Al Weaver: "I've Never Been More Fulfilled Than Dying As Hamlet"
Interview by Carl Marsh July 2015
Playing an Anglican Curate in the TV series Grantchester, this is not your typical role for an actor, so how did you prepare for it, did you stalk your local Vicar for a few weeks?
I didn't stalk anyone as the last time I did that I got a restraining order against me! (Joke) I did speak to the priest at the church in Grantchester though before filming... Main research for me is now done on google search. Daisy the writer and James the author were enormously helpful though. Pre-internet was probably more interesting thinking about it. So much stalking to be had!
Now that Grantchester has finished, what can we expect to see you in next?
Well I'm just about to start season 2 of Grantchester but I've got, Life in Squares coming out playing Leonard Woolf, Richard III for the BBC, and then a bunch of indie movies I've done recently. At the moment I'm playing Banquo in a green screen movie version of Macbeth. Surreal times.
Theatre or screen, if you had to choose just one, which would you choose, the one where you would say your heart lies?
If I had to choose now, I'd pick screen. But then that may change as I get older... And finally manage to buy a house! (half kidding) I grew up on movies and am still obsessed. The pictures are why I got into acting, and theatre was a kind of a surprise new medium I got to explore, love, and respect. I've never been more fulfilled than dying as Hamlet.
Is it a normal transition for actors like yourself to move into TV and films, especially those that have studied acting and was it always your intention to do this?
I had no intentions beyond not getting a bar or a call centre job really. I actually started professionally doing film and TV, after lots of theatre in college and drama school. I did workshops but Hamlet was my first gig about a year in to working. Then I did a lot of theatre, and now it's all film and TV again. Every actor will say a play every 2 years is essential, but it's not up to us really. Just got to go where the work is Carl! Like gypsies and free caravan space!
All actors have plenty of stories to tell, both witty and interesting, would you care to share any?
Without being a total name dropper and sounding like a #*^$ , they all involve my friends and are probably unprintable. Actors are fun terrors is what I learnt early on. “Hey Diddley Dee!” As they say...
You are from Bolton but now live in London for work reasons, or perhaps by choice. One question I have to ask is if you believe that now with the BBC HQ being based in Salford, and with more and more TV shows moving away from London to be filmed, that more talented actors will be emerging that originally did not desire for a move to London, where it seems all the work was/is?
I hope so, and with Manchester's new arts complex home opening, Manchester is becoming more attractive. The Bolton Octagon has had a renaissance of late under David Thacker, and it's really back on the map as a high quality theatre. With less jobs and more actors every year, it's nice to have other options than just London. That wasn't the case ten years ago.
I once went to Bolton for a night out, it was one of the friendliest places I have been too, surely you must miss the place as I know London can be the opposite at times?
You should go out in Liverpool, friendliest people in the world, and the greatest football team! I've not been out in Bolton since I came to London at 19 years old. I do have fond memories of Revolution and Club Ikon though. I know what you mean about people walking with their heads to the floor though in London, and always in a rush. You know what they say though? The man who isn't in a rush... has no where to go!
What motivates you?
How do you cope with the boredom when waiting around on a film or TV set? What do you get up to?
Well, hopefully the cast and crew are friendly funny people with a sense of humour, then you can have a laugh. I have developed eBay finger though. Like Pringles... Once you pop you can't stop! Damn the iPhone. Oh and reading, that passes the trailer waiting quickly.
Surely you must get annoyed with certain things, so what makes you angry?
Not being able to speak to an actual human being on the phone has caused many a phone to be catapulted against a wall! Just thinking about it winds me up! (Take a breath.)
I think we all can agree with you there! So what makes you happy?
My friends and sunshine! And a good job!
You know I motivate more to read, so why is reading important to you, and why should people read more books?
Well, if I didn't read I'd have to hire someone to read scripts to me as I sit in the garden supping a beer. Don't sound too bad eh? Book wise, it's getting lost or transported in to a world you're half creating. Unlike movies, there's a partnership with the author, and that's magical when you get a good book!
Do you have any favourite books and authors, and why?
Well Shakespeare, not all, but the tragedies are my favourite. Then Picture of Dorian grey by Oscar Wilde... Dark, seedy, beautiful and tragic. Wuthering heights for similar reasons. The Dice Man by Luke Rhineheart is phenomenal, and the most epic book I ever read is, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. Right now, I'm on American Gods by Neil Gaiman... So good!
London must be fun at times, so what makes a mad night out for you?
I live in a house with crazy actors, so most nights we go out really. Recently my bedroom has somehow become a mini nightclub. It's great, but I always get left with the cleaning up!
If you were an animal, what would it be and why?
Does a Velociraptor count? Because they just all round amazing creatures. Failing my first choice, then I think some kind of tropical bird! Flying around in the tropics, sunbathing in the sky, and stealing people's rum cocktails! Heaven!