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meet the super sexy, super talented cast of natives

Ella Purnell, Fionn Whitehead and Manish Gandhi are not only three of Britain’s fastest rising stars, they’re also the leads of former i-D editor Glenn Waldron’s exhilarating new coming-of-age story, Natives.

by Matthew Whitehouse
|
15 March 2017, 1:20pm

Natives is an exciting new play that serves as an alternative to the typical coming of age story. Written by former i-D editor Glenn Waldron and opening at Southwark Playhouse at the end of this month, it follows the story of three teenagers as they navigate the not entirely straightforward world of, well, being a teenager during a time of internet induced anxiety. Set across three countries (and one life-altering day), Natives is a call-to-arms for unlikely heroes everywhere. A reminder that, while the world may be chaotic, the kids are still more than just alright. As it enters its final rehearsals, we spoke to the play's three leads - Ella Purnell, Manish Gandhi and Fionn Whitehead (star of the upcoming Christopher Nolan drama Dunkirk, alongside Harry Styles no less) - about the production and the most surprising things they've ever done in the name of acting… Remember, you saw them here first!

Ella Purnell, 20

Describe yourself... Describing yourself is difficult! I think my friends would say I'm a little crazy (hopefully in a good way?) with lots of energy and plenty of bad jokes at the ready. I do great dad dancing! I try not to take life too seriously. Describe your character in Natives... My character, A, has lived in this bubble of privilege her whole life, forced to conform to certain stereotypes. Throughout the play she comes to the realisation that there is more to life than the number of likes you get on your selfies and she begins to explore who she really is. If you weren't an actor, what would you be doing? If I wasn't acting I think I'd like to be a teacher, or a dramatherapist. Something to do with psychology perhaps. Or maybe I'd like to go into music. If you could play any part what would it be? I'd love to do a musical, musicals are my guilty pleasure! Cats would be the dream. What is the most surprising thing you've ever done in the name of acting? I got my motorbike license last year for a film and that was pretty cool/terrifying. I'd also say projectile vomiting in a school canteen (Kick Ass 2) was one of my weirder experiences... What is Natives and why is it exciting? Natives is an impactful new play showing at the Southwark Playhouse, that explores what it's like to be a teenager growing up in today's chaotic world. It's hugely relevant to everyone of all ages across the world and follows three teenagers dealing with issues of violence, love and lust and the pressures of society in a modern and powerful way. What's next for you? I have a few exciting things potentially coming up… Nothing set in stone yet so we'll just have to wait and see!

Fionn Whitehead, 19

Describe yourself… I would say I'm a pretty relaxed guy who likes being outside. Describe your character in Natives... He is an angry teenager trying to be a man, filled to the brim with hormones with some fundamental lessons in human development having been missed. If you weren't an actor, what would you be doing? If I wasn't an actor I would probably still be making coffee for people, and working on the river. If you could play any part what would it be? I love the idea of having a go at a young Begbie from Trainspotting, that or Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream. What is the most surprising thing you've ever done in the name of acting? The most surprising thing I have done would probably be swimming in the Channel off the coast of North France, in full battle gear and uniform. What is Natives and why is it exciting? Natives is a play that is reaching out to a generation of people who have grown up with the internet and technology around them all the time, exploring the impact that has had on teenagers. I think it's exciting because it is one of few pieces that is trying to make sense of growing up in the internet world and what the effect of it is without being at all judgemental or placing the blame on young people. What's next for you? At the moment I'm pretty open, nothing is set in stone for what I do next. I'm playing it by ear.

Manish Gandhi, 30

Describe yourself... I asked my friend. She said I was "funny, sexy, cool". I'm not sure. Describe your character in Natives… I am playing a teenager called C who is obsessed with video games. He sees a video of someone getting pushed off a rooftop which reshapes his entire worldview. If you weren't an actor, what would you be doing? I'd probably be a director. If you could play any part what would it be? Even though it's very cliche I'd love to play Hamlet. What is the most surprising thing you've ever done in the name of acting? I drank 15 cups of coffee to film a scene where I was having a panic attack. What is Natives and why is it exciting? Natives is a new play that celebrates coming of age in a digital world. It's exciting because it explores the reality of what teenagers are going through today. What's next for you? Rides Upon The Storm on DR1 later this year.

Boundless Theatre presents Natives by Glenn Waldron is at the Southwark Playhouse 29 March - 22 April.

Read: Following the César Awards, meet 6 rising stars of French cinema in 2017.

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Text Matthew Whitehouse