Actor Sam Reid shows his sunny side at the Sydney Film Festival

After spending the past decade travelling between Los Angeles and London, actor Sam Reid is used to living out of a suitcase packed with black jeans and grey t-shirts.

During our photo shoot at the stunning Dovecote retreat two hours south of Sydney, he made the stylist chuckle referring to luxury labels such as Armani, Hermes and Dior as "costumes".

"It was such a beautiful place," he says, "but between every serious, brooding face, I'm laughing."

Reid was a?precocious kid who idolised his older brother Rupert – also an actor.?His?parents sent him to weekend classes at the Australian Theatre For Young People when he was just six, mostly to give them a break from his spontaneous performances.

It paid off. After landing an episode of All Saints, he headed to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, graduating in 2010 in time for a date with royalty, playing Prince Harry in a telemovie.

The 32-year-old's break came the following year, as the Earl of Essex to Rhys Ifans' Earl of Oxford in Roland Emmerich's Anonymous. Several period dramas followed, including Amma Assante's 18th century Belle and Depression-era Serena, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

Although Reid often?adopts?a posh English accent, including as a British soldier in Yann Demange's Northern Irish thriller '71, his 'cockney' in Prime Suspect 1973?was rather less successful. "I cringed watching that back," he acknowledges. "It definitely landed on the Dick Van Dyke spectrum."

After all those years away – a rite of passage for many young actors – Reid has developed mild anxiety about his actual accent, which, for the record, sounds legitimately Aussie.

Attendees of this year's Sydney Film Festival (SFF) can make up their own mind watching his sweet-natured comedy Standing Up For Sunny, the movie that brought him home.

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Under Steven Vidler's direction, Reid plays Mikey, an overbearingly cocky radio personality whose questionable approach to coaching his budding stand-up comedian girlfriend Sunny (Home & Away's?Philippa Northeast) largely involves haranguing her from the sidelines.

"Playing a disc jockey dickhead, there's a lot of reference I could research," Reid chuckles.

Breaking Bad?star RJ Mitte plays Travis, a reclusive cleaner who uses his experience fending off idiots sniping about his cerebral palsy to offer her constructive advice.

"I came quite late to Breaking Bad, sitting in my bedroom in London a few years ago watching all of it in one week, basically not sleeping, so it was wonderful working with RJ, and great that he invested in a small Australian project."

Reid is determined to spend more time in Australia.?He?insists our home-grown crews are world-class.

Later this year he'll appear as menacing priest Ignatius in Foxtel's adaptation of Marele Day's gothic novel Lambs of God, tormenting three generations of nuns played by Miss Fisher's?Essie Davis, The Handmaid's Tale's?Ann Dowd and The End of the F***ing World's?Jessica Barden, which is also previewing at SFF.

He's also just wrapped SBS miniseries The Hunting?in Adelaide alongside Richard Roxburgh and Asher Keddie.

The Hunting examines the aftermath of a high school sexting scandal.?It's created by the award-winning team behind 52 Tuesdays, director Sophie Hyde and writer Matthew Cormack, joined by Head On?director Ana Kokkinos.

"Sophie's an absolute genius and Ana is a force of nature," Reid enthuses. "It was an awesome script and will be quite controversial, asking a lot of questions on everybody's tongues."

He's cautiously optimistic about the future;?coming home hasn't dented international gigs He joined Robert Pattinson, Mark Rylance and Johnny Depp on the set of Oscar-nominated Colombian director Ciro Guerra's adaptation of J.M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians?late last year.

He might have to get used to packing more luxury labels in his suitcase.

Standing Up For Sunny and Lambs of God both screen at the Sydney Film Festival, June 5-16. Visit sff.org.au.

Shot on location at Dovecote, Gerringong, NSW.

Styling by Jolyon Mason.

Photography by Damian Bennett.