The prodigious talents of British actress, Liane Grant, seems to show no ends for she has received acclaim not only for her professional work in acting, directing, writing and producing on stage, but on the screen too; and on both sides of the Atlantic, no less.
Recently Grant co-produced, wrote and played the lead role of Meredith in the American dystopian play, “Half Me, Half You”, which debuted at the Fresh Fruit Festival in New York in July 2018, and where Grant won the Outstanding Playwright Award. The hit production also led Grant’s costar, Jennifer Fouche, to earn the Outstanding Featured Performer Award.
“Acting is so much more skilled and complex, and uses so much brain power as well as heart and soul power, more so than I think many people realize,” said Grant, who has over 26 acting credits on stage and screen.
“It also forces me to be a better person because I’m constantly having to think about different stories and different kinds of people, and look at things from a multitude of perspectives.”
An alumnus of the prestigious Cambridge University in England, Grant also studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) in New York for two years. In 2015 she co-founded her own production company, RoL’n Productions, through which she’s produced “Half Me, Half You” and other acclaimed works.
RoL’n Productions focuses on providing opportunities for women in the arts and with an all-female cast, “Half Me, Half You”, which dramatizes issues of prejudice such as on race and gender, was no exception. Grant co-founded RoL’n Productions with Roxanne Lamendola, an American actress whom she met at AADA, the alma mater of some of the best actresses of their generation, from Lauren Bacall to Anne Bancroft of yesteryear, and Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain of today.
However, Grant’s first theatre co-production for RoL’n Productions, the barbed comedy, “Taken in Marriage,” not only had an all-female cast but also linked her with yet another luminary of screen and stage, the three-time Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep, as she performed in one of the lead roles of Andy, a part originated by Streep on Broadway in 1979.
“Working with so many talented women, knowing that we’d provided them with those opportunities to showcase their talents, was amazing,” said Grant, who ensured that seven production roles, in a variety of areas, were filled by women.
Grant co-produced “Taken in Marriage” in 2015 to be performed at the Waterloo East Theatre in London, England, with the sharp comedy focused on the character of the pretty and young Annie, as she sits in a basement on the eve of her wedding, surrounded by female family members, with long-lost feelings, frustrations and secrets on the verge of being revealed to much hilarity.
Grant’s debut in a feature film, “Gypo,” was in the UK in 2005, but it marked a strong start to her career, as the film not only won the British Independent Film Award for Best Achievement in Production but, more so, was directed by Jan Dunn, the multi-award-winning female auteur and one of the first British directors to be listed on the Hollywood Director’s List.
“Doing ‘Gypo’ was my first professional job, and my first feature film, and for that reason it will always be a standout project, let alone the amazing team of professionals I was able to work with,” said Grant, about her first professional role nearly fifteen years ago.
Grant plays a bully in “Gypo”, which charts the breakdown of a working class family in England, when the teenage daughter of a family befriends a refugee girl, with leading roles by actors Pauline McLynn, whose credits include Tom Cruise’s “Far & Away” and “Transformers: The Last Knight” and Paul McGann, who portrayed the iconic British character, Doctor Who, in 2013.
Moving seamlessly from stage to screen can be challenging for any actor, but for Grant, who has performed in four Shakespeare plays for theater in the US and the UK – including as a female Julius Caesar in an all-female production – her valuable training, skills and experience make the transition back and forth almost seamless.
“Theater is wholly unique because it allows for a direct and intimate relationship with the audience: even when you can’t see the under the stage lights, even when you are lost in your character and in the moment, you feel that connection and their presence in some way,” said Grant, who has performed at the famous Edinburgh Fringe and in England and New York.
“There is certainly an electricity, literally and metaphorically, when the camera is rolling, and screen work is exciting and alive in its own way, but they are very different processes: how you prepare the character may be exactly the same, but the process for that character to be brought to life is very different.”
It is an approach that stands Grant in good stead, as she prepares in 2020 for her latest on-screen role as the character, Stephanie Miles, in the new US television series “Emergency: LA” which focuses on fictional dramas based around the emergency services of Los Angeles’ fire, police and hospital services.
“When I watched Julie Andrews in ‘The Sound of Music’, it changed my world: I didn’t just understand the magic of film but the magic of a performance speaking to you directly,” said Grant, who also starred in film, “The Parasite,” in 2016.
“So, honestly, my ultimate goal would be to make someone else feel the way Julie Andrews made me feel, to pay the gift forward.”
As a former professional heavyweight boxer Larry Olubamiwo knows a thing or two about knocking opponents out in the ring; but the successes he’s become widely recognized for in recent years have actually taken place outside of the boxing ring as Olubamiwo’s continued to show what he’s made of on the silver screen.
At 6-foot-4, Olubamiwo looks outwardly dominating, something that undoubtedly lent itself to his benefit in his boxing career and intimidated opponents before the first punch was even thrown. While that naturally strong aesthetic has also led him to be the first choice for a number of commanding lead roles as an actor, his collective work in film and television have revealed his capacity take on multi-layered roles that extend far beyond that of the stereotypical tough guy.
In projects such as Verona Rose’s 2016 dramatic film “Fabric of the Royals” where he stars alongside Alice Fofana from Benjamin Rider’s multi-award winning film “Seven Devils,” and the series “Life of Hers,” which won the Best Ensemble Award at the 2014 Screen Nation Awards, the emotional range and vulnerability that Olubamiwo brings to his characters draw us into the story making it hard to peel our eyes away.
Despite earning extensive praise for his on-screen roles, Olubamiwo remains admirably humble about his career and his talent, but knowing his strengths and capitalizing on them, as is the way for any actor who wishes to ‘make it’ in such a competitive industry, have been imperative to his success.
“My sensitivity and vulnerability as an actor despite my physicality sets me apart,” says Olubamiwo. “I have been told that I’m able to convey a range of emotions with just my eyes, which I am grateful for as acting, a lot of times, is about stillness.”
Though Olubamiwo had a passion for acting during his youth, at that time boxing was where his heart and mind were focused. He spent years undergoing the intense training required of a professional athlete, eventually going on to become a powerful heavyweight competitor in the ring. In 2012 his boxing career ended abruptly, which brought understandable challenges, but in a way came as a godsend as it opened the doors for Olubamiwo to devote himself fully to his work as an actor.
While he’d already played key roles in films such as Jim Dickinson’s comedy “Rough and Ready,” as well as several commercials including a BBC Sport promo for the Rugby World Cup where he played a featured rugby player, and the popular 2007 ‘Bungee’ commercial for the Electoral Commission in the UK, which continued to air during every election until 2013, Olubamiwo was finally in a position to fully immerse himself in his acting training and take his work to the next level. Bringing the same fervent dedication and focus that he gave to his work as a professional boxer, the actor quickly became a sought after force in the entertainment industry.
He explains, “My love for acting and my natural work ethic I have as a boxer allowed me to excel in the training. And while I was training, I was very proactive in searching for acting work and an agent. And the rest is history as they say.”
After landing representation with Imperium Management, Olubamiwo’s captivating talent immediately struck a chord with “Fabric of the Royals” director Verona Rose, who aside from her work as a director, is known for numerous performances on hit series such as the multi-award winning series “EastEnders,” the two-time Primetime Emmy nominated series “Hustle,” and most recently, the Golden Lion Award winning dramatic film “Our Little Haven.”
Rose says, “It was such a pleasure to work with Larry. I had seen his work previously and it’s amazing what range he has despite his size and skills as a fighter. He is able to show such emotion without even saying a word which is true acting. I learned alot from him on set and want to work with him again.”
Nominated for Best Film at the 2016 Screen Nation Digital-iS Media Awards, a prestigious awards ceremony in the UK that’s often referred to as the ‘black Bafta’s,’ “Fabric of the Royals” tells the powerful story of a family who leaves their home in Jamaica to start a new life in the UK in the 1980s. Taking on the starring role of Derek, the head of the family, Olubamiwo gives a captivating portrayal of a man struggling to assimilate to a new culture and rise above the racism and violence he experiences in his new country, in hopes of giving his children a better shot in life.
Told through the eyes of his youngest daughter, “Fabric of the Royals” offers an impactful insight into the many challenges minorities face upon emigrating to a new country.
Revealing Derek as both the strong backbone of the family who commands respect from his children and the fun-loving dad who makes everything alright when they experience truly horrific treatment from the outside world, Olubamiwo endows his character with multiple layers. His performance on screen not only makes his character easy to love and root for as the film unfolds, but it also serves as a testament to his impeccable acting ability.
While Olubamiwo nails the mark in the powerful father-figure roles he plays in both “Fabric of the Royals” and “Life of Hers,” not all of his characters are as easy to love, but they don’t have to be. In the 2016 dramatic horror film “Cat Face” he took on the starring role of Kaka, a priest with mystical powers that brings a murdered woman back to life and gives her the power to track down a violent cult of serial killers and take bloody revenge.
Olubamiwo sends chills down the spines of viewers with his performance, and “Cat Face” went on to be awarded at the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) in 2017. Revealing yet another area of the actor’s widespread skill set, Kaka speaks Yoruba in the film, a language Olubamiwo is not only fluent in, but one that makes the character that much more mysterious on screen thanks to the way the actor portrays him.
Larry Olubamiwo is one uniquely talented actor who embodies the beautiful contradiction of being the polar opposite of what outsiders tend to assume at first glance. And while his imposing figure has made it easy for him to play the intimidating, sometimes even criminal role, like Reynolds in the 2015 thriller “Honour Amongst,” it’s Olubamiwo’s incredible emotional depth, dedication and magnetism on screen that makes him someone worthy of the spotlight and international praise.
Up next for this talented actor is the dramatic crime film “The Middle Man,” which is written and directed by Philip Howard and is slated to begin filming late this year.
Born and raised in East London, actress Karishma Bhandari first made her mark in the Bollywood film industry back in 2012 when she landed the starring role of Sita in Southbank Centre Goes Bollywood.
Aside from being a skilled actress with magnetic appeal on screen, Bhandari’s extensive dance training gave her an added edge over the hundreds of other hopefuls vying for the role. Though she was only 19 at the time, Bhandari had already spent several years perfecting her craft at home in London. Her outstanding performance in the film Southbank Centre Goes Bollywood brought her widespread attention and ultimately proved to be the catalyst for the successful career she has today.
Directed by Encounters International Film Festival Award winner Aneil Karia, who also earned the Grand Jury Prize Award from the Utah Arts Festival for her 2014 film Tag, the comedic adventure film Southbank Centre Goes Bollywood was commissioned for the Alchemy Festival, the UK’s largest festival of South Asian culture. The film followed Bhandari’s character Sita,Sheila played by Gurkiran Kaur (Oxasians, London Kahanis) and Rita played by Roshni Rathore (80’s Vampire Flick, Love Type D), three dance teachers at a local community centre who make it their mission to keep the centre open after a wealthy developer buys the property with the intention of closing it down in order to build a hotel.Chalk full of lively Bollywood dance routines, Southbank Centre Goes Bollywood’s endearing story about three young women battling the odds and fighting for what they believe in was a hit with viewers.
The first insight into the dynamic talent actress Karishma Bhandari has become known for, Southbank Centre Goes Bollywood proved Bhandari’s ability to portray a character who was the polar opposite of herself– a necessary skill for any true actor, and one that has undoubtedly led her to land leading roles in a wide range of films since.
Director Aneil Karia says, “Karishma’s passion is one thing that makes her stand out from the crowd, as well as her striking look and her warmth. It was a challenging, nuanced role in the film and she delivered a wonderful performance.”
In 2016 Bhandari’s international reputation got an even bigger boost when she landed a lead role as Geeta in the Bollywood feature film Club Dancer directed by B. Prasad. The film follows Ria played by Nisha Mavani, an Indian girl who moves to the city where she tells her parents she’s landed a respectable job, however she is really a dancer in a club.
When her parents come for a surprise visit and find a man at her house who they assume is her boyfriend, but is actually a criminal who sought refuge from the police the night before, they immediately want them to get married. The man quickly disappears, but Ria finds another man, Amit, who’s identical to him and negotiates a deal with him to pretend to be her boyfriend in exchange for money, which he needs for his sister’s wedding. Bhandari’s character Geeta comes into play as the man’s soon-to-be-wed sister, a key character in the plot who helps further the love story that eventually develops between Ria and Amit, who’s played by Rajbeer Singh (Who’s There?, Ishq Junoon: The Heat is On).
In the film, which Bhandari traveled to India to shoot for several months, she acts alongside notable Bollywood stars such as Filmfare Award winner Shakti Kapoor (Hungama, Musafir, Raja Babu) and Stardust Award nominee Zarina Wahab (Vishwaroopam, My Name is Khan), as well as actress Judith Shekoni (The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 2, Ice, Ordinary Lies).
Although she was raised in London, Bhandari’s parents are originally from Punjab, India and she grew up speaking Punjabi– something that created a challenge for the actress as Club Dancer was made in Hindi. However, Bhandari trained diligently, learning a new language and adapting her accent for the role, and she seamlessly delivered her performance as if Hindi was her mother tongue.
One of the highlights of Bhandari’s performance as Geeta came towards the end of the film when she performed an intricate Bollywood dance routine, one that few other actresses could have pulled off with the same level of grace and style she brings to the screen.
Bhandari admits, “I had already had Bollywood dance training, but to do it on a massive set in front of a lot of people was challenging… We had rehearsals every day for about two weeks and when it came time for the shoot date I had the heaviest outfit to wear. It was a wedding song and I was literally covered in jewels, which made it difficult to dance, but I pushed through and made sure my movements were seen… the song was definitely the most memorable as it was amazing to see how it was edited together.”
Some of the other film credits Bhandari has become known for over the years include BAFTA nominee Jon Jones’ (Da Vinci’s Demons, Cold Feet)2013 drama Lawless with National Television Award winner Suranne Jones(Doctor Foster), the Empire Award nominated comedy The Inbetweeners 2 with Simon Bird (Drunk History: UK, Friday Night Dinner) and James Buckley (Zapped, White Gold), Asko Pati’s (Love Station, Super Micchua) romantic action film Aashiqui: True Love with Ankush Hazra (Romeo Vs Juliet), the 2016 sci-fi drama The Conversations with Daniella Down (The Wedding Party), and more.
Having already made a name for herself in the UK and Bollywood, actress Karishma Bhandari is currently planning to make her move to the states where she will undoubtedly be in hot demand in Hollywood as well. Bhandari is currently in production with the upcoming series The Corner Shop where she plays the lead role of Maleeka, as well as the series Emergency: LA where she plays Nurse Persis Chadra. A supremely talented actress, we have no doubt that we will be seeing a whole lot more of Karishma Bhandari in the future!
There’s a scene in the hit film “Rollin’ with the Nines” where Anthony Warren, playing the Jamaican drug dealer Karnage, stabs an informant trying to buy drugs. Warren’s performance is so believable and his Jamaican patois so on point that anyone could be forgiven for thinking they were watching a documentary about crime on the island nation. Upon meeting the successful British actor however, it’s clear that the scene was very much a reflection of his impressive acting talent. Warren is a charming and imposing figure all the same, representing the ideal combination for leading men in the world of film.
Anthony’s ability to jump into distinctive roles that prove to be memorable and game-changing for any film of which he takes part is making him known in the industry. He tells us that the aforementioned scene in particular was “so violently gross [to film] but it was fun.” If anything, the London native was so convincing to his co-stars on the set of “Rollin’ with the Nines” as a menacing drug dealer that “Eastenders” star Terry Stone felt compelled to literally hit Warren in the head with a frying pan in a scene where he and his buddies try to swindle Warren’s antagonist. It hurt, according to Warren, but he swears it was an accident.
Anthony Warren’s hugely successful career began over 20 years ago, in a more humble fashion than compared to his current position of fortune. His work in “Rollin’ with the Nines” marked the beginning of his dominance in the action genre that began simultaneously over a decade ago with his critical role in “Control” opposite Academy-Award nominee Willem Dafoe (“Spiderman,” “The Aviator”), and “Fast and Furious” and “Avatar” heroine Michelle Rodriguez. Leading and starring roles in similar projects have continued, and when watching his impactful performances in films like “Rollin’ with the Nines” and “Control,” it’s clear why Warren hasn’t lived the typical life of the struggling artist.
While many actors take on work whenever they’re hired, Warren’s sought after stature in the industry means he needn’t be concerned with just taking on any project. If anything, his filmography proves his careful selectiveness and irreplaceable position within the acting field.
The truthfulness of Warren’s leading performances in other genre films like “The Deaths of Ian Stone,” opposite “Under the Dome” and “Bates Motel” star Mike Vogel, and as Capt. Naish in the Wesley Snipes (“Blade,” “Passenger 57”) and William Hope (“Aliens, “Captain America,” “Sherlock Holmes”) feature film “The Marksman,” are all proof of Warren having firmly found his own place in a world characterized by high-standards, loyal fans and blockbuster thrills.
“Rollin’ with the Nines” in particular has been a thrilling highlight for Anthony, notably so for representing his collaboration with successful director Julian Gilby who also directed Will Poulter (Oscar-Winner “The Revenant”, “We’re the Millers”) and Emma Rigby (ABC hit “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland”) in the 2014 hit-film “Plastic.” It further reinforced his growing profile with action films shot in the UK and his association with the music industry, as “Rollin’ with the Nines” concerns small-time drug dealers releasing their music in urban London.
And therein lies part of Warren’s truly exceptional talent – he has managed to traverse genres effortlessly. In his case (and maybe for this decade) action and musical theatre specifically. Alongside his key roles in action films “The Contract” with Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman (“Driving Miss Daisy,” “The Dark Knight”), Warren’s classical singing training and skill on stage landed him a leading role in Opera North’s Rodgers and Hammerstein production of “Carousel,” directed by Jo Davies, and “Brashana O”, directed by Geoffrey Creswell.
In “Brashana O”, a story based on the legendary rolling calf that forms part of Jamaica’s folklore, Warren wowed audiences with his portrayal of Barker. His connection to Jamaica gave the production a refined sense of integrity, helping to sustain the belief that the Rolling Calf is really a ‘duppy’ (ghost) that has the ability the change, if and when necessary, into other animals. Warren’s performance was easily considered as both impactful and humorous all at the same time. His role as Heavenly Goggin in “Carousel,” a more traditional musical, was an important one that esteemed reviewer Geoffrey Mogridge noted as “mysterious,” and set the scene for the protagonist’s confrontation with the production’s antagonist.
One could say that Anthony Warren is something of a ‘jack-of-all-trades.’ But his success in the different areas of the acting field prove that he is certainly not a ‘master-of-none.’ We look forward to seeing him in many more blockbusters (hopefully action movies, and more musicals) for years to come.
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.
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