Exclusive interview excerpt from BLAG Vol.3 Nø 3
Interview and Photography by Sarah J. Edwards
Alright, describe yourself in one word in the following areas: Sense of humour.
Brilliant. It’s true. Key talent?
“Errr,” he pauses, “talking.”
[laughing] True. Best habit? Shall I mark you out of 10 for these?
“My shameless honesty.”
Yep. Worst habit...?
Shh... one word!
“One word, oh.”
We used to talk loads about how it was imperative for you to get particular roles to get to the next kind of level and it’s probably changed now, hasn’t it?
“As in credibility?”
Yeah, because you had to...well – from my recollections – you had to do it to kind of prove yourself to get to a certain status.
“Yes, the credibility struggle, laughable isn’t it? He who dresses up and pretends to be somebody else for a living, a hired fantasist, the blaggard. Craves such a thing above all else, the sanctimonious virtue. The rare, precious and sacred prize of ‘credibility’. It’s like a treasonous swindler howling at the palace for a knighthood...mind you...many succeed.”
This is true.
“I remember at the time I first met you I had been deployed in a stinker and had recently been introduced to a song that had rather serendipitously been called ‘I’ve Been Down for So Long (It Looks Like Up To Me)’. I was doing an off the scale non-profit grossing film called The Minotaur and I was very low. [laughs and frowns]. A very low ebb in my career. Minotaur was undoubtedly a fair attempt to bring alive the legend, in current form, cutting edge, on a shoestring budget and sticky back plastic. We fell admirably and to a man rather unepically in front an audience, swinging all manner of rubber weapons, flailing in the dust, personally to the smotherings of an ill fitted wig. I think I actually wore a mini dress at one point and spent countless hours gazing into the distance hoping to catch a bus. A bus that never comes.”
“I think at this point, it is important to remember, someone who was wise and knowing said, ‘Hang on to your terrible movie choices and your deepest fears, don’t fight against the tide, you’ll go under.’ Every happy actor has a collection of stinkers under their belt somewhere and one I think is allowed to...and should be encouraged to gather and accrue and embrace those terrible, terrible projects that haunt and goad in good faith and humour; like a boxer hangs onto the visceral feeling of being knocked unconscious. These power stokes of impending shame, appalling monstrosities that loom in the background of many successful forays into the world of entertaining the great public are the battle scars of the credible actor and should be held aloft as medals, pinned to our little chests to be worn with dignity and forbearing knowledge of the cringing we have encountered, emblazoned on our imdb pages.”
[smiling] “... And yet, I couldn’t piece together a way up the line quicker or blag anyone to actually get myself off the ground. I was pretty sure I had wings, but I needed to fly. With parts and roles, I suppose I have had to do what I could along the way, to find a way of getting into a position where I could possibly choose the roles that interest me the most, in order to challenge myself and have lots of fun. It’s difficult to get trusted. It’s hard to get financial backing. Bankability and credibility, that’s a rare position. There are various tests that need to be passed along the road and experiences collated, there is certainly no such thing as an overnight success, in my experience. Not one that has remained consistently plodding away tapping out quality work. And luck plays such a huge role of course as well.”
“I got stuck for a while, I won a model competition and it taught me about rejection and humiliation based on aesthetic. It’s hard not to take that personally. There’s nothing wrong with being a model and despite those that have a very pragmatic view of that sort of thing and almost decry the intelligence of models – or how easy it is to be one – let alone someone lucky enough to get paid to do what they love to do, it is quite a specific experience you can’t really talk about unless you’ve lived it...”
Well, I can certainly empathise with that.
“To me it was a bit of a shit job for the most part and I was incredibly unsuccessful.”
[laughs] “Apart from that – I’m very grateful for those humble roots and actually getting any exposure at all to help me up the ladder. Through modelling I met a casting agent who actually remembered me to come back, pluck me out of my Drama School and fight my cause to get a role in Band of Brothers. The downer is models aren’t taken terribly seriously. And that is a dilemna; if you want to be taken seriously and I don’t think I’d really thought it all through. I expected to make a quick buck for turning up and doing nothing, quite a reasonable request I thought being a spoilt brat – also I remember that I felt so terribly ashamed at the time of selling my body and face. I felt powerless viewed by casting agents in modelling cattle calls, stamped as what felt like “reject” often, based on my looks. ‘No.’ ‘Not you...no..’ ‘Not you..’ ‘No..’ ‘Thank you, next. Hang on to your dreams pal’. But this wasn’t actually my dream [laughs] and then the lads I grew up with laughed at me for being a noddy which was just embarrassing. Anyway I’m grateful to have had the breaks, but, I didn’t want to be trapped inside the modeling world. I crave to understand character studies, I like to find them in the workings out and show them. That’s why moving pictures and acting is so compelling for me. We get to show our workings out, our investigations, human behaviours and patterns. Observe and reflect, show and tell in psychological action and physical, not just images or still photography, people in motion. I just wanted to get on and tell stories. I’ve been lucky to do some great projects Stuart, Bronson, Warrior, Lawless, The Dark Knight Rises, but Minotaurs, well they etch out all the hard work in a single shot. I train students ‘acting for camera’, with that in my back pocket, I say ‘Look, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that it’s alright. No matter how bad it is, no matter how embarrassed or awkward you may feel, if you’re creating something and it’s not working. Or if you worry about something looking stupid, then please, go home and you take a good look at me in the Minotaur.’ [cracks up laughing]. You will immediately feel better, and not so alone...because when you’ve finished eating that shit sandwich you’re working on, there will always be another shit sandwich for you to eat and the reward for patience is yet more patience. I’ve had to battle for credibility for a long time, but with myself first and foremost, harsh critic, never mind anybody else, you know? I come from a privileged background, it’s all white, middle class, painfully so. Boring. Uninteresting. And however much I love it, which I do, I don’t think that old credibility struggle will end soon... I fucking hope it does and I find Nirvana.”
I know, why am I here?
“Why do I get all the fun and glory?”
Read the full extensive interview in the print edition, available to purchase here.
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20th Anniversary Special Edition | Party! by Sally A. Edwards & Sarah J. Edwards
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