In Love with Shakespeare

Photography by Ram Shergill

Fashion Direction by Margherita Gardella

Styling by Claudia Behnke

Set Design by Daen Palma Huse using Daler Rowney

Hair (on Oliver Smiles) by Stephen Lowe at ELSL Management

Grooming (on Oliver Smiles) by Debbie Finnegan at ELSL Management

Models Dovydas Kreivys / Oliver Smiles

Text extract from The Protagonist Magazine Issue 2 written by Miles Twist

Oliver wearing hat by Monique Lee, coat by Burberry, brooch and suit by Daks, tie by The Royal Shakespeare Company, ring by Lalique, shoes by Manolo Blahnik

Oliver wearing hat by Monique Lee, coat by Burberry, brooch and suit by Daks, tie by The Royal Shakespeare Company, ring by Lalique, shoes by Manolo Blahnik

"It‘s a wet and drizzly day, yet here at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, I’m surrounded by bright and vivacious costumes. If you were to ask anyone in the UK where the best stage performances are, they would probably say either London or Stratford-upon-Avon, the latter being the birthplace of England’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare. The Company can trace its roots back to a brewer named Charles Flower, who set up the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in 1879. This beginning might sound rather insignificant and “rube-esque”, however it is a testament to the skills of those in the Company that it is now regarded as one of the most renowned, accomplished and admired theatre companies in the world. The Royal Shakespeare Company has been home to an array of revered British actors, such as Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Maggie Smith and Benedict Cumberbatch,to name but a few.

Diverse, sparkling and superbly executed performances of Shakespeare are put on every year, for example King Lear in late 2016, directed by Gregory Doran and starring Antony Sher. The key to their success, according to Head of Costume, Alistair McArthur, is the combination of “a high calibre of production, being based in Stratford, and a collaboration of skills.” Collaboration and community are the key adjectives one might ascribe to the company whilst walking around the RSC, particularly to the costume workshop department. It is comprised of four sections: men’s, women’s, jewels and hats, props and armour, all of which come together to create costume masterpieces for the stage."

 

For this shoot, we explored the costumes of The Royal Shakespeare Company that range from Tudor costumes to Victorian wardrobe to fantasy. In our latest print issue you can read an insightful article about the background behind the production and keeping of the costumes and the people that are involved with it in Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as delve into the world of clothing with many more images.

 

For more information please visit www.rsc.org.uk and www.rsc.org.uk/costume-hire

Special thanks to Froo Gager, Costume Store Manager, and the press team at The Royal Shakespeare Company, who made this collaboration possible.

 

Dovydas wearing leather armour by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Dovydas wearing leather armour by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Hat, shirt and jacket by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Hat, shirt and jacket by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Hat Philip Treacy, jacket vintage remade by Jenny Schwarz, shirt by Dsquared, trousers by Child of the Jago, silver bracelets and ring by Phyrra, green crystal ring by Lalique

Hat Philip Treacy, jacket vintage remade by Jenny Schwarz, shirt by Dsquared, trousers by Child of the Jago, silver bracelets and ring by Phyrra, green crystal ring by Lalique

Pearl earring by Bentley & Skinner, all clothes by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Pearl earring by Bentley & Skinner, all clothes by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Tudor leather top and ruff by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Tudor leather top and ruff by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Shirt and jacket by The Royal Shakespeare Company, feather sequin cape by AJSK

Shirt and jacket by The Royal Shakespeare Company, feather sequin cape by AJSK

Jacket by Antonio Marras, shirt and trousers by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Jacket by Antonio Marras, shirt and trousers by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Coat by Dolce & Gabbana, armour piece by Jenny Schwarz

Coat by Dolce & Gabbana, armour piece by Jenny Schwarz

THE JAZZ AGE IS NOW – Aubrey Logan in London

Written by Daen Palma Huse

Photography by Ram Shergill

Aubrey Logan, originally from Seattle and now based in L.A., describes herself as funny, serious and driven all at once. And who would not agree with her after listening to her voice, watching her playing the trombone, giggling at her jokes and tapping their feat to the rhythm she creates!

Aubrey has performed for the second time at Club 606 in London this week – she says she is only just getting into it. Opening with the classic “Fascinating Rhythm” she had the audience captured immediately, only to then surprise with a couple of verses of “She Works Hard For The Money”. Who would have expected a mix of songs from the rhythm and blues standard “Route 66” to a reinterpretation of Meghan Trainors “Your Lips are Moving”?

Aubrey has won the Montreux Jazz Festival Vocal Competition, toured as a featured artist with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox and is working tirelessly between L.A. and wherever her music takes her – she says that what she enjoys most is the universality of music, how people from all over the world can come together and create music in an instant. “I love experimenting with arrangements and I love to improvise.”

New arrangements as well as her own songs are part of the show that she has in store – her upbeat song “Crying on the Airplane” as well as some of the most beautiful new “tearjerkers of jazz” are part of a new album that Aubrey will release soon and that she shared with us.

For the evening at 606, Aubrey was also joined on stage by James Tormé for a beautiful rendition of “Falling Leaves”. She only met James a couple of days before the performance and explains about playing with other musicians or singers together “if they know how to go off the cuff that’s the most exciting!”

The way in which her creativity speaks through her music is obvious. She is one of the few artists very successfully mixing jazz with influences of many other music styles such as pop, rap, R&B – she says when she is listening to the radio, even to a Tailor Swift song, she is asking herself “how would Ella Fitzgerald have sung it?”

Asked about whether Aubrey thinks that jazz “needed” to change in order to stay contemporary she says: “I don’t think anything needs to do anything. I think it’s whatever the artist likes most. I think it’s really difficult to be anything but yourself … If you just wanted to play Dixieland, play Dixieland! If you just wanted to play funk, play funk! I personally would get bored, so it’s not what I do”.

From a very early age Aubrey was immersed into the world of music. “My parents were both music teachers and they would play music in and out of the house. I heard everything from Beethoven to Stevie Wonder on the same day, as a rule! I would copy Stevie Wonder, I’d copy Celine Dion and try and sound like them as a little kid.” She tells me that when she was six years old her mother found her in bed crying. It turned out she was tormenting herself with thoughts about how to get a bass player… a drummer? “I didn’t know how it worked. …because I was six!”. Starting with musical theatre, she began to play trombone at the age of twelve. She explains that as a result of playing jazz she started to sing jazz.

Today, Aubrey jokes about her cat that is named Frank – after Frank Sinatra, of course – before she prepares to go on stage to strike us as an extremely talented vocal artist. We are very glad she did in fact find a base player, a pianist and a drummer – as well as some wonderful backing singers, that turned the evening into a night of music from the heart, from Aubrey’s heart.

We at The Protagonist Magazine look forward to hearing - and seeing - what Aubrey has in store for her upcoming album!

For more information visit www.aubreylogan.com

Postproduction by Ingrid Reigstad

Faye Marsay

Photography by Ram Shergill

Styling by Claudia Behnke

Make Up Hugo Gamboa using Urban Decay

Hair Kristopher Smith using Bumble & Bumble

Faye wears white notched collar shirt and black popped collar jacket by Apu Jan

Faye wears white notched collar shirt and black popped collar jacket by Apu Jan

Faye recently starred in the BBC production Love, Nina alongside Helena Bonham Carter. Her performance has been well received. A rising talent of British acting, Faye is recognised internationally for her roles in Pride and Games of Thrones. We talked to her about her career and what she takes from the characters she plays. Faye seems to have played a number of characters that do not "fit into" society in a conventional way, which makes it interesting to hear what she thinks about prejudice, the struggle for acceptance and the importance of a global solidarity.

What has your best experience been while being an actress?

There really have been so many. The fact that I even get to do this job for a living is, in itself, the best experience. The people I meet and the people I get to pretend to be are amazing. I am incredibly grateful each time someone gives me a job!

How did you get into acting?

I saw a pantomime at age 6 and thought to myself 'that looks awesome'. I did amateur dramatics from around age 13 and then went on to University and then to Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and it went from there.

After going through historical plots in The White Queen and Pride, do you think Game of Thrones indirectly reflect some episodes of the history of the U.K. or can in other ways be connected to the “real” world?

I think what is important and successful about these shows is that they present human beings in a way that people can identify with regardless of when or where they are set. People watch these shows to escape, connect or to see real or imagined versions of themselves. I think that’s what appeals to audiences.

Have you met the Dutch star Carice van Houten on set of Game of Thrones before?

No I haven't but I wish I had! You stay with your own story line cast whilst filming and the other story lines could be shooting in very different locations so I rarely saw many of the other cast members whilst filming.

You recently starred in the TV Series My Mad Fat Diary telling the journey of Rae, an overweight teenager suffering from mental health. What is your opinion on body image?

The pressure is real and the media and advertising only perpetuate the problem. I wish there were no comparisons or definitions out there but there is and that is something that needs to change for the sake of human beings and their mental health.  It should be more about feeling good.

Faye wears skirt and skirt by Lee Patron, bow tie vintage

Faye wears skirt and skirt by Lee Patron, bow tie vintage

What kind of message does My Mad Fat Diary deliver to its young audience in your opinion?

That it’s okay to not be okay. That there is no 'right' way to be or think. That you can ask for help, that you are worthy of compassion and kindest, as is everyone who walks this earth. I think that show is an incredibly important piece of work. It addresses the realities that young and vulnerable people face…it does that with such charm, class and respect. It's real.

With regards to Pride, which was released outside the U.K, how is this film, set in 1984, relevant to today’s society?

Despite huge attitude shifts towards the LGBT community in our society, there are still places on this planet facing the same struggles highlighted in the film and much worse. Wherever there is hatred and ignorance, there will always be struggle, no matter what group of people it is aimed at. I think Pride shows solidarity and togetherness in the fight against prejudice. To me, I think we need a global solidarity to stop all this hatred and fear.

In Pride you worked alongside British actors of your generation, such as George MacKay, but also greats such as Imelda Staunton. How was the atmosphere? Did you connect with some of them until after the film shoot?

They are gracious, kind and hilarious human beings and yes I still stay in touch with many members of the cast. What we had was a very special group of people that believed in the importance of the film and that made for an amazing atmosphere on set.

Faye wears black jacket by Paola Balzano, white Oxford collar shirt by Lee Paton, black ribbon tie stylist's own

Faye wears black jacket by Paola Balzano, white Oxford collar shirt by Lee Paton, black ribbon tie stylist's own

Very recently you starred in Love, Nina – what is it about if you had to sum up in three sentences?

Young lady moves from Leicester to London to have an adventure. She ends up being a nanny for a charming and bonkers family who treat her like one of their own. She's incredibly crap at being the nanny but they persevere with her anyway!

You play Nina, can you tell me a bit about your character?

She is 20 and has grown up in Leicester. Working in a care home with no qualifications she decides to move to London. She is quirky and awkward and has this incredible spirit and optimism. She's not the best nanny in the world but she gives it all she has got. She can be argumentative and a bit of a crap liar, but she has a heart of gold and tries her hardest at everything. She was so much fun to play.

Is it a ‘culture shock’ that your character undergoes after moving to London?

Yes it is. Not one that scares her though. She embraces it and writes letters back home to her sister explaining in great and hilarious detail all the little differences.

You are not from London yourself? How did you initially adapt moving here?

I found it difficult for the first year I was here to be honest. The pace and the sheer volume of people took some getting used to. It is an amazing city though and I love how there is always something to do or see here.

How was it to play alongside Helena Bonham Carter?

Incredible. She is an incredibly special human being with a gift of making you feel comfortable and accepted straight away. She looked out for me and I still hang out with her now when we get the chance. Being in a scene with her is like a master class and I am so lucky I got to be a part of it.

We noticed that many of your experiences in cinema relate to the U.K., are you very attached to your British roots?

I think that that is just the way it has gone for me and I’m not complaining! We have a wonderful industry here doing some awesome things. I would of course never say no to going further afield if I was lucky enough to get the opportunity.

Faye wears whit tunic shirt with lace-up detailing by Shao Yen, ribbed black long waistcoad by James Lakeland, black high waist wide leg trousers by Rawan B, hat by Monique Lee Millinery

Faye wears whit tunic shirt with lace-up detailing by Shao Yen, ribbed black long waistcoad by James Lakeland, black high waist wide leg trousers by Rawan B, hat by Monique Lee Millinery

You seem fond of Teesside, what makes it so special?

Its home. Its where my family is and my oldest friends. The people there are hard-working, lovely and good humoured. The area has had a lot to deal with recently and yet it still powers on. I love it and miss it all the time.

We observed that you have embodied lots of characters in their teen years. Do you enjoy travelling back to this moment in a character’s life?

Its awesome! I get to be different versions of my teenage self!

What’s next for you?

Game of Thrones season 6 is about to air so I’m looking forward to that.  I will be shooting something soon but I’m afraid I can’t say what yet! Things are happening though and in this industry that is a feeling you must hold on to and enjoy because you never know when it might just stop.

Faye wears white notched collar shirt and black popped collar jacket by Apu Jan, black slim fit trousers by WtR

Faye wears white notched collar shirt and black popped collar jacket by Apu Jan, black slim fit trousers by WtR

 

Rosie Day

Inteview by Jeanne Rideau

Photography by Ram Shergill

Styling by Claudia Behnke

Make Up by Hugo Gamboa using Urban Decay

Hair by Kristopher Smith using Bumble & Bumble

Rosie wears white sleeveless ruffle blouse by James Lakeland, black draped waistcoat by Paola Balzano, felt top hat by Monique Lee Millinery

Rosie wears white sleeveless ruffle blouse by James Lakeland, black draped waistcoat by Paola Balzano, felt top hat by Monique Lee Millinery

 

What is it that excites you most about acting?

It’s brilliant - Just getting to step out of yourself and play is so very fun and rewarding and different. Just to not be yourself for a while is brilliant. TV/Theatre/Cinema elicit all kinds of emotions from the audience, and to make a stranger feel something I think is quite a magical thing.


Do you have a favourite film/character that reflects or reminds you of a part of your own personality or a special moment in your life?

I’ve always had a massive affinity with Carey Mulligan’s Jenny in An Education. Which is also one of my all-time favourite films. She’s a girl beyond her years, whose smart but still very naive and innocent trying to navigate an adult world, and realising that being grown up isn’t necessarily a good thing and definitely doesn’t make you a good person.

You started acting very young (at the age of 5), how did this affect your childhood and teen years?

It just meant I had a very different childhood to anyone else I knew. Instead of sleepovers it was filming, instead of after school clubs it was auditions. I was surrounded by adults instead of children, who all taught me so much, and I really just loved it.  As I got older I was bullied quite a bit but I didn’t mind too much as I was doing what I loved and got to escape school all the time!

 

Rosie wears white crop top by Basharatyan V, black and white collarless blouse by James Lakeland, black sheer flared trousers by Paola Balzano, Chelseahat by The Season Hats. 

Rosie wears white crop top by Basharatyan V, black and white collarless blouse by James Lakeland, black sheer flared trousers by Paola Balzano, Chelseahat by The Season Hats. 


Many personalities have started their career very early as you did, what is your opinion on new icons such as Miley Cyrus, Lily-Rose Depp or Willow Smith? 

I think it’s great. Girls showing everyone it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can be a successful, smart female.


You created a campaign on Twitter, using #thepowerofgirl. How would you describe your role in a movement for female empowerment? 

I’m a massive feminist and supporter of girls. It’s never been a harder time to be a girl. My generation is the first that’s grown up with social media, and whilst it can be empowering it can also be very damaging. #thepowerofgirl was to celebrate all the strong, amazing, tough, great things that girls and women do every day. I’m involved in lots of feminist projects, and until we can safely say that women are socially, politically and economically equal to our male counter parts, I’ll continue.  

Rosie wears black velvet shorts by Lee Paton, white sleeveless ruffle blouse by James Lakeland, black draped waistcoat by Paola Balzano, black felt top hat by Monique Lee Millinery

Rosie wears black velvet shorts by Lee Paton, white sleeveless ruffle blouse by James Lakeland, black draped waistcoat by Paola Balzano, black felt top hat by Monique Lee Millinery


You have acted both in films and TV Series. Do you think that people are sometimes more interested in watching TV Series instead of films? 

I think recently because of Netflix and all the online platforms, TV series have become stronger than ever. Series are escapism over a long period of time as you follow and invest in them. It’s so comforting to come home and watch your favourite show. But film is equally important, and as a massive advocate for cinema, I hope TV doesn’t over shadow it.

 

Might there be a revival in watching films at the cinema?

I really really hope so. The problem at the moment is it’s so expensive, especially in London. In the States, its genuinely a thing families do together every weekend, and it’s so much cheaper there. I’d like to see that come back.

 

Do you go to the cinema yourself often?

I try to go as much as I can. I don’t often go to mainstream cinemas and see blockbusters, I love watching independent cinema, I’m often found in the Curzon in Soho on a rainy afternoon! It’s so important to get out and see and support British films. To get a British film made, and in the cinema is so very hard these days - we all need to support them.

Rosie wears black ribbed pinafore by The Kayys, white cap sleeve sheer blouse by Paola Balzano, black velvet shorts by Lee Paton, red and black lace-up heels by Malone Souliers

Rosie wears black ribbed pinafore by The Kayys, white cap sleeve sheer blouse by Paola Balzano, black velvet shorts by Lee Paton, red and black lace-up heels by Malone Souliers


What makes a TV Series special for you? 

A great script and a story that needs to be told. I think we’re all looking to escape our lives occasionally, and TV is a great way of doing that.


You have also played in different genres: Romantic in Outlander, Horror in The Seasoning House/Howl, Comedy in All Roads Lead to Rome...  What genre of movie evokes the strongest feelings in you if any? Why?

I genuinely love them all. Horror is fun to make and I love getting scared watching them! I love a thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but I was raised on Richard Curtis films like Notting Hill, so I just love a rom-com. I hope I get to do all genres as I continue! I love making films.

Outlander series 2 is set in the 18th Century. Would you have enjoyed living at the time? If not, is there any historical time you would have loved to live in? 

As a girl, no way, I’d be married by now and probably dead by giving birth to my 8th child! There was no respect for women at all in that period of time. I love the fashion of the 50’s/60’s but I’m very happy in 2016.


What is your opinion on social media? You seem to use Instagram in a rather private way. Do you prefer to avoid a total exposure of your private life on social media? 

I think it’s a very useful, interesting, fun tool, in small amounts. But it can very easily take over your life. And it can be damaging. People only ever put their highlight reel on social media, never their rehearsals! Instagram is my favourite, as I love photos and looking at dancing and amazing food and cute babies, but mines private as I post about my life on there. And I’m still in the phase of posting angsty emotional quotes when I get sad- so it’s probably best for all if it stays that way.


You have acted in many films, do you have any fun anecdotes/trivia to share with our readers?  

Giant fluffy warm coats, sausage and hash brown sandwiches are the best perks of the job. And everyone always has after lunch naps. Being an actor is like being in nursery!

Rosie wears black velvet shorts by Lee Paton, white sleeveless ruffle blouse by James Lakeland, black draped waistcoat by Paola Balzano, black felt top hat by Monique Lee Millinery

Rosie wears black velvet shorts by Lee Paton, white sleeveless ruffle blouse by James Lakeland, black draped waistcoat by Paola Balzano, black felt top hat by Monique Lee Millinery

 

What are your plans/objectives that you would like to reach in the future? 

Just to play lots of different kinds of characters, in really good TV series or films or plays. I really adore my job, I love working. And I think I’m at my best when I’m working.  I’d love to work in America for a little bit. I also want to continue working with charities, and for feminist causes. Thinking far ahead in the future I’d like a little flat somewhere like Notting Hill, where I could have my friends round and have dinner parties, and afternoon tea. And a little baby eventually!

You mainly live in London, which areas of this city do you prefer the most? Would you like to live somewhere else? Is there any place in the world you would dream of visiting? 

I’m totally a street child of Soho, I’ve been hanging out around there since I was tiny, but recently started going more east, which is quite quirky and fun if you can handle the hipsters! I’m found anywhere that has great cake! I’d love to live in New York, I think it’s the only other place I could permanently live, as I’m such a patriotic Brit. A romantic weekend in Amsterdam is top of my list of places to visit at the moment. I just need to find the romance first!

 

Do you have any favourite personality who you would like to meet? 

I’ve been very lucky to actually meet two of my favourite people: Taylor Swift and Caitlin Moran. But I have so many pictures of people stuck on my bedroom wall that are on my list.  I think every young girl wants to be best friends with Jennifer Lawrence, myself included. But actresses like Carey Mulligan, Kate Winslet, Emma stone, Emma Thompson and Julie Walters; I think I’d die if I met them! 

Rosie Day

 

OUTLANDER Season 2 is available on Amazon Prime.

All images are shot on Leica Camera systems.



Joshua Hill

Photography by Ram Shergill

Fashion Direction by Margherita Gardella

Styling by Moritz Lindert

Grooming by Natasha Lakic

Written by Miles Twist

Joshua wears jacket and waistcoat by Sean Christopher, shirt by Theory

Joshua wears jacket and waistcoat by Sean Christopher, shirt by Theory

Joshua Hill is the new ‘kid on the block’, yet his maturity, skill and depth of acting knowledge is not correlative to this fresh status. As we chat with him, his East End accent is both charming and gravelly; the depth behind his character, both on and off screen and stage, becoming immediately apparent. His teacher once taught him that “You should be able to do any play with just a chair and a table.” This simplicity and dedication to character is apparent. Hill graduated from Drama Centre in 2013, immediately landing into the role of Carl in Yann Demange's feature film 71. He then went onto to performance as Ray, one of the co-founding members of LGSM in Pride, appearing with Bill Nighy and Andrew Scott. His latest role has been as Constable Scott in Brian Helgeland's Legend, a biopic about the Kray Twins starring Tom Hardy2 and Christopher Eccleston. We spoke to the man who’s gone from Paul Daniels magic kit to working with some of the greats in acting about approaching the role, the differences between theatre and film and his method-like dedication.

 

How do you find the transition between shooting for a film, the interim and then the promotion for the films that you’ve done?

I suppose the interim gives a chance to settle and think about all that you’ve done. There’s that excitement factor when you’re doing it, but afterwards it’s just as cool to talk about something, particularly if you’ve been passionate about it. It keeps on reverberating inside you.

 

What do you do personally when approaching a role?

I suppose it really depends on the role and how similar the role is to you. I try and find similarities in a character to myself and then find what’s different. A lot of the time the jobs that you’re going to get are ones that you are similar to, simply because there’s always someone who will walk in the room that is that role - I’m always going to fit East London boy or scallywag more than 19th Century Aristocracy - those are just the roles that I fit into easily.

 

Preparing for a role depends on what it is and how much you already know about the role. With Legend, I did a lot research into the police and into the Kray Twins and the context at the time. For Pride, we actually got members of LGSM to come in and talk to us and go through everything that young gay men and women were going through at the time. We had so much information from that week of preparation before we even started. Even in simple scenes such as a pub, we had all the research at our fingertips and in our minds such as “when we walk out of here, we may get beaten up”.

 

Do you find that this research can overwhelm and distract you from the role?

Definitely, you have to make sure you can focus on what you’re doing in the scene rather than the research. Character foundations and research are strength. All this research sinks in and then it’s there - it’s like going to the gym and you build up strength. You then don’t need to worry about that strength, it’s just there. It’s the same principle with the research for a character.

 

Joshua wears suit by John Varvatos, shirt by Theory

Joshua wears suit by John Varvatos, shirt by Theory

What sort of role do you feel you’ve been furthest from compared to your own character?

The most recent role I did was a stage production where I was playing a Northern Irish UVF militant and everything for that was different: accent, walk, life. The only similarity was that we were working class. He was a solid hitman and didn’t waiver with any emotions - this role was a lot to deal with, particularly when it came to getting the Northern Irish accent down which was very difficult. Now, no matter what accent I’m meant to be doing, I slip back into a Northern Irish accent.

 

I tried to replicate how uptight my character was. You could be shot, you could be bombed in his world at any minute, it was really dangerous. There was one show where everything went wrong and afterwards we thought it was the worst show we’ve ever done. The director came up to us and said, “That was the best show you’ve ever done.” He said that the fact that things went unplanned put everyone on edge and made the whole play tense and on point.

 

Joshua wears velvet tuxedo by Sean Christopher

Joshua wears velvet tuxedo by Sean Christopher

What are your thoughts on the differences between theatre and film and the role of the audience in those two mediums?

I love film but watching and being in a film are two completely different experiences - when you’re watching, it’s an amazing experience but when you’re in a film there’s a lot of waiting around. When you’re doing theatre, you get the sound of the audience and this is something that’s grown on me more as I’ve gotten older. When I was younger, I always believed you had to be quiet in the theatre, however now I enjoy it when there’s a gasp from the audience or some reaction.


I performed a play which included a lot of dialogue with the audience and at the start this girl comes onto stage and says “Hello”. The usual British reaction was silence, however one night we had three elderly ladies at the front who said “Hello!” back! It was such a good moment, suddenly we have people who are interacting and talking. It can be magical. I saw Mark Ryan’s perform Richard III and he was interacting with the audience - people loved it. I don’t think many actors can get away with it, but when they do, the audience enjoy and crave it.


I prefer people to go to the theatre because they want to go to the theatre and allow themselves to react to the performance onstage, be it a gasp, a shout, an exclamation rather than going to the theatre just so you can tell people you’ve been to the theatre. I remember there was a performance piece with a woman - I can’t remember her name - and she allowed audience members to interact with her for thirty seconds with a chosen object. At first they were tickling her and touching her but after a while people picked up say a gun or a knife off the table and started prodding her or pointing the gun in her direction, so much so she started crying. For me, this was shocking to watch but it’s an interesting array of reactions.


Do you enjoy taking up comedy roles?

I find it enjoyable to analyse where the comedy comes from but I prefer to do a mixture of comedy and dark roles, a sort of ying and yang. The mixture of them keeps me sane. I believe a lot of comedy comes from a dark side rather than actually trying to be funny.


How did you get into acting?

It was gradual: I used to want be a magician as a young child, I enjoyed the performance side and had a Paul Daniels magician kit. I remember I did some theatre at school such as Elvis in Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat - I don’t know why Elvis was in this play, but I was. I ended up going to Drama Centre. It was layered: you start finding different aspects to characterisation and then you become really involved in it and then it’s just a drive to play the guy, it’s addictive. You read a line and you think, “I can’t wait to say that, to do that.”


Is there a particular person you’d like to work with?

This is funny, you have these ideas about people and then when you meet them, all these assumptions can be changed. Sometimes that can be good or sometimes it can be bad. There are a lot of great actors out there but if I had to pick one, it would be Ed Harris - I think he’s great!

Joshua wears leather jacket and scarf by John Varvatos, denim by Tommy Hilfiger

Joshua wears leather jacket and scarf by John Varvatos, denim by Tommy Hilfiger

Ben Forster: Provoking an Emotion

Written by Moritz Lindert

Photography by Ram Shergill

Make-Up by Sara Sorrenti

Ben wearing turtle neck and coat by Tommy Hilfiger

Ben wearing turtle neck and coat by Tommy Hilfiger

When the curtain rises at the Dominion Theatre this winter season, Ben Forster will change the crown of thorns for a knitted hat in red and green. The West End performer, who so famously won Andrew Lloyd Webber's TV search for Jesus Christ Superstar in 2012, now took on the lead role of Buddy in the highly anticipated West End production of Elf The Musical. After premiering the role to a UK audience in Dublin last year, Forster is now ready to lead the improved show to the London stage and save Christmas again, just as US-comedian Will Ferrell did in the successful 2003 original movie Buddy the Elf. But even without the famous adult elf or the biblical role of Jesus to his records, Ben Forster would still be the man to climb mountains in musical theatre. Having also played Doody in Grease, Michael Jackson in Thriller Live!, Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Magaldi in Evita, the 34 year old's theatre credits read like every actors bucket list - and ticking off another goal, as he will take over the iconic title role of West End's The Phantom of the Opera in February 2016.


For The Protagonist Magazine, Editor in Chief Ram Shergill captures Ben Forster off stage. Out of costume and without the adorable curly Elf's wig, just as the thoughtful and confident performer he is when the curtain goes down again – talking about the early stages of his career, the struggles along the way and that lasting thrill he finds in provoking an emotion.



Ben, you are in the middle of preparations for the opening night of Elf The Musical. Please tell me more about your role Buddy.


I play Buddy, the Elf, which, as most people now, is the Will Ferrell role from the original movie. He is this crazy, big-kid, innocent person who has been growing up with elves since he is a baby. Now that he is 30 years old, he suddenly finds out that he is a human being and has to find his real dad in New York. So Santa puts him on an iceberg and floats him to New York. The Musical is following this journey of him learning all the different things about life. Finding love and sadness and all the things humans experience.


It sounds like a real family entertainment, wouldn't you say?


Most definitely yes! But it's not just a show for kids. Everybody loved the movie Elf. It crosses over so many boundaries, there are a lot of adult jokes in there. And it has a proper Christmas spirit, a really nice heart. It makes you laugh in all the right places but the message and the moral of the story really touches peoples’ emotions.


Speaking of right places - How did you find your way into performing?


When I was five or six years old, my sister used to go to dance class every Saturday. And I was sort of dragged along to watch every week. I even remember taking a dance lesson myself and feeling so stupid because I was the only boy. I felt so mortified with all those little girls in their frilly dresses and me tapping my feet along. It all felt so wrong.


How did you overcome that?


My parents joined the Amateur Operatic Society, where non-professionals put on a show. I ended up doing that with them and when I went to Comprehensive School I had a very nice music teacher who recognised a little bit of talent in me. She guided and advised me and pushed me into the National Youth Music Theatre, which was an amazing thing for me. Suddenly there were all these young people, boys and girls, that wanted to do what I wanted to do. That was something completely new to me. Where I grew up in Sunderland in the nineties it was really 'Billy Elliot' land – there was no show business or any kind of performing arts, especially not for men. You would work as a mechanic, or a builder or in the ship yards, but when I got into the National Youth Music Theatre there were all these people telling me about London, stage schools and performing arts colleges. I just knew that this is what I need to do.

 

And you certainly did - you went on to study at Italia Conti Academy in London and made your West End debut at only 18. But you also worked as a solo artist?


Yes, after having done various shows like Grease and The Beatles Musical, I had a real thrive to be a singer-songwriter. I left my West End career to explore this for about two or three years. But at some point it went wrong. It just never happened for me. So I ended up singing in pubs with my guitarist. I have to say, besides singing in the 02 Arena and all these amazing places or being the lead in a show, there is still something very satisfying about singing over an acoustic guitar with no one listening to you. To turn a pub full of busy, chatting people who didn't buy a ticket to see you, to make them listen and sing along, that was one of my favourite things. It still would be.


But you eventually found your way back onto the stage.


I kind of gigged for about two or three years and then somehow found myself back in the West End where I did Thriller Live!. That was an audition, which I turned down again and again because I never thought I sounded like Michael Jackson or could be him in the West End. I didn't really get the concept of the show. But finally I went to audition and ended up in the original cast, which got me back to the West End. And I stayed with Thriller until I auditioned for Jesus Christ Superstar.


In February 2016 you will take on another widely known role as The Phantom of the Opera. How do you feel about moving from Buddy to Phantom?


Nervous, because it is so very iconic. Phantom of the Opera was my first ever West End show. I remember seeing it when I was ten years old and it was just magical. Jesus was iconic as well, but there is a different sort of pressure and expectation to every role. With Jesus you obviously take on something huge, with Buddy you are facing the comparison with the hilarious Will Ferrell. And it is something completely different for me as an actor. It is being funny, being a comedian. But Michael Crawford, the original Phantom of the Opera previously played the sitcom character Frank Spencer, who was actually quite like Buddy. So I know that he did it, I know that he was capable of switching from the comedian to this very dramatic role. Hopefully I can somehow do the same.


Which of those role-types do you prefer? The dramatic, broken soul of the Phantom or the joyful innocence of Buddy the Elf?


Being an actor and taking on a role is about provoking an emotion. Whether you hear 2.000 people laughing at you or you hear 24.000 people in the 02 arena sobbing in the end when Jesus dies. When you feel you created that magic, that people believe enough to laugh over a line that you have said nine times that week or to cry over a scene you have played over and over – That is what I do it for. I don't prefer one or the other. It is so equally brilliant that I get to make people laugh or cry or live in magic. It is amazing that theatre can do this, provoking emotion.

 

Do you like being the front and centre of a show?


I think that is what we all want. You put yourself through all that training, I started performing when I was five and never ever stopped since. And there is nothing more pleasing than being front and centre of it. That is what it is all about. It is the idea of fronting something. Knowing that you are doing the best job you could do for this production. No matter how much money people spent on their tickets, or however far they have travelled to see the show, you just can not have a half-hearted performance. You need to put everything into it. But it is very healthy, healthy for life.


It sounds quite demanding as well!


It is stressful and really busy but it is not work. Of course we as performers have to do rehearsals and previews and opening night, we have to be at a certain place at a certain time, but still it isn't work. I have never worked a day in my life. When I couldn't pay my rent back in the days as a twenty-year-old, I went to earn my money singing in a pub, but that's not work. Yes I use my body and it might be tiring sometimes. But I love it, it's my passion.


What would you like to tell your previous self, that young boy struggling in dance class?


Never be self-conscious, just be yourself! I didn't become successful until I found out who I was and was able to use my body in a free, open way. Even until I was twenty-two I didn't really know what to do with my arms. I felt wooden and self-conscious. Learn who you are use your body and be free. It doesn't matter if you look ugly or sexy.

And what would I tell the guy singing in the pub? Maybe just: Keep believing that it is going to happen. It will, if you work for it!


How did these experiences shape you as an artist?


They we're extremely important to get where I am today. Just by singing in a pub, not having any responsibilities, I was able to experience some of the best nights of my life. And still, when I could not pay my rent it made me fight even more for what I wanted. Everything builds you and gives you heart and passion. And the roles that I have been able to play all need that. Buddy the Elf has so much real heart and warmth and you just have to love him. The person playing Buddy has to know about those things, about life. You can't just be the funny guy. It has to come from a real place.



Elf The Musical is showing at The Dominion Theatre in London.

Cynthia Erivo Debuts on Broadway

Written by Antoinette Alba

Photography by Ram Shergill

Make-Up by Natasha Lakic using NARS

Dress by Marcin Lobacz

Cynthia Erivo is one of the world’s rising stars. Coming from London she makes her Broadway debut this December in The Color Purple alongside Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks. Having previously played the touching role of Celie in The Color Purple at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London under the direction of John Doyle, the show and Erivo’s performance in particular had British audiences captured and moved.

 

The first time we heard her singing we were captivated by the emotion that Erivo emanates in her voice. A true powerhouse, Erivo has enjoyed a training at one of London’s most prestigious institutions, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Singing from an early age, she has so far starred in numerous plays in London showing both of her talents – from Shakespeare on stage to moving a grand audience at the O2 Arena.

 

Erivo approaches The Color Purple as another extremely important story to share.

“It’s a story of a woman who doesn’t realise she’s in a place that she shouldn’t be and going through things that no human should ever go through but accepting them as normal and then watching her learn that that’s not the way anyone should live; she learns to build herself up and learns to love again. Being able to tell this story is very special and it’s a huge responsibility because you don’t want to make it trivial, you don’t want to stand on the outside. You need to be on the inside of that story so you can tell it truthfully.”

 

In Erivo’s eyes, you never know who is going to be out in that crowd, who’s going to truly be listening and who needs to hear this timeless story. It’s an ode to women, to relationships, and most importantly to the courage to let God lead and to fall in love with yourself. In an interview for Playbill, she talks about the film and Whoopi Goldberg’s performance as powerful. “I think that her performance was incredible, and I just wanted to make sure that when I did it, it was both honourable to what she has done and honourable to myself as an actor and to the piece that we were creating."

 

The added element of working with Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks, who play Shug Avery and Sofia, make it all the more exciting! Erivo describes the trio as a not just a team but as teachers to each other.

 

“I’ve sort of come from the opposite direction. So, they’re coming at it from music, fame, TV and film and I’m coming in from the other end which is right onstage–in front of people, eight times a week theatre. When we met we realised we all had something to teach each other.” The chemistry between Erivo and Hudson who play best friends in The Color Purple is truly something amazing to see as they vocalised some of the songs for the show in the recording studio. Their voices intertwine with one another as they harmonise in notes that break your heart and move your soul.

 

The performance of “My Funny Valentine” by Cynthia Erivo that we present to you here is soft, touching and smooth, but Erivo has many facets and a powerful voice - and is certainly a force to reckon with on international level, not only in 2016 but far beyond.

 

 

Read a full feature on Cynthia Erivo in the upcoming hardback print edition of The Protagonist Magazine early next year.

 

Mathew Baynton on Good and Bad Comedy

Interview by Daen Palma Huse, Written by Moritz Lindert

Photography by Ram Shergill

Fashion Direction by Margherita Gardella

Styling by Moritz Lindert

Grooming by Natasha Lakic using Sisley

Mathew wears suit by Tommy Hilfiger, shirt and bow tie by Brooks Brothers, socks by Burlington and shoes by Caterina Belluardo

Mathew wears suit by Tommy Hilfiger, shirt and bow tie by Brooks Brothers, socks by Burlington and shoes by Caterina Belluardo

Mathew Baynton does it all. Not only is the 35-year-old actor from Southend-on-Sea a regular lead on screen and stage and busy starring in the new comedy series You, Me and the Apocalypse - but he is also busy writing and creating some of Britain's most delightful TV sitcoms. With a drama degree and professional clownery training, the audiences’ laughs always seem on his side, all while being a father of two. The Protagonist Magazine talked to Mathew Baynton about his work and inspirations and why it is such an awful thing to try desperately making people laugh.

 

You have been working as an actor as well as a writer. For many of your projects you are joined by a regular team. How does that come about?

The whole team we have worked together for seven or eight years now and everything we do together is like homecoming or a school reunion. We always have a lot of fun and it is so easy to work because we know each other so well. We've done two TV shows together, Horrible Histories and Yonderland, which we are now about to do the third series for.

 

What is it that keeps you together?

It is great to work with people you know. At the beginning of this year I started working on a new series called You, Me and the Apocalypse. Going into that I didn't know any of the cast and had not worked with any of the directors, producers or involved head of departments before. From day one you have to be in and trust these very new relationships you have formed. It just made realise how lucky I have been for the last five years, working almost exclusively with people that I am friends with.

 

Are there any actors you would particularly like to work with?

I have already been lucky to work with some amazing people who I have been a fan of. In the last job I did, Alice Dasia Hill played my mother. She was in a production of Uncle Vanya that I saw when I was seventeen, the time I was still in school and thinking about what I would do after my A-levels. I saw a few things that year that blew my mind and made me realise I'd have to be involved in theatre somehow. One of them just happened to be Alice's performance in Uncle Vanya. And then I got to work with her.

Another one was Street of Crocodiles and I have now worked with Bronagh Gallagher from that show, as well as Clive Mendes. So in a sense I am collecting all of these people that inspire me.

 

Mathew wears tuxedo and trousers by John Varvatos, shirt by Tommy Hilfiger and hat and pocket square by Lock & Co.

Mathew wears tuxedo and trousers by John Varvatos, shirt by Tommy Hilfiger and hat and pocket square by Lock & Co.

You have done film, series, clownery and theatre – What has been your favourite project so far?

I actually miss doing theatre. The last play I did was last summer, so almost a year and a half ago. I want to do more of that. One of my favourite things was a play called Holes by Tom Basden. I think it is a masterpiece, I love that kind of material. Yet again, I feel I am so lucky, because most of the stuff I do I really love.

 

How do you choose the projects you take on?

I don't anymore have to do anything I don't like. That used to be harder. So it is a pretty good place to be in for me at the moment.

 

Do you feel less pressured in that way?

There is a new kind of pressure, when you get cast in lead roles. You have to demonstrate your taste in what you choose to do and you are a little bit more judged when you are front and centre. I feel I have to take a bit more care over what I do.

 

Did you always want to do comedy or just found yourself in it eventually?

It was an active choice. I was always obsessed with comedies on TV and I was always performing Monty Python sketches for my family, which, looking back, would have been really annoying. Then I started seeing a lot of great comedy in theatre and actually thought 'Oh I could perform that way myself'. That was a kind of penny drop when I realised that I had always been performing and making people laugh. It just never really came to as a profession to take. That was a little bit of a eureka moment really. I started doing comedy and now more and more I am being drawn to straighter stuff. But my backdrop is comedy. And I think I'd miss it if I wouldn't be doing it at all.

 

Mathew wears shirt by Theory, jacket by A Child of The Jago, trousers by John Varvatos, top hat by Lock & Co.

Mathew wears shirt by Theory, jacket by A Child of The Jago, trousers by John Varvatos, top hat by Lock & Co.

What is it that makes great comedy for you?

It is like meeting someone at a party. If they are desperately trying to make you laugh you actually laugh less.

When you are reading scripts you so often see writing in which there are contradictions in a character in order to ‘bang in’ a joke the writer liked. You can tell that you are working with a great writer if they are rigorous and willing to kill their favourite thing if it doesn't fit with the character and the world it is in. There is a certain confidence of not just peppering your material with jokes. It can be fine to have three pages without a gag if the audience can be engaged by the character and it’s story. Jokes are only put in where they are completely justified and funny. It is like meeting someone at a party. If they are desperately trying to make you laugh you are actually inclined to laugh less.

 

Do you feel you got more confident in identifying good or bad comedy writing?

Yes, kind of. That doesn't necessarily mean that I know how to do it. But I know it when I see it. When I started out I could only really say 'I like this one' and 'I like that one' but not really knowing why. And then over time you start to develop your awareness of what it is specifically that makes something you like or don't. Working on The Wrong Mans we wanted to make it a very true and authentic sense of humor, a comedy drama. Not just gags, but strong characters in funny situations.

 

Will we see you working as a writer yourself again soon?

Yes, I am writing a couple of new things. Obviously writing is such a long process. The things I am working on probably won't be seen by anyone for a little while. But I really missed it. I missed the process of creating something from nothing and seeing that all the way through. And I feel everytime I am writing a new thing, I learn how to write for the very first time. I take my own fears to this, which is actually a good sign. I wouldn't really trust it if it was easy. 

 

Mathew wears shirt by Theory, jacket by A Child of The Jago, trousers by John Varvatos, top hat by Lock & Co. and rings by Pyrrha  

Mathew wears shirt by Theory, jacket by A Child of The Jago, trousers by John Varvatos, top hat by Lock & Co. and rings by Pyrrha

 

See Mathew in You, Me And The Apocalypse showing now on Sky 1.

David Leon: Finding Faith in Between

Written by Moritz Lindert

Photography by Ram Shergill

Fashion Direction by Margherita Gardella

Styling by Moritz Lindert

Grooming by Sara Sorrenti

David wears a turtle neck, coat and jacket by Tommy Hilfiger.

David wears a turtle neck, coat and jacket by Tommy Hilfiger.

Whenever David Leon passes through the narrow residential streets of Stamford Hill these days, he might get reminded of his work. Right here on the edge of the vibrant and multicultural streets of Hackney and the quiet and timeless roads of London's biggest Jewish community is where the 35-year-old's feature film directing debut takes place. After screening a short film version of Orthodox in 2014, the feature length film now premiered in the UK at the Jewish Film Festival. Orthodox tells the story of a young man parting with his strict Jewish upbringing as he gets lost in the multicultural tribulations of North London. A story of faith, finding oneself and being stuck in between – things actor-turned-director Leon knows only too well of.

 

Without having a drama school education, Leon made his debut on the big screen in Oliver Stone's epic Alexander in 2004, a career start which he now describes as an “incredibly crazy experience”. After going on to play roles in RocknRolla and ITV's Vera, the young actor from Newcastle decided to change positions and started writing and directing his own short films. “I love to throw myself into something”, he explains whilst describing his intention to move behind the camera. “You'll never learn something new if you are not willing to go that extra mile”.

 

For his main character, Benjamin in Orthodox, this extra mile might as well lead along one of the many streets from Stamford Hill through to Hackney. Being bullied for his beliefs the young man takes up boxing and therefore finds himself alienated from his Jewish community. Benjamin, portrayed by leading actor Stephen Graham, is struggling to come to terms with his religious beliefs on the one hand and the cosmopolitan and worldly way of life in Hackney on the other. “It is a hectic and very contemporary 21st-century life in this area”, describes Leon who is a Hackney resident himself, only few yards away in the streets of Stamford Hill, time seems to stand still. “It's a collection of Jewish orthodox communities living like a 19th century Polish village. No television, no smartphones, a whole different universe within this metropolis that is London.”

 

As Benjamin is getting caught within this cultural conflict, eventually making wrong choices that seem to be right, David Leon takes extra time to explore and shape his main character. “As a filmmaker the character is the most important thing to me, even more important than story or plot. In the end it is the character that really stays with you”, says the young director while talking about his lead. “I am interested in characters that live on the fringes of communities or cultures, people who live the extreme” – an extreme that might be portrayed by the tough surroundings of Hackney's streets as well as the strict demands of religion. David Leon understands this importance of a character's depth due to his acting career, but also due to his research, a personal dialogue with rabbis and Jewish orthodox families.

 

For Benjamin, the question of facing extremes eventually becomes a question of faith itself. He is drawn to a place in between. “Orthodox communities dedicate their whole lives to religious learning. I want to find out what that means for individuals on a human level. Some may conform and some may rebel.” Still, Orthodox is not a film about the Jewish religion, but the general terms of faith. “I think people need faith. They need to believe in something that transcends their lives in some way.” Faith as a driving force that fuels both the rabbi and the boxer. And unlike his main character Benjamin, David Leon seems to have found his faith already. It lies behind the camera. 

 

David Leon was photographed at Leica Studio S in London.

Sam Keeley: The New Michelin Star

Interview by Daen Palma Huse

Photography by Ram Shergill

Fashion Direction by Margherita Gardella

Styling by Moritz Lindert

Grooming by Sara Sorrenti using MAC

Sam is wearing jacket by Issey Miyake Men

Sam is wearing jacket by Issey Miyake Men

Sam Keeley is starring opposite Bradley Cooper in the film Burnt that is out now.  Having grown up in Tullamore in the heart of Ireland – a place that is famous for Tullamore Dew whiskey – he has been filming all over the world and has an impressive amount of films being released this year and next. Besides Burnt he is playing a part in the film Alleycats, which is an action thriller, and has shown his versatility by switching genre, showing his many different sides.

After many great films like the Hundred Foot Journey with Helen Mirren or the outstanding German production Bella Martha (Mostly Martha in English) with Martina Gedeck and it’s less outstanding Hollywood remake No Reservations, Burnt let us hope for a great film that is however different to what we have seen so far. The trailer and Sam Keeleys’ description of his character David leaves us hungry for more and we are excited about this release. We got the chance to talk with Sam Keeley about his role in Burnt - and what it means to cook at Michelin Star level.

 

Can you describe the character David that you play in the film in one sentence?

David is a young ambitious chef who wants to make a name for himself in the Michelin star world and has been cooking since he could walk.

 

How would you describe your characters' relation to Adam Jones played by Bradley Cooper? David says Adam is like the Rolling Stones in cooking - is he a role model for him?

Adam hires David and the character says in the scene where they meet that he has studied Adam’s recipes and always been a hero of his. The opportunity to be able to work with someone that he admires is a huge thing for him. There is the need to prove himself in the kitchen – to be good enough to be there.

I think the relationship starts out quite tentative- Adam comes to stay with David as he doesn’t have a place to live. As it progresses it gets more and more comfortable being around the ‘chaos’ of this character.

 

Sam is wearing knitwear and jeans by Tommy Hilfiger

Sam is wearing knitwear and jeans by Tommy Hilfiger

The trailer seems very emotional - is there a lot of layering in the characters?

The story brings you along in a lovely way with the characters that draw you in and I think in that sense it is emotional. I think the characters are layered and you can delve into that as much as you like. Particularly Bradley's, mine and Sienna’s character are also shown in their private life so people can get familiar with them.

 

Is David a confident person?

I think anyone who is a young chef is confident. They couldn’t be in that profession if they weren’t – it’s a very high stress environment and its hard people shouting in your face, you have to get it right. They are in that kitchen because they believe and know they deserve to be there. David is definitely one of those people, being good at what he does - and he knows that. At certain points of the films the pressure does get to him though, you can see that.

 

Do you like cooking?

My dad cooks a lot, I've always liked cooking. For me cooking was peaceful and it would be a time to chill out and do nothing else. I had no idea about the level of commitment it took to be a Michelin Star chef. John Wells, our director, got myself and a few others to watch a full service for two weeks. We’d go in and out and watch. David’s specialty is knives and meat so I was butchering pigeons, preparing the meats and watching the chefs and every move, trying to remember what they do. We were allowed to view the controlled chaos!

 

Sam is wearing jumper by A Child of the Jago

Sam is wearing jumper by A Child of the Jago

Which dish reminds you of home?

I’d have to say it’s a classic Sunday roast! Always brings about a home feeling: an Irish roast.

 

Would you say there is typical Irish food?

I guess it’s a variation. I don’t think as Ireland we have a national dish. We don’t have a huge foodie culture. Because it was poor for so long it evolved around stews and a big medley of things.

 

What do you enjoy most: a technical challenge or getting a simple dish perfect?

I’ll always go simple in a good way. But the thing about the Michelin Star cooking is that it is food art. Different ingredients and very different to cooking a hearty meal at home, which is always amazing. Michelin is a world itself – cooking fish in seconds and having to prepare the sauce at the right moment in order to plate it. Once you plate food you have three minutes to eat it, otherwise you might as well through the whole dish away. To me that is something amazing, and on screen it looks like I can do it!

 

What do you take from the film?

I can chop things really fast now – safely! I can baste fish in butter quickly. Making a lot of sauces and tasting to get the balance right. I don’t know how much I will take of that into my private cooking but I have definitely learned a lot.

Sam is wearing jacket by Issey Miyake Men, shirt and bow tie by Tommy Hilfiger

Sam is wearing jacket by Issey Miyake Men, shirt and bow tie by Tommy Hilfiger

 

How is Burnt different to other films that show the kitchen and chefs?

I don’t think there has been a film that pays this much attention to the details of a life of a chef. There are many big personalities, celebrity chefs. I think it is nice to see what these people put in to be a chef. The hours and hard life they put in and for their art, they suffer for their art and through that they attain some level of invincibility. You'll see that in Adam Jones’ character; they suffer, are covered in burns, have little social life etc. but the result to that is they absolutely love it. To me the film Burnt gives a view through the keyhole and you get a taste of what this life actually is.

 

Hierarchy in the kitchen is predominant and important – is this hierarchy broken by David’s and Adam’s private relationship?

They call the group of chefs in a kitchen a brigade. Some of the best chefs came from the military and that hierarchy is similar. Today some of these traditions are carried through and that social hierarchy exists. You have the commanding officer and then his sous-chef who is second in command and it works all the way down the line to people chopping etc. who would be kind of privates if you like. Still the uniform hast to be intact, spotless clean, all these things. That exists throughout all kitchens I have seen. It was important for us to get that right and I think you made an interesting point in saying that Adam comes to live with David, but it is interesting to see how that doesn’t affect his characters choices and it shows how strong he actually is. I think it was important for us to know our roles in the kitchen – we did 15 minute long takes where we were just cooking. We have to prepare and bring the food – in order for that to work you need to understand who calls the shots, and in this case it is Adam that does and you have to work based on that. That’s what makes the food great.

 

Burnt is showing in cinemas throughout the UK from 6th of November.

 

Shot at Leica Studio S in London using the new Leica SL.

Lucy Boynton

Interview by Daen Palma Huse

Photography by Ram Shergill

Styling by My Name is Kabir

Hair by Hugo Gamboa using Fudge

Make Up by Michelle Webb using Bare Minerals

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Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by Laura Theiss, skirt by Catherine Ferguson

Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by Laura Theiss, skirt by Catherine Ferguson

Born in New York and grown up in London, Lucy Boynton has been acting professionally for many years. Scouted at the age of 12 for the role of young Beatrix Potter in Miss Potter she starred alongside Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor and was nominated for Best Supporting Young Actress in a Feature Film at the Young Artist Award. After a steep start in acting after her role in Miss Potter, Lucy has been seen in Sense & SensibilityBallet ShoesBorgia, landed her first female lead in Ron Maxwell’s Copperhead and is currently working on a horror film called February.

We photographed Lucy in London and she talked with us about her role as Angelica Bell, daughter of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant in the BBC three-part drama about the Bloomsbury Group, Life In Squares.

 

Did you enjoy the shoot for our magazine?

So much! I find it so easy to feel self conscious at photo shoots, I suddenly feel like I lose all control of my arms and face, but Ram creates such a fun, easy atmosphere and directed me whenever I needed it (which was 99% of the time) so very much enjoyed it.

 

How do you feel when getting hair and make-up done? Is it a tedious process to go through for you or do you enjoy it?

Oh lord no I love it. I’m so useless with my own hair and make up so there is nothing more satisfying than watching an expert transform me.

 

What era in style would you say is your favourite?

Since working on Life In Squares last September I have totally fallen in love with that effortlessly glamorous style of the 1930s and 40s. So I’ve since been living on this online shop 20th Century Foxy, which has the most beautiful pieces in the style of that period. I love the cut and the silhouette created by that style. Then again after filming that, I went straight into shooting a movie set in the 80s and became worryingly comfortable with bright blue eye shadow and enormous hair. Bring on the hairspray!

Lucy wears dress by A Child of the Jago, shoes by Chiara Ferragni

Lucy wears dress by A Child of the Jago, shoes by Chiara Ferragni

How important do you think it is nowadays for an actress to look good and in a way comply with the ideal of beauty? How do you feel you are perceived as opposed to your male counterparts? Do you think there is a difference?

I think the idea of having to conform to a prescribed idea of beauty is ridiculous. And so boring! Sadly it’s an easy trap to fall into, I am constantly guilty of this, especially with the constant presence and pressures of social media, where everyone is able to filter their lives and themselves to appear flawless 24/7. It’s not real and it normalizes the idea of constantly scrutinizing people. Everyone should be able to appreciate the things that make them unique, rather than what matches girls in magazines. Men don’t get judged and pulled apart in the same way. I’m sure as actors it still happens, but it is nowhere near as brutal.

 

You seem brilliant at transforming into a character on set and working with the direction - is that something you've always been very good at and is that how you became an actress? Did you always want to act? If not, what kind of career did you want to pursue before acting (obviously you were quite young then)?

Well, my original plan was to work at Battersea Dogs Home. But when I was 10 we got a new drama teacher, Helen Kaye, who was actually an actress. Miss Kaye made acting feel like something very special. It was the first time we were being asked to observe how different people function and feel and then embody that. For me it was an entirely new concept and acting suddenly became a very valid and valuable use of time and something I knew I wanted to pursue. And then by the end of my first day on Miss Potter I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Lucy wears dress by Laura Theiss

Lucy wears dress by Laura Theiss

How did you come to act in Miss Potter?

I was very lucky to go to a school where they allowed casting directors to come in and scout, so really I was just in the right place at the right time. One afternoon a casting director watched over my drama lesson then invited me to audition to play the young Beatrix. And after weeks of workshops and recalls I got the role!

 

Do you think your role in Miss Potter has defined you as an actress?

I wouldn’t say that is has defined me as an actress at all. It has definitely informed my taste in what type of roles and projects I enjoy, and I was given volumes of invaluable advice on that job which I shall take with me throughout my career, but I was so young then. It is a film I am incredibly proud of, and I feel so fortunate to have had that be my first job and my introduction into this industry, but I wouldn’t ever want a single role to define me.

 

More importantly, what roles in between you acting in Miss Potter and now have affected you most? Can you tell us more about those projects, who you worked with and way you enjoyed most about it?

Ballet Shoes was definitely a pivotal role for me. It was my first “lead” role, in an ensemble of the most incredible women, so it was a very special project. I actually recently spoke to Sandra Goldbacher, the director, and both of us are still receiving letters from young girls seeing it for the first time!

Sing Street was also a very special one. I’ve never worked with a director like John Carney before. He is a mad genius. He’s very keen for everything to feel authentic, and always want to hear your thoughts and how you want to play it, so a lot of days he ended up rewriting whole scenes of dialogue on the spot. It’s incredible to watch him work. That’s the genius part. But he also seems to run on this higher frequency, god knows where he gets his energy. You also absolutely need a sense of humour about yourself when working with him. Here’s hoping I made the cut and get to work with him again.

In Sing Street I play Raphina, a teenager who uses her ballsy, impulsiveness to conceal a deep fragility. I always feel kind of awkward talking about her, I feel so protective of her it feels like a betrayal! Like I’m totally exposing her!

 

What is your favorite film?

Drake Doremus’ movie Like Crazy; It is just perfect - and absolutely devastating. And then I love Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude, a dream movie.

Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by Laura Theiss, skirt by Catherine Ferguson

Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by Laura Theiss, skirt by Catherine Ferguson

Who is an actor/actress/director that you look up to? Is there anyone you’d really love to work with (whether actor or not)?

I’d love to be in a Baz Luhrmann movie. Or a Wes Anderson. Their movies are both so specifically stylised and theatrical I imagine you couldn’t find a more unique filming experience. I also love Sofia Coppola’s movies, Virgin Suicides especially. I am looking forward to working with more female directors.
Michael Shannon and Ann-Marie Duff are just two of my absolute favourite actors that I would kill to work with. And Felicity Jones, I think she is fantastic. And Joaquin Phoenix. Oh and I think Eva Green is just incredible. I really could so easily sit here and just reel of a long list of names.

 

Can you tell us more about Life in Squares? How did you come about the part of Angelica and did you enjoy the process of producing the series?

I very much enjoyed the process. I did most of my filming at Charleston House in Sussex, where Angelica actually grew up, which was an incredible experience of being submerged in the authentic world of the piece.

 

What kind of preparation did you go through to play Angelica in Life in Squares

Angelica’s book ‘Deceived with Kindness’ was my bible throughout filming. Every one of my scenes was detailed in her book, which is of course a dream for any actor! It meant I could feel confident in the way I was playing her experience. I have such tremendous respect for her I hope I do her justice.

Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by Laura Theiss, skirt by Catherine Ferguson

Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by Laura Theiss, skirt by Catherine Ferguson

Having grown up in London, what does the legacy of the Bloomsbury group mean for you? Is it part of 'London life' in the sense that it has affected how London's world of writers and artists is today?

I’m ashamed to say I actually didn’t know a great deal about the Bloomsbury group before auditioning forLife In Squares. I have always loved Vanessa Bell’s paintings, and Virginia Woolf’s books, and of course learnt about Keynes in politics and so on. All of their work is so engrained in British culture but because they were all such strongly individualised artists, it’s hard to think of them categorized as a single group.

 

In this day and age, do we need 'another' Bloomsbury group? Someone that can challenge society and norms in the way the members of the group did?

I think we are always in need of artists to challenge societal norms and push boundaries in the way that the Bloomsbury group did. However, one of the key ideas behind the Bloomsbury group is that it developed organically and spontaneously. And so to try and devise another one like it could only be contrived.

 

What do you take away from Angelica’s character? Are there any parts of her that you can identify with at all in your own personal life?

I don’t think I can. I think it would feel patronising to her to say I did. She had to weather so much dishonesty and betrayal from such a young age, and from the people closest to her, and to survive that requires an incredible amount of strength and resilience. I am able to empathise with her of course, it is impossible not to after reading her book, but I cannot say I am as strong a woman as she was, as I’ve never had to be in the same way.

 

What’s next for you?

Desperately waiting for everything to come out! Life in Squares is out very shortly, which I cannot wait to see. Then Sing Street, which is this beautiful coming of age story set in the 80s and directed by John Carney, should be out soon after. And I’ve also just finished filming February, a horror film directed by Oz Perkins.

Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by Laura Theiss

Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by Laura Theiss


Emily Berrington: The New Glenda Jackson?

Interview and Article by Daen Palma Huse

Photography by Ram Shergill

Fashion Direction by Margherita Gardella

Styling by Nicola Neri / Naomi Olivia / Amandine Deshayes

Make Up by Natasha Lakic using Sisley

Hair by Sofia Sjoo using Tigi Bedhead

Emily is wearing coat by Beyond Retro, bra by Nichole de Carle, trousers by Run, shoes by Serap Pollard, ring by Andrew Logan

Emily is wearing coat by Beyond Retro, bra by Nichole de Carle, trousers by Run, shoes by Serap Pollard, ring by Andrew Logan

Initially having started out with a career in politics, Emily trained at Guildhall drama school and has starred in The Inbetweeners 2 as well as 24: Live another Day. She has come a long way since her first role on stage at the Almeida Theatre in 'Children's Children', a play by Matthew Dunster. In her role as a teenage fashion blogger and model she says she was able to become the misbehaved teenager that she never was. At the moment she can be seen on screen as the Synth (a synthetic human) Niska in the critically acclaimed sci-fi drama Humans on Channel 4. With highest viewer numbers of an original Channel 4 drama in two decades, Humans has the British as well as American audience captured with it's gripping story about relationships, family, love, fear and the role of technology. Raising many philosophical questions, Humans is set in an alternate reality where people are able to purchase Synths which become part of their daily lives. 

Emily shows great discipline and we are looking forward to see more of her - whether on screen, in a second series of Humans (she has her fingers crossed!) or perhaps on stage next time.

In our interview we got the chance to talk about Hollywood glamour, her background in politics and got to know more about her character in Humans and her preparation for this role.

 

Emily is wearing coat by Beyond Retro, bra by Nichole de Carle, ring by Andrew Logan

Emily is wearing coat by Beyond Retro, bra by Nichole de Carle, ring by Andrew Logan

What is the main difference of perceiving actors and actresses nowadays as opposed to the golden age of Hollywood for you?

In the golden age of Hollywood people didn’t know as much about actors and that was wonderful and mysterious! You would go to the cinema and could see them transform on the screen. Now people can access information about actors’ and actresses’ lives and people feel like they’re supposed to know you. That’s fine but at the same time that can make it slightly harder to transform. When seeing an actress on screen and recognising her people might think ‘oh I know she’s not really like that in real life, she doesn’t really have that accent’ for example.

 

Does knowing ever more about the person behind a role take away from the allure and magic around an actor a bit?

I think this can take away a bit of the mystery. I personally really love watching films with actors in it that I don’t recognise because it’s easier to instantly forget that they’re an actor and to buy into the story. The more you know the harder it is to forget, but equally it's lovely to see someone and say ‘oh I love everything they’ve done and I will go and see their next thing because I love everything they’re in’.

 

What role does social media play?

I’m just on twitter, that’s the only social media I have, and it can be very valuable. But I also know a lot of very successful actors who don't social media full stop. It is hard to say really because I don’t think it's something you have to do if it's not something you feel comfortable with. That said, social media can be brilliant for promoting things and getting it out there. When I did an independent film a couple of years ago social media played a huge part in the advertising of it. 

Emily is wearing dress by Cristallini, gloves by Beyond Retro and shoes by Manolo Blahnik

Emily is wearing dress by Cristallini, gloves by Beyond Retro and shoes by Manolo Blahnik

 

Do you enjoy red carpet events and press taking photos of you?

I did a lot of it last year and I do enjoy it. It's quite nerve racking to put yourself out there and know that there are going to be photographs taken and I'm always terrified of wardrobe malfunctions and things like that (laughs) - but actually I love getting dressed up, I love wearing beautiful clothes and learning about new designers and trying things, so I love that side of it. Getting your hair and make up done is a real treat! I really enjoy all of that and I actually do like interviews as well. If you’re passionate about a project then it’s quite easy and enjoyable to talk about it.

 

In fact you have a politics background - has acting always been a passion of yours?

Yes, I always wanted to be an actress but I didn’t know how anyone became one. It just seemed so mysterious and none of my contemporaries had done it! When I left school I thought I'll do a degree and I really enjoyed my degree, loved it. From that I ended up working for an MP and yes, it was only when I was in parliament and I thought that if somebody had said to me ‘how do you get a job working for an MP?’ a few years ago, I would have said ‘well I have no idea’ but you just work it out as you go along. I thought maybe I can work out how to become an actress, too. A friend of mine went to drama school and I watched her and after some time I applied for drama school. It might have been a slow burn but it was always in the back of my mind.

What I would really love to do is to play a politician, having worked in parliament, I feel I’ve done the research (laughs). I would love if there was a biography of Glenda Jackson and I would like to play her in it. If anyone out there is reading this who is writing one, then please consider me (laughs)!

 

- a question that I was going to ask next actually! I was going to ask about parts such as Meryl Streep’s part as Margaret Thatcher and how you feel about playing a similar role?

Yes absolutely, I would love that. Glenda Jackson would be a dream, I read her biography recently and she had the most phenomenal acting career and also was a really well respected and brilliant MP. She’s ticked all the boxes for me, and she’s a very powerful and impressive woman. I’d love someone to make a film about her.

  

Emily is wearing waistcoat by Beyond Retro, hat by Absolute Vintage, trousers by Yifang Wan, shoes by Malone Souliers and clock by Violet's Box

Emily is wearing waistcoat by Beyond Retro, hat by Absolute Vintage, trousers by Yifang Wan, shoes by Malone Souliers and clock by Violet's Box

You have starred in The Inbetweeners 2, the series 24: Live Another Day and most recently in the series Humans, most watched sci-fi drama on Channel 4 in a long time, what has been your favourite project up to date?

That's very difficult... what I’ve been really fortunate about is that every job I’ve done has been very different to the last one. I went straight from the The Inbetweeners 2 to filming something about the American revolution and from there I went on to doing Humans, where I’m playing a robot. I did particularly enjoy Humans because the character I play is so complex. It has been a real stretch as an actress. Also I’ve never played a robot or even thought about playing a robot before so I loved trying to get my mind round that!

 

Is there a certain type of role you enjoy playing?

A robot! (laughs) - well, apart from that I really do like and have loved doing comedy. It was great to discover that bit of my career, that I could do comedy and really enjoyed comedy, but I like the diversity more than anything.
  

In Humans you play a very powerful role as the Synth Niska. Can you tell us more about that?

I was so thrilled to be playing this character because she is very tough but also vulnerable, she’s very intelligent but also completely ignorant of a lot of how the world works. It's been very interesting to discover the world through the eyes of the character as somebody who hasn’t experienced much 'normal' life, and is learning as she goes along. There was something very satisfying about playing that. As soon as I read the script last year, my first reaction was ‘well you know, I’m not necessarily a huge sci-fi fan , what’s this gonna be like?' and as soon as I read it, I just loved it and thought it was the best script I had read in a really long time.

 

Would you describe Humans as a typical sci-fi production? If not, what is different?

No, exactly, its not. I read it and thought that it isn’t a sci-fi in the traditional sense. It is a drama about relationships and about people and that’s what I’m interested in as an actress. I didn't imagine my role as a robot in any way it turned out to be, it turned out to be playing a synthetic human, with all the emotions of a human being!

Emily is wearing coat by Deborah Milner and gloves by Violet's Box

Emily is wearing coat by Deborah Milner and gloves by Violet's Box

 

What do you think has been the crucial ingredient for making Humans the huge success it already is?

I was thinking about this the other day - why has it worked? It is hard to know how you are going to come across with anything that you’re acting in but I think the writers have really captured things that everyone can relate to in this series. So many people have said to me 'I really identify with Laura' (the mum of the Hawkins family in the series, played by Katherine Parkinson) or 'I can really identify with so and so' and you think isn’t that amazing that people are saying they can identify with a character who has a problem because a robot lives in their home (laughs)? You wouldn’t think that would be a common issue but the writers have written really really ‘stick-humour’ relationships and technology is a part of everybody’s lives now. The writers have captured real human relationships within the context of the wider issue of what technology is doing to us.

 

There already is a big fan base in the US and it just started airing there – do you think the co-production of Humans hit the spot of an American audience?

I do think so. The fact that it has been going down really well there is fantastic news. Obviously there is William Hurt in Humans, who’s one of the greatest American actors of all time, so I think that’s helped! But I think anywhere in the world where technology is dominating people’s lives as it does here and in America, I think it could relate to anybody.

Emily is wearing jacket by Tranzend, top by Francesca Marotta, trousers by Youjia Jin

Emily is wearing jacket by Tranzend, top by Francesca Marotta, trousers by Youjia Jin

 

Do you see part of the success of Humans in the fact that it raises many questions that of philosophical nature? 

Yes! I’ve ended up reading a lot about the ethics of artificial intelligence and advancements of technology. I’ve found it so interesting and one of the things I came across was the discussion about ethical issues involved with advancing technology. If a self drive car crashes or has to swerve to avoid something and ends up hitting a person, who’s responsibility is it if the technology is making decisions on its own, is it the person sitting in the car, is it the manufacturer of the car, is it the designer, is it the person who sold it?

 

Where do you see the qualities of British TV productions? Do you think Humans has some of these?

I’ve always been very proud of the British work that I’ve done, because I think that British production companies and writers and directors take a lot of risks in their work. This show, Humans, is a risk and it's quite an unusual concept. It's brilliant that Kudos and AMC were willing to take it on as a new show. There was a successful Swedish original version of the series but nobody in the UK had heard of it!

 

How did you prepare for Humans and your role as the Synth Niska in particular?

We had a workshop with Dan O’Neill leading up to the filming, who actually stayed on set after that as well which was brilliant. We had three weeks and worked out together how the robots would move and talk. We spent hours talking about whether or not they would blink - and obviously we were kind of thinking ‘oh god I hope they blink’; we decided luckily that the Synths have a blink mechanism. We did many improvisations, where we were all robots on a train for example and there was a fire and improvising how the robots would respond to the fire.  I even went out into the outside world and would walk around as my robot and see what happens - I walked round Hackney for a few weeks, probably scaring people (laughs)!

Emily wears dress by Basharatyan V, cape by Issa, shoes by Malone Souliers and bow tie by Absolute Vintage

Emily wears dress by Basharatyan V, cape by Issa, shoes by Malone Souliers and bow tie by Absolute Vintage

 

Posture and movement are obviously very important in acting – and politics – is that something you have studied before?

I do remember in parliament there were a lot of discussions about what makes a good handshake. You’d see these people doing ‘power-play’ handshakes, which I loved. I think I’ve always been very aware of what body language can do. You learn techniques for job interviews and things about how to show nice open body language. At Guildhall we did movement classes every day and constantly studying body language, even what the tiniest change in your body suggests. The robots in Humans never do or at least avoid bending or distorting their bodies in a way that isn’t symmetrical, which is something quite inhuman. I would sit with my legs crossed and my arms folded and I’d scratch my ear and fiddle and move around - and when you see someone who doesn’t do that, well they’re either a robot or they’re someone who has done 20 years of yoga (laughs)! I actually thought of people who have done lots of Alexander technique and yoga and have that unnervingly brilliant posture. I definitely finished the show feeling like I had a better posture!

 

How did you work around not using a lot of body language when acting as Niska?

I talk with my hands so much and Gemma Chan (who plays the Synth Anita) does as well, we both are such ‘handsy’ chatters. Sometimes I would rehearse the scenes at home sitting on my hands, to make sure they did not get involved and when we got to set I was ready to just place them down and not use them.

 

When Niska is introduced, she is in a ‘Synth brothel’ and has an incredibly hard time, do you think these episodes also raise moral issues in connection with the sex industry in our reality?

When I read those scenes, I found them so shocking. Niska was in a brothel and being treated in such a terrible way and afterwards I was thinking about why I am finding that more shocking than the idea that that happens everyday in real life. I think it's shining a light on an issue that most people probably accept as part of our world. Obviously they might not like it but they know its there. I had a lot of amazing discussions about whether it would be better if people could go to a robot brothel so that no actual people were involved, but then it raises questions about whether that would encourage a certain form of behaviour towards other humans and encouraging people to treat other people like robots or things without feelings.

 

Your character as Synth shows very human treats in the series; do you think your role has been more difficult or easier to get into than, say, Will Tudor’s role as the Synth Odi that is simply ‘a machine’?

I guess in some ways it was easier because rather than playing something that’s 100% Synth, you’re playing a Synth that has human emotions, so that is easier. At the same time the hardest thing was that sometimes in the emotional moments I would just lose the Synth and physicality. For example my eyes would well up if there was something emotional happening and Synths don’t cry. There were a number of takes that were lost because of eyes welling up or even just something bothering you like a little bit of hair going in your face and you wanted to flick it away.

 

What are your favourite characters in the series?

Well, I don’t know if this is the same but my favourite relationship is between Odi and George so William Hurt, the two Wills, and Will Tudor. It is the sweetest relationship I’ve just ever seen on TV and its made even more lovely by one side of the relationship not having any feelings but though Odi can’t feel anything, he holds George’s memories as George starts to lose some of his memories. If you have a little memento of a grandparent for example, if anything happens to it you feel devastated even though it's not the human being. But it feels like a connection to that human being. I like that the honouring how powerful that relationship is, even if that object doesn’t feel anything back for you.

 

Emily is wearing dress by Cristallini, gloves by Beyond Retro and shoes by Manolo Blahnik

Emily is wearing dress by Cristallini, gloves by Beyond Retro and shoes by Manolo Blahnik

Is there one great actor or actress you can name that you admire?

Cate Blanchett I adore! I think she’s had a really interesting career; she does a lot of theatre and also fantastic films. She always looks absolutely beautiful and is very eloquent when she speaks. She is clearly a very intelligent actress and definitely someone I look up to!

 

As the shoot drew to a close, we could see Emily's character transform to various film soundtracks from Psycho to The Godfather. It felt that she could have easily been seen in some of those iconic classics, as she possesses a real 'star' quality - something which we are sure to see much more of.

 

 

 

Photography Assistants: Max Glatzhofer and Katie Bairsto

 

Will Tudor on Being Human

Interview and Article by Daen Palma Huse

Photography by Ram Shergill

Styling by My Name Is Kabir

Hair by Hugo Gamboa using Fudge

Grooming by Michelle Webb using Kiehls

 

Will Tudor wears shirt by Richard James

Will Tudor wears shirt by Richard James

It is not everyday you meet someone like Will Tudor. Known for his role in Game of Thrones, starring in the world famous series for three years running, we met Will at the premiere of the first episode of Humans in which he plays the Synth Odi (on Channel 4, Sundays at 9.00pm). Thrilled by the premiere, we were very excited to have him on set. Without doubt, Will's professionalism, talent, charm and personality are all traits of a great protagonist and an even greater star to be. Needless to say the shoot was absolutely fantastic, and during our interview we discussed the importance of relationships, growth, and self-reflection.

 

How did you find the shoot today?

It was great – it was something that I have done a bit of before but nothing in that kind of capacity, nothing as creative I suppose. Ram is amazing!

 

You seem very comfortable in front of the camera on a photo shoot!

I think so, I think having been in front of a screen camera I suppose there are skills that you can translate -but then there are differences as well. It was great fun!

 

Will Tudor wears shirt by Richard James

Will Tudor wears shirt by Richard James

When did you start acting?

I started quite late compared to a lot of my contemporaries in that I first pretended to be someone else when I was sixteen, whereas a lot of people started when they were twelve or ten. I thought “to hell with it!” and auditioned for a house play, which was Faustus, and I got given the role of Dr. Faustus. It was a huge amount of lines to learn. It was a very daunting task, but it was an amazing experience. I stepped out on stage and thought “this is what I want to do” – so after that I did English literature at university, all the while knowing I wanted to then go to drama school afterwards - and that’s how it’s been ever since.

 

I am fascinated with how unforgiving the camera is.

What did you want to become before that, before you wanted to act?

Both of my parents are doctors. I come from quite a medical family so that was always in the cards. I think there was a thought of perhaps going into law, but then once acting happened my dad was always supportive. Then we decided that if acting is something I can do and something I am really passionate about, why not give it a go? I was very fortunate in that respect.

 

And how did you find going to acting from studying English  - was there an engagement with acting all along?

Well, I suppose there are two answers to that. One which is that doing English we studied a lot of plays and having the knowledge of all the plays and playwrights we studied helped quite a lot when approaching drama school – but also while I was at uni I did a lot of amateur drama. I was quite active within the drama society. I probably spent more time doing that than my degree and I had a lot of fun. It was a very active society, they did probably three shows a term and it was a real opportunity not only to get to know the people there but also to try and hone a skill before drama school.

 

Have you ever worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford upon Avon having grown up close to there?

I never did but as I grew up around Stratford upon Avon it’s always been a bit of an aim of mine. I would go there all the time and I’ve been really lucky having been able to see a lot of their shows. Shakespeare has always been something that I have been very passionate about. It’s interesting that in my professional career so far, that hasn’t happened. The way it has been going has been really great and interesting and I think it’s something I’d like to do at some point. I don’t know when that might happen but it’s an amazing organisation, the quality of their pieces is incredible, especially in collaboration with London producers as well. I’ve just seen Oppenheimer recently and it was wonderful.

 

Will Tudor wears shirt and trousers by Richard James

Will Tudor wears shirt and trousers by Richard James

Would you describe yourself as a theatre or film actor?

Oh, blimey… Well like I say it’s funny because I came from a theatre background but I am so fascinated with the process of filmmaking and screen in general that at the moment it’s something that I am so happy to explore further. I don’t think I could really categorize myself in that way. The ideal for me would be to be someone that spans across the spectrum. That would be something that I would look back onto and think that I have achieved something.


How did you start in film and how did you attain your first film role?

It certainly has made me feel very proud to be part of something so huge and that people love so much.

When saying that I started in theatre I mean having grown up near Stratford upon Avon and having done only theatre up until drama school. After drama school it was all screen, and that just happened fairly organically, doing auditions with my agents. I have been fortunate enough and been given the opportunity to work on all these projects.

 

How different would you say you find working on a film set and your experience of being involved in theatre productions? You say you very much enjoy the process of filmmaking? What do you enjoy most about producing film?

I am fascinated with how unforgiving the camera is. You can’t lie in front of a camera; it will read through your eyes into your soul and I think that for an actor helps one to really hone your craft because it won’t let you do anything, which isn’t truthful. It’s the same with stage in that it all needs to come from a place of truth but film is so unforgiving that that just has to be there and you cant lie at all. I think it was Ben Kingsley that said he adores the screen because it appalls acting and it adores behaviour [“I'm very in love with the fact that the camera is revolted by acting and loves behaviour”] and I always thought that was very true and probably what made me want to engage with screen work.

 

Are there any big characters you adore or a role that you always wanted to play?

That is a good question. To be honest I think if something is challenging and allows for a lot of creativity then I would be very happy. There are directors like Mike Leigh who would be wonderful to work with. At the other end of the scale you look at people like Christopher Nolan who do some incredibly exciting, intelligent pieces that are still the big end block. I very much like a piece that I have done recently called Humans where we all were given a lot of opportunity to come up with ideas to really allow a sense of creativity to come through. Something, anything like that is wonderful and that’s what most actors want.

 

Will Tudor wears shirt by Child of the Jago, waistcoat by Joshua Kane Bespoke, jeans by BLK DNM and boots by Alejandro Ingelmo

Will Tudor wears shirt by Child of the Jago, waistcoat by Joshua Kane Bespoke, jeans by BLK DNM and boots by Alejandro Ingelmo

 

You are starring as Olyvar in Game of Thrones for the third season running, which you are very popular for at the moment – have you found this restricts you in some ways or do you think playing Olyvar has changed the perception of you as an actor?

I don’t think it’s restrictive at all. I think if anything it has been an amazing platform. It is a fantastic show and it’s something that I had watched a lot beforehand. It is amazing to see how the perception of my character, which is quite an extreme character, has changed me over the three years that I have been in it. It is an honour to be part of it.

 

Has your increased popularity through Game of Thrones changed your private life?

I mean, professionally it’s always something that people are very interested in. And I suppose socially as well because it’s such a culturally significant show. I think in terms of my life as it goes, it has opened a few doors and given me the opportunity to audition for things that I might not have been able to before and in that respect it has. I think it certainly has made me feel very proud to be part of something so huge and that people love so much.

 

What other series do you follow if any?

Now, that is a good question because I am currently looking for the next thing to watch! I am just starting House of Cards. I was a very big fan of 24 from when I was a teenager but there is a lot of stuff; there is the English series The Office that I was always a big fan of – and I think when I was a teen it was The O.C., but now I think House of Cards is what I am looking forward to watching for a few months.

 

Will Tudor wears Joshua Kane Bespoke

Will Tudor wears Joshua Kane Bespoke

You have already mentioned your latest project, the Channel 4 series Humans. The show in which you can be seen is written by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley and based on the award-winning Swedish sci-fi drama Real Humans. Set in an alternate present, people are able to purchase a robot model, the Synth, that is a highly developed robot servant in human-like appearance. You play the Synth Odi that lives together with its owner George, played by William Hurt, in quite an interesting relationship. The series Humans has a much smaller cast than Game of Thrones – did you find that experience different and has the process of producing Humans been quite an ergonomic one?

... do Synths take away part of our humanity?

Well, it was a really interesting process because not only was it a very unique idea but also we were given the opportunity to work collaboratively to create the characters which doesn’t happen very often. It was such a joy – we actually had to attend “Synth school” which was a movement workshop with the choreographer Dan O’Neill who was absolutely fantastic. We had to learn how to move like robots, not in the traditional sense but more in the sense of a graceful economy of movement so no excess energy is used for a task that has to be done. On top of that we had a rehearsal for each block, which again allows you to bring ideas and be playful and also bond quite a lot with the actors. I was fortunate to work with William Hurt and the rehearsal process was a big part of that, being able to share ideas and the philosophy behind the project.

 

How did you hear about the role in Humans or how did you get involved with the project?

My agent rang me and was very very excited and said this is a really really good script. I don’t think I had ever heard them talk that way about a project so I read it and was blown away by the script! I think it is one of my favourite scripts since I started acting professionally. I went to the audition and I worked very very hard because I loved the character, I loved the relationships in it, I loved the ideas and I think it speaks and hopefully will speak to people now because there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed as we enter the technological age.

 

Acting as a machine how did you deal with developing the character? Do you think Odi has a character as such?

That’s an interesting question; what I have come to realise, having watched it back, is how much of a knife-edge we are on in terms of trying to get the character right, because his and George’s relationship is very sweet and it’s very moving. Obviously if you give too much emotion, Odi is not a robot any more but if there is no characterisation in that respect, the relationship might not work in the same way. We were able to work through that and find the best ways to do it.

 

Will Tudor wears shirt by Child of the Jago, waistcoat by Joshua Kane Bespoke, jeans by BLK DNM

Will Tudor wears shirt by Child of the Jago, waistcoat by Joshua Kane Bespoke, jeans by BLK DNM

Odi is a slightly out of date Synth ready for an upgrade, protected by his owner George who has formed a very close relationship with Odi. Do you look at the relationship between the two as both ways, or more as a projection by George?

I think it is two ways. Although Odi can’t feel, he does have a sense of reliance on his owner. Synths will be programmed to protect and look after the person they belong to so I think the relationship is two-way but it’s not the same. Like I say, Odi can’t feel anything towards George but his reliance on George, he needs George to fix him. At the same time he serves George, he knows George intimately, and he knows what George needs because he has learnt that across the years. He has learnt that since George has lost his wife, this is what makes him happy. What came up when we were filming was that amongst the various sorts of models on relationship in the series, Odi is the loyal one who will always try and come back to his owner, except without the emotion that a dog can show. He is like a child that doesn’t understand why their parent is doing certain things but knows to look up to this person. I think the programming makes Odi put George on a pedestal and that is reciprocated by George who sees him as a son. But obviously they are both programmed in very different ways, one being a human and one being not (laughs).

 

Do you think in our reality it would make, and in the series does make, people react differently to the Synths that they have a human-like appearance? If one thinks about the amount of machinery that is already being used today do you think the series merely puts ‘a face’ to this technology?

Certainly, if the proliferation of these Synths were to happen in real life, I think people would feel incredibly uneasy. I think there was a study done and the result thereof was that the closer a robot looks to a human the more the human will reject that robot because it’s eerie, it’s uncanny. I think the issue it raises is that if one is to treat one of these Synths as a slave or abuse them then there is a real problem. How is one to differentiate between seeing someone attacking someone who looks human but is a Synth and someone attacking a human? It blurs the boundary of morality I think, especially for children growing up with Synths as nannies and in parenting roles. Do these children grow up and think that servitude is the ideal, the example? I think there are a lot of philosophical questions that arise and this is one of the reasons why I was so drawn to the project.

 

How different is Humans to other series or films with similar subject matter – does it raise different questions or the ethical questions you mentioned in a more subtle way?

What is unique about Humans is that it is a show of many parts. Each of the storylines addresses a different moral issue, which I don’t think has been done quite so comprehensively before. Some of the issues tackled in films like A.I. for example. We have the Synth played by Gemma Chan who is a housekeeper and the issue raised is that of a stranger in a house. Not only that, but this stranger is taking away parenting roles from the mother. And the mother therefore feels very uneasy. Then you have my character’s storyline where it’s about care, about reliance; is the love that George feels to Odi any less relevant, any less powerful because Odi is a robot? I don’t think it is. I think it’s just as powerful. It says a lot about what George needs. It also says a lot about the power of projection. The power of putting these emotions onto a being, whether that’d be a child or friend or dog even. But I do think it is just as relevant as what many would consider “real” relationships because George feels it and believes it.

 

There are a lot of complex characters in Humans – both humans and Synths. Which one or more of the human characters are the ones that fascinate you most in the series?

I suppose I’d have to say Joe and Laura because their relationship is quite tense at the beginning – and the inclusion of a Synth in their household highlights these tensions. As we will see later on in the series – I can’t really give too much away – there are some very interesting questions and moments that are explored with both of those characters, which make me question what I would do in those situations. I think the way they handle them is incredibly well written. The fact that it is quite parochial, the fact that it is based around a ‘normal’ family unit makes it much more relatable, much closer to home and therefore much more poignant.

 

You filmed one season of Humans. Do you believe it is a kind of series that could go on for a lot of seasons or do you think it is a kind of series that would be more powerful to be left at one or two conclusive seasons?

Will Tudor wears shirt by Child of the Jago, waistcoat by Joshua Kane Bespoke, jeans by BLK DNM

Will Tudor wears shirt by Child of the Jago, waistcoat by Joshua Kane Bespoke, jeans by BLK DNM

What is interesting is that the writers have managed to ask so many questions in this first season. Every time I’d read one of the episodes again I’d find something that made me go “oh my goodness, that’s mind blowing, that’s unbelievable” – all these moments that make you ask “oh gosh, yes, what would happen in those kind of situations?” and there are a few things that I think they have not talked about and that they have yet to show in this series. So I hope that there is the opportunity for them to explore it a bit more. I think it would be possible if there is the material, if there are questions that need be asked; then I hope it goes on for a long time because I think it is a very powerful idea and as I said before, one that really speaks to our I-phone and computer age and issues that just haven’t been dealt with yet. I mean we don’t know what will happen. People talk about the singularity being approached where A.I. is able to proliferate on its own, think for itself, and overpower the human mind. That is something we are not prepared for even though we are so close to it. I hope that this show will help to process these questions.

 

If there were the possibility for you to purchase a Synth in this very day and age, would you consider it? What are your thoughts?

I am far too domestic (laughs) as a person to want to give up those tasks I think. I think it sounds strange but I enjoy that too much. Also I think most people find it too hard to understand what a relationship with these things is. Like said before, they look like humans, how are you meant to treat them? What is the appropriate way to treat them because you can’t treat them like slaves, like we treat our phone. You can’t just ask them questions like you would to Siri in a very blunt manner. Because it would be coming from what looks like a human it doesn’t seem quite appropriate.

 

In the first episode the teenage daughter of Joe and Laura, Mattie, raises the issue of Synths taking over essential tasks in our lives such as surgery. When her mother tells her she wants her to do well in school she asks for what reason if Synths will be able to be a better surgeon after reprogramming than she could ever be. She asks if this is reality, will we all end up being artists and poets? Do you think this poses a very interesting question?

It is a very interesting issue. Obviously, if you have Synths that can do every job, not just manual labour but very skilled work – what is a human left to do? If we work in order to revive our family, that ethos is undermined and then raises the question of what makes us human? If that is part of being human, do Synths take away part of our humanity? One of the arguments raised in the first episode is that Synths actually help us be more human by freeing us up to pursue the things that we would want to do but aren’t because we spend so much time [on trivial tasks].

 

Have we given away some of our liberties?

On Humans, how do you think “being human” is portrayed and how is this played out throughout the series? What does it mean to be a human being?

That is a really good question. You are not being given any answers throughout the show. The questions are raised and you are left to make up your own mind, which is very important because I think everyone will have a different opinion about what it means to be human. If you have a being, a Synth, that is essentially like a human, that is able to process faster than a human, that is faster than a human, is stronger than a human and one might start to become sentient. Does that replace humanity or does it make it less important? It’s a really interesting question. What happens if our current A.I. starts to be able to make decisions for itself and tries to get us away from the plug so we cant turn them off? It is an idea that was done in Terminator, but now it has become a lot more real a question. If they have that power and we are no longer the “top of the food chain” as it were, then where does that leave us? We have always prided ourselves to be able to reason and that sets us apart from every other being on this planet and yet if we create something that is able to reason better than us what does that mean for humanity?

 

Will Tudor wears shirt by Richard James

Will Tudor wears shirt by Richard James

 

On a completely different note – do you like Star Trek? We read several posts about it on your social media.

(Will laughs loud) I am a big fan of the latest two films! I think what J. J. Abrams has done is extraordinary! I didn’t particularly watch it before, the earlier series, but from what I have seen, the way they have updated it and made it relevant to both fans of the old show and new fans is extraordinary, and I think it is going to be very interesting to see what they do with Star Wars.

 

Do you think today there is the possibility of producing something as classic or do you think it has become more difficult to produce material that will make history in quite the same way?

Well, I think as society moves on and new ideas and sensibilities become apparent and as long programmes reflect that then it will be challenging, it will be new and then classic. I might be biased but I’d like to say that Humans does that, I’d like to say that it really does because it is challenging issues, which are very contemporary, very important. In the same way that those classic shows spoke to an aspiration or an idealism of a time I think this does it well but perhaps in a cautionary way. I think there is always the possibility of creating new classics. The British television and film industry as it is, is in a very good position to do that. Even with the big, more popular shows and films there is always going to be that drive to create something beautiful, something artistic, something really creative because that can never be stopped and I think that is a very human trade.

 

Looking at older films that have been produced ten, twenty or more years ago, do you think as a viewer we sometimes fail to translate the content or statements into our own lives?

Oh, not at all, no, I think a lot of films from fifty years ago are incredibly relevant. I think there will always be things that are relevant. I mean, as a human being we have not changed biologically since cavemen made cave paintings on the wall. We are wired exactly the same way and as much as we’d like to think we’ve progressed, I suppose we have in terms of our liberalism, but biologically we still are the same, have the same instincts. And that is something that will never change and it is the films that speak to us about these things will always speak to us.

 

As an actor you must reflect a lot on films that you watch. However, watching futuristic films from the 1960s for example as the ‘average viewer’, do you think people realise that we have already arrived in that particular time the film portrays as what back then was the future?

It can be quite telling. You look at something like Space Odyssey 2001 and you don’t think “that’s past”, that that is a false representation of what might happen. Even now, – apart from the computer screens and the read-out; it still seems quite futuristic. What is interesting is you look at something like 1984, and while that is not sci-fi, it speaks of many things that are happening now. Whether it was written in a cautionary way or a tongue-and-cheek way is no matter – but it’s the fact that the big brother situation is something we have now, yet we don’t think of it as such a bad thing. We read 1984 and we think “oh gosh, how terrible to be watched wherever we go” and yet it is happening now. I think that’s what I take from these things. It is more a comparison of how people used to view the future and what they’d be scared of and what they’d like to see. Place that now and ask are those still fears, or have we sort of succumbed to those situations and don’t fear them any more? Have we given away some of our liberties?

 

The roles that I find most interesting are the ones which make you delve into yourself and the ones that make you challenge yourself.

 

Also you have been part of the BBC miniseries The Red Tent – can you tell us something about that?

The Red Tent is an adaptation of Anita Diamant’s book. It follows Dinah who is a relatively minor character in the Bible and her character is followed throughout her life. It is a heartbreaking story and very moving. I have had a fantastic time filming in Morocco. I was lucky enough to work with some wonderful people, Debra Winger, Minnie Driver, Ian Glen and Rebecca Ferguson – who I adore, I think she is a fantastic actress and a real talent and such a lovely humble person. I think she is soon to do Mission Impossible 5 and I am so proud of her, I think she is a really spectacular actress and it is really interesting to see what she does next.

 

 

Are there any film roles that you would like to play in particular?

I don’t think I have any sort of specific role that I would love to play. I mean, there are films like the new Batman, the tone is really excellent – but I think I will stop myself there and say that actually it’s the challenge that I want. I think there is no specific part, only something that makes you think and means you really have to work to discover the depth of a character. Anyone who is an onion!

 

Obviously Humans, The Red Tent and Game of Thrones are quite different in terms of subject matter – so for you, would you say that these human relationships that you mentioned and that you are interested in is what connects them?

It’s something that speaks to all of us. For example, even Game of Thrones that is so separate from our society still speaks a lot to our own relationships. They just happen to be more violent (laughs) or tawdry; more direct, bigger and involve swords (laughs). But the feuds are still the same! The love is still the same.

Game of Thrones is about kingdoms, honour and about all these things that are of great importance on a large scale. But then the relationships come back to things that we can relate to and I think that’s why it’s so exciting and works so well. Things that we are worried about on a day-to-day basis are things that are made to seem tiny in the grand scheme of life.

 

What do you do in your private life to escape? Or does it all come together, say, when you read a book, do you think about your acting etc.?

I think it does. I think everything comes back to it because acting itself is a reflection of the self and all facets of the self, and therefore anything one does will directly be affected and experiences will directly affect what one can bring to a part. I mean in my free time I very much enjoy photography. I keep setting myself a New Years resolution to read a book every month which I kept very well for the first four months and then it tears off because of time constraints – but reading is something that I really enjoy. And I am a songwriter as well, something that I used to do a lot. I think I would like to do a lot more song-writing as I get older.

 

Will Tudor wears shirt and trousers by Richard James

Will Tudor wears shirt and trousers by Richard James

What books have you read this year so far then?

So I finished Fahrenheit 451 – I started reading that because of Humans and its futuristic take on some of the issues that were starting at the time. It was off the back of 1984, which I read a while ago but that got me interested in that kind of style. I also finished To Kill A Mockingbird which I loved, which I thought was wonderful, and I am about to start The Catcher in the Rye.

So I am trying to do all the classics. I mean, during reading English I managed to do quite a lot, and now I am catching up on a lot of the American classics. They were things we didn’t cover but there is such a wealth of creativity in those so I am excited to see how I am getting on with that list.

 

What songwriters or singers do you look up to?

I grew up listening to Simon Garfunkel and the Rolling Stones. The kind of music I want to write is very much Simon Garfunkel songs. I think they are poets, and to be able to tell those stories in that way is something I really admire and something that I’d love to achieve. I look back now and I used to think I’d have a wider range of influences but when I write it all comes back to that and their harmonies, the lyrical melodic tone of their songs is just extraordinary.

I grew up listening to Simon Garfunkel and the Rolling Stones.

Would you say you have had one role so far that you were able to incorporate all your talents in at once in a way that you would like to?

The roles that I find most interesting are the ones which make you delve into yourself and the ones that make you challenge yourself. I think if there is ever going to be one part which satisfies all your creative being as it were, Humans came incredibly close because it’s a subject matter that I am very passionate about. Again the relationship is something that everyone can relate to and it gave me the opportunity to really work at it.

Also, at drama school I had the opportunity to do Richard III, which seems like a part that I wouldn’t normally be casted, but to be able to do it was an absolute joy! I do think I was able to bring a lot to that and I wouldn’t have normally thought I could.

 

Are there any other projects you are working on at the moment?

I am currently working on Mr Selfridge and I play a very ….nasty piece of work (laughing). I probably can’t say too much but I’ll just say that it is a real contrast to Odi and it’s been really nice to go from one end of the scale to the other.

I want to push the boundaries of what I think that I can do.

Moving through many different kind of roles is very admirable … I think when one finds a part or a star that one can really connect to its very easy to want to bring that to life again. I think that is a nice thing when that does happen but as an actor I really want to push myself. I would find it difficult to become complacent and to stick in one place. I have said ‘challenge’ in this interview a lot, but I want to challenge myself, I want to push the boundaries of what I think that I can do and I think trying to do those roles which are very different than the ones before allows me to push my boundaries and to get better ultimately. I think that is how you do get better, doing various different things that challenge preconceived ideas about yourself and about what you can and can’t do.

It is essentially my desire to do better than what I have done before. It is the idea of constantly improving and therefore I like to constantly push. I just hope that is something that is going to continue and that I get the opportunities to be able to experiment.

 

Thank you very much for the interview.

Thank you, thank you very much.

 

As the afternoon sun softens we walk back from Russell Square, where we spoke with Will for quite some time. The conversation with him has sparked our interest in seeing more of him on the screen and left us hungry for watching the upcoming episodes of Humans. His philosophical and detailed answers have left a lasting impression and the way that Will embraces acting wholeheartedly makes us certain that he is set for much more in the future.

 

Will Tudor wears turtle neck by John Varvatos

Will Tudor wears turtle neck by John Varvatos

 

Tom Brittney

Photography by Ram Shergill

Interview by Antoinette Alba

Styling by My Name is Kabir

Hair by Hugo Gamboa using Fudge

Make Up by Michelle Webb using Kiehls

Tom Brittney wears Jumper A Child of the Jago 

Tom Brittney wears Jumper A Child of the Jago 

Tom Brittney: actor, man of many voices, photographer, secret champion of the Frisbee. Tom is a fresh face, with a comedic attitude. If you don’t believe it, look at his Twitter feed! Recently having landed quite a few roles, he is currently starring in the BBC drama series The Syndicate. With a background in both physical and voice acting, it is no wonder the man with many voices has been offered a breadth of roles. Attracting the attention of many producers, Tom will be appearing in Unreal, airing in the US on Lifetime, a series about what happens behind the scenes of a reality show, in addition to being seen in Outlander, as well as the sci-fi drama Humans on Channel 4 and AMC, alongside Gemma Chan and Will Tudor. In our interview we discussed Tom’s first steps into the world of acting, his passions, and his goals.

 

How would you describe yourself as a person?

I did an interview the other day on video and I look back at myself and you start thinking about the way you look and how you are perceived. I try to be funny, it doesn’t always work but I think I am a nice funny guy who can be dark and bad sometimes.

What made you want to act?

At school I was like a class clown, an attention seeker, and I liked telling stories and playing characters. My mum always encouraged that side of me. I didn’t realise for a long time that acting was a career. When I was eleven I thought people have a day job and it just didn’t occur to me that acting could be an actual occupation. At my secondary school they wanted people to have “normal”, reliable jobs. But that wasn’t for me. I think through rebelling against education I pushed myself into performing more and more. I then went to drama school and made it a profession.

What was drama school like for you?

I really enjoyed acting and found it really fun before drama school.  I didn’t know any of the tools that I was taught prior to drama school like objectives, actions and technical terms, which are very useful, but the problem was that this was getting rid of my instincts a lot. I used to overthink things and it became very academic – but now I feel like I have gone back to acting taking more ‘natural’ approach again.

I also think there is not enough done about film and TV, it’s all about stage. I am not sure as to how much one can teach an actor how to act or not. I think the hardest thing for an actor in his profession is to keep going – perhaps drama schools do not prepare for this. I feel they do not teach enough about the business aspect of acting.

What is it that you like about film and TV rather than the stage?

It is just the amount of films I’ve watched and that have effected me emotionally so much – films that make you cry and laugh (which of course can work with stage as well). The visual nature of film, creating a complete three-dimensional world with the camera fascinates me. To be part of something like that is a motivation. I am hoping that something that I am in affects people in the way film has affected me. That is what I love about film.

What are some of your favourite films?

I like anything with Tom Hanks. He is a great actor. I like Sam Mendes or David Fincher films. Road to Perdition was probably one of my favourite films with Tom Hanks. I do like quite dark, stylistic films.

Are there any other actors that you particularly admire?

Yes, Daniel Day-Lewis – I just wish he was less elusive, I wish he was doing more work (laughs). Also Jake Gyllenhaal, I think he gets better and better with every film I see.

Tom Brittney wears Leather Jacket BLK DNM and Top Levi's Red Tab 

Tom Brittney wears Leather Jacket BLK DNM and Top Levi's Red Tab 

Can you tell us a bit more about the show Unreal that you have been working on?

It was my first American credit filmed in Canada last year. It is a drama show about a reality TV show, showing how horrible and nasty it is behind the scenes and what length people go to in order to win. I play the best friend of the main character, Roger, who comes over from England and the producers have said that he is the one to pick which girl he goes on a date with, so my character has the power for the episode and takes advantage of that – quite a lot – with the women.

How did you find the making of Unreal?

Why I was attracted to Unreal was that they treated it as something that would change the channel Lifetime. It is very dark. I hadn’t seen a lot of Lifetime productions before but I knew that it wasn’t the usual thing – and you could tell because it was very well looked after. It was really good to film, as horrible as my character’s storyline is. We went to a beautiful mansion in Vancouver and had a lot of beautiful women in bikinis for party scenes in pools with champagne – fake champagne – but it was a big party for a while. Unfortunately my character then takes it a little too far and gets a bit seedy. But it was fun and beautiful to see a bit of Vancouver too.

When you are playing ‘dark’ characters, do you find it difficult to immerse yourself into the role at times?

I like playing the darker characters. It was hard to play and do some of the scenes in Unreal. I had to improvise the dialogue at one point after filming and say very nasty things. I found it weird that I was able to do that. I like to play villains but I am just at the start of my career and perhaps have not quite found out what other roles I would like to do in future.

Can you tell us about your voice training and voice acting?

I did voice acting at drama school and I always liked doing that. I just really enjoyed changing the voice and technical aspects of it. It is a good thing to do aside acting for film and TV. I have learned a lot on the job – listening to many voice-overs you learn and you know the tricks.

Listening to different adverts that you have done – they sound very different from each other -

I once got told I sounded like a young Jude Law and that’s why they wanted me –There are a lot of voices that can sound quite similar. There are some people that do voice work exclusively, for example for big movie trailers, they are well known for it and do nothing else. I am looking forward to doing more. Hopefully as I act more I get to do more voice work. In fact I would love to narrate a documentary.

Would you like to do a voice over for a cartoon?

I haven’t really done cartoons. Some people are just so good at it and perhaps cartoon voices are not my thing. I think it takes a special someone who can just do the goofy kind of voices – but of course I wouldn’t say no if someone offered!

You mentioned working on documentaries as something you would be interested in- can you tell us more about that?

One of my favourite things is photography. It is my second love apart from acting. The fact that you can capture a story in a single image excites me. Some images are very powerful – one example is a falling man from 9/11 which is striking and one of the most powerful images that I have ever seen. I really like documentary photography. I have been to a few protests and I like to capture emotion – or trying to. I like watching documentaries and if I wasn’t an actor and had the guts I probably would have liked to be a war photographer.

 What is your aspiration for the next few years?

I would like to do film. I haven’t done film yet, just a lot of TV. So this is definitely on my list for the next few years. I want to make good choices and do as much good work as I can. I love film soundtracks and Thomas Newman is one of my favourite composers – if I could be part of a film that he scored that would be incredible.

Tom Brittney wears top by John Smedley

Tom Brittney wears top by John Smedley


Photography Assistants: Alessandro Raimondo and Adam Brammall

Styling Assistant: Jessica Tarbard

Richard Attenborough - a Patriarch of British Film History

Written by Antoinette Alba

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Pinkie Brown, John Christie, Kris Kringle, John Hammond. Each role played seamlessly by Lord Richard Attenborough, one of Britain’s leading actors, directors and patrons. As we approach the first anniversary of his death in August 2014, we commemorate his success, earned through passion, sacrifice and humility.

 

Making his film debut in in 1942’s In Which We Serve, Attenborough made film history, starring in over 50 films including Brighton Rock, Sand Pebbles, Doctor Dolittle, 10 Rilliington Place, Elizabeth and Jurassic Park. In the late 1950’s, he formed Beaver Films production company with Bryan Forbes, and produced films such as The Angry Silence, Whistle Down the Wind, The L-Shaped Room, and Séance on a Wet Afternoon.

 

The year 1969 marked Attenborough’s debut as a director, with the film Oh! What a Lovely War, however it is perhaps his phenomenal direction of Gandhi that is most well known and acclaimed. Embarking on a journey that would take 20 years to come to fruition, Attenborough first received the film proposal for Gandhi in 1962. Without realising how much time, money, legalities, and other hoops he would have to jump through, he sacrificed his finances, credibility, and even safety to make the film that would go on to earn 8 Oscars, 5 BAFTAs, and 11 BAFTA Nominations, as well as launch the career of Ben Kingsley. It became one of his biggest projects and proves his dedication and tireless support for ventures that he believed could make a difference.

 

Through this kind of dedication and passion, Attenborough directed and perpetuated the legacy of A-list actors such as Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sir Ben Kingsley, Debra Winger, and Denzel Washington.

 

Having become a British Cinema legend, Attenborough has served as President or Chairman of 30 foundations including UNICEF, BAFTA, RADA, The Gandhi Foundation, the British Film Institute, the National Film and Television School, and patron of the United World Colleges. Attenborough was given the title Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1967, and knighted in 1976. He is even credited with coaching Princess Diana on public speaking at the request of Prince Charles.

 

The breadth of Lord Richard Attenborough’s career, including actor, producer, director, knight, soldier during WWII, and champion of education make him a protagonist in more ways than one. His legacy is one of change, passion, inspiration, and constant humility. His life and career encourage new aspiring actors and directors that no boundary cannot be broken, and that there is a multiplicity of roles that can affect change. 

 

Lord Attenborough is at the nucleus of everything that signifies The Protagonist Magazine.