The Royal Shakespeare Company needs to “move with the times” because young actors would rather appear in an Amazon or Netflix hit than study the Bard, according to David Harewood.
The British actor, who became an international star thanks to his role in the US drama Homeland, questioned the need for actors to gain classical training.
He cited John Boyega, the Star Wars actor, who trained at the part-time Identity School of Acting in London. The school offers scholarships funded by Netflix.
Harewood told Radio Times: “Actors such as John Boyega will explode on to the scene. They possess a confidence that is much more in tune with emphasising who they are. I think it’s a result of not going the traditional route.
“Not everyone wants to go to the Royal Shakespeare Company. They want to be in a big Amazon hit – and that is a problem for the British industry, which is losing talent.
“One has to ask if there is a need for these young actors to go to the RSC when they could go to the States and be in a network hit.”
‘Theatres must adapt to survive’
He added: “I hope the theatres can survive, but they will have to move with the times and do a different form of work, I guess.”
Harewood’s career took off when he was cast in Homeland as CIA director David Estes.
“When I got Homeland, I was down to my last £80. I was in a James Corden show, and I had one line,” he said.
“Until my 30s, my career had been great, and then it just fell off a cliff.”
However, Harewood, 55, did acknowledge that his classical training – he studied at Rada – had helped him to get the job.
“Being a classically trained English actor – once they know that you have that training, production companies feel confident. Frankly, it’s not what you look like. It is about your essence,” he said.