After The Beast Must Die, Howle travelled to Slovenia to shoot a survival drama, Infinite Storm, with Naomi Watts and Sophie Okonedo. Chloe, which concerns social media – something he only uses sparingly, to post artsy photographs he’s taken and poems he’s written – is another psychological thriller, and should wrap in early summer. After that, he plans to ‘take a little break’.
I wonder if he’s single. ‘No comment.’ Is that a no, or a…? ‘It’s a no comment.’ He has been similarly tight-lipped about his love life in the past, and said that he doesn’t date actors. Lockdown was valuable, but it became about ‘smashing things, then about assembly, about reconciliation’. So he could probably do with a rest, alone or not.
Growing up, Howle never had any heroes – no plan, nobody whose career he wished to recreate, and he didn’t understand people who did. ‘I don’t like all that stuff, emulating other people, you should just do you, do your thing.’
Which is precisely what he’s doing. The rest of his career stretches ahead of him, but he does have one, as-yet unannounced role coming up; one more character to start lugging around. And it’s a big one, he says. It’s on stage. It’s Shakespearean. It’s not… Hamlet, is it?
‘It might be Hamlet, put it that way.’
Bloody hell, Billy. Talk about tortured men having breakdowns…
Howle laughs. ‘Well, it’s the obvious next step, isn’t it?’
The Beast Must Die is on BritBox from Thursday