Sam Claflin's audition for "Daisy Jones & the Six" didn't go quite how the actor had planned.
After producers asked him to stop performing his selected 1970s rock song, "Your Song" by Elton John, and incorrectly identifying the artist of "Come Together" as Michael Jackson (it's the Beatles), Claflin tells TODAY.com he was speechless when he was ultimately cast in the leading role.
"I was very much in shock. Very much so," Claflin tells TODAY.com after his broadcast appearance. "One pure shock."
Claflin, 36, says he focused so much on his character Billy Dunne's journey throughout the script he didn't quite appreciate the full scope of the musical element of the show before his audition. As the frontman of the rock band The Six, Billy sings (and sweats) onstage — a lot.
"It didn't dawn on me just quite how difficult this was going to be, how challenging this project would be," he says. "Not until I sort of turned up on day one and they thrust the guitar (at me)."
Below, Claflin shares some tidbits about the role and becoming a rock star — for a while, at least.
No, he hasn't read the book
“Daisy Jones & the Six” tells the story of a fictional band of the same name as they rise to stardom in 1970s Los Angeles. The series is based on a book of the same name written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, whose books have a passionate fanbase.
Claflin shared that although he's been involved in a number of film adaptations based on extremely popular series (he previously starred as Finnick in "The Hunger Games" series), he wasn't aware of the hype surrounding Jenkins' book.
"Because I don’t really read and I’m not aware of what’s on the bestseller list or what has been on the bestseller list ... I am very much happily, 'I have no idea what’s going on,'" he says. "So in a sense, it helps because you don’t feel that external pressure."
Holding back laughter, he describes how much of a reader he is (or isn't) by talking about what's on his bookshelf at home: "All it is are things that I have worked on."
He isn't trying to make Billy 'likable,' but human
Claflin says he was thankful to have the opportunity to lean on additional material to learn about Billy's character through the book, and that he was able to relate to Billy, despite his mistakes.
"I think a lot of people have been through a lot of the crossroads that he comes up against," Claflin says. "I feel like everyone has lived through a lot of his struggles."
Claflin adds that there are many conversations Billy has throughout the novel and the show where Claflin has felt like he's been there before. He referenced a line from the book and the show, when Billy says, "Everything that made Daisy burn, made me burn... everything I struggled with, Daisy struggled with."
"I feel like a lot of his actions, not all, make him human," he says.
"I'm not trying to make him any more likable than any other human being — we all make mistakes. And so you learn from those mistakes, and I think Billy does," Claflin says. "I hope I did him justice, because he deserves it."
Getting the band together
Claflin had no musical experience before he was cast in the show, along with several of his co-stars, including Riley Keough, who plays Daisy Jones. Despite being the the granddaughter of Elvis Presley, Claflin says she also didn’t have much musical experience, but she was able to put him at ease from day one.
Claflin tells TODAY.com one of his favorite moments with Keough came before they even began filming, when she squeezed his hand before they went out to audition together.
“She sort of makes you immediately feel at ease,” Claflin says. “She’d be like, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK,' before we go out. That was the whole process for both of us, because neither of us had any musical experience and we went through this whole journey, every step of the way together, and laughed probably way too much.”
Claflin tells TODAY.com the cast was able to all get together for one dinner before the COVID-19 pandemic kept delaying the start of filming.
He says the cast has a WhatsApp group chat they would use to keep in touch, but that everyone was desperate to get together again within a few months.
Now, Claflin says he's thankful it took about a year and a half for filming to resume, as he says it would have been a "disaster."
"How bad this would have been if we hadn't been blessed with the extra year and a half?" he asks while laughing. "I'd never picked up a guitar. I didn't know how to tune a guitar, I didn't know how to strum a guitar, I didn't even know how to hold it. So that the idea of me being a frontman of a band would have been a disaster."
He says the first time the cast performed together as Daisy Jones & the Six was for some of the executive producers. "I think we were all kind of surprised about how good we sounded. Not to sound big-headed, but we actually sounded like we were a band," he says.
The series, which premieres on March 3 on Amazon Prime, also has an accompanying album of original songs that releases on the same day.
Claflin says he earned the nickname 'dad' on set
As one of the older actors in the cast, Claflin says he was the one "deduced to always have the answers," despite his lack of musical experience.
He says Suki Waterhouse, who plays Karen Sirko, "calls me dad, in that I'm the most organized person, usually."
She's not the only one. "A lot of the cast calls me dad, they'd ask me to sort out problems, or ask what scene are we doing next?" he says.
You can catch Claflin as the frontman of Daisy Jones & the Six when the series premieres on March 3 on Amazon Prime. The band also has an accompanying album of original songs that releases on the same day.