Josh O’Connor, a Cheltenham native, gained fame for his outstanding performance in the 2017 film God’s Own Country, a poignant gay romance set in the beautiful Yorkshire landscape. He played Johnny, a sheep farmer wrestling with his identity, who unexpectedly falls in love with a Romanian migrant worker. His exceptional portrayal earned him recognition, including a prestigious British Independent Film Award. O’Connor’s intense performance as Johnny, and his evolving relationship with Gheorghe, even had physical repercussions.

God's Own Country
God’s Own Country

However, despite the challenges he faced during production, O’Connor had high hopes for the film’s premiere at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. Unfortunately, his moment in the spotlight was somewhat overshadowed by the success of Timothée Chalamet’s Oscar-winning drama, which garnered significant attention and acclaim during the same festival. This turn of events left O’Connor feeling as though his big break might be slipping away, a poignant reminder of the fierce competition and unpredictability of the film industry.

Josh O’Connor’s Method Acting Dedication Pushing Limits to The Hospital

Josh O'Connor
Josh O’Connor

Francis Lee, the accomplished director who helmed Josh O’Connor‘s transformative performance as a self-loathing farmer in the indie masterpiece God’s Own Country, has bestowed upon O’Connor the profound compliment of being a true shape-shifter in the world of acting. Lee’s introduction to O’Connor was through a self-taped audition for the film, a moment that left an indelible impression on the director.

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In that audition, O’Connor astounded Lee by flawlessly capturing the specific accent and the deep, yearning sadness that characterized the Yorkshire farmer character Lee had envisioned. Josh O’Connor’s acting prowess is further exemplified by his innate ability to delve deep into the psyche of his characters, embodying their emotions and inner turmoil with remarkable authenticity. O’Connor told  Interview Magazine,

“From there, I  worked physically with Francis about how this guy would look. By the end of the film I was so skinny; I was gaunt. It was horrific. I was in character the whole way through. It was really lonely and hard. I don’t think I’d do it again. You isolate yourself from all your friends.”

To prepare for his role in God’s Own Country, O’Connor took on a rigorous transformation. He learned dry stone wall construction, actively assisted in delivering lambs on a Yorkshire sheep farm, and underwent an extreme weight loss regimen that led to hospitalization requiring intravenous support. This dedication to his craft reflects O’Connor’s unwavering commitment to fully immersing himself in his roles.

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Josh O’Connor’s Bittersweet Experience in The Premiere of God’s Own Country

Timothée Chalamet's Call Me by Your Name
Timothée Chalamet’s Call Me by Your Name

During the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Timothée Chalamet’s Oscar-winning drama Call Me By Your Name became a highly anticipated cinematic gem, akin to Moonlight and Carol, drawing diverse adult audiences. Amidst this excitement, another remarkable film, God’s Own Country, set in Yorkshire’s rugged landscapes and directed by Francis Lee, garnered attention with its specialized appeal.

The film’s essence lay in the poignant tale of a reserved Yorkshireman and a dreamy Romanian migrant worker whose love challenged societal biases, enriching the movie’s intricate political context. Francis Lee’s World Cinema Directing Award at the festival validated the film’s artistic excellence and critical praise. Unfortunately, O’Connor’s discomfort intensified due to unexpected events at the Sundance premiere. Josh O’Connor told GQ,

“There was a snowstorm and it was half-empty. The people that were there were shocked by the s-x and nudity and walked out, or were kind of quiet.”

During Call Me By Your Name‘s screening, Josh O’Connor, like the audience, teared up during its graceful ending. However, his experience at the screening was mixed. While he watched the emotional response, he couldn’t shake the sense that his own film, God’s Own Country, might be overshadowed at Sundance. But, to their relief, an emotional standing ovation emerged amidst the uncertainty, soothing their anxieties.

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Source: GQ

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