As Farleigh, Archie Madekwe brings the heat to Barry Keoghan’s character Oliver in the new thriller/comedy from Emerald Fennell, Saltburn.
Shadow and Act and Blavity’s managing editor, Trey Mangum, talked with Madekwe about his role in the film, and Madekwe broke down why Farleigh’s distrust of Oliver grows the more Oliver infiltrates himself into the elite Oxford inner circle.
“To begin with, it kind of takes form as you can’t serve me in any way. there’s nothing you can give me or Oxford. Farleigh’s disdain for Oliver isn’t mean-spirited initially. When he starts the film off and he says, ‘Nice jacket,’ that’s not to be mean, that’s to make everybody else laugh,” Madekwe said. “It’s not about Oliver because when he gets to the English class he doesn’t even remember who Oliver is and he says, ‘Oh, nice to meet you.’ It’s not about him, but then he quickly thinks, ‘I don’t need anything from you, you’re quite boring. I actually don’t find you that interesting, but I can probably get something from the professor; if I’m nice to him, he’ll let me come in late or maybe miss a class,’ and he puts in the work there.”
As Oliver becomes closer and closer to leader of the pack Felix (Jacob Elordi). Madekwe said that when Oliver and Felix start getting closer, Farleigh’s claws come out.
“And then as this guy who he’s already kind of written off starts integrating into the group and almost starts replacing [Oliver]…this threat starts bubbling up inside him,” he said. “He recognizes someone on the outside looking in, like him. This is not Farleigh’s world–one, he he’s not English. Two, he’s the only person of color. Three, he’s queer. Four, he is not wealthy. It’s all of these things that don’t make him part of this world and all of a sudden this outsider has come in and has potentially taken the place of him. And then he ends up in his house and that’s when the threat comes too close.”
Saltburn is described as a “beautifully wicked tale of privilege and desire” as Oliver becomes a bigger part of the elite world of Oxford’s student body, particularly Felix’s inner circle. Felix invites him to his family’s estate, Saltburn, which leads Oliver into a journey he wouldn’t soon forget.
The film also stars Rosamund Pike, Alison Oliver, Richard E. Grant and Carey Mulligan. Saltburn is now in theaters.