This talented and eloquent young actor spoke with The Pickwyck about his role in the West End production 'Accolade', who he would like to work with in the future and his dream roles.
Could you tell us a little bit about your work with the Youth Company?
- "The youth theatre company in Norwich follows on from the Theatre Royal Arts course, where you learn about the basics of the craft. The company puts on many shows a year, both plays and musicals, giving young people the opportunity to work on a professional stage. I spent many happy years with the youth company gaining experience!"
What are some of your dream roles?
- "A particular dream role of mine would be to play a real person, an historical figure of some sort. Colin Firths performance as King George VI in The Kings Speech left me inspired to want to tackle a role of that caliber... but if that was to ever come true, I am a long way off at the moment! I would also love to tackle the role of Iago in Othello. He is possibly the most heinous villain from Shakespeare’s work. Despite this he is funny, often rather charming... I find him fascinating! A character that compelling is very attractive to play."
What prompted you to go into acting? Does your family have an acting background?
- "I joined the Norwich Theatre Royal Arts Course when I was roughly 10 years of age as means of gaining more confidence. During my time there, I decided to look into this industry further and see what else I could get involved with. That led me to audition and gain a place with the National Youth Theatre. After doing work with them I was hooked and wanted to pursue a career in this industry. My family doesn’t have any acting background... although my Mum was a dancer when she was a teenager. Does that count?"
What was your first memory of theatre?
- "I cannot remember how old I was, but when I was rather young, me and my family came to London for a weekend and it was one of my first memories of visiting the capital! We went to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and I remember coming away from that experience being totally inspired having had such a blast thinking, that looks like a lot of fun, I would love to have a go too!"
What is your favorite play? And why?
- "It would have to be Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. I was first introduced to this play during my A levels and found it such a compelling piece of writing, full of drama and complex characters. Williams writes with such heart and honesty and a lot of the pathos found in his work was drawn from his own life which led me to empathise deeply with both himself and the characters. A play I would love to work on one day."
Who would you like to work with? And why?
- "Danny Boyle is someone I would love to work with, for the simple reason that I love his work. I came away from both his film Trainspotting and National Theatre production of Frankenstein in complete awe! Having listened to him discuss his directing style, he talks about discovering the piece as you go along, rather than feeling like you know what you’re doing constantly, and for me, that is exciting!!"
Have you had any embarrassing blunders happen in front of your costars, or while you were on stage?
- "To date I have been quite lucky and not suffered many embarrassing blunders. The only moment that sticks out in my mind would be getting a nose bleed during a particularly high energy, exhausting scene in Nivelli’s War which I starred in at The Mac Theatre in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Although, it was more of an inconvenience rather than embarrassing."
What are you most passionate about?
- "Creating good work... I am incredibly passionate about achieving my best in everything I do, so it’s like a drug, one wanting to constantly improve, which is why one goes back for more. If I come away proud, I am a happy man!!"
Aside from acting, do you have any other talents?
- "I am a massive sports fan, particularly football however I was never the strongest of players at school. Despite this, I had a talent for long distance running... cross country was something I always excelled in and I do still like to run. I am thinking in the next few years of taking part in some long distance running events with my brother... Maybe one day tackle a marathon!"
Could you tell us about your role in Accolade and about the play itself?
- "The play is a 1950’s drama of sexual scandal by playwright, Emlyn Williams, and now post-Saville, the play is more relevant than ever. Novelist Will Trenting, famous for his somewhat scandalous novels, is given a knighthood, however he has been leading a double life and this accolade shines a spotlight on him and puts him into the public eye. On the eve of his knighthood, Will is accused of a shocking crime and is forced to battle against the exposure of his private life and the double standards of a society bent on destroying him. We live in a society obsessed with celebrities and what goes on in their private lives. Where is the line drawn? I play the role of 14 year old, bookish, Ian Trenting, son of Will. He is a shy, sensitive, very intelligent young lad with a passion for Dickens’ writing, something he shares with his father. Despite being highly intelligent, he is naive, and very green to the ways of the world. He’s led a somewhat sheltered life to date. He comes and goes throughout the play and is blissfully unaware of the turmoil unfolding around him."
Have your costars (past, present) or someone you admire given you any advice on acting/pursuing your career? If so, what was it?
- "I always ask for advice from costars because they were once in my shoes and given the experience they’ve had, I feel it is important to learn from them. One piece of advice I have been given several times is to persevere. Actors have to deal with a lot of rejection, sometimes on a day to day basis so if you have the love and the passion for this art, have that thick skin and don’t give up. It is a tough industry so just be prepared for that! Work hard, be disciplined and professional... Robert Forster said that to me off set of Survivor when I asked what his advice would be for a young actor. And how right he is!"
What is your favorite book? Favorite movie?
- "My favourite book, without a doubt, would be To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; I studied the novel for GCSE English Literature. It had such a profound effect on me! My favourite movie would have to be No Country for Old Men, a dark, violent, thrilling drama with three outstanding performances... it is a piece of outstanding filmmaking. When I first watched the film, it was like watching a bomb waiting to go off – utterly compelling."
What was your first car? What about your first job?
- "My first car, which I currently still drive and share with my brother, is a Vauxhall Corsa Y reg which I bought off my best friend and it is still going strong! My first ever job was working in a café on a Saturday when I was 16. It involved me making coffees, serving on till, making cakes and doing waiter work. I had a blast working there and I’m still in touch with my colleagues occasionally."
What do you want the audience to take away from this show (Accolade) and why?
- "I want the audience to go away questioning their own lives, questioning their relationships because “We all have that one thing we’re ashamed of”. And to see what I mean by that, I suppose you’ll all have to get yourselves down to the St James Theatre!"