Firstly, why don’t you tell our readers a little about yourself?
I was brought up in Harrogate, Yorkshire, where all I did was play football. It drove my neighbours crazy, but I was actually quite good and got scouted as a goalkeeper for Bradford City and played until I dislocated my shoulder playing basketball. I lost my confidence, got kicked out and was asked by the school if there was anything else I was good at and after some deliberation I said “I’m in the school play…”
They whisked me onto a performing arts course, where I carried spears and had one line bit parts looking enviously on as the ‘better’ kids got all the girls by playing lead roles. Then at the end of the course I was able to stage my own production. So I chose Bouncers, had some brilliant friends in it with me and had the time of my life. I realised how much I loved acting and had to ‘do it’ professionally. Went to university, then to Drama Studio London (seven years ago) and have been ‘doing it’ ever since.
You’ve recently been making a splash in a new feature film called Night Junkies – could you tell us more about that?
It’s a brilliant sexy vampire movie, but not the usual where suddenly everyone can high kick, Blade kind of way but more a real street fighting, must have blood, junkie Trainspotting way.
Your character in this piece is Vincent Munroe – could you tell our readers about the role?
He’s a complex guy, he’s deep and thoughtful, a film noir hero, which was amazing to play. Lawrence (the director) told me Vincent was originally in a band and after he’d been ‘turned’ into a vampire he lives his life, day by day, only ‘feeding’ on people who wouldn’t be missed or who don’t have anything to live for. He is strong and his own man, answering to no-one, fighting his own fights.
But he falls for one of his supposed victims Ruby, played by Katia Winter, and after she’s ‘turned’ into a vampire, together they try to go cold turkey by not feeding on anyone as she can not bear to kill. But we are chased by Matt (Rene Zagger) as he’s in love with Ruby too. My character had some great choices to make, and the script had so many moments for me to work with. What would he think here? Do there? Why doesn’t he leave her? It was great and emotionally challenging to get to those places.
How do you feel about the performance? Looking back, is there anything you’d change?
It’s those thoughts that go through every actor’s head after the director has yelled “cut”. Did I do that right? Can I do it again? The answer is we could go again all day, but would we get a better performance than the first one or two? Maybe, but you have to trust your director and if you’ve done your homework, trust yourself. But it never stops me questioning. Only the other day I went over a speech I had finished filming months ago, to see if I did it right, or I’d try it a different way. But there’s is nothing I can do about it now, so I try and put it away.
Was there anyone in particular you based your role upon? How did you prepare?
It was mainly a voice thing. Vincent is American, so I worked really hard on getting it as tight as I could. I wanted to sound like Kiefer Sutherland in Phone Booth or 24, dark and deep and very filmic. I don’t know how I did yet. I’ve just seen the trailer, which Dean (Fisher, the Producer) is taking to Cannes and I sound ok. It’s always weird hearing your self talk, but the trailer looks fantastic and doesn’t give the whole story away like some of them do. You don’t need to see the film sometimes when you’ve watched a trailer and that’s just daft!
In preparation I also watched lots of vampire movies, how lots of my favourite actors work and did my best not to steal their ideas – but generally that’s what we do, we steal people’s work, whether it’s someone on the street, or our best friend. You get to mimic someone else. That’s the great bit. I like to take the character as far away from me as I possibly can. But there are always bits of me in there as I’m saying the lines and doing the actions. You can’t help that.
When can we expect to be able to see this film? Is it being entered into any film festivals? You mentioned Cannes?
Lawrence and Dean have had a plan for this film from the beginning. It’s going straight to release in America. There is a big market out there for Vampire films. It will do well. I expect to a see a rough cut in August so it could be released in November in America before coming here to the UK.
Also released this year is the feature 3 Minute Moments – a comedy directed by Don Allen – please tell us more about this?
3 Minute Moments is a comedy about speed dating where everyone gets to meet everyone. It’s a cracking script and should be great fun to watch. I play Joel the camp assistant to the hostess of the speed dating event, played by Belinda Lang, who minces his way through the evening, banging his gong with glee, trying to organise a men’s only night and flirting with everybody. He’s a comedy prop. I loved playing him.
All my scenes were shot in one venue, a night club in Clapham, which doubled as our speed dating meeting room. The set looked immense, really bright colours over the darkened corners, illuminating the shots and made them feel warm and stunning to see. For me it was a great time – I was filming during the day, then at night I was doing High Society in the West End. I was living the high life.
Don was great about me doing the show, knowing I couldn’t film past five, he got me in most mornings and was done and I got to the theatre in time every day but one. Don was doing his money shot. It involved so many people in the cast on one long tracking shot, tracking past everybody, pausing for dialogue, then tracking back the other way and finishing on me ushering everybody through and into their seats. It was 5.30. I should have left 5 minutes ago and the camera hadn’t turned over yet. I knew if the first take didn’t work it was over, I had no choice but to leave. By some miracle, the camera tracked without bumping, the actors said their lines right and I managed to usher people into the chairs, with no one forgetting anything, no planes going past and no one farting. I was stunned… I almost forgot to leave.
How do you feel about the differing styles between the two genres? Did you find any difficulties transitioning from one to the other? In which genre do you find yourself most comfortable?
There was a big difference is styles. With 3 Minute Moments I was playing the funny guy so I could be funny, or try to be, when was on set, but with Night Junkies the character was so deep that by being light on set before you do something heavy is really difficult. The crew were great about this and whenever I had a big scene, between takes they would leave us alone and let me get on with what an actor does. I had no difficulties transitioning, it’s what I love doing. I enjoy playing two or three different characters in a play in one night; you get to show off what you paid so much money learning. But it wasn’t a problem between these two films. I don’t know which I prefer. I had more to do in Night Junkies so at the moment that darker genre is what I would be keen to do again.
Your co-star in that feature was Gabrielle Aimes – what was it like working with her? What was the chemistry like? Any stories to tell?
She’s great! Unfortunately I had no direct scenes with her. We were in the same shot a few times but we had no dialogue together. The great thing about the 3 Minute Moments shoot is we had a big green room where we would all doss while waiting for Don and George Steel to set up, and as actors do within the space of about 5 minutes, you get to know everything about them, where they live, what other films they’ve done and you realise you know ten people who know them. It was like that with Gabrielle; she’s cool and works damn hard. No horror stories though…
One performance that particularly jumps out at me is your role in the film LVJ – what can only be described as a truly bizarre piece of sci-fi. Please tell me more.
I often get work by blagging. It’s a good thing. This is what happened here. Mark Shields had been working on LVJ for about a year when I met him. I went to an open dance call for a pop video, got told it was girls only but they let me stay and hoof at the back as I had made the effort to turn up. Then later that night I got a call saying they had changed their minds and wanted me for the lead and only man in the video, which happened to be the pop video for the film LVJ. I was lifting girls and spinning them above my head, 70’s style. I got there and as Mark was in the video too I asked if I could be in the film, he said he didn’t see why not.
Two years later I had almost forgotten when I see an advert on shooting people for actors for LVJ! Is he still doing it I thought? I wrote to him and he rang straight away and after a bizarre audition (I knew all the other actors in the room) he said he didn’t realise I could act. I laughed and said I didn’t realise I could dance! He then wrote a part of an FBI agent in the film for me – a small role but I didn’t care. I was actually playing Kenickie in Grease at the Jersey Opera House at the time and they flew me back, filmed my stuff and put me back on the plane in time for the night’s show. They are brilliant guys.
That was three years ago. I’m going back in to shoot another scene next month. It’s going to be brilliant when it’s done, like Men in Black meets Back to the Future. They’ve worked so hard to get it finished. Full effects, blue screen work and all on an English budget so you can imagine how hard that was.
Out of the 3 pieces, which did you find the most satisfying to work on? How did the styles of production differ, and which do you find yourself most comfortable with?
I found playing Vincent in Night Junkies the most satisfying. To excuse the pun, it was something I could get my teeth into. It was a challenging role and I really had such an amazing time. We filmed mainly through the night and your brain does something weird when you don’t see daylight for two weeks. I relished the experience. I almost knew what it was like to be a vampire.
As well as film, you do a great deal of theatre and TV commercial work – which do you prefer, and what kind of media can we see you involved with in future?
I haven’t yet decided which I prefer. I hope I do all three for the rest of my life. I’m just grateful to be a working actor. It means so much to me. I’ll never give up. Coming up next is a Macbeth and Importance of being Earnest for Hazlitt Theatre company, then I’m off to Sardinia to film ‘The Seer’ where I’m playing one of two English guys with Paul Davis who was in 3MM and Katia Winter is in it too. I couldn’t think of anything better than to be doing a film in the sun with your friends. I can’t wait. Then in August I’m playing Lucencio in the Taming of the Shrew in the Open Air in Canterbury. So it’s quite busy at the moment, but also exciting.
Do you have any advice for any prospective actors out there?
The only thing I’d suggest is if you’re out of acting work, don’t get a job you like and don’t rely on it. If you like it and it pays you really well you stop going to the odd castings, then it builds up and you stop going completely. You should be able to walk out at a minutes notice for a casting.