Rising star Harry Lawtey puts his money where his mouth is in new banking drama, Industry

By Polly Jean Harrison | 03 Nov 2020 | Culture

Harry Lawtey stars in the daring new television drama created by Mickey Down and Konrad Kay

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* Harry Lawtey stars in BBC2 Industry [© Lee Malone]

Since graduating from the Drama Centre London in 2018, actor Harry Lawtey has built an impressive CV. His various credits span television, film and theatre, with roles in ITV’s Marcella, Netflix’s The Letter for the King, and  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, Lawtey plays one of the leading roles in the upcoming HBO drama Industry, about the gritty, cutthroat nature of the world of international finance. 

The eight-part drama, which follows a group of ambitious graduates as they take on internships at a top investment bank in London, is due to premiere in the UK in November. Created by newcomers Mickey Down and Konrad Kay, the show on their own personal experiences in the banking world, while Lena Dunham – creator, writer and star of Girls – was also involved in the show, directing the first episode and serving as executive producer.

In this interview, Lawtey tells Tempus about his starring role, working with Dunham, and what he’s learned about the world of finance. 

Harry, tell us about Industry?
Industry follows a group of young university graduates who take on internships at an international investment bank. The story follows them throughout their first year of the internship and looks at who these young people are and who they want to be. It’s very much focused on what it takes for them to be successful, but also what it takes for them to find happiness. It definitely shows the grittier side of the banking industry, where its highly competitive in a high-pressure environment, giving a more intense dramatic edge to the show. 

What’s your character like in the series?
Robert is very charming, confident and charismatic and he tends to rely on those qualities to hide a more insecure and sensitive side that we can all relate to. I think at the end of the day, he's a bit of a lost boy who seeks validation from the people around him. He wants to be liked and wants to be successful but ends up making a few mistakes and seeking that validation from the wrong people. But he’s a good guy and it was really interesting to take on his character.

As this is one of your first major roles, how did it feel to get the part?
Crazy. I still can’t quite believe it now. I had an “almost” sort of year, where I almost got a few similar jobs but never went my way in the end – which is all just part of being an actor – so I was just convinced that this would be another one of those. Sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don’t, and I was very fortunate that this one did. >>

 

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* Harry Lawtey stars in BBC2 Industry [© Lee Malone]

What was the filming process like?
It was brilliant. Honestly, the time of my life. We had just a brilliant cast. We were filming in Cardiff for six months, so we all lived together and became really close. We went on lots of trips around the area in Wales, we spent one weekend in Pembrokeshire, which is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The whole team was amazing too, the crew was genuinely fantastic, we had so many experts in their field but more than anything they were just very kind and generous people. For the first couple of weeks I was pinching myself daily, and I remember one of the writers saying that it would wear off – but that never happened. Even a couple of months down the line I turned up on set to do another amazing thing and I was still in the frame of mind of feeling so lucky. And I’m really glad for that, I hope I never lose that feeling. 

The series has attracted big names, particularly executive producer/director Lena Dunham. What was it like working with her and the rest of the crew? 
It was a dream. I learned so much from everyone on set, I took something from every person in the cast and the crew. I learned so much from Lena as well in the short space of time I spent with her. She is an absolute life force on set – the whole set revolves around her, but in a really positive way. She has time for everyone, and she projects her energy and enthusiasm out to every corner of the room. That really rubbed off on us as actors, and more importantly for us young actors she gave us complete license to come in and be creative and really put our own spin on the scenes making the characters our own. And we were supported in that by the writers and the producers too, so for everyone who was, relatively speaking, less experienced it was such a joy and a real perk. One of the best parts of doing this job is getting to collaborate with people in that way, and for someone of Lena’s character and experience to put so much faith and trust in me as an actor was brilliant. 

How does shooting for television compare to your previous experiences in theatre?
They’re two very different processes. There are similarities, of course, but with theatre everything you do is there in the moment. Whatever happens on the night is what your performance is. Whereas in film you give every option you can on the day in multiple takes and then completely relinquish control to the director and editing team to use your performance however they choose. You’ve really got to have faith and trust that they’re going to tell the story for you. There’s also the fact you don’t get the immediate feedback with TV and film like you do in theatre. We shot this show a year ago and we’re still waiting to know what the audience thinks about it, whereas in theatre you really know by the reactions if it’s gone well or not. >>

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* Harry Lawtey stars in BBC2 Industry [© Lee Malone]

Would you be interested in doing more theatre roles in future? 
Yeah, I absolutely would. I feel like an ideal career for any actor is to hop between being on stage and being on set and to reap the rewards of each. As you know its been an absolutely devastating time for theatre and everyone involved in the industry over the last couple of months and I really hope it gets back on its feet soon. And when it does, I can’t wait to see what opportunities may be around for me to get involved in.   

How does it feel to be touted as “one to watch”?
It’s lovely that people might think that you're that interesting and you're worth watching – that’s nice for any actor no matter what stage of your career you’re in. I suppose I have a slight distance from it really, because my life doesn’t feel that interesting right now. It’s strange for people to say you might do something amazing in the future and you’re just sitting in your living room. It doesn't feel like I'm on the edge of something interesting, it just feels like I’m living a very normal life. Sometimes it feels difficult for me to put myself in the shoes of something like that, so all I can do really is take every day as it comes. Hopefully, Industry will be received well and hopefully I can be part of that good reception, but I have no predictions or fears for the future because I have no idea what’s going to happen. 

Industry premieres on 10 November at 9.15pm on BBC2