When did you first develop an interest in acting?
Like most people, at school. I had a great English teacher Michael Pearce, who went to RADA and was in the same class as Albert Finney. He encouraged me to apply for the National Youth Theatre which I did, and much to my surprise I got in. There I studied with embryonic talents such as Daniel Craig and Sophie Okonedo.
Tell us about your acting training in London.
I trained formally at a couple of colleges that were very different in their approach. One, ‘The Academy of the Science of Acting and Directing’ taught a very specific acting technique called ‘The Science of Acting’…and I studied both acting and directing there under the tutelage of the technique’s founder, Sam Kogan. Sam had been trained by Maria Knebel at GITIS, The Russian University of Theatre Arts in Moscow, who in turn had been a student and colleague of Konstantin Stanislavski, so I felt the technique had real heritage and provenance. It’s provided a very reliable foundation on which to build my career and I enjoy teaching it to others in between acting and directing work.
What led you to film acting?
Nothing really specifically led there. I wanted to experience all aspects of my profession, stage, TV, film and I’m happy to say that I’ve done them all. Each has different technical challenges but it is all acting at the end of the day.
What was your first film role?
I was a ‘Senior Medical Officer’ and Rose Byrne’s right-hand-man in “28 Weeks Later”, the sequel to Danny Boyles’ “28 Days Later”. I went to the Cast and Crew Screening excited to see how I’d done, but they’d cut most of my character out, apart from one ‘concerned’ look. I learned early on in my film career that it sometimes goes like that. So I guess my first proper film role that made it to the screen, was ‘Murphy’ in “The Dark Knight”. That was a game-changer for me. I was on set with some huge stars and I guess that’s when you either choke or get on with it…. You can have a watch and make up your own mind, but I thought I acquitted myself well.
What faith-based films have you been in?
“Crossroad” is my first.
What other films have you been in?
“Dark Shadows”, “Red Tails”, “A Liar’s Autobiography”, “The Enemy Within”, and a series of films based on the works of American Beat poets. “One Night at the Aristo”, the latest of four, all directed by Nic Saunders, just got into the Cannes Film Festival.
What has been your favorite role to play?
Well they are all interesting; you always have to create a whole character with a life before and after the scene, but ones that stand out are, Joe Bonaparte in Clifford Odets’ brilliant play “Golden Boy”, the heinous Bill Reach in Lee Blessing’s “Down the Road”, and of course Michael in “Crossroad”. .
Tell us about your role in “Crossroad”.
Nice segue there…!
Well Michael is a guy destroyed by a tragic incident in his life, where someone takes away what he loves most…you could say it couldn’t be any worse in terms of loss…and he’s just consumed by a desire to take revenge because he thinks it will take away the pain which, of course, it never does. The film follows Michael’s journey down the road of exacting his revenge, all the way, to the point where he and the audience too, realize the cost of being unable to forgive… it is a brilliantly skillful conceit from director/writer Shervin Youssefian.
How does filming a Christian movie compare with secular movies?
It compares very well. It is just as professional, just as effective and any film that specifically aims to enlighten, whether Christian or secular is great to work on as I think everyone involved is just a bit more passionate about the whole affair. They’re invested in making a film that will perhaps make a positive difference to people’s understanding and ultimately their lives. I wish more film makers did it, and I think it is a responsibility that absolutely comes with the territory. Too many films with specious moral values and vacuous content are relentlessly marketed to the public en-mass. It’s an addiction that is engineered and fed by people who put money as a priority over fulfillment. I think folks are starting to be more selective about what they watch and that can only be good news for Christian film-makers or any film-makers producing thought provoking, educating yet still entertaining material.
Any upcoming projects?
I’ve got quite a bit going on, so much so that I recently started my own production company. I’m adapting a film for the stage the result of which I will also direct, I’m writing two feature-length scripts and I’m about to screen my film-directing debut “Everybody Knows My Name” which exposes the human cost of fame and fortune… oh, and I’m producing a cooking show featuring my wife, Annabel Wright. I’ll also be back in San Francisco later this year shooting with Nic Saunders as our epic journey through American counter-culture continues.
Good luck to ‘Crossroad’ at the Attic Film Festival this weekend!