Age & Hometown: 30; Birmingham, England
Current Role: A Broadway debut as the poetic, brokenhearted, guitar-playing Guy in the Tony-winning musical Once.
Keeping the Beat: The son of a puppeteer and a musician, Arthur Darvill made his first onstage appearance at age eight. “My dad bought me a guitar when I was very young, and I never looked back,” says Darvill, whose “really happy childhood” included touring with his mother's puppet company. “We lived in a tent and roughed it in a really good way,” he recalls. Eventually, Darvill started a band called Edmund (named for the character in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and won admission to London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. In 2006, he made his professional stage debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival before starring in a string of West End plays, while indulging his love of singing and songwriting on the side. “I use music as therapy,” he says. “Whenever I’m feeling angry or needing some 'me' time, which is quite regularly, I’ll go and bang a piano or flesh out something on a guitar.”
Who’s the Boss?: TV viewers are well-acquainted with Darvill thanks to his three seasons as Rory Williams on the hit BBC sci-fi show Doctor Who. “We had such fun making it!” he says of the cast. “We knew each other as people, but we could always surprise each other as actors, and that was very special.” Darvill and title star Matt Smith had co-starred in Swimming with Sharks on London’s West End, so it was a dream come true to reunite on TV, and the show’s cult following helped prep him for meeting the energetic fans of Once. “It’s more organized here,” he says of the stage door, where many fans arrive with British-theme gifts. “You do get the odd crazy person, but that’s just because the human race is pretty messed up. It’s all very humbling and lovely, though.” So has anyone gotten creative and combined Once and Who into one gift? “The hybrids!” he laughs. “No, not yet.”
Simple and Sensible: Like his character in Once, Darvill has some experience playing music on the street. “When we were 11 or 12, me and my friend Toby would busk outside the main pub in a little town called Foy,” he recalls with a smile. “We did Beatles songs and got loads of money from pissed up people in Cornwall.” No surprise, then, that the allure of starring on Broadway in Once was the music. “It’s the songs, the ensemble, the whole package,” he gushes. “There’s real heart to it.” His wish list of future roles is topped by Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, but for now, he’s “lapping up” the experience in Once. On his days off, he enjoys exploring “the most romantic city in the world” (when his London-based girlfriend is in town) or indulging in a “quite sensible” night in. “Monday is great if I can spend it in bed,” he says. “I’m a man of simple pleasures, really.”