Destined for a royal role
H e first hit our screens in 2006 film The History Boys and in his latest role Jamie Parker is continuing the lesson.
Taking on the title role of Shakespeare's Henry V, performed by Shakespeare's Globe, he is recreating history as he helps tell the story of the charismatic king.
The epic play, which recreates the turbulence of war, portrays the romantic story of Henry's campaign to recapture the English possessions in France, culminating in the Battle of Agincourt.
But his ambitions are challenged by a host of vivid characters caught up in the real horrors of war.
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For Jamie it was a role he was has aspired to play for the past 20 years.
He says: "I saw Henry V when I was a little boy and the role spoke to me. Not all of the major Shakespearean roles push my buttons, I'm not fussed about playing Romeo for example, but Henry was a myth I needed. It was powerful and he's been following me around, or I've been following him, ever since."
After working with director Dominic Dromgoole ten years ago, Jamie was asked to play Prince Hal, the young king, in his production of Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, and has grown with the role.
He says: "It is a big one – if you string Henry IV and this one together I think it's the biggest of Shakespeare's works. It's been a challenge but I had such a ball doing Henry IV that it was great to come back.
"The thing about this is that this play is the making of Henry V – he's spent the last two plays being profoundly insecure and he has to become this heroic king. It is a challenge, physically, philosophically and emotionally."
The play follows Henry's fleet leaving for France, and includes a plot to assassinate him. Henry's clever uncovering of the plot and ruthless treatment of the plotters is one indication that he has changed from the earlier plays in which he appeared. Before the Battle of Agincourt, victory looks uncertain, and his heroic character is shown by his decision to wander around the English camp at night, in disguise, so as to comfort his soldiers and determine what they really think of him.
Jamie says: "He's a hard character to defend rationally. He's abducted by propaganda in going to war. There is a lot of god bothering in the play too – it's possibly one of the most theological of Shakespeare's works.
"I think there are a lot of hurdles for our modern ears to get over. I'm not a royalist or a member of a church but it presses my buttons.
"There is a sort of contained brutality and fascinating tension in the play. He has the urge to hack people into bits but to do it nicely. He's a flawed, fallible human being trying to live up to an ideal. It might not live up to our value system but he is doing a good job. I think all in all it's about trying to reach a state of perfection."
After training at RADA and being part of the original case for The History Boys at the National Theatre, as well as the film, Jamie has also had roles in films Valkyrie and The Journey Home and television programmes Silent Witness, Wire in the Blood, and Foyle's War.
But he says his future was always veered towards the stage.
He says: "Some of the History boys grew up on the screen, like James (Cordon) and Dom (Cooper), and they were always headed that way. I guess I was more at home on stage. I didn't imagine my future as an actor in movies. My dream was to play Henry V."