Born and raised in Glasgow, Lewis Gribben played out his school days living in imaginary worlds, acting out scenarios and stories filled with knights and dragons, self-isolated and removed from the other pupils. His dyslexia and a later diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome contributed to his situation and habit of creating worlds to occupy.
Gribben fell for performing when his mother took the seven-year-old to a drama class at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, to encourage him to start listening and communicating with other children. “I just kept doing it from seven years old onwards and, around 14, I thought I would like to pursue this professionally if I could,” he says.
Gribben’s first lead role is in the upcoming Channel 4 TV series Somewhere Boy, produced by Clerkenwell Films (The End Of The F***ing World, Misfits). He stars as Danny, a young man who has been locked away in his house for 18 years, knowing nothing of the outside world before emerging into unfamiliar territory.
“I think people with autism — and for myself with Asperger’s — you’re just slightly more unusual than the way a normal actor would be,” Gribben says. “You can identify with a character who feels different or odd or not as normal as other people. It’s not as big a leap as for an actor who is neurotypical, and has to stretch out and act more exaggerated.”
Gribben has also completed filming on Paramount+ series The Chemistry Of Death, a psychological crime drama shot in Scotland and Norfolk that streams later this year. He also had “four or five lines, a cameo basically” in a Cary Joji Fukunaga-directed episode of Masters Of The Air, an Apple TV+ miniseries executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Being busy with the small screen has meant less film work.
Gribben was one of four young leads in the Amazon Original feature Get Duked!, which premiered at SXSW in 2019. He says he enjoys film work because he likes to travel in support of the project. Other feature roles have included minor parts in Ben Sharrock’s Limbo (2020), about asylum seekers stuck on a Scottish island, and Danny Boyle’s T2 Trainspotting (2017). Professional stage work is also on Gribben’s to-do list, a callback to his days in youth theatre.