An Actor’s Life

February 22nd, 2014

This article is more than 10 years old.

A leap of faith

Well dear reader, by the time you have this in front of you, I’ll have had the premiere of our latest production: the award-winning dark comedy ‘God Carnage’ by Yazmina Reza (and translated by Christopher Hampton).

If we can get it right, we will all have a hoot and maybe go away thinking: “Wow, some of that struck home!” as the Pandora’s box of truths gets opened and we enjoy the wit and ferociousness of a balancing act featuring two married couples on the edge, trying to hold it all together. (Sound familiar?)

If we don’t, it’ll become a group of self-indulgent people screaming at each other for 80 minutes. A case of come and see it ladies and gentles. You can be the judge. We won’t let it become the latter of course.

Last week Gabriel Axel, a giant of Danish screen and the director of ‘Babette’s Feast, passed away. I had the privilege of working with him back in 1994 on a film that ended up being called ‘Royal Deceit’ based on Saxo Grammaticus’s ‘Æmled Prince of Jutland’.

I was very excited as the cast included Helen Mirren (who I have fancied from afar forever), Brian Cox, Gabriel Byrne, Christian Bale, Tom Wilkinson, Freddy Jones and Kate Beckinsdale (a veritable who’s who of British acting talent).

Sadly, Gabriel’s interpretation of the characters was too simplistic. People were either good or bad. No grey areas allowed. Gabriel Byrne announced in the first scene set in a blacksmith’s forge that his brother, the king, was weak and they should have a stronger king, namely him. Those who didn’t agree should put their hands up.

My character stupidly did that, as did Jess Ingerslev’s. We were then savagely slaughtered on page six of this 103-minute film. We spent the next hour of the film tied together face to face and hidden in various parts of the castle. In the end we were shaved, had our teeth pulled out and were eaten by pigs.

Perhaps Brick Top in ‘Snatch’ was inspired by Grammaticus and Gabriel when he uttered the immortal words: “Feed ‘im to the pigs Errol!” I’ll let you do the Google search for the whole scene.

The memories of being that close to Jess, who is a very funny and talented man, are priceless. Through him I met Tom McEwan and we started to work together on our own brand of craziness shortly after that.

I have Gabriel Axel to thank for this – he played his part in bringing us together and I shall be forever grateful for that. There are people you meet and you say to yourself: “I’m glad I know them.” Tom McEwan falls into this category.

As does the director of our little ditty we’re about to open with, Harry Burton, a man who has had the privilege of getting close to one of Britain’s best wordsmiths: Harold Pinter. But that’s another story …

Hope to see you in the theatre bar after one of our performances.


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