Freddie’s the new Fantastic Mr Fox… and he's determined to hit the big time on his own merit
Double act: Freddie Fox and his sister Emilia Fox
Freddie Fox is only slightly concerned that most of the scripts which come through his door are for ‘spoiled and entitled brats’.
He is doing rather well with them.
There was Edwin Drood, the arrogant young rich Dickens heir, which brought him to mainstream attention when it was screened in January.
And he also played the petulant King Louis XIII in the recent Hollywood version of the Three Musketeers.
There are plenty of reasons to expect that Freddie is spoiled and entitled himself. He is the third generation of an acting dynasty that includes his parents Edward Fox and Joanna David, his actress sister Emilia Fox, uncle Robert Fox, cousin Laurence Fox, and his grandfather Robin Fox, who was a theatrical agent.
‘I know how lucky I am, and I am aware that I have to fight the perception that I am also a spoiled brat,’ says the 22-year-old. ‘It is very easy to label people, and people especially love to do that in this business.
'I want to prove that I can be a success without standing on the shoulders of my family.
‘I know that I am lucky and that when I meet a casting agent they are curious about what the newest member of the Fox family can do. It helps to get me called in to roles. But I have to prove that I am worth the time spent.’
It seems he is doing something right. After briefly planning to be a fisherman, ‘until I realised that it was a lot of work for terrible money’, acting is all he ever wanted to do.
Freddie takes the lead in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, with Rosa Bud played by Tamzin Merchant
‘I tried to work hard at school because I knew that my parents were paying a lot of money for it,’ recalls Freddie who attended the 9,900-a-term Bryanston School in Dorset. ‘But I couldn’t wait for lessons to finish so I could be in rehearsals for the school play.’
He won his first major role aged 20 while still at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and it was a world away from the costume drama you would expect. He played Boy George’s bitchy friend, the cross-dresser Marilyn, in the BBC drama Worried About The Boy.
‘I have learned already that you have to work against people’s perception as they want to box you in very quickly,’ he says. ‘Marilyn was such fun to play and I was desperate to get the part because he was such a bonkers character.’
The Three Musketeers, which he filmed a few months later, was his first American blockbuster and he had a ball as the slightly camp and brattish French King.
‘I had a golden time making that film and I think it shows — I have a smile on my face the whole time,’ he says.
‘As an actor who had come out of drama school just a year earlier to be working with people like Matthew Macfadyen and Christoph Waltz was incredible. I felt like a child in an enormous sweet shop.
‘I particularly loved the costumes. Usually getting dressed on set is boring but I would put on baroque classical music and love getting on these wonderful ornate clothes.’
A love of style is something Freddie has inherited from his dapper father, who found fame in the 1978 mini-series Edward And Mrs Simpson. ‘My dad has kept his clothes in such good nick that I wear a lot of his older suits that don’t fit him any more,’ he says.
‘A lot of people choose not to wear three-piece suits these days but I think there is something amazingly elegant about them and I love to wear them.’
Pedigree: Edward Fox has passed down his talent for acting
His family are still incredibly close and Freddie, whose latest project is appearing in the West End in Hay Fever, admits that’s his one advantage in life.
‘In showbiz, relationships break up all the time; we all know that,’ he says. ‘So I have huge admiration for my family. They have gone through thick and thin and they really love each other and stay together.
‘It has given me the best possible start. There’s nothing I like more than going round to my sister’s house and having a great big Sunday lunch with her, my niece, and my parents. It is bliss.
‘We don’t ever get bored of each other because we like the same things. Dad is wonderful in that he has done so much. It sounds a bit pretentious but he will bring out a choice quote from Shakespeare if it suits the moment; he is very sweet and philosophical.
‘If you want to offload and complain about something you always have someone who understands you and can help.’
Freddie is dating actress Tamzin Merchant who played his fiance in the Mystery Of Edwin Drood. They met on set but Freddie insists he is not the type to date every girl with whom he acts.
‘I’m aware that set romances are known for being fleeting but I have never been that sort of person,’ he insists. ‘I have met someone I get on with well and I feel very lucky.’
Corset Crew: Douglas Booth as Pip, right and Benedict Cumberbatch, leftas Sherlock Holmes, have immense talent as well as looks, says Freddie
As a couple they have been been classified as part of the Corset Crew – a name for young actors with breakthrough roles in period dramas.
But Freddie gets angry at the idea that he and his friends are cast only because they are posh and pretty.
‘It annoys me when people group my friends like Eddie Redmayne (Birdsong) or Doug Booth (Great Expectations) and Ben Cumberbatch (Sherlock) together as the pretty posh boys who are ruling our screens,’ he says.
‘People don’t realise how many years they have been working at their craft. People should talk about their talent, not about them looking like Burberry models.’
Similarly, Freddie doesn’t want to be known just for his family connections. ‘My family have been very successful in this business proving what they can do,’ he says.
‘Now it’s my time to prove what I can do.’
■ The Three Musketeers is out on DVD now. Hay Fever is at the Noel Coward Theatre until June 2 (0844 482 5140).