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‘The biggest obstacle is probably yourself, really, for a long time’ — Normal People’s Frank Blake on an actor’s life

Unlike Alan, his nasty Normal People character, the actor is charming and full of laughter. He chats about his work on the hit series; almost devoting his life to working with horses, and how he finally decided acting was the life path for him

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"I’ve tried writing and stuff, as a way of taking back a bit of control, myself. I found great joy in that." Frank Blake wears linen jacket; cotton shirt; flannel trousers, all S.Brennan Bespoke. Picture by Lee Malone.

"I’ve tried writing and stuff, as a way of taking back a bit of control, myself. I found great joy in that." Frank Blake wears linen jacket; cotton shirt; flannel trousers, all S.Brennan Bespoke. Picture by Lee Malone.

"You realise how hard it is. You’re just auditioning and getting no’s. Not even getting the no’s — not hearing back at all. It was just that for ages." Frank Blake wears linen jacket; cotton shirt, both S.Brennan Bespoke. Picture by Lee Malone.

"You realise how hard it is. You’re just auditioning and getting no’s. Not even getting the no’s — not hearing back at all. It was just that for ages." Frank Blake wears linen jacket; cotton shirt, both S.Brennan Bespoke. Picture by Lee Malone.

"You’ll always go through bouts of not working. Or things just being a bit different to how they were before, or how they will be. You just have to find the ease in that." Frank Blake wears coat, Crombie 1805, crombie.co.uk. Cotton shirt; flannel trousers, both S.Brennan Bespoke. Picture by Lee Malone.

"You’ll always go through bouts of not working. Or things just being a bit different to how they were before, or how they will be. You just have to find the ease in that." Frank Blake wears coat, Crombie 1805, crombie.co.uk. Cotton shirt; flannel trousers, both S.Brennan Bespoke. Picture by Lee Malone.

“I’m doing that classic thing of moving over to London and hanging out with a load of Irish people.” Frank Blake wears linen jacket; cotton shirt; flannel trousers, all S.Brennan Bespoke. Boots, Loake. Picture by Lee Malone.

“I’m doing that classic thing of moving over to London and hanging out with a load of Irish people.” Frank Blake wears linen jacket; cotton shirt; flannel trousers, all S.Brennan Bespoke. Boots, Loake. Picture by Lee Malone.

"I saw so much of the country through travelling around to horse shows and stuff. It was a really interesting environment to grow up in." Picture: Lee Malone.

"I saw so much of the country through travelling around to horse shows and stuff. It was a really interesting environment to grow up in." Picture: Lee Malone.

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"I’ve tried writing and stuff, as a way of taking back a bit of control, myself. I found great joy in that." Frank Blake wears linen jacket; cotton shirt; flannel trousers, all S.Brennan Bespoke. Picture by Lee Malone.

‘I used to worry on set, ‘I’ve just done another mean thing’,” Frank Blake says with a rueful smile. We’re discussing what’s probably his most high-profile role to date, playing Alan in director Lenny Abrahamson’s TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People, a show that went a long way towards getting many of us through lockdown one.

There’s a bit where I throw water on Marianne. I just felt awful that day,” he says with a laugh. “You know, because I’ll throw water on her, and Lenny’s not going to go, ‘Good man’. They called cut, I stand in the bold corner for a while, Daisy [Edgar-Jones] gets dried off for the next take, where the same thing happens again.”


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