Oxton actor says Olivier Award win is ‘surreal’

Jack Lowden collects his Olivier Award. Photograph: Alastair Muir
Jack Lowden collects his Olivier Award. Photograph: Alastair Muir

Borders actor Jack Lowden has told The Southern that winning an Olivier Award on Sunday at the Royal Opera House is still sinking in.

The former Earlston High School pupil, from Oxton, beat former Father Ted star Ardal O’Hanlon, the League of Gentleman’s Mark Gatiss and theatre and television stalwart Ron Cook to the Best Actor in a Supporting Role award.

Jack Lowden and Alexa Brown in Galashiels Amateur Operatic Society's 2008 show

Jack Lowden and Alexa Brown in Galashiels Amateur Operatic Society's 2008 show

Jack, 23, told us: “It is obviously really cool, and it was so unexpected. To win is enormously flattering and surreal, but I am sure it will sink in soon.

“The three other guys in the category I have grown up watching and are considered geniuses and legends in their fields, and are a lot older than me and have been doing it for a lot longer too.

“I know it is a cliche, but just to be nominated alongside them was incredible in itself.”

Jack added: “When I was up on stage to collect the award was probably the most nerve-wracking bit. When I looked up there was 2,000 people in front of me, the great and the good of the industry: it was absolutely terrifying.”

The young star was given the award for his role as Oswald in Sir Richard Eyre’s adaptation of the Ibsen play ‘Ghosts’.

“Ghosts was my third job in theatre since I left drama school, and each have been very long, so now I want to concentrate on film and television,” Jack said.

“I have so much to learn in that field, but I am doing something for the BBC - Wolf Hall - and there are a couple of other things I want to try to get hold of.”

But by no means has Jack turned his back on theatre.

“I always wanted to do theatre. I did it when I was growing up and I will always want to do good quality theatre, but just now I want to concentrate on tv and film.

“It is a bit more alien to me, but I really want to be part of it because it is an exciting place to be right now.”

Commenting on his role in Ghosts, Jack said: “It was enormously challenging because it was the first piece of classical text I have done, which was quite hard, but it was brilliantly adapted by Richard Eyre to make it a bit more readable.

“I played a brash, drunk, angry young guy, so it was really good fun to play.”

Jack’s co-star Lesley Manville was awarded the best actress award at the Olivier Awards on Sunday, when Ghosts was also given the best revival gong.

“Working with someone like Lesley, one of the best actresses of her generation, was a bit nerve-wracking at first, but we got along really well,” said Jack.

Although based in London, Jack said he gets back to the Borders as much as possible.

“Whenever I get some free time I come straight home.

“I miss it, and I miss the space. London is rammed to the rafters, so coming home is lovely.

“You take it for granted when you grow up there how beautiful an area it is.”

Jack’s parents, Jacquie and Gordon, and girlfriend Vicky attended the awards.

A very proud Jacquie told us: “The fact Jack was nominated was just out of this world.”

She added that Jack was not the first of the family to appear on the Royal Opera House stage, with younger brother Calum having performed on the stage while part of the Royal Ballet School.

Calum is now part of the Royal Swedish Ballet, and although he caught up with Jack in the days before the ceremony he missed the big event itself as he had to fly back to Stockholm.

Asked whether she ever imagined Jack collecting such an accolade while watching him perform at school and in Galashiels Amateur Operatic Society, Jacquie said: “Never. But he was always determined from a very young age, as was his brother.”

On Jack’s part in Ghosts, Jacquie said: “It was a fantastic part, and just getting the chance to work with those people is so amazing.”

Jack’s acting career started when his parent took him to the Scottish Youth Theatre aged 10, and from that he landed a role in Peter Pan at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh at 12.

The lead role in an Irn-Bru commercial followed in his late teens and while studying at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Jack appeared in ‘Black Watch’ and played Eric Liddell in a long-running production of ‘Chariots of Fire’.

Coincidentally Jack has been shortlisted for the Ian Charleson Award, which is for actors under 30 playing a classical role.

The award is in memory of Charleson, who starred as Eric Liddell in the Chariots of Fire film.

The winner will be announced later this month.

A UK-wide cinema screening of Ghosts, starring Jack, will take place on June 26.

It will be shown in Edinburgh at Cineworld and the Odeon on Lothian Road.