Asa Butterfield

Asa Butterfield
Asa Butterfield
Born Asa Maxwell Thornton F. Butterfield
1 April 1997 (1997-04-01) (age 14)
Islington, London, UK
Occupation Actor/singer
Years active 2006–present

Asa Maxwell Thornton F. Butterfield[1][2] (born 1 April 1997) is an English actor. best known for his role in the Holocaust film The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008) and for his role as Norman in the 2010 film Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang.


Life and career

Butterfield was born in Islington, London, the son of Jacqueline Farr and Sam Butterfield.[3][4] He has an older brother, Morgan, who is a drummer for the English band "Oats," and a younger sister, Loxie.

Butterfield first started acting at the age of 7 on Wednesday afternoons after school at the Young Actors Theatre in his hometown. Later, he secured minor roles in the 2006 television drama After Thomas and the 2007 film Son of Rambow.[3][5] In 2008 he also had a guest role playing Donny in Ashes to Ashes.[6][7] He is well recognized for his distinctive blue eyes.

In that same year he became known to the general public for his lead role in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Director Mark Herman said that they came across Butterfield early on in the audition process. He was on the first audition tape he received and he was the third hopeful he met in person. Herman thought Butterfield's performance was outstanding, but only decided to cast him after auditioning hundreds of other boys, "so no stone was left unturned".[8]

Producer David Heyman and director Mark Herman were looking for someone who was able to portray the main character's innocence, so they asked each of the children what they knew about the Holocaust. Butterfield's knowledge was slim and it was purposely kept that way throughout filming so it would be easier for him to convey his character's innocence. The final scenes of the film were shot at the end of the production period to prepare both him and Jack Scanlon for the dramatic ending of the film.[9][10] He beat hundreds of boys to the role and also successfully passed the auditions for a role in Mr. Nobody for which he auditioned at the same time. He chose not to pursue the latter role.[5]

In the 2008 Merlin episode "The Beginning of the End", he plays a young druid boy who is hunted by Uther Pendragon who wants to sentence him to death because he feels threatened by the boy's magic. Despite the Great Dragon's advice and the warning that Arthur cannot survive if the boy does, Merlin, with the help of Morgana, helps the boy escape Camelot and returns him to the druids. When they are about to disappear into the forest Arthur asks him for his name. The druid boy identifies himself as Mordred.[11], an important character from the arthurian legends who's supposed to kill King Arthur. He has kept appearing in spare episodes of the show after that one.

In 2010, he appeared alongside Anthony Hopkins in The Wolfman.[12]

He recently starred as Norman Green in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, working together with Emma Thompson. The film received great reviews along with his performance.

Asa has recently been cast as the main character, Hugo Cabaret in Martin Scorsese's new 3-D film Hugo, which began shooting in June 2010 and is planned for release on 23 November 2011. The filming ended in January 2011.

He has already been nominated for two awards. He was nominated in the category "Most Promising Newcomer" of the British Independent Film Awards,[13][14] but he was beaten by Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire.[15] He was also nominated for the NSPCC Award (Young British Performer of the Year) in the London Critics Circle Film Awards,[16][17] but he missed out on this award too. It was won by Thomas Turgoose for his roles in Eden Lake and Somers Town.[18] MTV Networks' named him one of the 'Breakout Stars to Watch for in 2011'.[19]


Year Film Role
2006 After Thomas Andrew
2007 Son of Rambow Brethren Boy
2008 Ashes to Ashes Donny (Episode 1.6)
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Bruno
2008–2009 Merlin Mordred (Episodes 1.8, 2.3 & 2.11)
2010 The Wolfman Younger Ben Talbot
2010 Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang Norman Green
2011 Hugo Hugo Cabret
2013 Ender's Game Ender Wiggin


Year Result Award Notes Role
2008 Nominated[13][14] British Independent Film Award Most Promising Newcomer The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
2009 Nominated[16][17] London Critics Circle Film Awards NSPCC Award (Young British Performer of the Year)


  1. ^ Births, Marriages & Deaths Index of England & Wales, 1916-2005.; at
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Production Notes". Miramax Films. 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2009. 
  4. ^ Clarke, Cath (22 July 2010). "Act your age: the new wave of high-powered child stars". The Guardian. 
  5. ^ a b "Star Interview: Asa Butterfield". Retrieved 20 January 2009. 
  6. ^ "Ashes to Ashes: Series 1, Episode 6". BBC Online. Retrieved 20 January 2009. [dead link]
  7. ^ Davies, Janet (23 October 2008). "Janet's Spotlight: "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas"". ABC 7 News. Retrieved 20 January 2009. 
  8. ^ "The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas – Casting the characters". Last Broadcast. Retrieved 20 January 2009. 
  9. ^ Carnevale, Rob. "The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas – Mark Herman and David Heyman interview". indieLondon. Retrieved 23 January 2009. 
  10. ^ "Pajama Drama". The Irish Times. 1 June 2007. Retrieved 23 January 2009. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Programmes: Merlin, The Beginning of the End". BBC One. Retrieved 20 January 2009. 
  12. ^ Maher, Kevin (August 30, 2008). "Meet the child stars of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas". London: The Times. Retrieved 1 November 2008. 
  13. ^ a b "Hunger dominates nominations for British Independent Film Awards". 28 October 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2009. 
  14. ^ a b Foley, Jack. "British Independent Film Awards 2008: Nominations in full". IndieLondon. Retrieved 20 January 2009. 
  15. ^ Hoyle, Ben (1 December 2008). "Slumdog Millionaire wins at British Independent Film Awards". The Times Online (London). Retrieved 20 January 2009. 
  16. ^ a b Child, Ben (19 December 2008). "Slumdog Millionaire leads London critics' nominations". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 January 2009. 
  17. ^ a b "Nominations for London Film Critics' Awards held in aid of NSPCC" (Press release). NSPCC. 18 December 2008.'_awards_held_in_aid_of_nspcc_wdn62533.html. Retrieved 20 January 2009. 
  18. ^ Thomas, Archie (4 February 2009). "London loves 'Wrestler,' 'Slumdog'". Retrieved 6 February 2009. 
  19. ^ Evry, Max (5 January 2011). "25 Breakout Stars to Watch for in 2011". Next Movie. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 

External links

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