Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Love for Thomas Brodie-Sangster Is All Around

The actor has a new starring role, a new fiancée, and lots of pride in an old project.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster gets recognized a lot this time of year. It’s just two weeks before Christmas, and the 33-year-old actor insists he truly doesn’t mind that so many people still think of him as the little boy he played in Love Actually twenty years ago. (Yes, twenty.) Probably he’s aware that genetic fate has kept his face—when clean-shaven, at least—virtually unchanged in the intervening decades, and that fans who spot him still easily see the kid who sprinted through the airport to impress the girl of his dreams. 

“I'm not surprised by that, that I'm locked in that moment in time,” he says via Zoom from his hotel in Bristol, England. “That's what film does. It captures a moment of time and then keeps it forever.”

Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Serran coat and talent's own clothing.

Rosaline Shahnavaz

Though Brodie-Sangster has kept plenty busy since 2003—you may have seen him checkmating Anya Taylor-Joy in The Queen’s Gambit (for which he received an Emmy nomination), having visions on Game of Thrones, gunslinging his way through Godless, or reimagining a beloved Oliver Twist character in Hulu’s recently-released The Artful Dodger—he seems pretty comfortable with his Love Actually legacy. “That’s a lovely thing to be associated with,” he says. “It's something I'm still proud of—that it brings joy to people every single year. I'm happy to be a part of that, more than happy.” 

Currently, Brodie-Sangster is shooting the follow-up to the 2015 BBC/Masterpiece PBS adaptation of Wolf Hall. He’s reprising his role as Rafe Sadler, and while sometimes the part of Thomas Cromwell’s-ward-turned-court-careerist entails exciting stuff, the evening we chat, he’d spent most of his day holding the king’s staff (not a euphemism). For the duration of filming, Brodie-Sangster is staying in what I can only describe as the most nondescript hotel room I have ever seen in my entire life. “A very, very beige hotel, I'm afraid,” he concedes, gesturing toward his Band-Aid-blah surroundings. “There is not an ounce of Christmas here at all.” 

Back home, just outside of London, he’s put up the lights and got a (real) tree. Surely there is some extra merriment to go around back in Hertfordshire, seeing as Brodie-Sangster is newly engaged. He met his bride-to-be, actress Talulah Riley, on the FX miniseries Pistol, in which they played a couple; Brodie-Sangster revealed their engagement on Instagram in July, with the caption “Love is all around.” Riley, who was twice married to Elon Musk, announced the news on X (formerly known as Twitter), where her ex sent his congratulations. 

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Rosaline Shahnavaz

So, how’s wedding planning going? “I haven't done very much at all,” Brodie-Sangster admits. “I am quite blase about the whole thing, but I realize there's an awful lot of planning that is required just in terms of getting other people on board. Things like caterers.” Perhaps concerned that I am judging him for his failure to contact a florist, he adds, “When I finish this job, I will knuckle down and do a bit more of that.”


As a kid, acting provided Brodie-Sangster with “an opportunity to play.” He loved mimicking accents and would spend long rides on the bus or Tube taking in the diverse populace of London, finding himself fascinated by “how different we are from one another, and what sets us apart and what unites us and what brings us together and how people can relate to one another despite… coming from different worlds really.”

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Rosaline Shahnavaz

Love Actually was his “first proper, feature movie,” he says — not that he realized that at the time. When he was cast, “I didn’t even know it was a feature film,” he says. “I had to ask one of the runners, ‘Is this film going to come out in cinemas?’” Cinemas turned out to be the least of it; Love Actually really found its spot in the pop culture pantheon on DVD and streaming, as nostalgic fans made viewings a holiday tradition. “It's slowly kind of built into this phenomenon.”

During filming, at least to an adolescent Brodie-Sangster, the whole thing felt “quite small and intimate.” Most of his scenes were shot near where he grew up or on the set that was Daniel (Liam Neeson) and Sam’s house, creating a sense of hominess for the young newcomer. “Liam was so good to me and so nice to me, treated me like his son, really.”

Save for a brief stint filling in as the bass player for his mom’s band, Winnet, when he was a teenager, Brodie-Sangster has been working as an actor ever since. He’s picked up a few life skills of varying usefulness along the way—drums, chess, sixteenth-century table manners, plus “I'm quite good at twirling twin guns and flicking them into holsters”—and has found surprising ways into his characters. Shoes, it turns out, are mission critical. “It’s how you stand. It changes how you walk,” he says. In real life, he favors Church’s (“they make a lovely, classic shoe”) and R. M. Williams Chelsea boots, which he picked up in Australia shooting The Artful Dodger. 

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Rosaline Shahnavaz

If you associate Dickens’ work with, as Brodie-Sangster puts it, “smoky and smoggy and dirty streets” that are “dark” and “a bit miserable, in terms of an aesthetic,” you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by the mood-shift that is The Artful Dodger, which finds Brodie-Sangster’s Jack Dawkins in sunny Australia. (“Dickens down under” is how he cheerfully elevator-pitches it.) Hoping to leave his pickpocketing days behind him, Jack has emerged from the Navy as a respectable surgeon at an especially gnarly time in the history of health care—zero anesthesia, lots of screaming—when his past, in the form of deeply-flawed father-figure Fagin (David Thewlis) pops back into his life. This occurs just as Jack meets a girl who is not like other girls: Lady Belle Fox (Maia Mitchell), a wealthy young woman more interested in medicine than men. Belle and Jack start as adversaries but develop a grudging respect and, as you may already know from TikTok, some crackling romantic chemistry.

To Jack, Brodie-Sangster says, Belle “represents the whole other echelon, the high society, which he is, I would say, slightly resentful towards because of his low status and being downtrodden by people above his station.” Once Jack sees that Belle’s passion for medicine is genuine, “romance starts to blossom, which is great, because you get to play around with this… repelling of one another, and then figure out certain scenes where the pull and the attraction can come through their knocking heads.”

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Rosaline Shahnavaz

It’s not his first time playing competitors-to-lovers (see also: The Queen’s Gambit). Does he believe that trope works in reality or just on TV?

“When it comes to love, I mean, anything's possible,” he says. “They say ‘opposites attract.’ That's sometimes the case. Other times it's not… Love is a very strange thing that people try to understand, but I think the beauty is the fact that you actually can't understand it. And when you do experience it, it humbles you and you are almost brought to your knees and realize that everything you thought you knew about yourself or about what you like in someone is thrown out the window… So I don't think there's any rules at all.”

He does, however, get the appeal of watching two hotheads get hot for each other on screen. “That kind of angsty thing,” he says with a smile. “Just makes for a very interesting watch.”

What’s the last thing you do before you fall asleep?

Set an alarm.

Favorite villain?

Darth Vader.

First album you ever owned?

Hanson, Middle of Nowhere.

If you were required to spend $1,000 today, what would you buy and why?

A linen suit.

Name one place you’ve never been but have always wanted to go?


Favorite bagel?



  • Photographer:
  • Rosaline Shahnavaz

  • Groomer:
  • Nadia Altinbas ​

  • Photo Assistant:
  • Jem Rigby

  • Production Assistant:
  • Georgie Lawn

  • Booking:
  • Talent Connect Group

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