- Words Ryan Cahill
A quick Q&A proceeds the actors' 10Trax edit as we discuss his role in new Netflix smash, Sex Education.
Asa Butterfield might only be 21 years old, but his CV is one that rivals many. Over the course of his career, he’s played the title character in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, saved the world in Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and went to war in the film version of Journey’s End. For this most recent role in Netflix Original series, Sex Education, he played an inexperienced budding sex therapist with Gillian Anderson as his over-sharing mum. Another curveball role for the young actor, it’s further evidence to that fact that despite the plethora of characters and narratives he’s played, he still has more strings to his bow.
We sit down with Butterfield just as the series lands on Netflix to find out all about his latest role, as well as listen to his selection of the 10 tracks he couldn’t stop listening to while filming…
Tell me a little bit about what attracted you to this role.
There were a few things. It was at a point in my career when I really wanted to get involved in some TV because there’s some amazing TV shows being made. With TV, there’s a chance that you’re going to be doing it for years and you’ll keep coming back to it, so I wanted to wait for something that was really good and that I feel passionate and excited about. On the surface, it seems like your typical inexperienced High School character but there’s so much more to him. Like his fear of sex, for example, and where that all stems from, as well as his inherent genius understanding of how it works, which combats his inability to do anything about it. I found that really interesting. He turns into this sex guru in school despite being unable to touch his own penis was quite an interesting polarity, which I thought was very funny and touching. The script is brilliantly written, it’s really funny. It’s a brilliant bit of writing.
One of things I noticed was the chemistry between you and Gillian Anderson. What was she like to work with?
Me and Gillian got on really well! We didn’t have a lot of rehearsal time before we started working together. She came on set and we kind of hit it off, really! We had this great energy between us. It felt very natural and real, that kind of mother and son dynamic. I know that dynamic very well between me and my own mum, and Gillian has two sons of her own, so we both kind of adopted those roles quite nicely and worked off each other really well.
While the show is comedic, there seems to be quite a sincere, underlying message about sexual health. Do you appreciate that seeks to share an important message with a young audience?
Yes, totally. And I’m hoping that is what will really resonate with people. It shows sex and the difficulties of sex and sexuality in all its honesty, realism and its messiness and how difficult it is. It doesn’t glamourise it or glorify it or make it sexy. It shows it for what it is.
What are you hoping people will take away from the series?
I hope that it will make people realise that it’s OK to be a bit hung up about certain things. It’s OK to be a 16-year-old virgin. There’s no right way to do things and you have to do things in your own time. All these characters are dealing with these very real issues that people are going through. It’s OK not to be normal, it’s OK to be a bit of an outcast and it’s OK to have weird fetishes!
Can you sum up the series in one sentence?
Uh-oh! It’s a coming-of-awkward-age drama about all the weird and wonderful difficulties of sex as a teenager!
Sex Education is streaming now on Netflix.
"My World Is Blue" by Demond Dekker
"This is such a favourite of mine!"
"Money" by East Star All-Stars
"This band created a dub remix of Darkside of the Moon, called Dubside of the Moon, that whole album is amazing!"
"Don't Wake The Lion" by ITALS
"Another great track. I’m a big fan of the genre and this is really feel good music, especially in the Summer!"
"Ernie" by Fat Freddy's Drop
"Funnily enough this is the name of one of my best mates, but that isn’t why I like it! It’s a brilliant mix of soul, reggae and dub! "
"Respiration" by Blackstar ft. Common
"There's so many I like, but this is my favourite track from Blackstar"
"Fall in Love" by Slum Village
"This is the first track I heard from them and it’s got this iconic riff which has become a staple in hip-hop culture."
"Zodiac Shift" by Flying Lotus
"A great song, kind of weird and goes through different stages. It’s very experimental, it’s dance and electronic but really funky."
"Blue Eyez" by Skream
"He’s a British producer who does a lot of dubstep and dance music, and this is just a fucking banger!"
"Skeng" by The Bug ft. Killa P & Flowdan
"This was kind of iconic when I was growing up. You’d hear it every time you went out. It was hugely popular in the UK bass scene. "
"It Must Be Love" by Madness
"It’s sort of feel good, I’m a big fan of that rhythm when you have the reggae off-beat thing, but that kind of 140bpm, that is generally my favourite."