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Asa Butterfield

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Asa Butterfield
Asa Butterfield in 2019 (cropped).jpg
Butterfield in 2019
Asa Maxwell Thornton Farr Butterfield

(1997-04-01) 1 April 1997 (age 22)
Islington, London, England
Other namesAsa Bopp Farr Butterfield
Years active2006–present

Asa Maxwell Thornton Farr Butterfield (/ˈsə/;[1][2] born 1 April 1997) is an English actor. He began his acting career at the age of 9 in the television drama After Thomas (2006) and the comedy film Son of Rambow (2007). He became known for playing the main character Bruno in the Holocaust film The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008), for which he received nominations for the British Independent Film Award and the London Film Critics Circle Award for Young British Performer of the Year at the age of 11. He also played the young Mordred in the BBC TV series Merlin (2008–2009) and Norman in the fantasy film Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010).

For his leading performance as Hugo Cabret in Martin Scorsese's drama Hugo (2011), Butterfield received considerable praise and was awarded the Young Hollywood Award for Breakthrough Performance—Male and was nominated for the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Young Performer and the Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer, among other accolades. He is also known for portraying Ender Wiggin in the 2013 film adaptation of the science fiction novel Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. He was nominated for a British Independent Film Award for Best Actor for playing Nathan Ellis in Morgan Matthews's X+Y (2014). He starred as Jacob "Jake" Portman in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016) and as Gardner Elliot in The Space Between Us (2017). In 2019, Butterfield began playing Otis Milburn in the Netflix comedy-drama series Sex Education.

Early life[edit]

Butterfield was born in Islington, London, and is the son of Jacqueline Farr, a psychologist, and Sam Butterfield, an advertising copywriter.[3][4][5] He was named "Asa Maxwell Thornton Farr Butterfield" at birth, but now uses the name "Asa Bopp Farr Butterfield" on his passport instead, taking "Bopp" as a middle name after Comet Hale–Bopp, which passed perihelion on the day of his birth.[6]


Butterfield first started acting at the age of 7 on Friday afternoons after school at the Young Actors Theatre Islington. Later, he secured minor roles in the 2006 television drama After Thomas and the 2007 film, Son of Rambow.[3][7] In 2008, he had a guest role playing Donny in the television series Ashes to Ashes.[8]

In that same year, aged 10, he played the 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".[9]

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.[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 elected not to pursue the latter role.[7]

In 2008, Butterfield appeared in the Merlin episode "The Beginning of the End"; he played a young druid boy sentenced to death by Uther Pendragon 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 and Arthur, with the help of Morgana, help the boy escape to rejoin the Druids. When they are about to disappear into the forest, Arthur asks him for his name, which he says is Mordred,[11] an important character from the Arthurian legends who is supposed to kill King Arthur. Butterfield appeared as Mordred in a number of subsequent episodes; however the role was recast, with Alexander Vlahos playing Mordred as an adult character.

In 2010, he had a small part in The Wolfman.[12] He starred as Norman Green at the age of 12 in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010), working together with Emma Thompson. The film, and his performance, both received positive reviews. At the age of 13 he played the main and title character in Martin Scorsese's Hugo, adapted from the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Hugo was filmed from June 2010 to January 2011, it was released on 23 November 2011, and achieved critical success.

Butterfield played the title role of Andrew "Ender" Wiggin in the film adaptation of the Orson Scott Card novel Ender's Game, along with Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, and Harrison Ford. The film completed filming in the first half of 2012, and was released in 2013. After the shooting of Ender's Game, Butterfield was immediately cast in coming of age British drama, X+Y [13] as Nathan Ellis, a mathematical savant on the autism spectrum selected to compete with other gifted children on a United Kingdom team in an internationally renowned mathematics competition. The film premiered on 5 September 2014 at the Toronto International Film Festival[14][15] and was released in UK cinemas on 13 March 2015. Butterfield's performance received widespread critical acclaim,[16] and saw him nominated for the BIFA Award for Best Actor.

Butterfield in 2014

Later in 2013, Butterfield was reported to be in talks for a role in King of Kastle[17] and in May, he was cast in The White Circus with his fellow cast member from Hugo, Chloë Grace Moretz.[18] In early 2014, Butterfield was cast in a film adaptation of Ten Thousand Saints.[19] Shooting began on 27 January 2014 and the film was released on 14 August 2015.[20]

In November 2015, he joined the ensemble cast of Shane Carruth's third film, The Modern Ocean, alongside Anne Hathaway, Keanu Reeves, Daniel Radcliffe, Chloë Grace Moretz, Tom Holland, Jeff Goldblum and Abraham Attah.[21]

In 2016, he starred as Jacob "Jake" Portman in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children,[22] based on the novel of the same name, alongside Eva Green. He also starred as Gardner Elliot in the film The Space Between Us and as Sebastian in The House of Tomorrow[23] in 2017.

In 2018, Butterfield was cast in the main role of Otis Milburn on the Netflix comedy-drama series, Sex Education.[24] The series was released on 11 January 2019, to critical acclaim.[25]

Other work[edit]

Butterfield enjoys making and producing music, and released a mashup of the songs "Teenage Dirtbag" by Wheatus and "Making Plans for Nigel" by XTC.[26] In late 2012, Butterfield co-designed a turn-based video game for iPad with his father and brother called Racing Blind.[27] The game was released to the App Store on 7 April 2013.

Butterfield is involved in competitive Nintendo gaming. In 2017, he played in the Nintendo World Championships, where he was eliminated early in the invitational.[28] He is an enthusiastic player of competitive Super Smash Bros. and has signed with eSports team Panda Global under the tag "Stimpy". His first appearance with the organisation was at Genesis 6.[29]


Butterfield was nominated in the category "Most Promising Newcomer" of the 2008 British Independent Film Awards,[30][31] but he lost the award to Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire.[32] He was nominated for the NSPCC Award (Young British Performer of the Year) in the London Critics Circle Film Awards,[33][34] which was ultimately won by Thomas Turgoose for his roles in Eden Lake and Somers Town.[35] MTV Networks' named him one of the Breakout Stars to Watch for in 2011.[36]



Year Title Role Notes
2007 Son of Rambow Brethren Boy
2008 The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Bruno
2010 Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang Norman Green
The Wolfman Younger Ben Talbot
2011 Hugo Hugo Cabret
2013 Ender's Game Ender Wiggin
2014[37] X+Y[38] Nathan Ellis Also known as A Brilliant Young Mind[39]
2015 Ten Thousand Saints Jude Keffy-Horn
2016 Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Jacob "Jake" Portman
2017 The House of Tomorrow Sebastian Prendergast
Journey's End Jimmy Raleigh
The Space Between Us Gardner Elliot
2018 Then Came You Calvin Lewis
Time Freak Stillman
Slaughterhouse Rulez Willoughby Blake
2019 Greed Finn McCreadie


Year Title Role Notes
2006 After Thomas Andrew Television film
2008 Ashes to Ashes Donny Episode: "Episode 6" (season 1)
2008–09 Merlin Mordred 3 episodes
2017 Thunderbirds Are Go[40] Space Controller Conrad (voice) 1 episode
2019–present Sex Education[41] Otis Milburn Main role

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result Refs
2008 British Independent Film Award Most Promising Newcomer The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Nominated [30][31]
2009 NSPCC Award Young British Performer of the Year The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Nominated [citation needed]
2011 Las Vegas Film Critics Society Best Youth in Film Hugo Won [42]
2012 Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Young Actor/Actress Hugo Nominated [43]
Empire Awards Best Male Newcomer Hugo Nominated [44]
Saturn Awards Best Performance by a Younger Actor Hugo Nominated [45]
Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actor Hugo Nominated [46]
2014 Saturn Awards Best Performance by a Younger Actor Ender's Game Nominated [47]
2014 British Independent Film Awards Best Actor X+Y Nominated [48]


  1. ^ "ENDER'S GAME - Trailer Announcement & Preview". YouTube. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Asa Butterfield Talks Hugo - Young Hollywood Awards 2012". YouTube. 9 June 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Production Notes". Miramax Films. 2008. Archived from the original on 31 January 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  4. ^ Clarke, Cath (22 July 2010). "Act your age: the new wave of high-powered child stars". The Guardian. London, UK.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Sick Chirpse Meets Asa Butterfield". sickchirpse. 10 February 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Star Interview: Asa Butterfield". Archived from the original on 22 January 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  8. ^ Davies, Janet (23 October 2008). "Janet's Spotlight: "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas"". ABC 7 News. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  9. ^ "The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas – Casting the characters". Last Broadcast. Archived from the original on 31 January 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  10. ^ Carnevale, Rob. "The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas – Mark Herman and David Heyman interview". Indie London. Archived from the original on 8 January 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2010.
  11. ^ "Programmes: Merlin, The Beginning of the End". BBC One. Archived from the original on 31 January 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  12. ^ Maher, Kevin (30 August 2008). "Meet the child stars of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas". The Times. London, UK. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  13. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (6 March 2013). "Asa Butterfield and Rafe Spall circle Origin Pictures' X + Y". Screen Daily. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  14. ^ "Festival - What's On - September 5". Toronto International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 6 September 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  15. ^ "X+Y (programme note)". Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Profile: X+Y (film)]". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  17. ^ McNary, Dave (19 November 2013). "Asa Butterfield Planning to Blackmail Clive Owen in 'King of the Kastle'". Variety. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  18. ^ Brown, Brigid. "'Hugo's Asa Butterfield Reunites with Chloe Moretz in 'The White Circus'". BBC America. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  19. ^ McNary, Dave (10 January 2014). "Ethan Hawke, Asa Butterfield Join 'Ten Thousand Saints'". Variety. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  20. ^ Weaver, Ryan (23 January 2014). "Emile Hirsch joins Ten Thousand Saints". Screen Daily. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  21. ^ Kit, Borys (3 November 2015). "Anne Hathaway, Keanu Reeves, Daniel Radcliffe to Star in 'The Modern Ocean'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  22. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (6 February 2015). "Samuel L. Jackson To Star In Tim Burton's 'Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children'". Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  23. ^ "The House of Tomorrow". San Francisco Film Society. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  24. ^ White, Peter (17 May 2018). "Gillian Anderson & Asa Butterfield Join Netflix Dramedy 'Sex Education'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  25. ^ "Sex Education: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  26. ^ Kraemer, Kristen (23 November 2011). "8 Things To Know About Hugo's Asa Butterfield!". Alloy Media, LLC. Los Angeles, California, US. Archived from the original on 10 July 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  27. ^ "Racing Blind - find out all about it". Sam Butterfield. 2012. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  28. ^ "The Nintendo World Championships 2017 winner has been crowned!".
  29. ^ "Sex Education star Asa Butterfield joins Panda Global to compete in Genesis 6". Dot Esports. 2 February 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  30. ^ a b "Hunger dominates nominations for British Independent Film Awards". 28 October 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  31. ^ a b Foley, Jack. "British Independent Film Awards 2008: Nominations in full". Indie London. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  32. ^ Hoyle, Ben (1 December 2008). "Slumdog Millionaire wins at British Independent Film Awards". The Times Online. London. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  33. ^ Child, Ben (19 December 2008). "Slumdog Millionaire leads London critics' nominations". The Guardian. UK. Archived from the original on 22 January 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  34. ^ "Nominations for London Film Critics' Awards held in aid of NSPCC". NSPCC (Press release). 18 December 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  35. ^ Thomas, Archie (4 February 2009). "londonloves 'Wrestler,' 'Slumdog'". Variety. Archived from the original on 6 February 2009. Retrieved 6 February 2009.
  36. ^ Evry, Max (5 January 2011). "25 Breakout Stars to Watch for in 2011". Next Movie. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  37. ^ Bloom, Adi (23 August 2013). "Film - Inside the secret world of teenage maths prodigies". Times Educational Supplement. Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
  38. ^ "X Plus Y announces cast". BBC. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  39. ^ "Toronto International Film Festival 2013". Bankside Films. Archived from the original on 8 June 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  40. ^ "News". Thunderbirds Are Go.
  41. ^ White, Peter; White, Peter (17 May 2018). "Gillian Anderson & Asa Butterfield Join Netflix Dramedy 'Sex Education'".
  42. ^ "2011 Sierra Award winners". Archived from the original on 23 April 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  43. ^ "17th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards (2012)". Critics' Choice. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  44. ^ "Tom Hiddlestone (Thor) | Best Male Newcomer | Jameson Empire Awards 2012". Empire Online. Archived from the original on 30 October 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  45. ^ Goldberg, Matt (29 February 2012). "Saturn Award Nominations Announced; HUGO and HARRY POTTER Lead with 10 Nominations Each". Collider. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  46. ^ "33rd Annual Young Artist Awards". Young Artist Awards. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  47. ^ "Asa (and Ender's Game) nominated for Saturn Awards!". Asa Butterfield Online. February 2014. Archived from the original on 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  48. ^ "The Moet British Independent Film Awards Asa Butterfield BIFA Nominations and Awards". BIFA. Retrieved 16 August 2015.

External links[edit]