Just a matter of weeks ago, the epic fourth season of Stranger Things introduced global audiences to Joseph Quinn, making him a literal overnight sensation. For two weeks after the season premiere, he held the # 1 spot on IMDb’s STARmeter and now sits at # 3, only after being dethroned by his costars. Jamie Campbell Bower and Millie Bobby Brown. Despite his sudden rise to international recognition, Quinn has been an established actor in England for years.
A native of South London, Joe Quinn is a graduate of The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), a prestigious drama school in England with countless talented alumni. After graduating, Quinn had roles in a few short films, Instinct, Kinand The Hoistwhich are available on Vimeo, and some stage plays in London, including Mosquitoes alongside Olivia Coleman. Over the last seven years, Quinn has acted regularly on British television, mainly in period pieces. If his scene-stealing performance as Eddie Munson has captured viewers’ interests, his unique body of work is absolutely something to explore.
Though Quinn’s first credited role was a bit part in a 2011 pre-teen drama titled Postcodehis first job after graduating from drama school was a starring role as Great Expectations’ Arthur Havisham in Dickensian in 2015. The show unites many characters from various Charles Dickens novels into one neighborhood in Victorian London.
Quinn’s performance is raw and hauntingly emotional, as his character is angry, depressed, and simply numb. A notable scene in the final episode, including a close-up of Quinn starting to cry as his expressive eyes fill with tears that fall down his cheeks, is a great example of his talent and impact on-screen. Dickensian received mixed reviews and only ran for one season, but it is a visually stunning series that viewers can stream on Apple TV.
‘Game of Thrones’ (2017)
Funnily enough, Stranger Things isn’t Quinn’s first time being a part of such a massive franchise; in 2017, he played a bit part in Game of Thrones. In the fourth episode of season 7, titled “The Spoils of War,” Quinn plays a Stark soldier named Koner who guards Winterfell.
He only has a few lines and is featured in just two scenes, so this role does not show much of his acting skills. However, being on a set of that magnitude and having such an internationally successful show listed on one’s resumé is important for any actor. Until the various spinoff ideas come to fruition, Game of Thrones is currently streaming on HBO Max.
Later in 2017, Quinn played another minor role in the British comedy series. Timewasters. The show centers on a struggling South London jazz quartet who find themselves transported back in time to the 1920s and are forced to navigate life as young black musicians while trying to find their way back home.
Quinn appears in the series’ first two episodes as a young man who hires the time-traveling band to play his birthday party, while immediately falling in love with one of the band members, much to her chagrin. It’s a comedically awkward role, giving viewers a welcome glimpse into a completely different side of Quinn. Timewasters received great reviews and was nominated for awards but was canceled after just two seasons. However, a US remake is currently in the works; until then, the original series is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
‘Howards End’ (2017)
Quinn finished the year with his most prominent role since Dickensianplaying Leonard Bast in the BBC miniseries Howards End, based on EM Forster’s 1910 novel of the same name. Starring Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfadyenthe story focuses on social class division in turn-of-the-century England.
Leonard Bast is a mysterious, tortured soul who struggles to get by and gets accidentally caught up in a tragic story. Quinn’s acting is compelling as he portrays Bast’s internal conflicts through his reserved nature and telling eyes. Howards End received overwhelmingly positive reviews, especially for Atwell’s performance. The miniseries can be streamed with a Starz subscription on Hulu and Amazon Prime.
In 2018, Quinn acted in his first feature film, JJ Abrams‘World War II horror drama, Overlord. The film takes place during the D-Day invasion and centers on a group of American paratroopers sent to destroy a German radio tower while simultaneously trying to destroy an underground laboratory brimming with violent mutated victims.
Quinn plays a German-speaking American soldier named Grunauer. Unfortunately, his background is never explored because he is killed in a plane crash within the film’s first few minutes. Despite his short time on-screen and few lines of dialogue, being involved in a major studio picture is a big deal. Overlord did well at the box office and received mostly positive reviews and is available to stream on Paramount Plus.
‘Les Misérables’ (2019)
In early 2019, Quinn was in a BBC miniseries adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, Les Misérables, playing revolutionary leader Enjolras. He is highly passionate about his country and the liberation of the common man, so much so that he eventually gives his life for the cause.
Countless portrayals of the iconic character have been made, but Quinn’s performance brings a sense of anticipatory excitement balanced with a striking intensity along with an air of contemporary relevance. The BBC miniseries received overwhelmingly positive reviews, especially for Lily Collins‘performance as Fantine. The six-episode series is available on Amazon Prime with a PBS Masterpiece subscription.
‘Catherine the Great’ (2019)
Later in 2019, Quinn starred in another major project, Catherine the Greatalongside the icon herself, Dame Helen Mirren. The four-part miniseries explores Catherine the Great’s controversial reign as the Empress of Russia during the latter half of the 18th century.
Quinn plays Prince Paul I, Catherine’s son, who is next in line for the throne but is constantly derided by his mother. Quinn does an excellent job of portraying a character dealing with a reserved rage that gradually builds throughout the series, only to be unleashed in the end. The series received mixed reviews and was not entirely historically accurate, but it was beautifully shot with incredible attention to detail and granted Helen Mirren a Golden Globe nomination. The show aired on HBO in the US and is now available on HBO Max.
‘Make Up’ (2019)
Quinn’s latest film role was in a 2019 British indie movie titled Make Up. Set at a vacation trailer park in Cornwall, Make Up tells the story of Ruth, a teenage girl who visits her long-term boyfriend Tom (played by Quinn) as she becomes enveloped in a mysterious obsession after suspecting that Tom cheated on her.
Quinn plays a supporting role, but his performance as a young man in love who feels his girlfriend slipping away is incredibly realistic. The film received mixed reviews, but lead actress Molly Windsor‘s performance was widely praised. Viewers can stream the movie on Hulu and Amazon Prime with a Showtime subscription.
‘CB Strike’ (2020)
One of Quinn’s darker roles came in 2020 on the fourth season of the British crime drama series, CB Strikewhich is based on the best-selling Cormoran Strike novels written by JK Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The fourth season centers on the investigation of a supposed murder, witnessed by Quinn’s character, Billy, as a child.
Quinn’s performance in this series is a clear testament to his range as an actor; he brilliantly showcases a mentally distressed young man who has violent tics and struggles to speak because of his fearful paranoia. The season received generally positive reviews, and a fifth season is in the works; the whole series can be streamed on HBO Max.
‘Small Ax’ (2020)
Quinn’s most recent role before Stranger Things was in the British anthology film series Small Ax. Created by Steve McQueenwho directed 12 Years a Slave, the film series tells specific stories of West Indian immigrants in London in the 1970s.
Quinn has a small part in the series’ first film, Mangrovestarring Letitia Wright, which tells the true story of the 1971 trial of the Mangrove Nine. He plays a police officer who works closely under a violently racist police chief, but does not seem to share the same discriminatory feelings. Mangrove was selected for multiple film festivals, received wide critical acclaim, and was praised for its honest portrayal of such an essential chapter in the story of the civil rights movement. The entire Small Ax film series is available on Amazon Prime.
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