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Sex Education star Connor Swindells has responded to fans' praise for the 'mind-blowing' performance he gave alongside on-screen dad Alistair Petrie - with the duo proving so convincing that some viewers thought they were related in real life.
Swindells, 25, features in the popular Netflix series as Adam Groff, first introduced as Moordale's archetypal school bully, who also just so happens to be the son of the school's stern headmaster, played by Petrie.
As the seasons have progressed, we have seen Adam and Mr Groff's strained relationship only grow more complex as the two begin to address their own inner demons, whether it's navigating suppressed sexuality or unpacking how a strict upbringing has impacted them in later life - both true for each, as we find out.
While heartbreaking to watch, their troubled father-son dynamic has been one that's struck a chord with viewers.
In fact, so palpable is their on-screen chemistry - and undeniable resemblance to one another, in both appearance and behaviour - that some fans have had to actually question whether or not the two actors are actually related.
this is one of the best dad and son castings i've ever seen #SexEducation pic.twitter.com/JE3zkr2isO
- pedro (@hausofmalamente) September 17, 2021
Petrie has since had to confirm that they are not, but it would appear that their bond is very much real, with the star admitting Swindells is like an 'extra son' to him.
And it turns out the feeling is mutual, as Swindells has since told us that he has learnt a great deal from his on-screen patriarch.
Speaking to LADbible, he said: "Working with Alistair's amazing, he's such a fantastic human being and I can't speak highly of him enough.
"He's really a special person and a phenomenally talented actor, and someone that I look up to and copy and emulate because he is so brilliant.
"And he has taught me a lot. Out of everything the show has brought me, that relationship is something that I am most grateful for."
After hearing that Petrie sees him as another son, Swindells said: "That is very, very sweet. I didn't know about that."
He also has nothing but praise for the 'brilliant' Samantha Spiro, who plays his mother, saying: "She's wonderful. She is really funny and hilarious, and just a joy to be around.
"I can't say enough great things about everyone on the show, really. It's something that I think, for the rest of my acting career, has set a high bar in terms of the people that I want to be around. And it's just been the most amazing opportunity.
"And if this is the last time to do it, then I can I can sit back and say, 'Well, it was a fantastic time and is something I'll hold on to forever'."
However, if the show was to be renewed for a fourth season - something Swindells is keen for 'so long as the the writing stays good and people keep caring about it' - he hopes Adam gets a chance to find harmony with his father.
When asked what he wanted for his character, Swindells, whose own mother passed away from cancer when he was just seven years old, continued: "I think reconciliation between his father and himself to some degree, or to capitalise on that relationship - because that's the main reason why I did it in the first place.
"I'm so obsessed with stories about fathers and sons, that was the main draw for me.
"I think it's such an important story to tell because the effects of it can be dire. You know, they really can.
"So I think it's important to tell those stories and to show that fathers are teachers constantly. I think a lot of fathers don't realise that.
"I think young men, especially, are sponges for male role models, and they'll look for them. And if they're not there by blood, then they'll find them elsewhere. It can be really beautiful, and it can be amazing, but other times it can be catastrophic.
"So it's important to show the responsibility that fathers have to teach their sons the right lessons, and who to be and how to carry yourself, which is the main reason why I wanted to do it in the first place."
Watch all seasons of Sex Education on Netflix now.
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