Louis Ashbourne Serkis is the titular star of The Kid Who Would Be King (out Jan. 25), writer-director Joe Cornish’s modern-day retelling of the King Arthur legend. But the teenager almost didn’t bother going to audition for the film, which costars Patrick Stewart and Rebecca Ferguson.
“I was coming home from school one day, and it was after sports, and my friends were meant to be coming home,” says Serkis, the son of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars franchise actor, Andy. “My Mum called me and she said, ‘Louis, you have to do this audition.’ It was that day. I thought, I don’t really know anything about it and chances are I might not get it. So, originally, I was going to be like, ‘Oh, Mum I don’t want to do this,’ so that my friends could come to my house. But then I thought, Oh no, I should do it, because it’s a big audition. I went into the screen test wearing my school sports kit.”
“The casting process was a complete meritocracy,” says Cornish, who previously directed 2011’s alien invasion film, Attack the Block. “Our casting director saw thousands and thousands of kids. We came down to four or five kids and then somebody suddenly mentioned, ‘Oh, have you seen Louis Serkis?’ He turned up in his rugby kit, looking a bit annoyed and grumpy. He sort of blew everybody out of the water, did an amazing read. Then I think the next day he found out that I’d done Attack the Block, which he really liked. Then he read the script and then he was in. You know, there are a lot of very technically brilliant kids, but he felt really real, and emotional, and like he was feeling things for real. And he turns out to be an absolutely fantastic kid.”
Watch the trailer for The Kid Who Would Be King, above.