CHATTING to Freddie Fox it’s hard to ignore the fact that his family tree is positively bulging under the weight of acting talent.
Indeed he comes from illustrious acting stock - his father Edward Fox and mother Joanna David are both actors, as is his older sister Emilia, uncle James and cousins Laurence, Jack and Lydia.
But if he gets bored or frustrated about being asked for the umpteenth time what it’s like being part of such a dynasty he doesn’t show it.
Indeed he graciously tells me that it’s “part of the territory” when I tentatively broach the subject.
“I don’t mind at all,” he says warmly. “I do get asked a lot but it’s expected and that’s fine. We are all very supportive of one another and I feel lucky to have that support.
“I also am very proud of the life I have been given.”
And although the 27-year-old is the first to admit it’s not a surprise that he ended up working in the family business, he tells me he did toy with the idea of being a director of photographer.
“Acting was the only career I ever considered seriously as an occupation,” he says. “But I flirted with being a director of photography for a while as I found it mystical and magical.
“Whenever I’m filming I shadow and make friends with the director. Realistically it was the only one I thought about, but acting took over thanks to doing a lot of plays at school.
“Eventually the test was if I got a place at drama school after A Levels I’d pursue acting and if I didn’t I would go to university and see what happened.”
Happily it was decided by an offer of a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and since graduating in 2010 Freddie has worked solidly in the business - and along the way proving if it were needed that his success is not as a result of his name, but rather by his own indisputable talent, he has embraced his chosen career with a range of diverse roles.
His first break came in the BBC biopic of Boy George, Worried About The Boy in which he played the androgynous and cross dressing 1980s singer Marilyn. Roles in film and TV followed including in Channel 4’s Cucumber, The Parade’s End and the voice of Captain Holly in the forthcoming adaptation of Watership Down as well as in theatre, most notably Romeo in Romeo and Juliet at the Sheffield Crucible for which he won an Ian Charleston Award.
He revisited Romeo this year when he starred opposite Lily James in Kenneth Branagh’s production at the Garrick when the original actor and his understudy were both injured.
He was most recently seen in a glorious and exuberant production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Southwark Playhouse earlier this year in which he played both Demetrius and Bottom.
And now he is back in South London and about to take on the role of founder of the Dada movement, Tristan Tzara, in Tom Stoppard’s play Travesties which opens at the Menier Chocolate Factory next week.
Chatting in a snatched and late lunch break during rehearsals, which he cheerfully admits have been “full on”, Freddie is both friendly and utterly charming throughout.
He is also clearly relishing acting in one of his favourite plays and in a crack cast which alongside Freddie, boasts the likes of Tom Hollander and Amy Morgan.
“I’m loving it but it’s non stop!” he tells me cheerfully. “We have a great cast and a lovely team who are all incredibly supportive of one another.
“It’s also extremely exciting because it’s the first time I have performed at the Menier. It’s the most amazing space which transforms itself with each production, so it’s thrilling to be here.”
Written by Tom Stoppard and first staged more than 40 years ago, Travesties is a dazzling comedy featuring James Joyce, Tristan Tzara and Lenin as remembered - and misremembered - by Henry Carr, a minor British diplomat in Zurich 1917.
Carr’s memories are framed by his starring role as Algernon in a production of Oscar Wilde’s play, The Importance of Being Earnest. This production and Carr’s mixed feelings surrounding it are used as a framework to explore the themes of war, art and revolution.
Freddie says this particular version, directed by Patrick Marber, promises to be a lot of fun. And he says he jumped at the chance to be part of it.
“It’s an incredible play and we are are making it full of joy, fun and razzamatazz with singing and dancing that you perhaps wouldn’t expect or imagine in a Tom Stoppard play,” he says warmly.
“We are combining the brilliance of his writing with the sheer joy of a musical.
“It hasn’t been done for 20 years and I can’t quite fathom why this is the case as it’s such a fun play and of Tom’s work it is my favourite - and that was one of the things that attracted me to being part of this production. It’s incredibly funny but I think people might be daunted at the idea as it’s quite dense.
“It’s a story set during the middle of the First World War as seen through the faulty memory of a British diplomat who is a member of a group that includes Lenin and James Joyce. But it’s also a pastiche of the Importance of Being Earnest which this chap Carr is in the process of putting on. So you can imagine why people might think it’s too much but once you get into it, it’s a Ferrari and goes along at such a pace.
“There are jokes non stop, it’s witty and wild and by giving it that added sense of joy and clarity that Patrick Marber has done, it’s going to be fast, titillating, and full of frivolity. It’s like whipping up candy floss, but the highest grade!” he chuckles.
To add to the excitement the cast has been joined in the rehearsal room by the great man Tom Stoppard himself - something that Freddie is delighted about.
“He’s there to give us inspiration and we are very lucky to have him there,” he says. “It’s not at all daunting to work with Tom - I worked with him in Parade’s End. He has always been so sweet and encouraging of me, my performances and career and I see him more as a kindly and benign deity.
“Of course I’m aware of how extraordinary he is but he never carries himself in that way - and is never scary. So it’s reassuring having him there with us and certainly not intimidating as he’s on our side and wants to get the play right and so he allows us all to put our own stamp on it.
“But to work with him, Patrick and Tom Hollander is a huge privilege for any actor in their life. And you don’t get an opportunity to do many plays of such quality and with a character who has the most fantastic speeches and most explosive journey through the play - it’s amazing.
“It’s popping like Rice Krispies throughout the play, so it was a no brainer!”
Tristan Tzara who Freddie plays was of course a real person, a Romanian and French avant-garde poet, essayist and performance artist. He also worked as a journalist, playwright, literary and art critic, composer and film director, and was known best for being one of the founders and central figures of the Dada movement.
“Tom did a lot of research and of course there is plenty of material on Tzara so I have been able to build up a picture of what he was like,” says Freddie.
“He is a fascinating character. He was known to be highly intellectual, hard working, great fun and very charming. He was an immigrant living in Zurich and a Jew and he felt very much ostracised from his country of Romania.
“He became much more himself in Zurich. He was able to establish his own identity and when he felt he belonged he was able to do really amazing things.”
And by taking on Tzara Freddie is proving his versatility as an actor and refusing to be typecast in any way.
“I am drawn to parts that have energy to give,” he says. “But I also like diversity in my work.
“Acting on stage and on screen require different disciplines and I’ve been lucky to have a chance to do both.
“As such I don’t have a bucket list although there are obvious roles such as Hamlet, Iago and Benedict that I would love to play. Romeo was a gift - I knew I wanted to play him so to get an opportunity to do it twice was fantastic. But other non classical roles also appeal as well as directing short films and doing more TV.
“But I’m very lucky because I’ve had so much variety in my career so far already - not to mention a lot of fun,” he adds.
“I want to keep grabbing that luck as it comes along - take each day as it comes and remember every day that I’m a lucky bugger.”
Travesties is on at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Southwark Street until November 19. Tickets cost from £29.50. Visit www.menierchocolatefactory.com or call the box office on 020 7378 1713 for full listings.