How Dancing Helps ‘Turn’ Star Jamie Bell

Celebrity Q&A, Featured Article, People, TV Shows
on March 31, 2014

Whatever happened to the lad who starred in the “Billy Elliott” movie? Is he still dancing?
–Jonah Lawrence, New Bedford, Massachusetts

Jamie Bell has pretty much hung up his dancing shoes, but he is still performing. He currently stars as Abraham Woodhull, an American patriot, in the new AMC spy-thriller series “Turn,” set during the Revolutionary War.

Based on the book “Washington Spies” by Alexander Rose, “Turn” reveals the until-now-untold story of America’s first secret agents, The Culper Ring, whose information gathering helped turn the tide of the war in favor of the rebels.

“Abraham Woodhull existed and he did this job,” Jamie Bell, 28, says. “He got intelligence to George Washington through [his friend] Ben Tallmadge. That’s all real. The stuff we’ve invented is the stuff with Abe’s father because we literally know nothing else [about him] other than this is what he did and this is who he was. Judging from his letters, he was quite the paranoid individual. He was, obviously, quite worried for his life a lot of the time.”

As for “Billy Elliott,” for which Bell won a BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, he says it was a blessing, but it’s also a role that, no matter what else he does, his work will be compared to.

“I think it’s always going to be tricky when the first thing you ever do is potentially the biggest thing you’ll ever do,” he says. “I think the quicker you stop fighting that battle, the happier you’ll be, and I stopped fighting that battle a long time ago. I’m just in it to keep working hard and keep doing stuff that I really like doing… It would have been very easy for me to have done that film and then never worked again.”

That said, Bell’s dance background does come in handy when it comes to action roles, and there is a lot of that in his role in “Turn.”

“I get thrown around like crazy. I get kicked, thrown on the floor, punched, all that stuff, so it definitely helps,” says the Billingham, County Durham, England-born actor. “Having to be disciplined from 6 years old, to look at the teacher and learn the step because if you didn’t you’d look like an idiot, that discipline, I think, helps with acting, as well.”