It’s something of a miracle that Louis Partridge landed the role of Sid Vicious in Pistol, Trainspotting director Danny Boyle’s miniseries cataloging the Sex Pistols’s revolutionary rise in 1970s London. At the time he was cast, the 18-year-old Brit had just made a name for himself by playing a character who couldn’t be more opposite from a punk rocker known for shooting heroin, carving into his (often bare) chest, and ever leaving a path of destruction in his wake. In fact, it may have taken some of his mega-fans a moment to recognize Partridge as the same actor behind Viscount Tewkesbury, the ultra-privileged, hopelessly naïve lad who stars opposite Millie Bobby Brown in the hit Netflix film, Enola Holmes.
Ditching manners for chaos-making wasn’t the only way in which Partridge had to switch gears to play Vicious. He also had to get used to showing up to set and finding just one item of clothing on his rack—a teeny pair of pants—as his costume for the day. It was quite the change for someone who never even had an emo phase; up until that point, the closest he’d ever come to making a fashion statement verged on hypebeast. He begrudgingly revisits that era by sharing his Style Notes, as well as his thoughts on being typecast and the little he can share about Enola Holmes 2, here.
Looking at photos from the Pistol premieres, I noticed that you’ve been doing the exact opposite of your costar, Maisie Williams, in nodding to your character with what you wear.
Yeah. [Laughs.] But I appreciate those outfits so much. [Pistol] made me appreciate more out-there clothes, and also made me see how so much of today is inspired by what went on back then. A lot of it is uncredited, or people wear stuff without knowing the history. I hope this show serves a bit of that history to the younger kids, especially.
What’s your favorite look you wore as Sid?
Honestly, you can’t beat the leather jacket. And then when we go to America, there’s the leather jacket, those black trousers, and those nice boots. We would be walking around the middle of nowhere in and I’d be dressed like that, chest all cut up and bleeding, and no one batted an eyelid. It was absurd—just like a normal day.
It’s so hard to find the perfect leather jacket in that style. Do you know where yours is from?
I tried on different variations because [Sid] had quite a few. I know they went to almost every vintage market in London, scouring, trying to find a match. It’s mad where they get things from—one of them was definitely from eBay. And I loved the shoes, those brothel creepers, as well. There’s a leopard print pair that’s just wicked. I would wear those, actually. I might get myself a pair.
Did you get to hang onto anything you wore on the show?
I tried to hang onto the chain but I wasn’t allowed to, which was devastating. But I had the last laugh because I kept the bass and amp.
As a teen, did you ever have a punk or emo phase?
Nah, I’m glad. Maybe this was my punk phase. [Laughs.] I had a few weird phases, but I never went for emo. Early, early, it was Ben 10 t-shirts, this kid show that I used to love back in the day. It makes me embarrassed even talking about it now, but I used to wait outside shops in London for ages and buy these stupid clothes because I thought it was cool.
What’s one of the most prized possessions in your closet?
I went to L.A. for the first time ever six years ago, and was just lapping it all up. I got a skateboard and [went to] Ripndip—they had these t-shirts with a cat in the pocket, and if you pull it down he’s got his middle fingers up. I used to think that was the coolest thing ever. I’ve still got it—I’m going to keep it forever. And Supreme did a collaboration with Jamie Reid, who came up with that ransom note font that’s the iconic Sex Pistols one. There’s an awesome baseball jacket that says “it’s all bollocks” on the back that I had to get for the show. I actually met Jamie Reid, and there’s a guy [Alexander Arnold] who plays him in the show, so I couldn’t miss that opportunity.
What’s your biggest fashion regret?
Queuing up outside of Supreme every weekend when I was about 13 years old. It was just a waste of time. I used to think all these clothes were so cool, but I’ve thankfully grown out of waiting outside to shops for clothes.
So you were a hypebeast, then?
I will hold my hands up and say there were about two years when I might have been. But everyone has their moments.
What’s the most you spent on something during that phase?
Oh god, I’m burying that past. [Laughs.] I don’t wanna go there.
If you had to dress like Sid or Tewkesbury for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
That’s really quite hard—they’re at opposite ends of the spectrum. But I’ve got to say Sid. He had that Vivienne Westwood tits t-shirt that I love—anything Vivienne Westwood, I’m a massive fan—and some really cool jeans. I think with all of the outfits, I could make something that was relatively suitable for some situations, but you couldn’t walk around in that leather jacket with no shirt on for too long. I once turned up to set and all I had on my [rack] was these tiny leopard-print smuggler pants, and that was my costume for the day. Less is more, I suppose. To go from [Enola Holmes to Pistol], where it’s just stepping onto set without a shirt on—it’s fun to be able to do both.
Were you ever nervous to wear the more revealing looks in Pistol?
It was the first time I’ve had to drop clothes for a scene, but playing it through the lens of Sid, I was pretty comfortable. He’s a character, so he feels removed from myself. And working with Emma [Appleton, who plays Nancy] and the intimacy coordinator, it wasn’t too awkward. I’m glad I did it—I was playing Sid Vicious, and you can’t go halfway with him, or the Sex Pistols in general. There was a debate about whether or not the swastika t-shirt that Sid wears was going to be in the show, but Danny was an advocate for non-censorship The final decision was, it’s the Sex Pistols, and you cannot censor the Sex Pistols. So I do wear a swastika in the show, and I did step outside once—I’d forgotten what I had on my chest. Someone came up with an umbrella and it was like, whoa, whoa, whoa.
It’s pretty amazing that the casting department knew you’d be up to playing Sid when you’d just come off of—and become known for—your role in Enola Holmes.
Every stage [of the casting], I couldn’t quite believe that I got past. I [first] did a terrible audition tape with, like, a cockney accent, with my mum. Then I met Danny twice in person and I absolutely fell in love with him; the way he was so passionate about his work made me feel so at ease. When I got the call saying yes, I got it, it was fucking wild.
What’s the status of Enola Holmes 2?
That is filmed. That is in the bag and will be out… I don’t know if I’m allowed to say, but some time this year.
Do you and Millie Bobby Brown keep in touch when you aren’t filming?
Yeah, I was actually with her the other day. When she’s in London, we get together, but she’s off doing crazy things and I’m off in New York now, far from home. It’s rare that we overlap, so it’s nice coming back to the film when we’re in town together for a while.
I’m very excited about Disclaimer, your show with Cate Blanchett and HoYeon Jung.
I really am, too. I play a character called Jonathan who’s quite essential to the mystery. He’s a backpacker, so I actually did a bit of research and went off to Brazil for two and a half months with my mate. It was part character prep and part gap year, and it was awesome.
Did you ever get recognized?
I did have that a few times. I had a little bit of trouble there because I was staying at the cheapest places possible, at hostels, because that’s how you want to do it, I guess. But the Brazilians were so lovely and friendly and welcoming and generous that I didn’t have any problems—too bad of problems, that is. [Laughs.]