Lancashire born Jonathan Howard has acting credits that include the likes of Downton Abbey and World War Z. His most recent role is as comedy side-kick Ian Boothby in Thor: The Dark World. We caught up with him for a quick chat and to find out what it was like to work on the latest Marvel movie.
Starburst: Tell us a little bit about the character you play in Thor: The Dark World.
Jonathan Howard: I play Ian Boothby, who is an astrophysicist, and I’m Darcy’s intern. In the first month, Darcy was Jane’s intern, so really I’m Jane’s intern’s intern. He’s the eyes and the ears for the audience in a way, because every other character has experienced this other world before, and he doesn’t have a clue about it, so I’m a rabbit caught in headlights. He didn’t sign up for any of this, he’s not prepared to see any of this, so he spends the movie playing catch up as the events unfold.
Marvel stories tend to be set in America, but this one uses London as a backdrop. How did that affect your role?
I’m an adopted Londoner, I’m from Lancashire originally but I’ve lived in London for about 8 years. You see me navigating the streets of London with Jane and Darcy. Being from London, it means I bring a deeper connection to the location. When the worlds collide, it’s my city that’s being ruined.
How much of a comic book fan are you yourself?
I grew up with the Beano and Dennis the Menace. I love these comic book movies, and when they started bringing these heroes to life, even though I didn’t obsessively read about them as a kid, every boy knows who these characters are, and seeing them come to life is a real treat. I was never your average comic book fan; some of the guys in my year at drama school lapped it up, so a lot of my research into this world was done by asking some of my mates.
Thor: The Dark World is a star studded affair and you’re very much still coming up in the ranks. What was that like?
For me, it’s game changing and goes to show how quickly things can change in this industry. I was out of drama school for a year before I got offered the part. The last six months I couldn’t book a job, and then it just happened. Getting the part has been the biggest highlight of my career. Then you’re on set and you’re doing scenes with Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins. You get talking to them and they’re really nice, down to Earth people.
I was able to use my own nervousness and apprehension about working with these people for Ian, because as a character he’s of a nervous disposition; he’s not that clued up on life and knows a lot about science but not a lot else. It’s strange meeting someone like Christopher Eccleston, who’s one of my heroes. I first met him head to toe in his Malekith gear and he was all “All right mate, how are you doing?” and as soon as he heard my northern accent we just got on well. He’s very funny, friendly and down to Earth.
Eccleston shot to fame thanks to his work in British movies and TV, including science fiction. Is that a path that appeals to you?
I think Eccleston has managed his career really well, with a balance of doing theatre, and TV and then going over the pond to do big movies. For any actor to have that sort of range, it’s what any actor strives for.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one book for company, what would that book be?
One book? Only one? I’d have to pick a big book, so War and Peace.
The Simpsons or Futurama?
Thor or Loki?
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Truth or Beauty
THOR: THE DARK WORLD is in cinemas now. Read our review here.