E4’s Skins first aired in 2007 and became a cult classic among TV series’. Its thoughtful storylines examined the struggles of a group of Bristol Sixth-Formers over the course of several years, addressing topics such as mental illness, substance abuse, death and dysfunctional family dynamics. While the writing of Skins was at times, arguably, a little clumsy, overall the stories were communicated well and the show merited the success it saw. Skins broke the mould for ‘teen dramas’ and now it’s all finished and archived, (notably every series is available to view for free on Channel 4’s on demand viewing service, 4od, and they are well worth your time,) we are left with a moving programme that examined social struggles for adolescents in Britain through what are mainly, fantastic performances. Plenty of the stars of Skins have gone on to great things and in this article we’re catching up with the actors that captured audiences’ imaginations and made Skins the TV classic it was.
Having played the utterly confident and eventually unfortunate, Tony Stonem is series’ one and two of Skins– Hoult has gone on to great things. Perhaps most notably Nicholas Hoult appeared in the recent re-boot of Mad Max, Mad Max Fury Road, and landed quite a large role as ‘Nux’ the merciless, crazed killer, who eventually finds a conscience. You may also know Hoult as the shy retiring Hank McCoy who’s alter ego is ‘Beast’ in the films X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past. To jump from an E4 series to such big-budget box-office hits shows us how meteoric Hoult’s rise has been and he’s likely to go further. Watch out for his up-coming appearance in British comedy-crime-thriller, Kill Your Friends, due for release in November 2015.
Jack O’Connell played the massively entertaining loose-cannon, James Cook, in series three and four of Skins– his character also returned in series seven as one of the most memorable the writers had created. Though he had more experience than many of his co-stars before being involved in Skins, since his role in the series O’Connell has excelled, starring in a series of remarkable films. He played sporting legend Bobby Charlton in 2011’s United, and went on to take the lead role in the cinematic adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s touching World War One novel, Private Peaceful before also landing a role in prison drama, Starred Up (2013). His real break-through though, came in 2014, featuring in ’71, Unbroken and 300: Rise of an Empire. ’71, though the lowest budget production of the three is well worth watching, the film is a heart pumping, adrenaline fuelled dash through 70’s Belfast, O’Connell portraying a British soldier stranded in a hostile Catholic area of the city. O’Connell’s portrayal of US Olympian and WWII airman Louis Zamperini led to massive success for the film which was written by the Coen brothers and directed by Angelina Jolie. All this and O’Connell’s 2015 BAFTA win in the ‘Rising Star’ category stand as testament to what is becoming a fantastic career. He’s one of the best products of Skins, having played one of the series’ most memorable characters and at 24- we can expect much more from him.
Now most recognised as Gilly from HBO’s Game of Thrones, Hannah Murray played Cassie Ainsworth in series one and two of Skins. Cassie’s eating dis-order and erratic behaviour demanded a tip-top performance from Murray in order to convey her character suitably and she delivered that and more. While Murray’s film appearances have been largely un-remarkable since her appearance in Skins, her role as Gilly in Game of Thrones suited her perfectly and Gilly has remained an important and interesting character in the series, the massive success of Game of Thrones suggests this role will help Murray to bigger and better things. Notably, Cassie was such a Skins favourite the character merited a return in the seventh and final series of Skins.
For Dev Patel, Skins offered the keys to the city, despite holding a smaller role than many Skins stars, shortly after his appearance in the series he took on the starring role in the critically acclaimed Slumdog Millionaire and both the star studded The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel. He also appeared the successful 2012-2014 series The Newsroom and the massively profitable 2015 film Chappie. Having seen such success on the big and the small screen, we’re likely to see much more of Dev Patel.
Having played one of Skins’ most memorable characters, Effie Stonem (younger sister to Hoult’s character, Tony,) who spanned both the first and second generations of Skins characters, Scodelario’s success since Skins had not been as remarkable as that of some of her fellow stars on the show. Her most notable film appearance was in dystopian thriller Maze Runner and she appeared in high profile music videos for both Plan B and Robbie Williams. Recently though, her portrayal of the quiet, erratic and mysterious Effie has been rewarded with the lead female role in the up-coming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Though the series has gone down-hill since its initial instalments, this exposure can only be good for her hopes of continued success.
Another Skins star now most recognised for his role in Game of Thrones, Joe Dempsie played ill-fated ecstasy user Chris Miles. Dempsie’s most notable roles since Skins have been his appearances in Game of Thrones, This is England ’86 and 2009’s The Damned United. Despite playing one of the series most appealing and endearing characters (and doing so well,) Dempsie has seen less success than many of his old co-stars, but his role in the behemoth series, Game of Thrones, has grown since his original appearance and looks like it may continue to do so.
By George Storr