Netflix can change the life of an actor *literally* overnight and Louis Partridge, the star of Enola Holmes – the new feminist take on the Sherlock Holmes saga, fronted by GLAMOUR UK cover star, Millie Bobby Brown – is an example of that.
Just last week when I Zoomed into Louis’s home after he’d completed a day of sixth form, he excitingly exclaimed, “I was cycling home just now, I passed a bus and I saw an Enola Holmes poster up on the side, I had to stop and take a few photos. It’s crazy, I’ve never had that before – and my face, it’s there! It’s small, but it’s there!”
What would younger Louis have thought? “I think he would have thought, ‘what on earth?’ I don’t think he would have believed it to be honest!” But little did the Louis of today and younger Louis know that just over a week later he would have garnered over 2 million followers following his star turn in the latest Netflix film.
What was your audition process like for you for Enola Holmes and how did you react when you got the role?
The audition process was very long and quite stressful for me. I was getting more and more attached to this part as the auditions went on, I think I did about four or five auditions. Two of them were with Millie and after the first one I didn’t think I’d done well. So, then for a week I was just kicking myself and thinking, “Oh, we should’ve done this. I wish I hadn’t done this.” But it’s always that way for me. But I got a call back and then after my second callback. After my last audition I waited about three weeks and meanwhile I was doing my GCSE’s. I was revising and my focus was shifting to the job. I found out I got it on the day of an exam that I was doing. I was just so over the moon I just completely messed up the exam, but I mean, it was completely worth it.
It must have been so amazing going into that screen test with Millie for the first time. What was your first impressions of her?
I thought she would be taller – I don’t know why! She was really, really super friendly – she came over and hugged me and my mum, immediately. She was just really, really down to earth and genuine. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I haven’t really met anyone that famous before or in a friendly way. When I went into the audition room, she was just funny and we were bouncing off each other a little bit, so that’s what I was clinging onto. I was hoping that the directors and producers in that audition saw our natural chemistry when we were just talking, because we did get on really well, which is definitely a plus.
It must have been an amazing learning curve working with this cast from Millie Bobby Brown to Helena Bonham Carter?
Millie is a lot more experienced than me although we are the same age, but it does feel like I’m working with a pro. She’s a great example of staying down to earth no matter how successful you are. She’s still a kid and is really, really funny. She hasn’t let her fame get to our head, which I wasn’t expecting that necessarily, but I was just taken aback because she’s just like how one of my friends would be in that position.
I was always nervous walking onto a set with the big names. I spoke to the director about my nerves and e literally told me, “if you’re not nervous, you’re no bloody good.” I thought that was a really, really nice quote. I thought I should not try and get rid of my nerves but try and do something with them because if I just stress, it’s only going to make my performance worse.
It looked so fun to film – what was the funniest moment for you?
In one scene we were pushing the cabinet up against the wall and Enola goes, “Help me get in this door.” And then it’s like, “I don’t want to leave you, Enola.” And she’s like, “Just go.” I went over to the window still and when I went to look back, I banged my head on the way out so loudly and everyone just burst out laughing. On my first day on set, I got into my trailer and Millie had been there before me. There was stuff all over the place and she’d written on my mirror in lipstick that she got from the makeup chair, “happy first day, Dukes xox.” I was just so not expecting it and set the tone for the rest of the shoot. It was completely jokey and fun, but also serious and hard working.
Enola Holmes is so fun, but there’s also a very serious message to it, especially in terms of female empowerment and female equality. What kind of conversations do you want this film to start?
I think the themes that it promotes, like you just said about female empowerment are so important and to have a series centred around that is amazing. I also I found that my character, he’s not your most typical man – he has long hair and he’s really into his flowers! Whereas Enola’s, you could say is the man. I described him as dukeling in distress, which reverses the whole gender stereotypes, which I think from a male perspective is cool. Duke isn’t this manly character figure which I like as a man growing up.
What was it about this character that spoke to you and what do you think you’ve learned about yourself through playing this character?
I felt like, as an actor, I had a big creative input to take the words off the page and create this character with Harry, the director, which I’d never had before. We had three weeks of rehearsals and we were literally just building character before any shooting started.
That must feel so great as a young person to be so listened to and valued on set?
Yeah and Millie made a point of it – she’s so confident, she’s so mature and we all felt very equal on set.
How do you want to use your platform for the greater good?
I never really been one to speak politically at all, not that I shy away from it, but I wouldn’t post about it. But now that I’ve got a platform, I’m fortunate that I can share what’s going on. I feel like I have a duty to do that because I might share, one person sees it and then shares it on it becomes a snowball effect, which I think is super important. I have always looked up to people who did that. So, I’m lucky that now I’m in that position for some people.
Who were your role models when you were growing up in that sense?
Well, Leonardo DiCaprio for one. I’m a big fan of Timothee Chalamet, but I also like a lot of people who aren’t actors like skateboarders. You idolise people that you follow and people that you look up to. I certainly did.
You are going to sixth form at the same time as working and promoting a movie. How do you keep grounded and how do you manage having to do all that different stuff at the same time?
It’s quite easy to keep grounded. It’s weird at times, like there were a lot of moments last week and a year ago when we were filming where I would be on set filming with Millie Bobby Brown, and Fiona Shaw and some incredible British actors. And then I would go back into school the next day to sit in French with a load of my mates. I can’t escape school, not that I want to because I think it’s so important to stay grounded, but I’d be back in the playground and then people would be taking the piss out of me, like in a normal school whereas when I’m on set, people are asking me if I would a drink and that’s lovely. But I think you definitely also got to have your mates that take you down a peg or two when you’re at school. I’m very fortunate to have that.
Enola Holmes is available on Netflix now