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The breakthrough: Taron Egerton, star of 'Kingsman'

The young English actor tells us about not being afraid of acting with legends and his first role (it involved a cocktail dress).

Who: Taron Egerton

Where you may have seen him: The 25-year-old English actor had a key role on the 2014 Sky1 drama “The Smoke.”

Where he is now: Though he’s done a few short films, his first feature is at the head of “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” in which he plays a young, low income Londoner recruited to try out for the titular super secret British agency, whose star cadet is played by Colin Firth and whose leader is played by Michael Caine.

Where he’s going: He’s playing Tom Hardy’s lover in Brian Hegeland’s “Legend,” about noted gangster brothers the Krays (both played by Hardy), and “Testament of Youth” with Kit Harington and Alicia Vikander.

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Was he nervous to act alongside legends?: “I get asked this question a lot, and I think it’s about this desire to romanticize it. I don’t walk in expecting to trip over my shoelaces while blubbering. They were just very, very friendly and warm and open. Colin left me a message the night before to make sure I was relaxed. You meet them in the flesh and they’re normal blokes who are really lovely to be around. There wasn’t a teacher-student relationship. We were just actors on a set. They’re just millionaires and I’m not.”

His Wikipedia page says he has stage combat experience. Is this even true?: “I’d done a very small amount of stage combat. That’s Wikipedia kind of fodder, really. They look at the profile on my drama school’s website, which are written in management-speak — designed to make you look like you have a skill set when you actually don’t.”

The film’s portrayal of a low-income kid made over into a gentleman: “It’s just an underdog story. I think if you checked in with the character after the film he’d still be wearing the clothes he was wearing at the beginning. I don’t think the film is in any way saying [he changes]. There’s nothing wrong with who he is at the start. There are certain things wrong with his life, but they are not synonymous with his low income or his background. It’s more that he lost his dad.”

What parts inspired him to become an actor: “There’s not one — not one part I can think of. The performances I saw when I was young that blew me away are Robert De Niro in ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘Raging Bull,’ Tom Hanks in ‘Philadelphia’ and ‘Forrest Gump.’ I could name 25 others. I love films. I love the variety, I love how diverse it is.”

His first role: “I was 15 when I started. I played a ‘mechanical’ in ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream.’ The ‘mechanicals’ are the players, I suppose you’d call them, who did the play for the king and queen. My character played a woman in the play. So my first role I was dressed up as a woman. I was in a red cocktail dress. That’s when I fell in love with acting, while I was in drag. Can’t wait to do it again.”

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge
 
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