Josh O’Connor: Where You Know the ‘Challengers’ Actor From?

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Josh O’Connor: Where You Know the ‘Challengers’ Actor From?

Long before Josh O’Connor made his debut in movies and TV shows, he had starred in theater plays in his community. The British actor grew up in Cheltenham as the middle child of John O’Connor, a teacher, and Emily O’Connor, a midwife. Born into a family of creatives from both his paternal and maternal sides, Josh O’Connor has always been drawn to the creative world.

In Luca Guadagnino’s romantic sports drama Challengers, Josh O’Connor plays one of the film’s three leads. Co-starring alongside Zendaya and Mike Faist, O’Connor plays an ex-lover and former best friend. If his face looked familiar, it’s because he’s played several other iconic roles in film and television. Here are Josh O’Connor’s movies and TV shows from where you probably recognize him.

Doctor Who

Josh O'Connor in Doctor Who

Josh O’Connor had his television debut in 2012. The next year, he appeared in an episode of Doctor Who. Although relatively unknown at the time, eagle-eyed Doctor Who fans might remember him from the “Cold War” episode. The episode was the eighth episode in the seventh series. It had Matt Smith playing the Eleventh Doctor, with actress Jenna-Louise Coleman playing the Doctor’s companion, Clara Oswald. 

In the episode, Josh O’Connor was cast as Piotr, a soldier onboard the Firebird (a Soviet submarine) in 1983. The character was put in charge of the Ice Warrior, Skaldak, who Professor Grisenko found frozen. Skaldak strangled O’Connor to death after he unfroze him with a blowtorch. It was the only time O’Connor starred in the series.

Peaky Blinders

Josh O'Connor in Peaky Blinders

The next year, Josh O’Connor made another guest appearance on period crime drama Peaky Blinders. He joined the series in season 2 as James, appearing in only 3 episodes. He’s first seen in season 2, episode 4, when Thomas “Tommy” Shelby (Cillian Murphy) visits his sister Ada Thorne (Sophie Rundle). Tommy is at first hostile, believing James to be Ada’s new romantic interest. However, Ada clarifies to Tommy that James is a friend and tenant and also a homosexual. In episode 6, James later accompanied Tommy to visit Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) in Camden Town. Unbeknownst to James, Tommy uses him to threaten Alfie to hand him only 35% of his business.

The Durrells

Josh O'Connor in The Durrells

Although Josh O’Connor had long made his film debut, he was getting more notable roles on television than in movies. In 2016, he landed his first major role on television after being cast to portray a younger Lawrence “Larry” Durrell on the ITV British comedy-drama The Durrells. With excellent reception from critics and audiences, The Durrells is one of Josh O’Connor’s movies and TV shows where most audiences (especially in the UK) will remember him. As one of the series’ main cast, Josh O’Connor appeared in all 26 episodes of The Durrells, spread across its 4 seasons from 2016 to 2019.

God’s Own Country

Josh O'Connor in Gods Own Country

God’s Own Country was Josh O’Connor’s first lead role in movies. At this point in his career, he was getting the recognition he truly deserved as a screen actor. In God’s Own Country, Francis Lee’s feature directorial debut, Josh O’Connor was cast as Johnny Saxby. O’Connor Johnny Saxby is a gay man saddled with the responsibility of running his family’s farm in Yorkshire. His father has had a stroke, and his grandmother is old. Overwhelmed with the responsibility, Johnny relaxes by drinking and having meaningless sex with other men. However, things change when a new farm hand, Gheorghe Ionescu (Alec Secăreanu), is hired on the farm. God’s Own Country was received with critical acclaim.

Les Misérables

In the 2019 BBC One British series Les Misérables, Josh O’Connor portrayed the lovesick Marius Pontmercy. Like the rest of the series, the character was adapted from Victor Hugo’s 1862 French historical novel. The critical success of Les Misérables makes it one of Josh O’Connor’s most popular works on television. O’Connor co-starred with several other notable actors, including David Oyelowo, Dominic West, and Lily Collins.

The Crown

No stranger to portraying iconic/historical figures, Josh O’Connor joined the cast of the Netflix historical drama The Crown, portraying Charles, Prince of Wales. O’Connor joined the series in season 3 as Queen Elizabeth and Philip’s eldest child and the heir apparent. Although he only appeared in 13 episodes in seasons 3 & 4, portraying the younger Charles, Prince of Wales made it one of his most memorable roles on television. Portraying the character was a bittersweet moment for O’Connor, although it helped boost his career and fame.

Emma

Josh O'Connor in Emma

In Jane Austen’s 1815 novel film adaptation Emma, Josh O’Connor played the Reverend Mr Elton. One of O’Connor’s character’s iconic scenes in Emma was in the carriage with Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy). After everyone leaves dinner with the Westons early and Emma joins Reverend Elton in the carriage, Elton openly declares his love for Emma. Until that point, Emma, having no interest in Elton, had thought the Reverend was attracted to her new governess, Harriet Smith (Mia Goth). Ashamed, after being rejected by Emma, comes down from the carriage on the cold winter night in a fit of anger. He’s never heard from again until he returns with his newlywed wife six weeks later.

Mothering Sunday

Josh O'Connor in Mothering Sunday

In Eva Husson’s 2021 British romantic drama Mothering Sunday, Josh O’Connor played the wealthy lover boy. O’Connor’s character, Paul Sheringham, the son of the wealthy Sheringham family, has been having a sexual affair with their neighbor, the Niven family, maidservant Jane Fairchild (Odessa Young). Paul calls Jane over to his house on Mothering Sunday as it is her day off from work, and his family is off to have lunch at the Niven family home. Although Paul is engaged to Emma Hobday (Emma D’Arcy) as he’s obligated to marry someone of his social standing, he’s still in love with Jane. With the movie told from Jane Fairchild’s point of view, Paul Sheringham dies in an accident on Mothering Sunday as he drives to meet his parents and fiancée at the Niven family’s estate.

Aisha

Josh O'Connor in Aisha
Josh O’Connor played the male lead in Frank Berry’s heart-wrenching Irish drama Aisha. With Guyanese-British actress Letitia Wright cast as the title character, Aisha Osagie, O’Connor plays her love interest Conor Healy. However, this Frank Berry drama is far from anything close to a love story. It follows Aisha Osagie’s quest for asylum in the Republic of Ireland.

As a Nigerian refugee, Aisha becomes helpless as she tries to convince the panel to grant her asylum. However, the movie’s silver lining is Josh O’Connor’s character and love for Aisha. Aisha was critically acclaimed and holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. If you recognize these Josh O’Connor movies and TV shows, check out Mike Faist’s most notable roles in movies and TV shows.

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