The Bastard Son’s Jay Lycurgo is collecting major roles like action figures

Photography by Joseph Sinclair, grooming by Holly Jenkins, styling by Emily Tighe

Call Sheet: Starring in Netflix’s “X-rated Harry Potter” series, the Croydon class clown-turned-superhero-turned-witch lets us in on a few industry secrets.

There are a few things a budding actor can do to help their chances of bagging a major role. They can impress at the audition, obviously, and maybe do a little networking to sweeten the deal. But Jay Lycurgo has figured out another hack – kind of like manifesting, but with memorabilia.

Zooming in from his dad’s home office in Croydon, South London, behind him is a shelf of superhero action figures from the DC Universe. I got him this big Batman here,” the 24-year-old says, gesturing to a plastic likeness of the defender of Gotham that looms over his shoulder. It was about two weeks before I got The Batman role.” That’s right, Lycurgo was in this year’s big-screen outing for The Caped Crusader, playing a would-be gang member whose initiation gets interrupted by a beefed-up Robert Pattinson.

This freaky figurine prophecy wasn’t a one hit wonder, though. It was the same thing for Titans as well. He got a really awesome Batmobile with Batman and Robin a few weeks before I got the part of Robin,” he says, referring to his role in last year’s third series of the Teen Titans spin-off show, broadcast on HBO Max. Basically, what I found out is if I just keep buying these things, [I’ll get the part],” he laughs. I’m sure if I buy a crown I’ll be The Queen next.”

Sounds like a solid plan. But before Lycurgo makes any appearances in The Crown, he has another Netflix show to helm. The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself sees him enter leading man territory, starring as Nathan, the illegitimate son of the world’s most dangerous blood witch”. Caught between his paternal bad side and his maternal good side, all eyes in the witchy world are on Nathan as he approaches his 17th birthday, when he’ll receive his full powers.

Sound a bit Harry Potter-y? You’re not far off. But even though the show is an adaptation of Sally Green’s young adult novel Half Bad, it’s a bit more grown up than what they got up to at Hogwarts. In fact, with gore, sex and score by Let’s Eat Grandma, it’s actually been dubbed the X‑rated Harry Potter”. Bet you’re interested now.

Before you binge The Bastard Son this weekend, you ought to get familiar with Jay Lycurgo as he embarks on the next stage of his career. How’d he go from a kid in Corydon to Netflix’s next leading man? Here’s all the need-to-know details, and then some.

The thing that made me want to get into acting was…

I think it was all subconscious. When I was a kid, I used to dress up as Woody and Aladdin, and then I went for the school play. I was probably a bit of a class clown, a bit of an attention seeker, so I think that was quite natural to me. Then in high school, we went to [arts centre] Fairfield Halls in Croydon, and these boys were performing Twist & Shout on stage. I really loved the charisma they had, because I knew those boys, and [I was seeing] how they had their personalities shifted and how much fun they were having. It just went from there really. I remember being with my friends in the garden and being like: Alright, cool. We’re just shooting this thing.” And not really having an idea that that was acting. I’d just play these characters in my room or with my mates and I’d be like, Should we film this?” That was just really fun to me.

My most embarrassing audition moment was…

OK, so I played the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz when I was in year six – a very great moment for me, grandad has it on video. In year six, I was 10 years old. And then when I was 14 – so this is four years later, in year 10 – they did The Little Shop of Horrors in school. I am terrified of singing, but I had to sing, so I did If I Only Had a Brain from [The Wizard of Oz]. I got to the second round and they go: Now we’re going to do an improv.” I was like: Why? What, have I got to make up things? I’ve got the song again! I’ll just do that.” I ended up not doing either and said I’d come back later. They gave me a small part and I was very ungrateful about it. Sorry, Miss Kipping.

The funniest thing that happened on set to me was…

On The Bastard Son, we were making jokes all the time. There was a lot of VFX and a lot of portals that we had to go through to get to new places. On the day, [director] Colm [McCarthy] would be like: OK, so the portal is going to arrive there.” And obviously, there’s nothing there, we have to imagine it. Nathan’s a very intense boy at times, very focused. I’d be in my scene and then all of the sudden, you just hear Colm scream: And it’s a door!” It would just make me break character. We were just always bursting out laughing. Now it’s an inside joke.

The craziest special effects I’ve witnessed are…

Season three of Titans was really incredible. In episode nine, [my character] Tim [aka Robin] has to jump over this massive bridge to get back to his reality. I remember being like: But we’ve just got this little bit of bridge? What are we doing?” The director of photography was like: Oh, no, we’re gonna make a full bridge!” Then you see the end product of these big sequences, Tim jumping over that bridge, and I’m always so impressed with what these guys can do, especially with those superhero shows. You know, you’ve got [shapeshifter character] Gar who turns into a tiger. It’s incredible.

Photography by Joseph Sinclair, grooming by Holly Jenkins, styling by Emily Tighe

The one thing I have to have in my trailer is…

My JBL speaker. I bring this everywhere with me. I just really love having music around me. In the trailer, every morning, it’s loud, I’ve got lyrics up and I’m like on a stage in my trailer. It’s a good energiser. Vince Staples is really great, I like his classics like Norf Norf and Blue Suede. Kendrick Lamar’s new album – I just saw him live and it was incredible – I listened to Count Me Out a lot in my trailer. And then all of the sudden, I might listen to The Beatles if I’m feeling a bit more chilled out.

One thing I wish I’d known about being an actor is…

It’s really hard work. You kind of find yourself in [a situation where it’s] like: Oh my God, we’ve just done 18 hours straight.” When I was younger, there probably could have been a bit of me that’s like: I’m watching these actors on and this looks so fun!” But it comes with a lot of waiting and a lot of isolation, especially if you’re travelling. I wish I’d known how lonely it can be.

When I’m not acting I’m…

Listening to music. When I was [shooting The Bastard Son and] feeling lonely, I’d watch The Beatles: Get Back. They’re three-hour episodes, so I’d have that on in the background sometimes and it feels like you’ve got some mates. That really helped. Podcasts and documentaries are great.

My dream role is…

Anything A24. That is the dream. They have the most beautiful films and I would love to take in that whole experience and be a part of it.

The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself is on Netflix now

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