Leo Woodall, the seducer with the makings of a star

At The White Lotus Sicilian hotel, a bar patron caught the audience's attention.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
16 February 2024 Friday 10:32
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Leo Woodall, the seducer with the makings of a star

At The White Lotus Sicilian hotel, a bar patron caught the audience's attention. His eyes were clear but the look had a mischievous edge. Her back, arms and pectorals led a young American to let herself be seduced. And, with an English accent from Essex, he stood out as a kind of working-class heartthrob: one of those who walk with burned skin through the cities of southern Europe, with a marked tank top and a beer in his hand, especially if a Premier League team is playing that day. That boy was Leo Woodall, who had the ability to transform his attractiveness according to the demands of the script.

Being in a successful series in a sex-symbol role today is synonymous with being able to star in dozens of photo shoots with clothes that would never be worn on the street (and often with newly exercised muscles), but it does not guarantee a stay in collective memory. The only thing that can be taken for granted is an avalanche of new followers on social networks and the assurance that, at least, they have been part of the cultural moment sporadically. But Woodall, despite occupying a role as an object of desire rather than rational admiration, did not stop there: this February, thanks to her participation in Always the Same Day, the Netflix series, she shows that she has the stuff of a star. The usual ones.

In the romantic comedy based on the novel by David Nicholls, he is Dexter, a young man with a relaxed attitude because, thanks to his physique and a wealthy family, he assumes that things will go well for him (because they always do well). When he meets Emma (Ambika Mod), a very intelligent but less self-confident aspiring writer, he develops a friendship different from the ones he has had until then: Emma does not value him for his popularity but sees beyond his facade. and above all expect more from him. In a way, she listens to him and, when she plays, she supervises him. And, episode by episode, the viewer can see how their friendship develops, always starting on July 15 of each year.

“It is described as a romantic story but there is a lot of life in the series. There are many vital moments that these two characters go through,” he declared. This allows him to explore edges of her acting talent that go beyond her ability to show chemistry with her partner. Now it is Ambika Mod, known for This is going to hurt you, with whom she went to drink gin and tonics before filming to get to know each other better and find an understanding behind the cameras that they could later take advantage of in front of them.

But, as much as he would like to demonstrate that he is more than “the handsome boy of the series”, this talent should not be underestimated: Jack from The White Lotus and Dexter from Always the Same Day share a sexual appeal that is as visible as it is exploited. , but they are approached from two different natures. It can be seen that there is an interpretive work that went beyond incorporating the letters again into his way of speaking, as he himself revealed, between the Sicilian filming and Nicole Taylor's adaptation of the romantic novel. And, as recent audiovisual shows show, both cinema and television are in need of leading men capable of bringing forward romanticism and transmitting the classic spirit of memorable rom-coms.

Professional ethics, for the record, were incorporated from home. Andrew Woodall, his father, had his first acting role on television in 1989 and has had episodic roles in series such as Endeavor, Lockwood Agency or the recent The Couple Next Door with Sam Heughan. Her mother, Jane Morton, is not a professional actress but she did meet Andrew at drama school. His stepfather, Alexander Morton, has appeared in series such as Casualty and Luther. And even one of her ancestors, Maxine Elliott, was the first woman to have her own theater on Off-Broadway in New York.

In fact, Leo recognizes that he was lost in life when he decided to dedicate himself to acting at the age of 19. He studied in a problematic environment that led him to hide behind a shaved head, plucked eyebrows and a hoodie to present a firm image to potential aggressors. But, after falling in love with Peaky Blinders with Cillian Murphy, he chose to follow in his family's footsteps, prepare and appear for castings.

In 2019, when she was 22, she landed her first role in a television series: an episode of Holby City. It was followed by a secondary role in Cherry alongside Tom Holland, two episodes in Vampire Academy and, finally, the role of Jack in The White Lotus. He will always be grateful that Mike White, despite creating the series for a network like HBO that can attract any names it wants, relied on his audition when hiring him rather than his previous work or popularity in the industry: “I was lucky that Mike White doesn't give a shit about stardom. He made a recording, I did it well and he liked it.”

It's a meteoric rise for Woodall: a supporting role in a renowned series like The White Lotus, two episodes later in Prime Video's Citadel, and then going directly to a starring role in Always the Same Day, a role for which he competed while he was in Sicily. And, taking into account the criticism that both this last work and its interpretation garners (which, remember, a rom-com can only be brilliant if the main actors are in a state of grace), it should already be counted among the new batch of stars who go beyond their influence on Instagram.

Casting directors are also clear about it. Before Always the Same Day was released, this 27-year-old Londoner had already obtained his second leading role. As he just announced Apple TV, he will headline Prime Target with Quintessa Swindell (Black Adam) and produced by Ridley Scott. It will be a change of record for Woodall, as he will play a promising young mathematician on the verge of a great discovery: if he finds a pattern in prime numbers, he will have the key to all the computers in the world. From sexual or romantic roles to a mathematics thriller.

What will be next?