Nick Cave says death of his son Arthur inspired Earl Cave to pursue acting

Nick Cave has opened up about how the death of his son Arthur led to the latter’s twin brother, Earl, finding a “sense of purpose” through acting.

Arthur Cave tragically died after he fell from a cliff in Ovingdean, East Sussex in 2015. He was 15 years old.

  • READ MORE: Earl Cave: “I’d love to play Neil Young in a film” 

For the latest entry into his Q&A site Red Hand Files, Cave replied a letter from a fan, Madeline, who spoke of the “pain, anxiety and sadness” they’re experiencing due to their twin brother being terminally ill.


In his response, the Bad Seeds frontman wrote: “When Arthur died, one of our biggest fears was how it would affect Earl. The twins had never been apart and were extremely close to each other. Susie [his wife] and I were poised to pick up the pieces of a boy we thought would disintegrate under the devastating weight of the death of his brother.”

The singer went on to say that Arthur passed away in the school holidays, and recalled how the teachers “set up a support network of therapists and counsellors in preparation for Earl’s return”.

He and Susie were “braced for the worst”, but Cave recalled a moment when Earl said “Whatever happens now is for Arthur” on the morning he went back to school.

Nick Cave performing at All Points East Festival 2022
Nick Cave performing at All Points East Festival 2022. CREDIT: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

“I had no idea at the time quite what that meant,” Nick continued. “And so Earl went back to school and he applied himself and worked hard. We waited for the worst, but it didn’t happen.

“He took up drama and became really good at it. He had this weird sense of purpose around things and good stuff started to happen to him. He landed a role in a film while he was at school and people liked it, so he got a role in another one, and then another after that.”


Later, Cave remembered how Earl remained “close” to his parents, and “kept a sort of watchful, almost paternal eye out for us” throughout that time. “We looked on in awe as he grew into an adult, borne along by a promise he had made one morning to his stricken parents,” he added.

  • READ MORE: This Much I Know To Be True review: an engrossing and intimate portrait of Nick Cave

“I don’t know what lives inside of Earl, what he has had to endure, but he is a strong, funny, extraordinarily kind young man with a razor-sharp wit and a warm, generous laugh, and he seems to me to be doing well.

“I don’t know what darkness he carries, what angers and griefs, but I do know I can see his brother in there somewhere, as a condition of being, as a kind of meaning, as a direction taken.”

You can read the letter in full here.

Earl Cave appeared in The End of the F***ing World and went on to land his first lead role in Days Of The Bagnold Summer (2020), the latter of which was directed by The Inbetweeners‘ Simon Bird.

Nick Cave
Nick Cave of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds performs live in 2022. CREDIT: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

Nick Cave first spoke about losing Arthur during One More Time With Feeling, the 2016 film that delved into “the deeply personal circumstances surrounding the making of ‘Skeleton Tree’“.

In a Red Hand Files post last November, the singer said that he and Susie moved to Los Angeles because Brighton had become “too sad” following his son’s death.

This May, Cave’s son Jethro Lazenby died at the age of 31. The musician later thanked fans for sending their “condolences and kind words”, adding that they were “a great source of comfort”.

Nick Cave recently confirmed that he plans to begin writing a new album at the end of this year.