How Everybody's Talking About Jamie's Story Inspired Max Harwood - Exclusive

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"Everybody's Talking About Jamie" is, as its name implies, getting people talking about the man who inspired the film. Jamie Campbell, then a high school student, went to his prom in a dress despite bullying from his peers and backlash from parents and the administration (via Decider). Now, as his story is chronicled on the big screen, streaming on Amazon Prime Video, we revisit and celebrate the activism that has made Campbell part of LGBTQ history not only in his native England, but also around the world.

When Max Harwood was cast to play this iconic trailblazer, he immersed himself in the part, including meeting with its muse. In an exclusive interview, The List sat down with the breakout star, who explained that Campbell, although fearful, was determined to take that bold step close to a decade ago. "This young 16-year-old wrote to documentary makers and said, 'Look, I want to go to prom in a dress and in drag, please, will you come and follow me? I would feel more confident with you there because I won't get beaten up.'" 

Harwood, whose role playing Jamie marks his very first professional gig, told us that Campbell's act of bravery has influenced his own life, and he hopes the lives of audiences who watch the heartwarming biopic.

Max Harwood marvels at the timing of Jamie's activism

When asked what inspired him most about Jamie Campbell's story, which was originally made into a musical that ran in London's West End (via BBC), Max Harwood didn't hesitate to note the less progressive era in which it occurred. "I feel like now, in the last couple of years especially, people have been able to be more open about their gender expression and stuff like that," he noted. "But seven years ago, we really weren't there."

Harwood, like Campbell, grew up in England, and said that he has applied the bravery and courage that Jamie showed at that time to his own life. "And I've just been inspired to be unapologetically me and I still don't really know what that means like physically, but like, I'm so happy to just voice my opinions, and to stand strong in who I am and my beliefs, and to stand with the people who I believe in and all of that stuff," he said.

Max Harwood thinks the message in the film is universal

Max Harwood explained that Jamie Campbell believes that what he did was, in fact, very simple. "And in many ways it was," he said. However, the actor sees the brave act as more complex as well as profound. He views it as a universal truth that we can all relate to, one he hopes that audiences can take away with them after seeing the film.

Harwood — who explained to The List that he did his share of "pretending" in high school, "scared to try and work out" who he was — understands the significance of what Jamie did all those years ago. "We all were 16 once and we all wanted to be something," said the now-24-year-old actor, who revealed that he himself came out when he was 18. "And I think it's a story that can be really generational in the sense that it can speak to anyone, no matter where you are in life, no matter who you are, you can still find that authentic place that you'll be happy."

"Everybody's Talking About Jamie" is available globally on Amazon Prime Video.