The British star dreamed of playing professional soccer and never actually wanted to become an actor at first

Credit: Marion Curtis/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock

Sam Claflin is on a roll.

The British actor shot to fame with The Hunger Games saga, in which he played noble tribute-turned-resistance fighter Finnick Odair. And now, the actor continues his hot streak with a role in the romantic drama Me Before You, costarring Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke and out in theaters June 3.

He first burst onto the scene in 2011 in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. But like his character Finnick in The Hunger Games, Claflin, 29, is a prodigy, seemingly skilled at anything and everything he tries.

Learn a little more about the British star, who actually never wanted to be an actor at all:

1. He originally dreamed of being a pro soccer player.
Claflin, who hails from Norwich in the east of England, always wanted to play professional soccer for Norwich City when he grew up. “I played football every day of the week [as a kid],” he told the Sun newspaper last year. “Any evening I would be playing on our local road with my brothers and friends. It was 24/7 football back then.” Claflin trained with the club’s youth team, but at 16 he broke his ankle, and his soccer dreams were over. By that time, though, he had caught the acting bug. “It was very daunting, that big career change,” he said. “But luckily it worked out.”

2. He’s one of Hollywood’s most promising young stars.
Following roles in the TV series The Pillars of the Earth and Any Human Heart, Claflin got his big break in 2011, playing Philip Swift in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. He followed that up with the plum role of William in Snow White and the Huntsman, opposite Kristen Stewart. “I’m truly sort of flabbergasted,” he told MTV at the time about working with the Twilight star.

3. With his humble background, he’s a bit starstruck by show business.
“My mum is a classroom assistant at the high school I went to and Dad is an accountant and a finance manager for a charity radio station,” he told the Sun. “I can’t quite fathom what is going on with my life at the moment. For me to be able to play across from some of the great names is unbelievable. It is so bizarre. I used to play with Lego, and now I am a Pirates of the Caribbean Lego figurine.”

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4. He has a superstar for a mentor.

Starring in the Pirates movie brought another benefit for Claflin: He got some guidance from one of Hollywood’s biggest names. “Johnny Depp gave me the best advice,” he told the L.A. Times Magazine. “He said, ‘Stay grounded. Remember where you came from.’ ”

5. Sorry, folks, he’s off the market.
Claflin would be one of Hollywood’s most eligible young bachelors … if he weren’t already taken. The actor is married to British actress Laura Haddock, 30, and they recently welcomed their first child, a son, last December.