Asa Butterfield on ‘Sex Education’ Season 3 and the Difference Between Him and Otis

One of my favorite relationships on the show is between Otis and Eric [Effiong]. They are two very different people, but they connect and love each other. They are truly best friends. We don’t see that often on-screen between two males. I think all of the male characters in the show subvert a lot of expectations as to what, on the surface, you might think they would be like. I credit Laurie [Nunn] and the whole writing team. They have shaped these characters, not just men, but women, everyone, as incredibly complex with layers to them. No one’s perfect on the show. Everyone has their faults and downfalls, which are real and relatable. I think that’s one of the reasons people like the show so much because it is real people going through their adolescence in real-time.

Fans seem to have a hard time separating you from Otis, especially on social media. Does that bother you?

I see parts of myself in Otis. He is quite a relatable character—the kind of awkwardness of relationships and identity and not knowing who you are. He taps into the unknown feelings associated with the teenage experience. I enjoy playing awkward characters, I find it comes naturally to me, and there’s a lot of humor in awkwardness, and it’s inherently relatable for a lot of people.

People on the streets sometimes call me Otis. I get it. I usually say, “Hi, my name’s not Otis.” They don’t necessarily know my real name yet, and that’s fine. No one has come up to me asking for sexual health questions, thank god, because I don’t know what I would say.

Some fan theories speculate about whether Otis will ever explore queerness on-screen. What do you think about that?

I’ve never had any suggestions or gotten any leads to suggest that he’s disguised any part of him, including his sexuality. But then again, everyone is constantly changing, so who knows?

How does Otis evolve in this new season?

He’s matured a lot, especially concerning his home life. In season one, he’s a lot more childish and selfish. His relationship with his mom in this season is really sweet, and that’s only evolving. His mom is pregnant too, and that’s going to make him only continue to learn once he has this sibling in his life. I’m excited to watch him become a role model.

I’d say he’s gotten sassier this season. I think it’s largely due to this new relationship in his life. She’s turned over a page for him, and he’s become more confident. I had a lot of fun playing that side to him. He’s dressing a bit differently; he’s got a spring in his step. And it’s nice, as an actor, whenever you’ve got a character you’re familiar with to find new sides to them and new shades to play. I enjoyed seeing this sassier side of Otis. We haven’t seen this side of him before, and I’m having fun with it.

When you date people off-screen, do you think your personality changes?

Yes. I think everyone changes their personalities when they’re dating someone new. You’re trying to be charming and hopefully trying to impress someone. Everyone puts on a bit of an act and tries a bit harder, especially around the first date. I’ll even put on an American accent! I’m kidding, by the way.

Courtesy of Joseph Sinclair

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