I’ve rarely seen a play more suited to its setting than this one by Richard Bean. It is all about snooker, it is staged in the theatre that since 1977 has housed the World Snooker Championship, and it even includes a bit of competitive match-play. On top of all that, it boasts an ingenious plot and more one-liners than you’d find in a Bob Hope tribute act.
With uncannily accurate timing, Bean has seized on the subject of the potential for corruption in sport. Bean’s hero, Dylan Spokes (Jack O’Connell), is a rising snooker star who returns to his native Sheffield only to receive warnings from the sport’s authorities about match-fixing. No sooner has he been warned than he is instructed by a one-armed, transgender bandit, Waxy Chuff, to, in the parlance of the sport, “tank a frame” in the upcoming world championship. Dylan, who claims the game is his whole life, seems to have little choice, given that Waxy threatens to kill his mother unless he complies.
Jack O’ Connell has transformed from Jack the lad into Jack the apple of Hollywood’s eye, his role in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken earned him a BAFTA rising star award and he shows no signs of slowing down. He’s part of new wave of British actors who are storming the film industry and re-igniting the fires of ‘Cool Britannia’ that left an indelible mark on popular culture a few decades ago.
Speaking to Hunger he talks about how Angelina’s intervention in his career has shaped him as an actor “she really fought my corner, for a director to spot something like that and resist the guidance or bosses in order to hand me an opportunity, that’s enormous and I’ll never forget that”.
Read Jack’s full interview and see the shoot by Rankin in Hunger issue 10 which hits newsstands 21st March.
Mr Jack O’Connell can’t stop rubbing his head. “Sorry,” he says. “I’ve just had me hair cut. It’s a bit addictive.” A high-and-tight – very high, very tight – he refers to it as his “publicity tour cut”. The on-set hairdresser demurred at first, telling him that he couldn’t cut it any shorter without getting the clippers out. Mr O’Connell’s response? “Best get the clippers out, then.”