When Sally A. Edwards met actor Ed Hogg, it was at his photoshoot for BLAG. It was here he requested fast, loud music to dance around to and ultimately got airborne for his classic portrait. This energy gave us just a small clue to his touring and acting in theatre to perfecting Appalachian Mountain Dancing in his role alongside the late, great Carrie Fisher.
This article first appeared in the print edition of BLAG - Vol.3 Nø 1 from 2009
Interview and Photography by Sarah J. Edwards
Art Direction by Sally A. Edwards
Styling by Charlie Anderson
Hair and Make Up by Gary Gill
Hair and Make Up Assistance by Lorna King
Location: Holborn, London
Ed Hogg is a remarkably versatile actor. He's gone from a vast majority of roles on stage – performing many internationally, to two lead roles in features set for release this year. There's White Lightnin' in which Ed plays Jesco White – an Appalachian Mountain dancer. Then, a totally contrary role as Stephen, an agoraphobic in Bunny and the Bull – directed by Paul King of The Mighty Boosh fame. Industry insiders are heralding Ed as "the next Daniel Day Lewis". We meet him when he arrives for his shoot. His highly expressive face is full of smiles and he's charmingly laid back.
Ed Hogg owns the spot lit area of the studio when being photographed. He gives me a big grin and shouts, "Have you got any punk?" in his Yorkshire accent. I find the closest I have, put it on and turn it up. He channels the sounds and lets rip, jumping and dancing literally all over the place – really giving it some. Can I have some of that, please?
Once Sarah has the shots, we run upstairs for an outfit change. Everything is set out for each look as our stylist – Charlie has had to make a dash for it. Ed pulls on the black sweater and trousers and I root around for the bow tie. As I'm standing adjusting the length to make sure it fits, he says to me via the mirror – hairdresser style, "Do you think it looks OK?" Having recently had his locks sheared at the request of his latest film producers, Ed is feeling a touch out of his comfort zone.
"Well, it's entirely up to you. You have to feel right," I tell him.
"Alright, let's go for it."
And he does, with gusto.
Please introduce yourself including age, occupation and where you’re from.
"Hello, my name is Edward Hogg. I’m a 30-year- old actor who grew up in Sheffield. I now live in South East London with my younger brother.
You went from school to a band to RADA. What provoked the transitions, and how did you feel along the way?
I was in a band called Porno King. We gigged all around the North of England and just once in London. I was 15 when the band started and we were together for four years. It was all I wanted to do at the time. Like every other teenager playing in a band, I truly believed we were on the verge of greatness.
"Unfortunately the band split when the guitarist, Simon, my best friend, left for London to study fine art. I had joined an amateur theatre group called M.I.S.T. Co and somebody there suggested I should maybe try to turn acting into a career. An opportunity to continue to show off had presented itself and I went from there. It took me two years to get into Drama school, working with my drama teacher, Jude Cole, and a lot of auditioning, but by the time I was accepted into RADA, I knew I really wanted to be an actor."
You’ve done stacks of theatre since graduating including Woyzeck, which saw you nominated for an Ian Charleson Award. Please pick three plays and tell us where you performed them, the storyline, your character and the most memorable audience reaction to each.
"King Lear in Rome with the RSC academy. The amazing Nonso Anosie was playing Lear and I was his Fool. I had a great time on that job. We were all graduates, just out of drama school, all looking to make an impression. We began in Stratford and then did a lovely tour to London and all around Europe. The reason I pick Rome, is that on one particular night, we had a problem with the curtain going up, and the longer the audience had to sit and wait, the more impatient they became. They began a slow handclap, which continued throughout the first scene accompanied with shouting and booing. I’d never experienced anything like it before, but it was pretty exciting.
"Measure for Measure at the Globe theatre in London. I was playing Isabella in an all male production. Obviously I was wearing a beautiful dress and getting in touch with my feminine side. I thought I looked great, however one student who came down to see the play with the rest of his class, had a different verdict. As I walked on for my opening scene, taking small, delicate steps, I arrived at the front of the stage, lifted my head to speak, and from the crowd, a clipped, youthful, cockney voice sang out, 'Alright, Gay Boy!'
"Woyzeck at the St Anns Warehouse in New York. I was playing Woyzeck in a production that had transferred from London. I’m very proud of this production. We had a wonderful director and a top cast. I’ve chosen New York because of the kind of people who make it to the theatre over there. After one show we went front of house and met Lou Reed who had been watching. He invited me and my mate Roger to go and watch him rehearse “Berlin” at the same venue after Woyzeck was over. Amazing!
You’ve got two very different films coming up, the first of which, White Lightnin’. Can you tell us about how you got the part? It was a long time coming wasn’t it? How did you manage to be so patient?
"I was cast in White Lightnin at the end of 2005. It came off the back of a lot of auditioning, both in London and LA. The film was shot in October 2007. Waiting for that length of time was hard, but – I’ve since discovered, not that unusual. I was very lucky that the Director and Producers held out for me, and that meant it took a little longer to get the film made. It was tough turning down theatre work during that time, but Michael, my agent, was – as always, fantastic. He kept reminding me what a wonderful opportunity this was, and he was right. I’m very proud to be involved with this film and to be associated with everyone involved in getting it made. It’s frickin ace!"
Tell us the story in a nutshell.
"The story is about an Appalachian mountain dancer named Jesco White. It’s about his troubles growing up in that area. Drugs, drink, women, murder and dancing. It’s about how the thought of revenge can become so consuming, that it can eventually take you over, and ultimately destroy you."
You perfected Appalachian Mountain dancing and the accent to go with it. Can you describe both for us?
"Mountain dancing is kind of like a mixture of line and tap dancing, with a lot of personal flare thrown in on top. It was not an easy dance style to learn. In the end it became obvious that the personal flare part of the dancing was far more important than being accurate with the steps. After that it became fun. The accent is pretty southern sounding. There is a lot of Jesco footage on YouTube, so I was able to listen to him speaking every day if I wanted. Also Dominic Murphy made me a compilation of Jesco’s speech from the documentary “The Dancing Outlaw” which I could play on my iPod. Best of all I flew to meet the real Jesco and spend some time with him. We got drunk, danced and shot his guns. I fell in love with him instantly, and felt very privileged to have met such an original.
"The Appalachians run from Canada right to Alabama, what part was White Lightnin’ based in? What was the environment like on location? The film is set in Boon County, West Virginia. We shot both there and in Croatia. The environment on set was ace. A lot of the crew were Croatian and really wonderful to me. I met their families and they welcomed me into their homes. They also took me drinking in all the best bars in Zagreb, which I enjoyed. This was my first film and everyone made me feel like I deserved to be there. That was very important to me, and allowed me to be brave when it came to some of the acting."
What was the filming experience like? From working with director, Dominic Murphy to co- stars Carrie Fisher and Muse Watson?
"I can’t say enough nice things about Dominic. He’s a completely brilliant director who has made the kind of film I would want to go and see at the cinema. He works harder than anyone else on set, and he’s able to pull great performances out of his actors. Carrie Fisher was fantastic. I was very nervous to be working with somebody so well established not only in the industry, but also in the public eye. She was super generous and most importantly very patient with me. I was very green. I still am. Unfortunately, none of my scenes were with Muse, but me and my mates in London had just finished season one of Prison Break when I went off to film, so I bored him to death with questions about that. I’m a big fan of his, and of that show."
Next is Bunny and the Bull, written and shot by Paul King, the Mighty Boosh’s director. It’s a “comedy road movie set entirely in a flat”. You play Stephen. Can you tell us about your character and his part in the film?
"Bunny and the Bull was shot almost entirely in a studio in Nottingham. Paul King, another fantastic director, and two amazing actors, Simon Farnaby and Veronica Echegui filmed for around five weeks. We meet Stephen in his flat. He’s an agoraphobic, who goes on a trip around Europe with his best friend Bunny and the beautiful Eloisa, without ever having to go outside. Stephen is desperately uptight. His friend bunny is the exact opposite. Together they set out on an adventure, exploring some of Europe’s most unusual museums and beyond."
How did you prepare for your role?
"We prepared for the film during two weeks of rehearsal. This is such a luxury for the director and the actors. It means we can play and explore at no extra cost to production. Once you start shooting your on a very strict schedule. Paul, Simon, Veronica and I spent a fortnight looking at scenes, learning lines, deciding what positions to shoot from and just getting to know each other. It was very important."
The Mighty Boosh guys also star in the film, what did they bring to the atmosphere on and off-set?
"The Mighty Boosh guys were great – so lovely. They knew a lot of people on set and have worked very closely with Paul for a while now. I was more star struck by Noel than by anybody else I’ve ever met!"
If you had to sum up Bunny and the Bull in one sentence, what would it be?
"Bunny and the Bull is an Oscar worthy trip of a lifetime that you can enjoy without ever having to take a step outside your front door."
The theme of our issue is Time and Energy, and it’s interesting how some things need a lot of time and energy put into them to grant a great result, while others are second nature or more instinctive. Or – on the other hand, if you put too much energy into something it can be time wasted. What kind of energy do you put into a role, from the moment you hear about the opportunity to the first day of shooting?
"The amount of time and energy that goes into preparation depends on the role and how in love you fall with the script and the part you’re playing. As an actor you’re not always going to be doing exactly what you want to be doing, sometimes you do things that help you to pay your mortgage or buy your food that week. I’ve been very lucky, most of what I’ve been involved with has been good quality work, playing fantastic parts. I hope that continues. Usually I work from instinct. In short I think the most amount of time you can spend on research or preparation always pays off in a better, more rounded performance."
Many say it’s rare to actually make a living from creative career pursuits, but many succeed and become the best in their field. What advice would you give to someone who wants to really make a go of it with an artistic career whether it is music, film or art?
"My advice to someone wanting to make a career in the Arts is just to make sure it’s what you want to do 100%. That way, even if you’re not earning enough money, or playing the parts you want to play, you’ll still be pushing and looking for that next challenge. You’ll keep on going. That’s what is most important. To keep on going!"
You had a really good dance at the photo shoot, did you enjoy it? You said you like punk music. What are you listening to at the moment?
"I love dancing. I’m listening to the Walkmen at the moment. I also am a huge fan of all the music that comes out of Sheffield. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up there, but it feels like it’s in the bones of me. Pulp and Jarvis, The Arctic Monkeys and my older brothers band, The Hosts. Dancing and singing makes you feel good. Fact!"