HAPPY THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY SAM CLAFLIN

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It could be those blue-green eyes, his dimpled smile, chiselled features and steady serious voice, or it may also be the way he eats that sugar cube in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Whatever the reason, British heartthrob Sam Claflin has a huge fandom and had become a hot A-lister even before joining the realm of household Hollywood names.

Born on the 27th June 1986 in Ipswich, he gets his accent from years living in the Suffolk area. Growing up, Sam wanted to be a knight and loved castles. His other dream of making a career out of football was less far fetched, especially as he played for various teams. When a broken ankle signalled the end to that dream, Sam opted to follow his plan B – a degree in acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He got his BA (Hons) Acting in 2009 and luckily for him, it was only months before he started picking up roles.

In his first professional role, he played Richard, the brother of Hayley Atwell’s character in The Pillars of the Earth, a series based on the book by Ken Follett. That same year, he got the main part in the first episode of Any Human Heart, in which he batted his eyelids and bumbled along just as well as Hugh Grant did in the nineties.

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Sam doesn’t shy away from villainous roles either, as he proved in his turn as the misguided Alistair Ryle in The Riot Club. His performance as a toff who revels in the power of social status and the liberties that come with it gained him much praise in reviews that were otherwise not always positive towards the film. That same year, he also starred in the romcom Love, Rosie, in which the chemistry between his character Alex Stewart and that of his co-star Lily Collins was palpable.

Many attribute his appearance as Philip in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as the start to a fruitful career. Still, it’s his attention-seeking Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games instalments that catapulted him to stardom. It’s interesting to note that he was an unlikely candidate for the part and caused quite a stir when he was chosen, beating the likes of Armie Hammer for the role. The objections came mostly from fans of the books, who could not imagine the pale darker-haired Norfolk boy playing the part of their beloved hero. Finnick is described in the books as some kind of Greek god, tall and tanned, blond and muscled. This last requisite saw Sam working hard at the gym and on a strict diet to play the part, which he pulled off marvellously.

As someone who loves battered sausages and chips and that very British pint, Claflin has had to cut out some favourites a few times in order to bulk up or else lose weight in the course of his job. For the role of quadriplegic Will Traynor in Me Before You, he lost three stones in three months. His performance as Will, which he has often described as challenging, has earned him glowing reviews.

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It was love at first sight when Sam met wife Laura Haddock at an audition. The actors were married in a private ceremony in 2013, managing to keep it a secret from the press for a whole two days afterwards. In the same way, they kept their pregnancy to themselves last year till a heavily pregnant but radiant Laura accompanied Sam to the premiere of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. Their son, whose name Sam won’t divulge, was born in December. Again, a whole month passed before the press learnt the happy news. Of fatherhood, Sam lately claimed that, “It’s another level of love that you’ve never experienced before.”

Claflin admires Christian Bale’s performances, speaking of Bale’s transformative roles as something he would like to emulate. He seems to be on the right track, with always more varied projects coming his way. Later this year, he’ll be starring in We Happy Few opposite Gemma Arterton. Gemma plays main protagonist Catrin from the book Their Finest Hour and a Half, with Claflin as a young writer and the female lead’s love interest.

At the time of writing, he’s just finished filming an adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel alongside Rachel Weisz in Italy. Claflin has also landed the main role in Friday, where he will take on the part of Robin Friday, the drug addict football player from the seventies.

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Image source: Zap2it