Callum Scott Howells and Henry Paget
Callum Scott Howells and (inset) Henry Paget (Photo: YouTube/Public Domain)

Welsh actor Callum Scott Howells is best known for his role in the 2021 1980s-set AIDS drama, It’s A Sin

The 25-year-old, who identifies as queer, looks set to shine again with the news he will take the lead role in a movie called Madfabulous

The biopic will explore the short, scandalous life of a forgotten 19th-century figure.

Henry Paget was the 5th Marquess of Anglesey. He was born in 1875 and died in 1905, aged just 29.  

Paget, dubbed “the dancing marquess”, made a name for himself by squandering his inheritance on a lavish social life and throwing extravagant parties. He would often cross-dress in flamboyant costumes and delighted in posing for photographers in some of his more outrageous outfits. 

Here’s a photo of Paget taken in 1900. 

Henry Paget, 5th Marquess of Anglesey
Henry Paget, 5th Marquess of Anglesey (Photo: Public Domain)

Lavish lifestyle

Anglesey is in North Wales. Paget’s father died in 1898. He left his son a vast inheritance. This included land that brought in a rent of £110,000 (around $19million in today’s money). Paget managed to burn through it, throwing cash away on jewels and furs. He built his own theatre to star in his own productions and also toured them around the UK. 

He married briefly but his wife left him within a few weeks. She later had the marriage annulled, saying it had never been consummated. 

There is no evidence to confirm Paget’s sexuality, but since his death, many have assumed he was queer. 

By 1904, Paget was around three-quarters of a million dollars in debt ($90 million in today’s money). Declared bankrupt, he died in 1905 in Monte Carlo following a period of illness. 

Conservative politician Vicary Gibbs wrote of Paget in 1910, saying that he “seems only to have existed for the purpose of giving a melancholy and unneeded illustration of the truth that a man with the finest prospects, may, by the wildest folly and extravagance, as Sir Thomas Browne says, ‘foully miscarry in the advantage of humanity, play away an uniterable life, and have lived in vain.'”

“A rebel ahead of his time”

Madfabulous will be directed by Celyn Jones.

Howells said in a statement to Deadline, “It is a real honor to be portraying Henry in this great story about the man and everything he represented. He is such a fascinating character; truly a rebel ahead of his time and has been an inspiration to many artists throughout the years. I can’t wait to work with this great team to bring Henry to life on screen.”

Director Jones added, “Callum is the perfect actor for this role, a versatile and charismatic performer with a rockstar appeal… I’m sure Henry would approve. It’s a dream to be going back home to Anglesey to make this film, Lisa [Baker] has written a fabulous script and I’m loving the creative team that’s gathering to help me tell this iconic tale about the original ’20th Century Boy’.”

Last year, Howells was confirmed for the role of singer Holly Johnson in a biopic about the band Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Don't forget to share:

Help make sure LGBTQ+ stories are being told...

We can't rely on mainstream media to tell our stories. That's why we don't lock Queerty articles behind a paywall. Will you support our mission with a contribution today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated