WHEN Disney star Thomas Doherty informs he has over a million Instagram followers it’s not hard to see why.

The young man has boyband looks as well as acting talent.

Right now, Thomas stars as Harry Hook in Descendants 2, a sequel to the international TV franchise featuring the adventures of the teen offspring of the great Disney villains.

“I love playing Harry,” says the Edinburgh-born actor.

“He can be very hostile and intimidating and unpredictable, but at the same time he has a charming quality.”

As Thomas talks of playing Captain Hook’s wicked progeny, it’s with an endearing sense of incredulity.

How he can, at just 22, be part of this worldwide franchise, have the same Disney parents as Miley Cyrus, Britney and Selena Gomez?

What you learn very quickly is Thomas, although on the fast track to success, is taking cautious steps.

“I don’t thinking living two steps ahead in life as being in any way productive,” he offers.

“In the six months before leaving college I had the idea I’d get an agent and move to Hollywood and land films and do the red carpet thing.

“And then I got a little taste of it and I realised I was trying to fill my life with stuff. But I also realised if that was my intent it would never really be filled.”

What? These days actors talk of career moves as if it were a board game strategy. What happened to bring about this epiphany?

Thomas was enticed into modelling. But realised he was in the wrong movie.

“When I was working on The Lodge (for Disney) I went to LA and did the shoot for Teen Vogue and came back and thought ‘That was so much fun’. And people were saying to me it was amazing. Yet, at the same time it all felt very hollow, a bit vacuous.”

Thomas wasn’t happy to be being judged for his looks alone.

“Old friends or people who didn’t know me were giving me lots of attention, and it was weird when girls would scream or ask for photos. But it wasn’t fulfilling.”

He felt lost, unsure of the road to take. “I began reading Eckhart Tolle a lot, (the spiritual teacher and author of books such as The Power Of Now) who has been asking why we are trying to fill our lives with stuff.

“You know; you get the car or the big house or whatever and then you ask yourself what you did to deserve it.”

Thomas clearly brings an intelligence to the role (his mother, who works in a bank – his dad is a financial adviser – made sure he finished his Highers before she agreed on him taking off to musical theatre college).

But you discover there’s also an innate toughness about him.

“I grew up hoping to become a professional footballer,” he says of a talent which led to professional trials.

“Yet, while I was seen as a football player, no-one was aware I also did musical theatre.”

He adds, grinning; “I’d have my books and packed lunch at the top of my bag but at the bottom I’d hide my tap shoes.

“On Saturdays, for example, I’d go to musical theatre from nine ‘till one and then rush off to the game.”

“Then during the week I’d turn up for musical theatre with my knees all cut and bruised. It was all a bit Billy Elliott. But I loved both.”

His very close friends accepted his leanings. “Yes, but any 13-year-old boy who wears leotard and tights two days a week is going to get slagged off,” he says, grinning.

“But it’s part of the banter. And my friends were fantastic and so supportive when it came to seeing my shows.”

When the football dream was kicked out of the park, Thomas decided to focus on performing and applied to the Academy of Performing Arts to study musical theatre.

His talent has since shone through. But of course he now works for Disney.

The corporation expects a lot of its young stars, in terms of how they represent themselves to the public, displaying a clean cut wholesomeness.

So how does he balance out the Disney deal with the need to be a young man and have fun – and take a few risks?

“Just don’t get caught,” he says, grinning. “But what you don’t do is overthink your status and let it get into your head because it will be a bit restrictive.

What you have to do is just see yourself as a you are, which is a normal 22-year-old boy. And don’t let a couple of screaming girls sway you in any way.”

He adds; “But I’ve got it under control.”

What helps, apart from Eckhart Tolle and a few pages of natural common sense, is Thomas has a regular girlfriend, who happens to be his Descendants 2 co-star.

“Her name is Dove Cameron and she lives in Los Angeles.” His voice becomes more animated as he expands: “She’s great. She’s like my pal, and a really good laugh.

“The plan is I’m going to head over to LA to live. We’re going to get a place together and live on Venice Beach.”

Thomas is relaxed about the future. He may be doing another season of The Lodge, and “hopefully a Descendants 3”.

But thanks to his Instagram success he has a regular income stream, independent of what he earns from acting.

“I want to test the water,” he says of work possibilities in Tinseltown. But gently.

“It’s good to have goals and a career and all the rest of it, but at the same time I want to enjoy life.”

* Descendants 2 premieres on Friday, October 20 at 5.30pm on Disney Channel