With his varied career Sam Claflin has been tragically suicidal (“Me Before You”), terrifically unlucky at sea (“Adrift”) and most recently the menacing, rabble-rousing 1930s fascist Oswald Mosley in the BBC’s “Peaky Blinders” series.
So this week’s romantic comedy “Book of Love” lets Claflin, 35, lighten up as maybe the most clueless English author imaginable, whose turgid, virtually unreadable book “The Sensible Heart” becomes a surprising No. 1 bestseller — in Mexico!
The reason? His Mexican translator has rewritten it as a melodramatic, passion-fueled ‘telenovela’ (or soap opera). He discovers this when sent to Mexico on a book tour with Maria Rodriguez (Veronica Echegui), the translator who changes not just his fortune but his life.
“He’s a man who’s lived a very sheltered life, who has in a sense been spoiled, given a free ride almost,” a bearded Claflin said from L.A.
“He’s almost the definition of white privilege. Someone who’s always been told yes. Until he publishes a book and realizes a harsh reality, he’s never been confronted with how the other half live, or how people live differently. He’s obviously been so deluded.
“But I think it’s just his being sheltered. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him as a person. People sometimes need to broaden their horizons, have their eyes opened a little wider. And this journey does exactly that for him.
“It forces him into a position that he’s uncomfortable with — but that’s what we all as human beings need! We need to be challenged. We need to overcome obstacles. That’s how we learn, how we grow. So we evolve.”
The secret of a rom-com, Claflin knows, is “chemistry. Veronica is a force, an incredibly energetic, exciting actress. Truthfully, there were moments between the two of us that kind of could have been lost in translation” — between her Spanish and his English — “but we always found a way to communicate.”
Claflin’s beard? He’s halfway finished filming a series, “Daisy Jones and the Six,” opposite Riley Keough.
“It’s based on a fictional novel about a fictional rock band, like a Fleetwood Mac band, set in 1970s Los Angeles. The band is called The Six and the female solo artist is a Stevie Nicks-type character called Daisy Jones.
“My character’s the lead singer of The Six and I also play guitar, which is something I’ve never done prior to getting this job. So it’s been quite an eventful year and a half. With COVID in the mix.”
Can he really sing?
“That’s not for me to say. We can all sing ‘Happy Birthday,’ right?”
“Book of Love” streams on Amazon Feb. 4.