Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Others are born to parents with a silver spoon under their noses.

Alfie Allen was born with a generous sprinkling of stardust on his eyelids.

His parents are multi-talented, four-times married actor Keith Allen and film producer Alison Owen; and he is the younger brother of chart-topping singer Lily Allen.

His acting credits include roles in movies such as Elizabeth, Atonement and The Other Boleyn Girl. He's worked with Stephen Poliakoff and appears in the three-part BBC drama Casualty 1907.

All this by the age of 21.

Now he's heading for the stage in Bradford in an acclaimed revival of Peter Shaffer's psychological drama Equus, in his first stage role as a professional actor. The pazzaz with which he brings it off is a tour-de-force or, pardon the terrible pun, a tour-de-horse.

He plays Alan Strang, a friendless stable-lad passionately devoted to horses. In fact he worships them. But he is so screwed up by his dysfunctional parents' conflicting views about sex and religion that, in a paroxysm of guilt, shame and rage after a failed attempt to have sex with a girl in a stable, he hacks out the eyes of six horses. On stage Alfie has to do this completely naked. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, sustained full-frontal nudity is about to make its debut at the Alhambra. You have been warned, so don't go along and then ask for your money back.

But, hey, what's it all about, Alfie?

"The most difficult thing about doing the play was losing weight, toning up, eating healthily, not smoking as many cigarettes. The nudity wasn't difficult for me: I just got on with it. It was harder doing it in rehearsal rooms than on stage. The most challenging thing for me has been being away from my family, my loved ones," he said.

With his clothes on he looked somewhat smaller, slighter, than on stage without his clothes. Lighting has a way of modulating and highlighting the curves and bumps of the body to make it look bigger, fuller.

Taking on the role indicates a level of maturity, for Alan Strang is a very demanding part to play.

"I saw it as a fantastic opportunity. What scared me most about it was the amount of dialogue I had to learn, and when I got to rehearsals how physical it was. When you are reading it in rehearsal you are not thinking about that; but when you've got people like Simon Callow and Linda Thorson with you, it makes it so much easier."

Meaning what, he was more relaxed?

"Definitely, especially being on stage with Simon. Some people said he could be difficult, but he has been such a nice, nice person and has really helped me through it," Alfie said.

After the performance that I saw, Mr Callow made a point of hugging Alfie at the curtain call. It was the experienced actor's way of proclaiming his appreciation of the younger man's efforts.

"This is the biggest role I have had," Alfie added, laughing as I, mindful of his need to watch his weight, moved a bowl of deliciously crunchy crisps out of his reach.

This being very much a young person's age, when fame and celebrity are marked very high by magazines, newspapers and television, I wondered how he was handling the pressure of it all.

"I am just so focused on the play as a whole," he said.

Does that mean that he lives it in every waking moment, from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to sleep. He nodded in the affirmative.

"My day is quite routine. I try to eat well, drink lots of water. My mind is fixed on this part completely. I knew I was going to do this."

Have his mum and dad helped?

"My mum helped me to learn my lines. My dad told me to relax. I always think you can't really tell someone how to act, it has to come from within; but you can give tips. My dad gave me some tips."

Such as?

"How to learn lines by reading them out to myself over and over again - and to try to make it seem like the first time every time," he added.

I was particularly impressed with his voice. That may seem a strange observation to make about an actor, but having your own voice (as opposed to sounding like someone else) is like having stage presence, hence the impression, I suppose, that on stage Alfie Allen is more imposing than he is in the flesh. On stage he comes across as a young man. Sitting at a table nibbling crisps he looks like a fresh-faced teenager.

However, his acting prowess has been noted in other quarters.

"I have had some interest shown. I have been asked to do a photo-shoot for a film I would really like to do. I can't tell you the name," he said.

So is he making plans for the future?

"I don't like to plan for the future, I just like to live life in the present and see what comes my way. This play is just a huge learning curve. You can never stop learning."

I thought of the hundreds of young people at stage school of some description in the Bradford district, perhaps from a background less propitious for acting than Alfie's, hoping against hope that their lucky number will come up. What, I wondered, had he to say to them and to others not fortunate enough to have a role model or mentor?

"You've got to find something you enjoy. I guess most people don't have a choice. Anything I do I would try to do to the best of my ability; but I would need to enjoy it.

"I guess discipline does come into it a lot. I was at boarding school. I had problems with discipline when I was younger - I was mouthy. I had to take myself in hand and stop being like that. You have to learn not to take yourself too seriously," he said.

At the time of writing, Alfie Allen is not scheduled to take the role of Alan Strang to America in the autumn when Equus transfers to Broadway. Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe has agreed to resume the part. Likewise, Richard Griffith will reprise the role of Dysart.

But the consensus of opinion among those of us who saw Alfie Allen do his stuff in Newcastle was that this was a young actor of whom a great deal more is going to be heard. If you get the opportunity to see him on stage, take it.

  • Equus is on at the Alhambra from April 28 to May 3. The box office number is (01274) 432000.