Interview with “Skins” writer Jack Thorne


If you caught the Naomily tidal wave outside of Britain, the name “Jack Thorne” probably means one thing to you: Cat Flap. And while the other accolades surely pale in comparison to the absolute mob of lesbian fans he earned himself when he co-wrote Naomi’s series three episode of Skins, Jack Thorne is also an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. His success reaches every storytelling medium, from television to theater to radio to film. He won the Best British Newcomer award at the Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival Awards last year for his movie The Scouting Book for Boys — and he’s currently working on a little project you may have heard of: Skins: The Movie.

He also has the reputation of being one of the nicest guys in The Industry — a claim I can now verify, as he quickly agreed to an interview when I asked and sat through hours and hours of questions. He handles praise — and I heaped plenty of it on him — with genuinely self-deprecating British charm; a ploy, I believe, because it only made me want to praise him more.

AfterEllen: I Tweeted and asked if anyone had any questions for you and the number one thing people want to know — behind “Will Naomi and Emily be in the Skins movie?” — is: Why is Jack Thorne so awesome? Want to take a crack at answering either one of those questions, just to get warmed up?

Jack Thorne: I will ignore both for different reasons. But thanks for making me blush. 

AE: I read a BBC Writer’s Room interview where you said you lived off six grand a year for seven years, surviving on tomatoes and pasta, when you were starting out as a writer. Do you think being a writer is the best job in the world?

I spend my life making s–t up. That’s an awesome way to make a living. As a kid I made s–t up a lot. But on my own, with dolls, in my room. Now I get to do it with real life people.  

AE: You’ve written award-winning plays and films and television shows. What’s your favorite medium to write for?

JT: That’s a Sophie’s Choice of a question. And the truth is I don’t know. Sorry. I love radio, too.

Jack Thorne poses with his Best British Newcomer award 

AE: Did you know there’s a character in Jurassic Park, the novel, named Jack Thorne? He’s a super genius who works with actual dinosaurs. Do you still think your job is the best job in the world, or are you a little jealous of the other Jack Thorne?

JT: I’m seriously jealous of the other Jack. In fact, if I wasn’t a writer I’d work with dinosaurs. I’m gutted he never made the film.

AE: OK, let’s talk about Skins. How did you snag your gig on The Greatest Show of Our Time?

JT: Jamie [Brittain] saw my play at The Bush  called When You Cure Me  initially at a read-through. He liked it. He came to see it again when it was staged. He still liked it. He told his dad, [Bryan Elsley] to come and see it.  Jamie came to the first preview, Bryan the second. Two months later, the first Skins writers’ room was us three sitting together. Three nerdy guys talking about a TV show about cool people.

AE: Everything you write about young adults — and you write quite a lot about young adults — is so emotionally authentic. I, um, legally obtained a download of The Scouting Book for Boys and sobbed the whole way through it. Austen, Dickens, Thackeray, Bronte: they all loved writing young adults, too. Why are you drawn to characters that age?

JT: I haven’t grown up yet. My old boss Pawel Pawlikowski was asked, when working on an amazing film called My Summer of Love, what he learned from his teenage actresses about being a teenage girl. He said, “I am far more of a teenage girl than they’ll ever be.”

But he’d be a cute teenage girl

AE: You wrote some of the most beloved episodes of the first two seasons of Skins. (And you put some of the characters through hell!) Do you have a favorite character and/or moment from the first generation?

JT: Chris was my favorite character, purely because I wrote his first episode. I think he’s the sort of guy who’s lonely in a crowd; I’m similar. My favorite moment was in series two, episode three Sid’s episode when Sid told Tony his dad was dead. It was beautifully written and directed and acted.

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