Photographed by Randall Slavin at The Beverly Hilton
Douglas Booth learned the hard way that 140-character musings can quickly get out of hand. While he might not be famous in the U.S. for his tweets to become controversial, at home in London, the 19-year-old actor doesn’t have that luxury, so he recently cancelled his Twitter account.
“If I put anything in the public space, then the tabloids are usually all over that; they feel like they have a certain right to tear me apart,” Booth says over a glass of orange juice in the lobby of a Los Angeles hotel. “But if I don’t give them anything, then they have no right to talk about my private life.”
It’s no wonder that Booth’s personal life is of interest, though. The young actor has already taken on a number of challenging roles, including Boy George, makeup and all, in the 2010 TV movie Worried About the Boy, and Christopher Isherwood’s lover, Heinz Neddermeyer, in last year’s Christopher and His Kind.
The time when that sort of fame is limited to the U.K. is about to end. This spring, Booth’s photo should end up taped to plenty of high-school lockers thanks to his turn as Miley Cyrus’s bad-boy love interest in the forthcoming LOL, an American adaptation of a French film about a teenage girl’s rebellion. A brainier set will get to know him thanks to the BBC’s latest costume drama miniseries, Great Expectations, which has been a runaway hit in the U.K. and will land stateside in April on PBS. If that’s not enough, Booth is teaming up with Downton Abbey mastermind Julian Fellowes -- who gave Booth his first professional role in 2009’s From Time to Time -- for Romeo and Juliet, a Carlo Carlei–directed visit to Verona.
All of this work leaves the London native with little time to worry about gossip, like the rumors, fueled by -- what else -- Twitter, that he’s seeing Great Expectations costar Vanessa Kirby. “I have things going on in different countries,” he says. “You know, things come out here, then over there. Romeo and Juliet is getting buzz on both sides of the pond, but it doesn’t really affect me. I don’t have time to think about who’s talking about what. I just want to do a decent job and then move on.”
Next, he’ll be moving on to Life at These Speeds, a Sam Rockwell–produced version of the Jeremy Jackson novel about a high school track star who sublimates his grief from a friend’s tragic death with running. True to form, Booth says he’s eager to do the best work he can. “It’s not one of those things where you can fuck it up,” he says of the characters he plays. “You either have to do it, and give it 100%, or just not do it at all.”
Great Expectations premieres April 1 on PBS.
To view our slideshow of young Hollywood stars, click here.