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High Strung Free DancemovieThomas Doherty

Thomas Doherty Is Excited to Leave His Boy Next Door Days Behind Him in the New Movie High Strung Free Dance

Thomas Doherty

“I feel like it’s been in production forever,” Thomas Doherty tells Teen Vogue of his latest movie, High Strung Free Dance, but the wait has been worth it. Now officially set for an October 11 release, Teen Vogue has the exclusive first look at the film’s trailer, plus firsthand intel from Thomas himself.

With dance and romance galore, the sequel to 2016’s High Strungfollows dancer Barlow (Juliet Doherty — no relation to Thomas) and pianist Charlie (Harry Jarvis) as they cross paths and get their big breaks on Broadway’s highly anticipated musical, Free Dance, thanks to a fortuitous casting call from “dazzling young choreographer” Zander Raines, played by Thomas.

But the 24-year-old Thomas’s first steps as Zander weren’t exactly destiny. “I actually auditioned for the role of Charlie initially,” the Scottish actor reveals. After trying out for the main part with a well-researched American accent, Michael and Janeen Damian, the minds behind the High Strung series, encouraged him to audition for antagonist Zander, this time with an RP British accent.

And Thomas is more than happy with the trade. “I wasn’t right for Charlie but I was right for Zander,” he says, emphasizing that the latter is nothing like characters he has portrayed in the past. “Because of the way I look, I tend to be cast as boy-next-door kind of characters, which are sh*t. They aren’t fun to watch, let alone film,” he says candidly. “This part was something to sink my teeth into, something to play around with and have fun.”

High Strung Free Dance

“Zander's quite a complex character,” Thomas adds. “He's nothing like me. I'm quite a chill, laid-back person, but he's focused, on, and very ambitious. He’s passionate about his dancing and choreographing,” he adds, before jokingly dubbing the character “an egotistical madman.”

That last characteristic was especially demanding. “Staying in the same zone — physically and mentally — as Zander was tough,” the actor explains. “These were 15 or 16 hours a day filming, and it was hard for me to remain in that space forever. I had to take mental breaks.” Surprisingly enough, the taxing mindset of tempestuous Zander wasn’t the hardest part for Thomas.

“Honestly, the most challenging part was telling all these amazing dancers they were bad and shouting at them. I felt so weird,” Thomas says of his experience on the film, which features choreography from Emmy-winner Tyce Diorio and includes 80 of the world’s top dancers as cast members. “I trained in contemporary and ballet, but not at this level. These people are pros. I think someone had danced with Beyoncé. I was just pretending to know I knew what I was talking about. After the breaks, I would apologize to them.”

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