BAZ BAMIGBOYE: The tiny co-star who made James Norton broody

Actor James Norton felt a little broody after playing a dad in his new film, growing very close to his on-screen son

Actor James Norton felt a little broody after playing a dad in his new film.

He grew so close to his remarkable on-screen son, then only four, that it left him with deep thoughts about starting a family of his own.

‘I did get broody,’ admitted the 35-year-old star of BBC thriller McMafia, ITVs Grantchester and the film Little Women, after working with Daniel Lamont, now six, from Ballymena, County Antrim. 

In the heartbreaking movie Nowhere Special (in cinemas on July 16) Norton plays a man suffering from a terminal illness seeking a family to raise his son.

Spending time with Daniel and his family in Northern Ireland on playdates — ‘we connected with my four-year-old self’ he told me — and becoming an uncle to his sister’s two boys meant that there were conversations on the matter with his partner, the actress Imogen Poots.

‘My girlfriend definitely clocked that I was getting a little bit more broody.

‘It coincided with my age; becoming an uncle, then playing this role and having such a deep connection with Daniel,’ he told me during an interview on Zoom. ‘Yeah, I would go home and talk about having kids. I think she was quite sweet about it.’

In the heartbreaking movie Nowhere Special Norton plays a man suffering from a terminal illness seeking a family to raise his son (pictured, a still from Nowhere Special)

In Nowhere Special, inspired by a true story, Norton plays John, a tattooed window cleaner suffering from brain stem cancer and with a few weeks to live (pictured, a still from the film)

However, he acknowledged that a move to fatherhood would not be easy because ‘it’s a peripatetic, bouncy life that actors lead’.

To win Daniel’s trust, Norton spent time playing with his toys and eating together. ‘We’d muck about in the garden. Him on a bike and me on a skateboard — not very good for a 35-year-old with the beginnings of back issues,’ he said.

In Nowhere Special, inspired by a true story, Norton plays John, a tattooed window cleaner suffering from brain stem cancer and with a few weeks to live. 

He said that he and filmmaker Uberto Pasolini ‘had to handle it very delicately talking about death with Daniel’.

The most moving aspect for me was the father and son doing everyday things so that Daniel’s character Michael would have memorable moments with his dad. 

 The most moving aspect for me was the father and son doing everyday things so that Daniel’s character Michael would have memorable moments with his dad

‘Just running to get an ice cream or going to the park,’ said Norton.

He was struck by how someone as young as Daniel was able to play Michael. 

‘Daniel’s running around full of energy and beans while Michael’s similar to his dad, reflective, soulful.’

Norton would squeeze Daniel’s hand to prompt a line in the script.

In the time since I first saw Nowhere Special last September, I’ve re-watched everything Norton’s been in, including Happy Valley as a murderous dad (which is coming back, perhaps as soon as next year) and The Nevers, on Sky, where he plays an outrageously hedonistic aristocrat who hosts naked orgies.

‘I get to let rip and do everything,’ he said gleefully. ‘Obviously, if I did that in the real world it would be a disaster.’ In any case, he added: ‘In England we’re far too polite and I’m as English as they come.’

That hasn’t stopped him jumping into a second season, which started filming this week. 

At the same time he’s making Freegard, starring Gemma Arterton, where he plays a monstrous, real-life crook pretending to be an MI5 agent. He’s also producing the film via his production company Rabbit Track Pictures.

Talking of spies prompts me to ask yet again about the rumours he might be chosen to replace Daniel Craig as James Bond. 

While he’s flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as 007, there have been no conversations with the Bond people. ‘It’s just clickbait,’ he said of the rumours.

He was struck by how someone as young as Daniel was able to play Michael. ‘Daniel’s running around full of energy and beans while Michael’s similar to his dad, reflective, soulful’

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