change things occasionally to keep me on my toes, and it was so kind of her. 

It just was a gentle reminder to not get so in my head, and that's due, in part, to my slight OCD. But I think I have a thing where I really do have control issues about every little detail of my performance, and she was just a bit more like, "No, be a bit freer." So I'd definitely say Rachel was an amazing teacher.

Do you have a favorite cheesy pickup line?
I've never been one for chat-up lines. I think for me, and this is what I find more cheesy, is the kind of weird stares. When you're across a bar or whatever, and you sort of catch the eye of the person, and there's that weird sort of half smile, the kind of creepy-cheesy trying to say something without saying it, without actually speaking. I always think it's potentially the cheesiest thing ever, the nod of the head, the wink. Those looks are gold.



Rosaline Shahnavaz

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Neal Jackson


Tom O’Dell

Polaroid images by

Sam Claflin

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Kelly Chiello

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Amanda Lauro


Talent Connect Group

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