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Meet Mr Burberry: Josh Whitehouse

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ShortList sits down with the young Brit in Steve McQueen’s steamy new perfume film

Words: Louise Donovan

“I was pretty intimidated,” says Josh Whitehouse of working with the legend that is Steve McQueen, and it’s not hard to see why. In a matter of years, the British actor and musician has gone from starring in Elaine Constantine's Northern Soul to joining the award-winning and acclaimed 12 Years a Slave director on set.

The reason? The 26-year-old has been hand-picked by Christopher Bailey to represent Burberry’s new male fragrance, aptly titled Mr.Burberry. He’s joined by model Amber Anderson at London’s Café Royal for a “dirty weekend”, so says McQueen. There might be some naked bath-based action, but Whitehouse reckons it’s a lot more romantic. “It felt a lot more like a love scene in a film rather than just being naked and snogging someone,” he says.

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The ad also features another talented Brit: Mercury Music-prizewinning British singer-songwriter Benjamin Clementine, who soundtracks the film with emotional, haunting vocals on I Won’t Complain. The shoot lasted three days and, thankfully, Whitehouse didn’t stay intimidated for too long. “As soon as I got there and sat down I felt immediately welcome. There’s some big names, but it’s just like talking to two people, you know? It was scarier in my imagination."

For an actor/model so new to the game, bagging a Burberry campaign is a big deal. You may only remember Eddie Redmayne as last year’s Oscar sweepstaker, but before the Brit actor got the Hollywood treatment he was a Burberry model (not forgetting Hugh Dancy, Sam Riley and Max Irons, who also fronted campaigns). So, what went through this mind when he got the call? “Absolutely nothing,” he laughs. “I went completely blank. I was on the phone to my agent, he was saying you’re going to be part of a Burberry campaign, you’ll be working with Steve McQueen and I was going: ‘okay, okay, sounds lovely.’ And they were like you don't sound very excited, and I was like: ‘I am, i think, I just haven't comprehended what you’ve said. Can I call you back?"

It’s a good thing he did. His face can now be found on every bus and poster from here to Peru. And with three films in the pipeline (The Receptionist, Modern Life Is Rubbish, Alleycats), plus new solo material ready to release, 2016 looks set to be a huge year. 

So, from Mr.Burberry himself, what kind of dude can pull of this perfume? “Someone with a rebellious attitude. He’s a suave guy but he’s also got a little bit of stubble.” We certainly like the sound of that.

Burberry.com 

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