Being Canadian of Filipino descent and growing up in a multicultural downtown Toronto urban neighborhood, Aida King uses her prominence as an actress to be a representative of a world population sector that is still well under-represented in the entertainment industry. Her unique appearance allows her to portray a variety of cultures and she aims to provide a deeper understanding of different ethnicities. Through the creative arts, she can provide a fresh perspective and not only entertain her audiences, but also educate. With every project she takes on, no matter the genre, she makes sure to understand her character and their background, as well as what drives them. It is such a devotion that makes her such an outstanding actress, and a leader in the industry in Canada.
Known for her versatility, King has worked on a variety of genres as an actress, showing that she is capable of anything. Whether bringing on the laughs in Desert Drive or keeping you on the edge of your seats in the thriller War of Mind, this actress knows exactly how to captivate an audience.
King not only impresses audiences, but also those she works with, as seasoned Producer and Director Josh Mitchell was so moved by the actress’ work in his film The Convicted, which went on to several prestigious international film festivals, that he immediately offered her more roles on his future projects. The two also worked together on the 2015 film Hemorrhage.
Hemorrhage tells the story of a brawling hockey player who suffers from his fourth concussion and is forced to retire. He connects with a shady old high school friend and starts flipping houses, but quickly finds himself face-to-face with a dangerous Mexican gang. When they rough up his wife and kidnap his son – the gloves come off and he takes matters into his own hands.
“Everyone thinks that a pro athlete leads only a glamourous life. That being said, not all are successful as the main stars that are showcased. So many of them face their own unique set of challenges, especially if their career gets cut shorter than expected. The movie is an age-old warning to be careful of whom you associate yourself with,” said King.
Playing the lead role of Ana Chaffe, King was ready to take on a little bit of an action hero. She was a wife and step-mother that was stereotypically cautious and suspicious of her husband’s questionable associates. She was very protective of him and had been worrying about his future, ever since he was forced to retire from his professional hockey career. Her instincts turn out to be correct as she later suffers from her stepchild being kidnapped and her husband under the control of a criminal. Ana’s worry provided pivotal foreshadowing in the film, building suspense and emotionally investing the audience.
“It was a rush to play such a strong character, fighting for her husband and step-child,” said King.
While shooting Hemorrhage, King was required to handle a gun for the first time in her career. Even though it was just a prop, she found the experience quite unnerving. She researched how to shoot a gun, and despite never actually doing so, perfectly executed the scene. This was made easier because of how comfortable she was on set, extremely familiar with the entire cast and crew. However, there was a lot of testosterone on the sports fuelled action film, she joked.
“It’s such an overall different frame of mind when you’re involved in an action focused film. I enjoyed this new approach and the comradery that goes along with it. It was a great time to channel in all great angry female roles that I have seen on TV over the years,” she said.
The trailer for Hemorrhageis featured on Daily Motion‘s website, and the full film is available via Vimeo on Demand since September 2015.
“I am very proud of its outcome. The reviews have been kind and we are grateful for it,” King concluded.
Romaine Waite has always been an outgoing person, a trait he believes has helped him greatly as an actor. When he was a child, growing up in Canada, he participated in school plays and drama programs, not because he thought it would be his career, but simply because that is what he enjoyed. It wasn’t until his early twenties when he realized he could truly follow his passion, and the second he got his first professional part, he knew that acting was his calling.
“I’ve always had this innate ability to connect with people in some way, making people laugh or causing disruptions, depends on who you ask,” he joked.
Now, Waite is a celebrated actor. His work in television series such as Star Trek: Discovery,Frankie Drake Mysteries, and The Mistimpressed audiences in not only Canada, but the rest of the world. His versatility knows no bounds, and he is always looking for a new way to explore his talents.
“Romaine is great. He makes my job a lot easier. He is the consummate professional and a very dedicated and crafter artist. It is always pleasurable working with him,” said Alan Moy, Producer who worked alongside Waite on Murdoch Mysteries and Usher the Usher.
Waite recalls his first real taste of international success as the sci-fi horror flick Antisocial. The movie follows five university friends who gather at a house party to ring in the New Year. Unbeknownst to them, an epidemic has erupted outside, causing outbreaks around the world. With nowhere else to turn, they barricade themselves indoors with only their phones, laptops, and other tech devices. They use their devices to research the possible cause of this outbreak. Information and video footage over flow their computers as they descend further into the cause and the ensuing chaos. As the virus spreads, the mood in the house changes from fear to paranoia. Who is safe? Who can they trust? Reality becomes blurred as they slowly discover the source of the virus causing the sickness… and there is no going back.
“I thought the story was clever it takes something that everyone was familiar with, being social media, and took it to the extreme. If you take away the gore, it’s basically what we’re experiencing today. Snapchat, Instagram, etc. have become these tools that are allowing people to share every single aspect of their life. In a way, I think the film talks about a very important subject in our society — what are the effects of social media and what are the limits and consequences of sharing too much on social media,” said Waite.
In the film, Waite plays Steve, one of the five friends gathering to celebrate New Year’s Eve. He was jovial and sincere university student. Audiences got to see him enjoy time with his close friends and girlfriend. Unfortunately, he was first in the house to experience the epidemic that trapped them in the house. This is pivotal, as Waite was responsible for getting the audience to truly understand the epidemic, and therefore the film. Within the film, Steve was the only individual who the audience was able to see go through a full transition. With this, the audience knew what the signs were and what would happen if another character was to get infected.
“It was really important to me that people felt the struggle of this character. As he tried to figure out what was happening to him without revealing anything to others in house. Through my portrayal, I hoped the audience would feel like they were a friend to my character and miss this him when he was gone,” Waite described.
The film had its premiere at the Fantasia Film Fest in Montreal back in 2013, and from there went to several high-profile international film festivals, including Calgary International Film Fest, Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival, Toronto After Dark Film Festival, and the Cannes Film Festival. From there, it was distributed through Monster Pictures on DVD, through Super Channel, and on iTunes. Such success could not have been possible without Waite’s portrayal of Steve, hooking audiences to the story early on.
“It’s always nice to see an indie film do well. It takes so many people and long days to make a film. To me the success is in completing the project. I am proud of everyone involved,” said Waite.
Antisocial was Waite’s first horror feature film, and five years later he still looks back and coals the experience amazing. At the time, he was still very curious about the process of filmmaking and how it all would come together, and he could not have been happier with the result. Everyone on set was professional and inspired, creating a contagious energy. He found himself watching everyone on set, from the cinematographer to the special effects make-up artist, taking everything in and reminding himself why he wanted to be an actor in the first place.
“I liked the comradery. Everyone was really passionate about the project. We were all stuck in a house for weeks. Friendships were built, and some good memories were made. I hadn’t done anything like that before. Overall it was a great experience,” he said.
Be sure to check out Antisocial to see Waite’s terrifying performance as Steve.
As a child, Milanka Brooks found herself inspired by her late father, Harry Brooks. He was an actor, and the two would discuss theatre, film and television, and frequented the theatre together. Growing up, Milanka began seeing the theatre world as a magical space where real-time stopped and the world as she knew it only existed within the parameters of the stage. She knew from that young age that she would find herself on the same path as her father and that her future lied in acting.
Now, Brooks is an acclaimed actress, showing audiences in her home country of England and around the world just what a talent she is. Having recently starred in an episode of the popular Netflix original series Black Mirror, and the hit British television show Benidorm, the actress’ versatility is evident, and with her upcoming film Patrick being released later this year, she has no plans on slowing down.
One of Brooks’ most prolific roles was that of Svetlana in the movie Do Not Disturb. The film tells the story of Anna and John, who book into the Stratford-on-Avon hotel where they spent their honeymoon ten years earlier – separately, following Anna’s extra-marital fling, but they had paid for the room anyway. They decide to give their marriage another go but then Anna sees young Luke, the hungover best man from the previous night’s stag party, who mistakes her for a prostitute and whom she rings receptionist Sheila to get rid of. In the meantime, two real escorts arrive and assume that porter Neil is their client, to Sheila’s annoyance. Confusion arises when a blindfold Anna has sex with Luke by mistake and Neil ejects her husband John, believing him to be Luke. By the time Anna’s mother turns up there is much explaining to do.
“Do Not Disturb is a really fantastic romp made for audiences with a penchant for farce. Even when reading the script, I could feel the pace and energy of the film. It doesn’t shy away from being a purely energetic, entertaining spoof, full of thrills and turns that leave the audience feeling fully satiated by the end,” said Brooks.
The character of Svetlana is a very intimidating, confident and forceful escort from Russia. As one of the two escorts, Brooks’ character is hired to entertain the groom-to-be on his stag-do in a hotel in Stratford-Upon-Avon, a town that is definitely not known for this kind of behaviour. They storm in to the hotel and demand to be taken to his room. They end up entering the wrong hotel room and seducing the wrong man, which is the catalyst for the train of events to follow.
Svetlana came in to destroy what was already a fairly shattered environment, in Brooks’ opinion. The humor in the story came from a degenerate group of people, all finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Svetlana highlighted this by her stature, attitude and insolence of the whole situation.
“The men are quite paradoxically the scared characters in the story, and the women end up incredibly domineering and commanding. Sometimes I feel like this came a little too naturally,” Brooks joked.
Do Not Disturb also stars British icon Catherine Tate, which was the initial reason Brooks wanted to be a part of it. Working alongside such talented comedians inspired Brooks, saying the TV movie really felt like an ensemble piece from the beginning. Rehearsals consisted of a lot of improvisation and devising around the script. Writer and Executive Producer Aschlin Ditta was always open to the cast’s ideas and any amendments that complimented the story and supported the characters. This allowed the cast to really become comfortable with each other and their characters, playing off everyone’s comedic timing and creating laugh-out-loud funny scenes.
“Milanka is a very fine actress and comedienne and someone I would work with again without a second thought. As a performer she is brilliant and skilful, with a rare eye for both comedy and drama, and as a professional she is faultless. Milanka is incredibly thorough both in her preparation and execution, an exceptional talent, and while she undoubtedly delivers in performance she is also a team player who is a joy to be around. Her energy, talent, insight and humour make her an actress to grace any production,” said Aishlin Ditta, Writer and Executive Producer of Do Not Disturb.
A lot of Brooks’ performance was based on her on-screen relationship with fellow actress Kierston Wareing. The chemistry between the two, playing escorts, had to be comedic and believable to bring audiences in, so the two spent a lot of time getting to know each other outside of rehearsals and filming. The result was perfect timing between the two characters.
Working alongside such a stellar cast and crew, including Wareing, Ditta, and Tate is why Brooks enjoyed creating Do Not Disturb as much as she did. With such comedic energy all around, it was easy to see the humor of the story on set.
“We ended up shooting in this beautiful country house a little outside of London. If any neighbors were watching they would have likely called the police given the absurd nature of a lot of people running in and out of rooms half dressed, but fortunately for us we were in the middle of nowhere,” she concluded.
From the time Dewshane Williams was a child, he always had one passion: film. He spent his earliest years watching movies and television shows as much as possible. As he grew, he started to see himself as an actor. After his first performance, when he was just a schoolboy, he was hooked. He began to immerse himself in musical theatre, writing, choreographing, and acting in productions. He never envisioned himself doing anything else, and today, he is one of the best actors to recently come from Canada.
Williams has spent most of his life in Canada, and has taken the country’s film industry by storm. He has starred in hit television shows, such as The Expanse and Defiance, as well as critically-acclaimed films like The Story of Luke and Home Again.
Williams’ first true taste of international success came in 2010 from his work on the film Dogpound. Georges Bermann, the Executive Producer of the film, credits Dogpound of launching a number of careers, including Williams’. His convincing portrayal of Frank the inmate was spot on and accurate, and Berrmann was incredibly impressed with the, at the time, not well-known actor.
“I noticed that Dewshane is the type of actor that focuses entirely on creating the best work. Watching him channel the teenage angst associated with juvenile distress made our director’s job easy. He’s a joy to work with. Dewshane’s generosity and focus are admirable qualities. I think his performance in our film speaks for itself; hard work goes a long way,” said Bermann.
Dogpound tells the story of 17-year-old Butch, who is sent to the Enola Vale Youth Correctional Center in Montana for blinding an abusive correctional officer. He brings with him a deep-seated intolerance for injustices and a penchant for meting out retributions on his own. He becomes friends with two other inmates at the correctional facility, where they encounter gang violence, death, and harassment from staff and other inmates.
“This film is important because it’s a cautionary tale. It’s social commentary. If you look closely enough, it’s an opportunity to show anyone who’s going down the wrong path where they’ll end up. Particularly young people who might not have any idea what that kind of world is like,” said Williams.
In Dogpound, Williams played Frank. He was a juvenile inmate who worked as an enforcer. Frank starts a riot that involves everyone in the jail. His character has an important arc, as Frank appears to be an immoral character, but ultimately has a heart. Due to an injustice perpetrated against another inmate, he takes it upon himself to act, which was surprisingly selfless for the character. Williams is now known for taking on roles that will impact audiences, and at the time, this is exactly what he did.
Dogpound premiered in June 2010 in Paris, France, and later was an Official Selection at the Tribeca Film Festival. The director, Kim Chapiron, won the coveted “Best New Narrative Director” at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film impacted audiences and impressed critics all over the world, and skyrocketed Williams’ name in the Canadian film industry.
“The thought that anyone would pay me to do what I loved was a dream come true, it really was,” Williams recalled.
Dogpound was Williams’ first feature film. At the time, the entire concept of being on set and shooting a movie seemed unreal to the young actor. He auditioned for the role just dreaming he would get the part, but his raw talent eclipsed any lack of experience he may have had at the time. He greatly impressed the casting director, and won the role.
“It’s a standard thing to hear, but actors almost always have to audition for a part. Before getting to revel in whom you might be working with, you’ve got to compete. You’ve got to show everyone why you’d be able to bring something to the character. I studied for hours, trained with my acting coach, and left school early that day. I can remember being in Character the whole day, maybe that helped,” said Williams.
Once earning the role, a lot of research was required for Williams to truly understand his character. He read articles, watched films, and a number of documentaries. He credits a docuseries titled Scared Straight as being great source material for him to understand the juvenile delinquent correctional system.
“The film was a co-production between Canada, USA, and France. Most of our film crew had flown in from Paris, so I had to be a great listener on that set. English wasn’t our director’s first language, so I picked up a bit of French while shooting. I loved our crew; they really wanted to create a good film – I could tell, and that was infectious,” said Williams.
Now that Williams has become such a successful actor, it may be easy to forget that feeling of what it was like to be young and struggling, just dreaming of becoming what he now is. However, Williams remains humble, and Dogpound still holds a special place in his heart.
“You never forget your first film, and this one was mine. To this day, complete strangers come up to me and say ‘that film was so realistic, I would never want to end up in there.’ That’s the point, you don’t want to end up in Juvie,” Williams concluded.
“Taking on a new role, transforming into a new character is like a drug to us actors,” said Liya Shay. The Russian native has enjoyed acting since she was just a child, knowing she would never want to do anything else; she can’t live without it. She believes she is one of the luckiest people on the earth, getting to do what she loves every day. She is also one of the best actresses to recently come out of Russia.
Throughout her career, Shay has worked on a series of esteemed projects, solidifying her reputation as a true professional. Her portrayal of the sister in The 4th Person caught the attention of both audiences and critics, a trend that continued for her roles in Musician Evan Blum’s “Won’t Be Alright” music video, and the short film Greek Yougurt.
“If you don’t truly love acting, you would not be able to do it,” she said.
Shay has become an international success, with producers and directors looking to have her in their films. Just last year, this happened when producer Nikita Sapronov reached out to the actress to be in the film From Within. The two had worked together on the film Forever, and Sapronov knew Shay would be ideal for the role of Louise. The two have now worked on four projects together, and Sapronov is always impressed with the skill that Shay holds despite her young age. He was very impressed with how fluently she switches between accents and dialects. He helped the casting directors of the television series Cyberia find their lead character Dr. Alina Petrovska, knowing that Shay can speak Russian and do an authentic Russian accent. In the near future, Sapronov yet again will be working with the actress on the mockumentary feature film Homeschool Graduation, and believes that her talent as an outstanding actor will make her a wonderful asset to his film.
“Liya created a unique character in From Within. Fictional, yet so familiar to everybody who faces the struggle of their perfectionist self. The combination of her strong deep melodic voice together with the British accent that she portrayed flawlessly due to her background living in the UK, created a character that was unforgettable. The character was an antagonist, but Liya was able to play on different notes of the character, making her performance so unique,” said Sapronov.
From Within tells the story of Caleb, a musician who stands up to his perfectionist inner voice, accepts his faults and embraces his inner creativity, taking his performance beyond the technique. Shay believes the film tells an important story, as many people struggle with trying to be perfect and constantly feel not good enough. From Within tackles these issues.
“Our world is so reliant on competition in everything we do. There is always someone better or stronger or cleverer and we always have this voice in our heads that tells us that we are not good enough, and often this voice is the reason why we give up. In this story, we wanted to remind the audience that doing something from your heart is more important than doing it perfectly. That what we do and the way we do it is so unique to every person, that simply that makes us equally special. Trusting your instincts and not comparing yourself to anybody else is the key to success,” said Shay.
Shay’s character Louise was extremely crucial to the story of From Within, as she leads Caleb through his self-discovery. She pushes him beyond his boundaries, and makes him realize that he can achieve greatness on his own, if only he embraces his mistakes. Shay was able to portray how three dimensional her character became, despite being written as a simple antagonist.
“I loved playing around with this character. I tend to get cast in roles that show vulnerability and a lot of emotions. This character was the opposite. She was strong and in complete control over Caleb. it’s definitely a lot of fun to be the boss. Also, I was always moving around as opposed to Caleb who is always at the piano in our scenes. It gave me an opportunity to really play the devil who is always behind, always whispering in your ear. The gorgeous red dress was the icing on the cake,” said Shay.
The audience’s sympathy for both the pianist and the muse helped the film achieve such success on domestic and international film festivals. It was an Official Selections at the Mission Viejo Film Festival, Oasis Film Festival, VOB Screening Series, and Austrian International Film Festival. None of this could have been possible without Shay’s intense portrayal of Louise. She knew the importance of building a believable relationship with the character of Caleb. Because Louise was an imaginary character, Shay had to create a sense that she was not a real person, but a product of Caleb’s imagination. Although it was mainly achieved through montage in the film, she had to carry the sense of it throughout the film. She chose to often walk around in circles close to Caleb, intruding his personal space, which emphasized that they had a very close relationship, and that she was holding some sort of power over him.
“Louise has a strong mindset that can’t be changed or meddled with. Unlike Caleb, she knows exactly what she wants from him and how to get him there. Although she is the antagonist, the audience is compelled to listen to her because of the intensity that she holds in every moment,” Shay described.
Audiences should be sure to check out Shay’s portrayal of Natasha in the upcoming film Jet Lag. Check out the trailer here.
Actor Souleiman Bock’s intriguing and versatile look coupled with his phenomenal acting skill have been integral to the actor becoming a hit both at home in London and abroad. Considering that Bock landed one of his first roles on the hit British TV series “MI-5,” aka “Spooks,” it was an easy bet that the uber talented actor would soon be hot on everyone’s radar, and he has become just that! In “MI-5” Bock took on a major role as an ill intentioned terrorist who plans to bomb London’s House of Parliament and takes a ship hostage along the way. For anyone who has had the chance to watch his performance and how he embodied a man of evil deception down to the most minute detail, it’s easy to see why he has continued to land roles of a similar nature.
In the dramatic crime series “River,” which aired last year, Bock took on the critical role of Khaalid Mohamoud, a hard-working immigrant who harbours a game-changing secret to protect a friend. In “River,” which earned the Golden Nymph Award from the Festival de Television de Monte Carlo, as well as a BAFTA TV Award nomination, Bock acted alongside one of his icons, multi-award winning actor Stellan Skarsgard (“Good Will Hunting” “The Avengers”), a memorable experience to say the least.
Bock recently wrapped filming on an episode of the upcoming series “Riviera,” which stars Golden Globe nominee Julia Stiles from (“The Bourne Ultimatum,” “10 Things I Hate About You”). In the series Bock takes on the critical role of a doctor acting alongside multi-award winning actor Idal Naor from hit series “The Honourable Woman” and “The House of Saddam.”
With undeniable magnetism on screen, those with even the toughest of standard will conclude that Souleiman Bock is a gifted performer. Aside from bringing some of the most challenging characters to life, Bock is fluent in English, French and Somali, something that gives him an edge over others in the industry.
To find out more about Souleiman Bock and some of his exciting upcoming projects make sure to check out our interview below!
Hey Souleiman thanks for joining us! Can you start by telling us where you are from?
SB: I was born in Djibouti, East Africa. I traveled a lot as a kid because my dad was in the French army, we then settled in Paris when I was about 10. But I have been living in London for almost 10 years now.
When and how did you get into acting?
SB: Acting was always on my mind growing up since I loved films. Although i wanted to play soccer professionally as a kid and almost ended up doing it, when I turned 20 I went to my first acting class in Paris and after that I was hooked and never looked back.
When did you land your first onscreen role? What was the project and how did it feel being a part of it?
SB: MY first professional acting job was on the British Drama “Spooks” or “MI-5” as it’s known outside the UK, I was really happy getting the role since I had been a fan of the show before and I considered it to be the best spy/action drama anywhere. It was quite an experience being on a show of that quality with a really great cast and crew.
You’re currently shooting the upcoming series “Riviera,” can you tell us about the show’s story?
SB: The show is about a rich family who inherits an empire from their father when he dies in the South of France. But all hell break loose as they discover all the dark secrets he left behind. The lead actress is American actress Julia Stiles.
What character do you play and why are they important to the story?
SB: I’m not allowed to go into to much details right now since the show is in production, but I can say that I am playing a Doctor who is key to the storyline, and there is a nice plot twist regarding him.
Did you face any challenges in bringing this character to life?
SB: Being quite young, playing a Doctor with a lot of experience and weight to him has been a very interesting challenge.
What was it like working with director Damon Thomas and the rest of the cast on the series?
SB: I think this has been my best shooting experience so far since we were shooting in the South of France in some amazing locations. The director was really experienced and efficient, and the cast and crew are really friendly, which always makes things better.
How about the crime series “River,” what was that about?
SB: “River” I would say is my best job to date, and definitely my most demanding job as an actor. It was a great experience bringing Khaalid to life because of the complexities of the story and the character. Also acting opposite Stellan Skarsgard which I considered before I met him on set to be one of the best actors out there, was a really amazing experience. I learned a lot watching him work and grew a lot from it as a result.
How did it feel when you found out you had landed a recurring role on the series?
SB: I was really happy, again because I knew I was going to work with Stellan Skarsgard and the story I felt was really different and special. The show has has some amazing reviews on its quality and originality.
Can you tell us about your character Khaalid Mohamoud? What kind of guy is he and what happens to him in the story?
SB: He’s an immigrant in the UK who has been working hard to support his family and struggles to find his place in society, he’s central to the story because he’s hiding information in an effort to try and protect someone, a move that could change the course of the story.
You are also in the series “Call the Midwife,” can you tell us about your character?
SB: I actually just finished shooting and I am in season 6. I play a British Merchant Navy Seaman in the show. It is set in the 60’s and my character is trying to have his wife go back to Africa to give birth and that’s when all the drama begins.
What is the series about?
SB: The story is about midwives in the 60’s in post war London, and the job they did. It is a very popular show worldwide with great reviews.
In the episode you are in, how did your character fit into the story?
SB: I will be in season 6 episode 6, which comes out in 2017. The entire episode is dedicated to my storyline and that of my wife in the show. It’s a really heavy and sad story that will be very interesting to watch.
How did the character challenge you as an actor?
SB: Having to play a man living in the 60’s was the challenge, since people of that time had a completely different view on things but we had an amazing script to help, and I asked for details from my parents to find out what it was like for them during the 60’s as well.
Can you tell us about the project “Spooks”?
SB: “Spooks” was my first job on TV. It’s a Spy/Drama and was one of the influences for the “Bourne” movies, it is a very gritty and realistic show about the Spy world. “Spooks” is slang for spy in government official circles. I was playing one of the terrorists who planned to bomb the house of parliament in London and took a boat hostage. As this was my first experience with a show of that scale, I had to overcome a bit of nerves at first but was quickly put at ease by the cast and crew. The director of this show was Paul Whittington and I was playing opposite Richard Armitage (“The Hobbit”) who was the main Spy I took hostage in the episode and Iain Glenn, who went on to be one the main character of “Game of Thrones.”
You’ve had quite a bit of success as an actor on television so far– do you have plans to focus more on film work anytime soon?
SB: Definitely in the future that is my goal!
What is it about working in television that you enjoy?
SB: Television has become such a great quality media that you would really miss on a lot of opportunities if you didn’t look at it. Plus it is a great way for an actor to show their skills as you could have more time to develop a character, and really these days TV has amazing quality shows!
Can you tell us about some of the film projects you’ve done?
SB: Around the same time I was shooting “Spooks,” I had my first role on the big budget film “Gulliver’s Travels.” I was playing a soldier and it was a great experience. It was a massive shoot and Jack Black was really great to work with and very friendly. I also did a film with French director Mass Youssoupha called “Conscience” that we are looking to show at film festivals next year and I am really excited about that but I can’t really talk much about the story as I’m forbidden to do so. Also I have the typical actor’s story when I started I did a couple of background jobs in film to pay for for acting school, and that was also a great learning experience.
They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?
SB: At the moment, for example, the movie “Conscience” that we hope will be selected for festivals, the main reason I did this film was the director Mass Youssoupha. He saw my work on “River” and wrote that story for me specifically so I was really keen to work with him. In the beginning of my career working on films was not my priority, of course if you get an amazing project you will do it, but I was more focused on TV and now that my name is out there I go for castings for some great movie projects with great directors, and that’s what you want as an actor really– to create a window for you to have access to quality projects.
You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
SB: Now that my name is getting known it’s really about choosing that quality project that will make a difference in my career, that’s why I am very picky of what I want to be associated with. That’s why if you look at my work on TV so far it’s only be quality work. I am choosing quality over quantity!
Do you feel that you get cast to play a certain type of character more than others?
SB: At the beginning of your career you get typecast always, but you have to get your opportunities and show what you can do, and now really I get all kinds of characters. “River” has been a turning point for me really. But I would definitely say that I usually get the intense sometimes menacing type.
Out of all your productions both in the theatre and on screen, what has been your favorite project, or projects, so far and why?
SB: My favorite job so far has been the show “River,” this was where I learned the most and also the complexities of the character were so fun to play! Acting with Stellan Skarsgard has been the highlight of my career so far because I really admire him as an actor.
What has been your most challenging role?
SB: My character Khaalid on “River” was the most challenging, the range of emotions was great, and my character was always on the edge. This is really challenging as an actor.
What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?
SB: Definitely drama, I think this is where I shine the most really. And it is also my favorite genre to watch.
What separates you from other actors? What do you feel your strongest qualities are?
SB: I have always been told that I have this sort of presence which is menacing and charming at the same time so maybe that, although it’s quite hard to judge yourself but I suppose I would agree with that.
Have you been in any commercials or music videos?
SB: Yes I did a Spring Water commercial for “Voslauer” with supermodel Agyness Dein, you can actually still see it on youtube it’s called “Voslauer Part II”.
What projects do you have coming up?
SB: Coming out next year are my roles in “Call the Midwife” and “Riviera.”
What are your plans for the future?
SB: I would love to be as versatile as possible as an actor and maybe learn a new language to act in, that would be really great since I have a passion for language.
What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?
SB: Hopefully grow as an actor and do lots of quality work.
Why are you passionate about working as an actor?
SB: It’s always such a joy for me really to disappear into a character, there is nothing like it!!
If you weren’t an actor what other profession do you think you might have chosen?
SB: My dream as a kid was to be a professional soccer player, so definitely that! I am still very much passionate about soccer and sports in general, i also love the NBA.
When one finds their life’s passion it’s easy to see, a person simply comes alive when they’re doing what they are destined to do, the tricky part for many is figuring out how to turn that passion into a career and take decisive action to make it happen. Anyone who’s had the chance to watch UK actor Darren Higham perform would be hard pressed to think that Higham is driven by anything other than passion. His dedication and love for his craft oozes from his heart, magically bringing to life each and every character he portrays.
After honing his skills in the theatre starring in a plethora of productions at some of England’s most prestigious venues including the Redditch Palace Theatre, the Capitol Theatre in Manchester, and the Bolton Little Theatre in Bolton, Higham went on to land his first on screen role a little over a decade ago in the BAFTA and Royal Television Society Award winning drama “Clocking Off” created by Primetime Emmy Award winner Paul Abbott (“Shameless,” “State of Play”).
A high-profile production for any actor’s first television role, Higham lit up the screen as an aggravating police officer in the “Clocking Off” episode “KT’s Story” with ease. His believability as a police officer landed him a critical role as Police Constable in the BBC’s Edgar Allen Poe Award winning crime drama “Dalziel and Pascoe” the very same year.
Since then, Higham has gone on to amass an impressive repertoire of work that include playing critical roles in Daniel Percival’s (“Walking the Dead,” “Strike Back”) BAFTA Award winning film “Dirty War,” Brett Foraker’s comedy film “Buying Porn” and the 2010 western “Desperados.”
While Higham has proven his capacity to play everything from intense and layered roles in heavy hitting dramas to quirky characters in countless comedies, he admits that there’s a special breed of comedy that excites him the most.
“I’m comfortable in pretty much everything but I guess if I really had to choose one, I’d say comedy, more comedy drama than slapstick comedy though!”
While Higham has proven his knack for taking on comedic roles in multiple productions over the years, the one that he has become best known for is from his recurring roles on the “The Armando Iannucci Shows” created by Oscar nominee Armando Iannucci. A popular sketch comedy series, “The Armando Iannucci Shows” proved to the world that Higham is one actor whose improv skills have the power to tickle anyone’s funny bone.
To find out more about UK actor Darren Higham’s work and his upcoming roles, make sure to check out our interview below!
Hey Darren thanks for joining us! Can you tell us where are you from, and when and how you into acting?
DH: I’m from Wigan, which is a town in the northwest of England. I absolutely loved western films when I was a kid, they were an escape. I used to watch them with my Granddad. I was from a working class Northern family though and acting just wasn’t what people did. I did lots of different jobs after I left school and trained as a chef too. Then I spent a year in Hong Kong doing a few different things but I had the chance to do a few bits of work in the Hong Kong film industry, they liked my look! And once I’d had that taste, there was no going back. When I got back to the UK, I was offered a place at college and then a place at Manchester Metropolitan University where I completed my acting degree. This was a fantastic opportunity. Manchester Met is one of the best acting schools in the UK and has a brilliant reputation for theatre work.
You recently wrapped production on the upcoming film “The Quiet House,” can you tell us a little bit about the film and the character you play?
DH: It’s a futuristic film set in a world where pets are pretty much banned as they are thought to spread disease. The state looks to control this ban by way of daily scans on buildings. A drug has been developed that, when injected into the pet, means it can’t be picked up by the scanners and inevitably, a black market has developed around this. The film is pretty dark and mysterious. It has lots of underlying themes running through it such as state control, individual choice, quality of life etc. My character is pretty much a recluse, he lives alone with his cat. On the face of it, he is an upright citizen, employed in a government job, obeying all the rules – but he’s not really like that at all. His initial focus is on keeping his cat safe but then he finds himself in a much darker situation, there’s a bit of a twist to the story that I don’t think people will expect.
How is this character different from those you’ve played in the past?
DH: He’s a bit darker in the sense that you never really know where you are with him. I’ve played tough guys before but they’ve tended to be bad in a more obvious way. This guy is really chilling, you don’t really know where his loyalties lie.
You also just shot the films “Somnus” and “Modern Life is Rubbish,” can you tell us about those?
DH: “Somnus” blends sci-fi with horror. It’s about a cargo ship that is on its final mission working the monotonous Earth-Mars route. The ship malfunctions and the crew has to make a change of course to Somnus, a remote asteroid colony. It soon becomes clear to the crew though that Somnus has a dark past, which could affect all of mankind. It’s a really intriguing story and cleverly mixes sci-fi with horror. I play a medical droid who effectively is the wise old man of the ship, he’s a robot, sort of in the vein of Siri I guess. I haven’t really done any sci-fi before so this was memorable in that sense. Also, the way the story works means I didn’t have to have very much interaction with the other characters whilst filming which was also a novelty for me.
“Modern Life is Rubbish” is about a couple going through a break-up, which is played out against a backdrop of the songs that defined their relationship. It’s a really touching story, one that lots of people will be able to identify with. It’s a romantic comedy and very British! It was a lot of fun to film. I play a character called Solomon who is a friend of the guy going through the break-up. I play guitar in a band which at one point looked like they might be destined for fame but have ended up playing pub gigs. My band serves as a bit of a warning to the main guy as to what his future could look like if he carries on the same route as he is, so whilst he’s funny, he’s also a bit sad. This was a great project to work on, everyone got on really well and it was a tight crew.
Can you tell us about some of the other film projects you’ve worked on over the course of your career?
DH: I worked on a film called “Desperado.” I played the lead character who was called ‘Jr’, a wannabe cowboy living in a small terraced house in the north of England. The story revolved around this character, it was quite a simple storyline really but all of the other characters were linked to Jr, so his dad, his next door neighbour, his dad’s mate etc. I found the character pretty easy to play as his backstory was really quite similar to my own life, I really identified with his position, being in one place, feeling that you’re slightly trapped almost, but pining to be somewhere else! This was actually one of the most enjoyable shoots I’ve been on, it was a really tight knit cast and crew and we had a lot of fun.
I worked on another film called “Dirty War” which was centered around the aftermath of a bomb exploding in Liverpool Street station, one of the busiest stations in London. I played a fireman. He was important to the story as a large part of the devastation and human impact was seen through his eyes, so the audience was able to really feel what it was like through him. I found this role quite hard as it was such a difficult story – in London we had experienced IRA bombings before but this was being filmed in a post September 11th era so you felt a sense of responsibility to get it right, and to portray as best as you could the sheer horror of such a situation.
How about television projects?
DH: I’ve worked on a fair few TV programs, but the one that really stands out for me is working on the “Armando Iannucci Show,” which was a series of comedy sketches. It was written and directed by Armando and it was a privilege to work with him. I’d long been an admirer. There was a whole ensemble cast working on the shows and I appeared in a fair few of them, I built up a bit of a rapport with Armando, we have a similar sense of humour. This was a really fun project to work on, the cast was brilliant and there was a lot of improv which I love to do.
I worked on a TV programme called “Clocking Off,” which was a really popular show from a few years ago. It was an ongoing drama with recurring story lines and I played a policeman who pops up when one of the other characters gets into a spot of trouble when discovered drinking and driving. It was a serious drama, there wasn’t a lot of humour but it was one of my first TV appearances so I absolutely loved the opportunity, I got to work with some great people and the guy who wrote it (Paul Abbott) is just brilliant.
I also worked on a hugely popular show called “Dalziel and Pascoe.” Funnily enough, I also played a policeman in that too. My character is meant to be acting as security for a judge whose life has been threatened but he lets the judge talk him into letting him take some time out alone, and the judge is subsequently found murdered. This was an interesting role as whilst I was playing a policeman, I was also under suspicion of having played a part in the judge’s death so it was a bit of a dual character. This role gave me the chance to work with an actor called Warren Clark (who had appeared in numerous projects, including the film ‘Clockwork Orange’) who I really admired. He has since passed away so I feel pretty honoured to have had that chance.
You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
DH: I love for each role I do to be different from the last, it keeps me on my toes and means I’m constantly having to adapt. This ensures I never get complacent. Acting is a craft and you have to work at it all the time to ensure you’re at your best. Ultimately though, for me, the story is key. Whilst it’s a privilege to work with well-known people, I’m not really concerned as to whether the director/producer/other actors etc are big names – as long as the story grabs me, that is the hook for me.
Do you feel that you get cast to play a certain type of character more than others?
DH: Because of the way I naturally look, and my physique, I do tend to find that I get cast either in the lawman/peace maker role, so things like policemen, military men, firemen or, on the other end of the spectrum, in the hardman role, so gangsters, ‘tough guys’ and the like! I don’t mind really – it gives me an opportunity to surprise people when they see what else I can do!
Out of everything you’ve worked on over the course of your career, what project has been your absolute favorite?
DH: I would probably say “Desperados.” This was by no means the biggest project I’ve worked on but it’s my favourite primarily because this was the first film I wrote, directed and starred in myself. I went through the whole filming process from start to finish – from formulating the idea, writing the script, getting finance in place, getting the cast and crew together, filming it, post production, getting it out to the market, going to film festivals and doing Q&A sessions etc. I learnt so much and I am so proud of the finished film. It received a lot of critical and popular praise and it did really well on the film festival circuit, it was shortlisted for both the Salford Film Festival and The End of the Pier International Film Festival and was showcased in the film corner at the Cannes Film Festival.
What has been your most challenging role?
DH: Probably Jr in “Desperados,” because of the fact that not only was I acting, I was also directing the film, my first. It was without a doubt challenging and stressful – you want to give the performance your all and you want to focus on the acting but, at the same time, you also have to be thinking about the direction, where the cameras are, the other actors etc. I found that it was best to let the acting just come naturally, I’d written the script so I knew my character inside out. It worked for me.
What separates you from other actors? What do you feel your strongest qualities are?
DH: I honestly think I have a natural talent for acting, I find it easy to fall into character. I love film and I love people watching, I find it easy to imagine myself in different positions so I think I can identify with characters quite instinctively. I also trained at one of the best acting universities in the UK, I am classically trained and I cut my acting teeth on numerous theatre productions so I am comfortable in my abilities as an actor and I know I can adapt my skills to suit any particular project. On a more general level, I’m also focused, determined, resilient and can laugh at myself– the latter two are both particularly good for an actor!
What projects do you have coming up?
DH: I have a lead in an upcoming film called “Hector & Myself” which I am very excited about. I am also working on another film of my own, called “One Hit Wonder” which I hope to start filming next year. I also have a couple of other projects in the pipeline but I can’t really say anything about those at the moment. It’s a pretty busy time for me which is great.
What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?
DH: Really my main goal is to continue having the opportunity to play interesting roles in a wide variety of projects. Acting is a profession where you never stop learning, it’s a continual process and I love that about it. It is often hard, but it is never boring.
Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?
DH: I love the creativity and that every day is different. Acting can have its ups and downs, it makes you dig deep but at the end of the day, you know you’ve given something that people are going to enjoy watching and it’s a great feeling. I also love the fact that researching different roles provides an opportunity to learn more about all sorts of different issues and topics, you learn a lot that way too. It’s not just a job where you go through the same old motions each and every day.
International Entertainment, and the Talents that Leave us Buzzing….