Luther Ford

18 December 2023

Photography Rebecka Slatter
Interview David Gillespie
Fashion Ben Carnall
Grooming Chad Maxwell at Stella Creative Artists using BaByliss PRO and Glossier
Fashion assistant Anabelle Esqulant
Photography Assistant Agata Noweta
Production Haley Paolini
Location The Hanbury

“Where should we kick things off? Is it better to start at the high point or the low point?”

Embarking on the odyssey of recounting one's narrative invites a contemplation of where the story unfolds. For Luther Ford, he wonders, does it open in fifty years' time with the tranquil cadence of sun-soaked reflections, basking in the serene glow of Greek vineyards beneath a setting sun? Or should we plunge into the azure depths, immersing ourselves in the spirited chapters of youthful exuberance, where tales pulse with a different kind of energy? For Luther, the story has only just begun.

When I sit down to chat with Luther, he’s settling into the evening after a corgi-filled morning. It becomes immediately apparent that his new reality has yet to truly set in. In his acting debut as Prince Harry in Netflix’s The Crown, it would be reasonable to imagine the weight of such a debut may be hard to bear on an industry newbie. Immersed in the splendour of his pseudo-royal family, Luther recounts the preparation he made for the role along with the grandeur of the sets and scenery he was sworn into. Yet, Luther radiates a synchronic calm across the internet wavelengths that we meet upon. Whilst acknowledging the magnitude of his new regal endeavour, Luther remains modest and mindful of an industry which is prone to turbulence. Once an outsider, Luther has firmly stepped into his own.

The short-filmmaker has taken on a new role in front of the camera (despite his mum’s well-intentioned attempts to steer him away) but much of his heart still remains behind. As we discuss life before The Crown, Luther reveals much of the inspiration for his own self-directed shorts, the rituals that bind family and how the journey began with his mum’s old camcorder in hand. In the not-so-distant past, it would have been hard for Luther to believe he would be where he is today; It’s a place he views as ‘mischievous’, almost ‘naughty’, and certainly ‘bizarre’. We eagerly wait to see where he will be tomorrow and beyond - preferably one day in that Greek villa, tomatoes in hand.

The Crown Season Six, Part Two is out now on Netflix.

Let’s set the scene. If you could describe your day as a genre of music, what would it be?
Well, I was with some corgis earlier, that was cool. Can I make up a genre? Can I do a genre fusion? I think there's been a little sprinkle of funk combined with some, I would say, ominous music. This might be the most mysterious and enticing music genre out there - ominous funk.

You’ve already directed several short films which we’ll explore later, but if you were to direct your own biopic, where in your world would the opening scene be set?
Are we saying the timeline is kind of flexible? Where should we kick things off? Is it better to start at the high point or the low point? If we start at the high point, it might just be me chilling, you know? And if it's the low point, I don't even want to imagine where that could be. I'm thinking maybe at seventy, I'm hanging out on the grounds of this Greek villa, sun setting, and there's a fire in the background. I just picked some tomatoes, casually strolling into my house. My wife's there, giving me a wave. Sounds awesome. Then, let's dive into some wild stuff from my younger days, you know, something with some real energy.

You’re set to assume the role of Prince Harry in the much-anticipated sixth season of The Crown. How does it feel entering a franchise with such a vast and dedicated fanbase as your on-screen debut?
Yeah, I mean, very exciting. First and foremost, it’s quite daunting. Right? It’s scary in terms of the spotlight and how good it has been. I didn't come from an acting background, and I didn't go to drama school, and I hadn’t really intended to become an actor so it's overwhelming. I've been getting my head around it for about a year and I don't know how I've quite managed it.

Since you aren’t from an acting background and didn't intend to become an actor, what prompted you to audition for the role?
There was an open casting call on Facebook and Twitter. Someone in my family shared it with me, saying it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot. I found it surprising that they were casting for a show like that on social media. So, somewhat impulsively, I decided to audition thinking it would make for an interesting story. However, things escalated quickly and became way more real than I anticipated. Eventually, I landed the role, and the whole experience has been pretty overwhelming to be honest. It's strange because it sinks in, but every now and then, I reflect on how unimaginable it was just a year ago. It's completely unexpected and out of nowhere - quite bizarre, to be honest.

If you were unsure about a career in acting in the beginning, how do you feel about it now?
I find the acting industry quite challenging. My passion lies in filmmaking, and that's what I aspire to pursue in the long run. If I could integrate acting into the journey, it would be a fantastic opportunity that I would welcome. So, yes, I'd be open to acting if more opportunities arise.

The Crown is a dramatised interpretation of the history of the British royal family, what was the preparation like for the role?
They've got a whole research department that sends you everything you could possibly need - books, documentaries, articles, documents. Plus, you get a dialect coach and a movement coach. They even brought in a Marine to teach me how to march. I didn’t need to know how to march, but it was just about understanding their posture and how they carry themselves. The resources available for a show like The Crown are seriously impressive. Especially coming from a background of knowing a bit about filmmaking and making student films, the scale of the production is insane - like, huge.

That sounds crazy, how long did that go on for prior to filming?
It took about a month, maybe a little longer, but it went well. The continuous research and studying sort of taper off once you get to grips with it. One standout for me was Diana reportedly telling Harry, "You can be as naughty as you like, just don't get caught." That nugget felt useful, helping me channel a playful spirit. It was interesting, especially in the context of suddenly finding myself on The Crown. It felt a bit mischievous, not using the exact word from the quote, but in embracing this slightly forbidden feeling. Like, I shouldn't be doing this, but here I am, fully committed and trusted to embark on this adventure.

Were you a fan of the show before you auditioned for it?
I wasn't a hardcore fan initially, but I had seen the first two series and knew about its reputation. After getting the part, I did go back and watch it, but it was a bit intimidating knowing I would be part of it. Initially, I thought, Okay, let's start from the beginning and watch it all. But doing so, I found myself thinking, This is really something, am I out of my depth here?

Have you acquired any routines or habits to get you into character?
Oh, there used to be this online interview with Prince Harry when he was 21, and I pretty much listened to that every day. But I felt like, in a way, my lack of experience just meant that I didn't really have routines. I didn't really know what I was doing. I was just kind of working it out as it was happening.

In its nature, the royal family are renowned for living in extravagance and luxury - you mentioned corgis earlier - did you film anywhere you found particularly impressive?
Oh, there are so many places, I mean, tons of them, and the location is just ridiculous. But probably the most notable is Lancaster House. From there, you can see Buckingham Palace right in front. So, location-wise, it's like the only royal spot they've got smack in the middle of London. You get dropped off at the main entrance, walk along The Mall and then just walk onto the set. But hold up, it's not a set, it's an actual palace. I don't think the King actually chills in Buckingham Palace; He lives next to Lancaster House. So, you're basically sharing the same space as them. And I've heard the royal family has kicked it in Lancaster House too. It's just weird, you're literally on their turf.

Were there any moments you felt like you’d travelled back in time while you were on set?
Yeah, during that time, I mean, the most immersive moments were these massive scenes, the real showstoppers with like three-hundred or four-hundred extras. There's this one scene where we're supposed to be in Canada, but we're actually filming in Canary Wharf. Picture this - we pull up to a hotel, and the whole street is packed with about four-hundred extras playing fans of young William. It's like this grand procession, a line of cars with police officers in Canadian uniforms. And then there's this massive crowd, screaming and all, with regular folks just walking around, staring at you. You step out, and at the door, there's a line of officials waiting, you shake hands - it's a whole deal. The cool part is, it's not solely focused on you, it's more about capturing the whole vibe of the scene, and making it feel real. That's what I mean about the scale - they could pull off these crazy things, and it was wild being part of it. You'd be like, Whoa, this is like a real-life simulation!

On the topic of travelling through time, if you could live in any era in history, when would it be?
There are so many, but I'd really love to dig into what London was all about back in the 17th or 18th century, you know? I'm just curious to see how the city was, what the skyline rocked, and what strolling down a street felt like. Was it sketchy, with danger lurking everywhere? Picture this, maybe dead folks scattered around? Like, what was the scene? Yeah, I'm totally intrigued by that.

As I mentioned earlier, you’ve directed, written and featured in a series of short films which I watched on Youtube. I found ‘WOODS’ in particular really powerful and emotive. Where does your inspiration for devising and curating such evokative storylines stem from?
I'm really into family dynamics, you know? It ties in with the whole grounding thing. There's something fascinating about the rituals and rules within families. My short film - it's kind of extreme, but I don't think people fully grasp how peculiar or interesting their own families are. Even the everyday stuff to someone else can be pretty captivating. Personally, I've always been into the whole parent-child dynamic, maybe because of my own upbringing. I find the power play and dynamics, especially when a parent sees their kid as a direct extension of themselves, really intriguing.

You created ‘WOODS’ with your friend who’s Greek, right?
Yeah, so, she's an actor, and when I wrote it, she was kind of my inspiration. When you're making films with little to no cash, you have to work with what's around you. So, someone else in my family is married to someone Greek, and that person plays the mum. I thought, Cool, I've got these two interested in performing, let's bring them together. I crafted the script, but the interesting part was, they took it and gave it a rewrite, adding Greek nuances and all.

Are you quite drawn to different cultural explorations?
Yeah, totally. I'd say my favourite films lately are mostly from Europe and Asia. I just find them interesting because they're not the usual, you know?

Growing up, were you always destined for a life both behind and in front of the camera?
Yeah, I feel like I was sort of meant to dive into this world. I started creating and filming stuff when I was around six. It all kicked off with me just grabbing a camera, hitting record, and not really knowing what I was doing. My mum had this old camcorder with those tapes you pop in, you know? Back then, I wasn't allowed to watch a lot of TV. So I figured, If I can't watch it, I might as well film stuff and then watch what I film. I wasn't consciously thinking that at the time, but looking back, it's kind of a weird connection. I wasn't someone who watched a ton of films when I was young, so I'm not sure why I was so eager to create stuff. Maybe it was just my way of entertaining myself in that realm. Who knows?

Considering you weren’t allowed to watch TV when you were younger, how do your parents feel that you’re now starring in one of the biggest Netflix series to date?
Yeah, it’s funny really. I mean, my mum actually kind of steered me away from acting. She had dabbled in it when she was younger, but then she stopped. I guess that's why I'm a bit sceptical about the industry. I know it can be pretty harsh, and even if you hit success, it's no guarantee for anything. So, it's pretty funny, really. I find it ironic because I always had this attitude like, Eh, just don't bother with acting. And yet, here I am.

Has this experience kind of given you more inspiration to create more films of your own?
Pretty much the opposite. Diving into acting is so all-encompassing and distracting. Right now, the ideas aren't flowing for me. I think the whole process, maybe even the overlap with modelling, where everything revolves around you, started to mess with my creative flow. It's not really healthy from a filmmaking perspective because, to generate ideas, you need to be looking outward, not constantly focused on yourself. For me, it was crucial to feel like I was proving something. This experience sort of overshadowed that, but it'll settle down, and I'll bounce back. I'm sure ideas will sprout from this experience, but it's a bit of a lengthy process, wiping everything out for now.

I’ve seen on your Instagram you’ve created some really beautiful and thought-provoking artwork, do you consider art an emotional outlet for you?
Yeah, absolutely. Drawing is something that comes and goes for me. I'll be really into it for a while and then just drop it. The process is pretty therapeutic, it probably was the most natural outlet for me at the time.

You mentioned modelling, you were spotted at Paris Fashion Week a few months ago, does your vigour for art extend to the world of fashion?
To some extent, you know, I dig wearing clothes. I'm not sure if I'm going to dive deep into the whole fashion world myself. It's kind of overwhelming, you know? But if there's any trend sweeping in, I'm cool to get on board.

We’ve spoken at length about your artistic identity, can you share some of your interests outside of this world?
Oh, you know, it's kind of funny when you actually think about your interests. I'm all about documentaries on musicians, I love that stuff. And speaking of documentaries, have you checked out the McQueen one? It's really good. I mean, I'm not a big fashion person or anything, but it's intriguing to see someone like him, coming from a background with zero fashion connections, yet he's got this natural flair. As for my interests, right now, I'm really into music and cooking. I'm not a pro chef or anything, but it's just a chill and relaxing vibe. And, you know, there's nothing too wild like a fascination with bowling or anything. I don't have any quirky interests like that.

I’ve read you’re also a pianist, can you tell us one song you absolutely love to play?
It’s not exactly related, but I'm keen on picking up the main theme from Phantom Thread, the Paul Thomas Anderson film. The soundtrack is done by Jeremy, the guitarist from Radiohead. Yeah, he's got this great one on the piano. It might become my go-to. I also know a couple of Mac Miller tunes on the piano, they have these nice melodies. And, after watching La La Land, I was like, yeah, I've got to learn that one too.

The end of the year is nigh, what are your hopes for the remaining days of 2023?
Well, I guess the wrap-up for my year involves this little press tour. We're kicking it off with a London premiere, then hitting up Oslo in Norway, and finally, a New York premiere. So, I'm looking forward to soaking it in and fully appreciating these moments. It's a one-time deal, you know? The novelty of everything, the whole craziness, it's a blast, especially being in this young, fortunate position. But, I’ve got to stay conscious of it, not let it slip by unnoticed. Even though it's a pretty sweet and lucky spot to be in, there's always that underlying worry about the future, that bit of anxiety lingering. Hopefully, it doesn't mess with things too much. So, the plan is just to enjoy the ride. Really just soak it all in and enjoy every bit of it.

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above left: Luther wears shirt by Etro and necklace by A Sinner in Pearls
above right: Luther wears full look by Saint Laurent

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above left: Luther wears pyjama set by Louis Vuitton
above right: Luther wears blazer by Comme des Garçons Homme Plus and shirt by Paul Smith

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above: Luther wears blazer and trousers by Comme des Garçons Homme Plus and shirt by Paul Smith

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above left: outfit as before
above right: Luther wears full look by Celine Homme

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above left: Luther wears coat by Miu Miu, blazer by AMI, t-shirt from stylist's archive, trousers by Paul Smith and shoes by Lanvin
above right: outfit as before

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above: Luther wears cardigan by Etro, t-shirt from stylist's archive, trousers by Paul Smith and shoes by Lanvin

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above: Luther wears pyjama set by Louis Vuitton and socks Luther's own

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Luther wears shirt by Etro, jeans by Levi's and necklace by A Sinner in Pearls

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