Adam Hugill found out he got the leading part in The Watch on his 22nd birthday. Hugill was brought up on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings but had never read Terry Pratchett’s fantasy books, on which The Watch is loosely based. But on that day in 2019, his father snuck out and found a copy of Pratchett’s Night Watch at a local secondhand-book shop.
“Everything in my life seems to be a whirlwind,” says Hugill, now 23. After graduating from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), he got a call from a casting agent working on a new TV series called World on Fire. The part Hugill read for ultimately went to another actor, but Hugill had gotten his foot in the door. A few months later, his agent received a call: “We’ve got this role. Adam’s perfect for it.”
Hugill devoured the script for BBC America’s The Watch. He auditioned for the part of broad-shouldered, earnest Constable Carrot, and landed it.
Raised in Yorkshire in the North of England, Hugill attended a two-week summer acting course with his sister when he was 12. “Basically, my mum wanted to get us out of the house,” he says. Acting didn’t stick for his sister, but one of the teachers spotted Hugill’s potential. “He nurtured me throughout my teens,” Hugill says. “He took me to see regional theater. He took me to the Royal Shakespeare Company and showed me movies.” It was this same teacher who later helped Hugill apply to drama school in London.
“My parents have always been and continue to be extremely supportive, but they don’t go see theater,” says Hugill. “They don’t obsess over films. I got a role in something just after I left drama school, and I called my mom. ‘I’ve got, like, three lines in this new TV series.’ And she’s like, ‘Oh, that’s really good. By the way, my friend Julie just got here and we’re about to go for a walk.”’
Hugill signed with an agent at the end of drama school. “We both thought I’d be doing really serious dramas, you know, proper actor stuff,” says Hugill with a smile. “But I ended up doing a musical and now a fantasy TV series.” That musical, Standing at the Sky’s Edge, earned Hugill the best-actor award at the Stage Debut Awards 2019. He also had a small part in Sam Mendes’s First World War epic, 1917.
There’s an ease and poise to Hugill’s performances, but one part of the film industry has never rung true for him. At LAMDA, “we had big actors coming in and doing talks with us,” Hugill says. “And they’d always say, ‘Don’t be surprised if you never work again when you leave drama school,’ and, ‘You know, 99.9 percent of actors are out of work at any one time.’ Who came up with that statistic?
“It’s a lot of luck and a lot of hard work, but there’s nothing stopping you.”
The Watch is available on BBC America
Bridget Arsenault is the London Editor for Air Mail