Jack O’Connell: From ‘Skins’ to Sharing Screen Time With George Clooney

Skins made stars of many of the biggest names in Hollywood. The British dramedy blurred the line between the funny and poignant and did so on the backs of many up-and-coming superstars in Hollywood. Jack O’Connell was one of the series’ breakout stars.

Now that he is on to bigger things, his work alongside megastars like George Clooney explains his rise to prominence.

O’Connell and Skins

According to FandomSkins was the notorious British drama that showed the good, the bad, and the ugly of young teenagers as they cross the bridge into adulthood. The series’ explicit content mixed with the age-appropriate casting turned more than a few heads. Still, it also helped audiences realize just how young the people who are often portrayed by twenty-somethings actually are.

One of the series biggest stars was O’Connell. O’Connell portrayed the violent womanizer named Cook in the series second iteration. Cook was a chaotic force whose brash attitude and selfishness makes him a hindrance to nearly everyone involved. However, Cook is not all bad. As the series progresses, he learns a little bit of empathy to go with his fearlessness. 

Working with the best

Jack O'Connell
Jack O’Connell | Alessandra Benedetti – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

At the time of Skins’ release, Cook was a teenager himself, and Digital Spy notes that while the show featured Dev Patel and Oscar-winner Daniel Kaluuya, few stole the spotlight as O’Connell did. As such, his own success in Hollywood makes sense, especially when he’s paired with one of the biggest names in entertainment. 

O’Connell enjoys working with people like Clooney. However, when he’s on the set with the biggest actors in the world, as he was in Jodi Foster’s Money Monster, he isn’t always thinking about the scope but how he can stand out among them. He spoke to the LA Times about working with such major stars. 

“The one I can’t really hack is, ‘What’s it like to be with said famous person?’ because I’m not sure what that is as a question. It’s not very specific,” the actor told the publication.  “But that movie did help me promote myself in the States with work that I’m genuinely proud of.”

According to Foster, Clooney noticed O’Connell’s fearlessness when appearing on-screen with Clooney, Julia Roberts, and other A-listers. As such, he took a liking that Foster and the others noticed, too.

“I don’t think Jack is impressed particularly by movie stars,” the filmmaker noted. “But George has a lot to impart to somebody like him, and Jack was open to listening.”

Jack O’Connell opens up

According to O’Connell, it wasn’t intimidating because of who Clooney was. On the contrary, it was inspiring to see someone as successful at the craft as he is taking the time to help a young 25-year-old like he was. 

“When you see an actor like George Clooney making the same mistakes that you do and asking the same questions you might ask,” O’Connell told the Times, “it’s very reassuring to know that you don’t stand out as being difficult.”

O’Connell has seen it all. Still very young, he’s already had a career that most veterans would be envious of. From a hit television show that introduced him and several other future stars onto the world to his ensuing big-screen success in the United States. O’Connell got where he is thanks to hard work, fearlessness, and mentors like George Clooney, who could hone him into something special. 

As a look on his IMDB page notes, O’Connell’s star traveled across the sea to America thanks to his work in films like Money Monster and more television work on the Netflix miniseries Godless. O’Connell’s next big break, a pair of mini-series called The North Water and SAS: Rogue Heroes, may be his biggest break yet. However, wherever he goes from here, he can rest easy knowing that Foster, Clooney, and his other co-stars saw the light and acted on it. 

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