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James Norton covers Man About Town 2021, Chapter 1

James Norton 

Amid the persistent Bond rumours and starring roles this talented English actor continues to land, 2020 has taught him that finding pleasure in being shit at things is just as rewarding as success. 

“Darkness is fun.” James Norton smiles wryly into the square on his computer screen. “We fantasise, don’t we? We wonder what it’s like.” Norton has just returned to his London home from his Man About Town cover shoot [“still caked up, look” he says, leans into the light with fingers combing through a manicured coif] and joins the conversation via Zoom. He posits the question, sits back stilly, and chews on the notion. “To be able to fuck anyone, to steal, to take any drug, to be violent – we are enamoured by it, the macabre. We’ve all had those thoughts – ‘What if I just turn the wheel of my car and drive off the bridge right now?’” His smile bleeds to laughter, full-throated and filled with a cocktail of both disbelief – at the reality of the statement – and dramatic flair, “I get to do that, see what it’s like. Safely, sanitised, with no repercussions. For someone like me it’s liberating. I’m someone who cares deeply about what others think, someone who wants to make sure everyone in the room is OK at all times, never wanting to offend, so apologetic in the very English way that I am apologetic. I get to walk into a room and fuck it up. It’s antithetical to me. And it can be terribly fun.” 

The lauded British actor’s upcoming role opposite Academy Award nominee Amanda Seyfried in Netflix’s American horror Things Heard & Seen is an intense character study following a young artist – Seyfried – and her husband as they move to a small town and historied home that may harbour a dark secret. “My character is not inherently evil, but he is sad and lost and very threatened by his wife’s success, especially within the incredibly misogynistic world of 1980s upstate New York. Obviously, as you see in the film, he snaps,” Norton says. If not inherently evil, the character is certainly sociopathic and, well, very, very violent. But what’s most notable is that Norton plays the role with simple and absolute stillness. It is portrayed, I say, with the same delicate control and glassy calm as Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector in Silence of The Lambs...

James Norton wears Belstaff on the cover of Man About Town's SS21 issue. To read the full cover story, pre order the issue now. The issue also features Jacob Elordi, Regé-Jean Page, Tom Daley, Cody Fern, Thomas Doherty, Tahar Rahim and many more. 

Photography: Buzz White
Styling: Olivia Harding
Grooming: Petra Sellge at The Wall Group
Interview: Hynam Kendall 
Set Design: Helen MacIntyre ar One Represents
Digi Op: Jack Snell
1st Assistant: Andras Bartok
Fashion Assistant: Shannon Clayworth
Editor: Mike Christensen
Editorial Director: Huw Gwyther
Location: Stockwell Studios