Douglas Booth is a member of an elite club himself. One of Britain’s most in-demand young actors, plus his three-year turn as a model for Burberry, not known for its embrace of the man in the street, and this Bright Young Thing could be forgiven for forgetting how the other 92... ok, 98% get through the day.
But it seems his role in ‘The Riot Club’, based on the increasingly dark dalliances of an elite Brideshead-esque university society, has left him with a nasty taste in his mouth.
“It’s fun to play a dark character, but you go home at the end of the day not feeling very good about yourself,” he tells HuffPostUK. “You go away feeling dirty. It seeps into the air.”
‘The Riot Club’ is based on the antics of the real-life Bullingdon Club at Oxford University, famously spawning such public luminaries as Boris Johnson, Earl Spencer, George Osborne and our current Union-defending PM. Although Douglas is keen to emphasise that film, which takes those deeds to extremes, is a work of fiction, he admits he was disturbed by the smoothness of the characters he encountered in his research.
“I met with real members of those clubs… they’re so charming, that’s the weird thing. They’re so lovely, very likeable. These guys kill with charm, that’s what they do, that’s how they get to the top of corporations and political elite. And it’s how they get away with these things.”
This smoothness, and strength of family connection, is reflected on screen with Douglas’s co-stars including young heartthrobs Sam Claflin (‘The Hunger Games’), Max Irons (‘The White Queen’, son of Jeremy) and Freddie Fox (‘Pride’, son of Edward).
Douglas says he didn’t make the film for political reasons, but the social aspect is all too apparent, as the young men trample their way through a rural pub for their annual dinner, assuming they can buy off any problems with wads of family cash.
“Everyone who sticks to their guns in this film comes out on top,” muses Douglas. “It’s not a fairytale. And I think the end of the film is f***ing scary. When Sam smiles, that scares the shit out of me. It’s definitely making you ask questions.”
As aware as Douglas is of the seduction of arrogance, what stops him with all his attributes becoming ‘one of them’?
“If my feel ever left the ground, my mother would soon put them back down,” he says. “Having a nice upbringing, being taught values these boys haven’t been taught and having a much stronger moral foundation. I hope that’s the reason.”
'The Riot Club' is in UK cinemas from Friday. Watch the trailer below...