There's no question that British actor Toby Kebbell's career has taken a huge turn in the past year, considering the esteemed company he's been keeping.
After a small but pivotal role as Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth in director Robert Redford's "The Conspirator" was released in April, Kebbell trotted off to work with Steven Spielberg in a supporting turn in the Best Picture Oscar-nominated World War I epic "War Horse."
Now this week, Kebbell finds himself opposite some more heavy hitters in Liam Neeson, Sam Worthington and Ralph Fiennes in director Jonathan Liebesman's "Wrath of the Titans," the sequel to the fantasy action-adventure hit "Clash of the Titans" in 2010.
Kebbell, whose breakthrough role came as the strung-out title character in director Guy Ritchie's 2008 crime comedy "RocknRolla," told me in a recent interview that despite his success, it's best that he remains humble.
"It's very difficult to objectify it when you're in a project, but certainly, when I look at it on paper, I feel like I'm in dream-like state," Kebbell said. "Other than that, I'm one of these typical actors who is petrified of doing badly and making a fool of myself. So I just keep my head down and just try to find good work and do good work."
However, Kebbell noted, it does make him feel good to know he's impressed his mother.
"When my mum points out that she's got this DVD and that DVD, I feel greatly privileged. You can't ask for anything better," Kebbell added with a laugh. "There's very little that mums do approve of, so when they when they do, you're winning."
In "Wrath of the Titans," opening in theaters nationwide Friday in 2D and 3D, Kebbell plays Agenor, the long-lost demigod son of Olympian god Poseidon (Danny Huston). When the god Zeus (Neeson) is captured by his godly-brother Hades (Fiennes) and imprisoned in the Underworld, demigod Perseus (Worthington) enlists the help of Agenor, Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) and fallen god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy) to help save his weakened father, who is losing grip of his immortality.
The unique thing about Agenor is that he doesn't quite have the same heroic qualities as his cousin, Perseus. A criminal previously held captive in Queen Andromeda's jail, Agenor has no interest in the gods or being a demigod.
Kebbell, 29, said his character's unconventional ideals provided him with an interesting quandary to play with.
"Even though it's a privilege to play one, being a demigod is a funny one. So I thought about it and said to myself, 'OK, I got the demi bit right, but it's hard to figure out this god bit," Kebbell recalled. "I had lengthy conversations with Sam and Jonathan, who were so supportive and helpful to help me figure out what that was. For me to coin it -- and I'm sure the other boys have different opinions on the matter -- but I really feel that being a demigod is an exaggeration of your own fevered ego. Once you let that go, it tells a lot about you, and you can put it into your performance to give it some edge."
For good measure, Kebbell said, he also sought out the advice of this seasoned co-star Neeson.
"I think Liam said it best when we spoke to him about it. He said, 'You can't try to be a demigod, you just are. When you settle that thought in your mind, you just go and do it,'" Kebbell said.
That's not to say Kebbell ever took his job playing a demigod lightly. He's well aware that there's are legions of Greek mythology fans out there, and the last thing he wanted to do was disappoint anybody. To begin with, Kebbell said, he wanted to make sure he was a solid contributor to the production with this character -- one of many elements needed to make a great film.
"What you're doing when you're filming is getting all the stock together to make a great meal. You're there to support your director, take in orders, listen to advice and calculate it," Kebbell observed. "You have to get that stock as good as you can, because there's a lot else that goes into a film like visual effects."
Specifically, Kebbell's job in "Wrath of the Titans" is to provide some comic relief, but ultimately, he said, his job is to support Worthington.
"I'm just a supporting actor in the film and Sam is the lead, and he feels a lot more pressure. A supporting role is a lot less congratulating, but I'm OK with that," Kebbell said. "My job is to shine and reflect light on people like Sam and make sure they are supported. You're not the captain. He's the captain. You're the teammate, and you have to make sure to play to the best of your ability."