Years & Years frontman takes break from acting 

click to enlarge Veteran thespian Olly Alexander, center, heads up pop-electronica band Years & Years, with synth player Emre Turkmen, right, and bassist Mikey Goldsworthy. - COURTESY MIKE MASARRO
  • COURTESY MIKE MASARRO
  • Veteran thespian Olly Alexander, center, heads up pop-electronica band Years & Years, with synth player Emre Turkmen, right, and bassist Mikey Goldsworthy.
Years & Years frontman Olly Alexanader has a charismatic charm that bubbles up from bouncy electro-pop originals like “Memo,” “Desire” and “Take Shelter” on “Y & Y,” the group’s new, fourth EP.

Animated and invested in every soulful stanza, he chews up lyrics like a thespian in a juicy stage role. It makes sense, because the Brit has maintained a parallel career in acting since he was 16, when he got his first agent and landed a role on the hit U.K. TV series “Skins.”

“Once I started working, that was it,” says the 24-year-old, who brings Years & Years to The City this week.

He has amassed a stunning portfolio. On television, he played Fenton in the horror series “Penny Dreadful,” and in film, he appeared in Gaspar Noe’s edgy “Enter the Void” and Belle and Sebastian bandleader Stuart Murdoch’s whimsical “God Help the Girl.”

On London’s West End, he performed alongside Ben Whishaw and Dame Judi Dench in “Peter and Alice” and Whishaw guest-starred in a Y&Y video for the 2014 single “Real.”

Alexander has had many memorable shoots. He loved working with Eva Green on “Penny Dreadful,” and filming “Enter the Void” in Tokyo with Noe was almost indescribable.

“Gaspar is this mad auteur who had all sorts of crazy ideas, so it was like going down a rabbit hole,” he says. Dench proved equally surprising. “She was just so cool – she’s in her 70s now, she’s been working for 50 years, but she still loves playing pranks on all of her castmates.”

Alexander has one more upcoming flick – the dark comedy “Funny Bunny.” But he filmed it last year, before he told his movie agent that he was quitting to pursue Years & Years full time.

He is still amazed that he chose such extroverted careers. “Because I was the ugly duckling in high school, I always painted my nails black and hid away in the art room. I was a pseudo-Goth, but I just couldn’t get into the music. I was more into bands like Fleetwood Mac,” he says.

Once he discovered his father’s keyboards, Alexander started writing songs.

He presented his first awkward composition, “The Leaves Are Falling,” at class assembly, and the students all laughed. “But look at me now!” he jokes. Years & Years just won the BBC Sound of 2015 award, with a full album called “Communion” slated for summer release.

The young star is still open to perusing new scripts. “I haven’t ruled anything out. If I’m offered something cool to do, I just might do it,” he says.

IF YOU GO

Years & Years

Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. March 26

Tickets: $15 to $20 (sold out)

Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.ticketfly.com

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Tom Lanham

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