Jack Farthing (OH 98) - Confidence
A look back at the School magazines from 1997-9 gives some indication of the direction that former pupil Jack Farthing might be heading in.
Under the careful guidance of his Head of English, Carl Gilbey-McKenzie, Jack developed his acting skills in numerous Hall School productions, bringing ‘a sincerity and simplicity’ to the part of Billy Budd in 1997 and conveying the ‘naivety, priggishness, essential decency and sadness’ of Richard of Bordeaux ‘with frightening skill’ in 1998.
In those days, informal drama was a whole school activity and Jack had some notable successes in a particularly talented year group. In 1999, 'he played Guildenstern (or was it Rosencrantz?), introduced the second half as part of a backstage pair, seizing their moment to sing Stand By Me unaccompanied, produced a neat little mime, Mirror, Mirror, played Jon Snow in Mubana and died hysterically, several times, in Act One Scene One, Take 57'. He will also be remembered for winning several poetry and public speaking competitions.
Jack’s best memories of the Hall are definitely the dramatic ones.
‘Looking back, I can't believe the ambition of some of Mr McKenzie’s epic and wonderful school plays, but he pushed us and believed in us, and for me it made all the difference.'
After attending Westminster School and Oxford University he went to study acting at LAMDA but left when he was spotted and cast as Benvolio at the Globe Theatre, taking part in other productions there, as well as at the Orange Tree, Richmond, where one national paper reviewer announced 'A star is born' for his performance as a cad in Mary Broome.
He was taken on by casting director Andy Pryor who got him into television, with a small role in the period drama 'Dancing on the Edge' and a more substantial, recurring part as Freddie, daft son of the house in 'Blandings'.
Since then he hasn’t looked back, with parts in the 2014 film the Riot Club and a turn as John Lennon in the ITV drama Cilla. His most recent stage work was as the main character in Mike Bartlett's Wild at Hampstead Theatre. This was a study of truth and lies loosely linked to the story of Edward Snowdon and Wikileaks. In an astonishing final coup de theatre, the entire stage and its outer walls appeared to revolve, taking Jack, seated on a stool, to a precarious 90 degree angle high above the floor. This was quite something for an actor who admits he has little head for heights.
At the moment, however, he is probably most familiar to parents and pupils at The Hall as the villainous George Warleggan in Poldark. Only those who know him will realise what an achievement his Warleggan is; Jack could not be more different, the one so cold and calculating, the other so open and friendly.
His advice to any of our current pupils interested in following in his acting footsteps is:
‘Go for it. It's definitely not the easiest of paths. You need a pretty thick skin and a real hunger. But if you're sure you love it, then you have to try, and if it works you'll feel very very lucky indeed. Drama school's probably a good start.’
We hope that Jack will come back to visit The Hall the next time he is appearing at Hampstead Theatre or perhaps just when he is passing by.