Jack O’Connell: Best Movies, TV Shows, and Career

Jack O’Connell: Best Movies, TV Shows, and Career
Jack O’Connell: Best Movies, TV Shows, and Career

When it comes to British talent in Hollywood, Jack O’Connell is undeniably high on the list. After starting out as a teenager with small roles in popular British shows like The Bill, and Waterloo Road, O’Connell quickly showcased himself as a formidable centre force in season 3 of Skins. After growing up in Alvaston, Derby, O’Connell attended the Actors Workshop in Nottingham. It was here he was spotted and subsequently cast in Shane Meadows‘ BAFTA winning crime-drama, This Is England.

Before long, O’Connell had proven himself as a massive talent in film and TV. Despite a rocky few years as a teenager, including a brush with the law, O’Connell set his sights on Hollywood. He has since gone on to star alongside Hollywood heavyweights like George Clooney, Vince Vaughn, and Julia Roberts. However, he has also always stayed true to his roots and continues to forefront independent films like Jungleland, and Little Fish. He is set to star in Michael Mann‘s biopic, Enzo Ferrari, opposite Adam Driver. With such an ever-climbing trajectory, Jack O’Connell is on track to become a leading talent of the future. He has continued to build upon his framework and divert into many genres. So, with that said, let’s take a deep dive into the best movies and TV shows from Jack O’Connell’s illustrious career so far.

1. Starred Up

Jack O'Connell in Starred Up

Starred Up is a gritty prison drama that focuses on Eric Love (O’Connell), a tough-as-nails teenager who is moved to a high security prison when he becomes too much to handle. However, matters are confused when Eric comes face to face with his estranged father, who also happens to be in the same prison. As he attempts to navigate life in jail, Eric joins an anger management group to get a hold of his increasing rage.

O’Connell delivers the stand-out performance of his career as a troubled youth grappling with the effects of his disastrous upbringing. By the time Starred Up was released, O’Connell was ready to let go of the typecast he had been branded with of a young man with a penchant for violence. However, despite the characters violent nature, O’Connell brought a nuance to the role that made him relatable and even charming at times.

2. Unbroken

Jack O'Connell in Unbroken

Unbroken is a 2014 film starring Jack O’Connell and directed by Angelina Jolie. The plot revolves around the real-life story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete turned Second World War soldier. After Louis survives a plane crash over the Pacific Ocean, he spends 47 days adrift before being captured by the Japanese navy.

The movie follows Zamperini’s journey through various prisoner of war camps, where he is subjected to brutal treatment and torture at the hands of his captors. Jack O’Connell’s performance in the film was widely praised and it marked his breakthrough into Hollywood. Angelina Jolie championed O’Connell for the role and helped him attain his visa to work in the United States. Unbroken is a remarkable true story of resilience in the face of extreme adversity. Furthermore, Jack O’Connell’s portrayal of Louis Zamperini is a testament to his acting ability and promising career in Hollywood.

3. Skins

Jack O'Connell in Skins: Rise

After various small roles in TV shows and soaps, Jack O’Connell showcased his dynamic range in the popular TV series, Skins. A fan favourite for many, O’Connell played the wild and unpredictable James Cook. He starred in season 3-4 and had two full episodes dedicated to his character. In fact, his character was so beloved, O’connell returned for the final season of Skins to forefront his own two episodes in Skins: Rise. The hit show put O’Connell on the map as he demonstrated his intense skill, portraying a misunderstood youth, blending drama and comedy masterfully.

4. SAS Rogue Heroes

Jack O'Connell in SAS Rogue Heroes

SAS Rogue Heroes is a riveting series that follows the origins of the UK’s Special Air Service during World War II. The plot details how the British government authorized the formation of the SAS. This group of soldiers were specially trained to conduct covert operations and sabotage missions behind enemy lines.

The series follows the early days of the unit as they learn to work together, hone their skills, and become the elite force that the world knows today. Jack O’Connell’s superb performance as Sergeant Paddy Mayne is a standout rendition on the show. He perfectly captures the essence of the character, bringing to life his intensity, courage, and unwavering commitment to his team. What’s more, O’Connell tapped back into his boisterous ego to portray the unhinged soldier with a proclivity for extreme violence. SAS Rogue Heroes has been greenlit for a second season in 2023.

5. Godless

Michelle Dockery and Jack O'Connell in Godless (2017)

After breaking into Hollywood with Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, Jack O’Connell starred alongside George Clooney in Money Monster. From here, he kept his momentum rolling and landed his first lead role in an American TV series, Godless. The Western series was created by Scott Frank and premiered on Netflix in 2017. Godless was Scott Frank’s passion project for a number of years, initially intended to be a feature film. However, when Netflix greenlit the project, Frank adapted it into a seven-part series.

The show takes place in the 1880s in a small town called La Belle. However, this New Mexico town is solely populated by women after all the men died in a mining accident, leaving the women to fend for themselves. The show follows the story of a notorious outlaw, Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels), who hunts down his former protégé, Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell), who has fled with his stolen fortune to take refuge in La Belle. The show explores themes of feminism, redemption, and morality in a time and place where these issues were not commonly discussed.  Additionally, Jack O’Connell proved once again that he has significant faculty to lead a big-budget Hollywood project.

6. Eden Lake

Finn Atkins, Jack O'Connell, Tom Gill and Thomas Turgoose in Eden Lake (2008)

Although it never gained widespread commercial success, Eden Lake has continued to grow in cult status since it was released in 2008. The film focuses on Steve (Michael Fassbender) and Jenny (Kelly Reilly), a young couple who take a break in the countryside of England to relax and unwind. However, their idyllic trip takes a turn for the worse when they encounter a gang of yobbish youths.

What follows is a terrifying story of survival as the two find themselves hunted by the gang, led by Brett (Jack O’Connell). At only 17 years old at the time of filming, Jack O’Connell showcased his talent as he portrayed one of the most menacing movie villains ever caught on film. His performance is truly terrifying, and stays with the viewer long after watching. Although he has delivered heaps of memorable performances since Eden Lake, Jack O’Connell’s role as Brett will likely be a stand-out moment on his resume for many more years to come.

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