I first met Harley from Rizzle Kicks a few years back after a gig that we were doing for the MOBO Awards, and then again at the Edinburgh International Film Festival after the premiere of his new film The Guvnors (2014), directed by the brilliant Gabe Turner.
It is the thrilling and violent story of the battle between rival firms from South-East London that spans generations. The film is out soon and I wanted to catch up with Harley to get an exclusive on his personal star style and about what it was like working on his first ever feature film.
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What was the best thing about working on your new film The Guvnors?
The best thing about it was working with the director Gabe Turner because he is a close friend of mine, so it just made the transition between music and acting better. I think as well working with Jordan Stephens helps as I know solo artists get a bit sort of lonely sometimes. Gabe created a lovely chilled atmosphere on set especially working within a tight schedule. It was great as everyone was really happy and wanted to be there, which made it easier. I always wanted to be an actor at school when I was young so I was prepared for the jump and it was aided by the set being so chilled.
Did you feel playing the role was something that came naturally, or did you really have to work on it?
It was like I always knew how I wanted to play the character and couldn't picture it any other way, so that wasn't the hard part. When I read for the role I had to audition and they weren't sure if I was really suited to it. Then when they heard my reading they saw that I had a different take on it. Somehow in the film I'm made to look broad and big so we worked very hard on the physicality of the character, but I had a very clear vision and they kind of let me do what I wanted with the voice and other aspects. A lot of people may have read the role and given more of a brutish or boisterous character. What I wanted to do was give more of a calm and collective character, kind of like Ben Kingsley's Sexy Beast, its a bit of a different approach and I feel it's a lot more powerful.
How different was it working in film as opposed to music, and do you see yourself doing more films in the future?
Music and film are two very different worlds. I wanted to play a role that was completely different to how people see me as and it would have been more obvious to play a more happy go lucky kind of guy, so I really wanted to shatter that image and do the polar opposite and play someone really different. Yeah, I definitely want to do more film as acting is my main passion. This film was just the perfect time, perfect role and perfect situation. I don't think I will ever have a more perfect situation.
Is there anyone in particular that inspires your work?
I've got a very creative circle of friends. I used to live in Brighton and there was a group of us who all moved up to London when we were like 17. One's a painter, another a musician, two are actors and the other is a music video director, so we all kind of support and work together.
What is your favorite default outfit that you can put on at any time to chillax?
I used to be a lot more casual, just wearing trainers and caps but as I've matured I've changed my style a lot more. For a chillax outfit I go for skinny jeans, smart casual shoes like brogues, but I never wear shirts with collars - only grandad shirts and a nice Varsity bomber and Fidroa hat.
What is your ultimate decade for fashion in history? Why do you love this period?
Early 9os. I've got into shell-suit jackets - I'm loving that! I also went through a phase of wearing just straight up denim.
Do you have a favorite designer?
COS, they make really nice stuff but my wardrobe is pretty non-prejudiced.
What, if anything, do you hate in fashion?
V-neck T-shirts, take that off mate!
Have you ever discovered anything that was good enough to attain your seal of approval as a top fashion find?
My Nike Jordan shell-suit jacket. I was in NY and I went to a vintage store in the east village and I found this pink yellow and black shell-suit jacket. It is sick!
If you could own one pair of kicks in the universe what would they be and why?
Low top Dr Martens in collaboration with Jordan in burgundy.
The Guvnors is in cinemas 29th August.