Interview by Carl Marsh - April 2015
Hello Nicholas, I hope you have been keeping well?
Yes. Very well thank you. Things couldn't be better right now. Well, they could but I'm not complaining.
So tell me about filming Fortitude, was it fun in the cold up in Iceland?
We had such a great time filming Fortitude. Funnily enough, it wasn't as cold as people think. Since records began, last year was the warmest winter ever in Iceland. We had to bring snow in from the UK. I believe we became the biggest importer of fake snow ever in a production.
What was it like working with all those other very talented actors?
It was a dream cast. We not only had great respect for each other on set but we genuinely all got on off set too. Which is rare for a cast that big. There were 26 speaking characters so normally, with that many personalities to deal with, you'd think it'd be a handful but not the case here.
In 2015, and besides Fortitude, what else can we expect to see you in, and which are you most excited about?
Well, I'm currently on stage at the Bush Theatre in a play called The Royale by Orange Is The New Black & Sons of Anarchy writer, Marco Ramirez. This is his first play, and this is it's UK debut. I'm loving every minute of it. Easter weekend will see the start of A.D. (The follow up to The Bible series) on NBC in America in which I play Arik for two episodes. And on a May 1st, Monsters: Dark Continent will be on general release in cinemas. I don't do excitement. I do angst and nerves. I'm looking forward to having an audience enjoy them.
I know you write poetry, and am I correct in saying you will be releasing a book of poetry in 2015, and then accompanied by 3 short films?
I am one of three co-founders in a publishing company called Big Smile Publishing with a view to putting out books of an artistic nature. We were due to release a book of my poetry this year but we decided to go in another direction as I was too busy with acting work to focus on the book or the films to accompany it, so we released a book called 'McQueen: backstage - the early shows' which is a photographic book full of Alexander McQueen's shows from a backstage perspective. All photos were taken by one of the companies co-founders Gary Wallis. It's selling well in the V&A Museum and online through our website. I'm working on the poetry book now and one film has already been completed. We have now rescheduled for 2017.
With regards to books, you must read a lot, so which ones would you say were your favourites, and what did you take from it and did this entice you into writing yourself?
I have a few favourite books for different reasons so can't choose just the one, but one of my favourites books is The Minotaur Takes A Cigarette Break by Stephen Sherrel. I identified with that feeling of being different. This Minotaur works in a diner flipping burgers, and deals with being awkward socially and the prejudice of being "other". On many levels, I've felt these things. He has a crush on one of the waitresses and is shy around her, and that reminded me of my teenage years.
By reading these books, did these entice you into writing yourself?
Reading absolutely inspired me to write. I loved the use of language that was available in a way I'd not explored through acting, so just picked up a pen one day and started. Music & song lyrics were also a big influence.
My aim Nicholas is to ask everyone that I interview why they think people should read more. So why should they?
Reading is a great educative tool. I've learnt so much through books. Things I thought I'd known, I'd re-learnt. Things I wasn't aware of, I now have some knowledge of. Reading opens you up to worlds that aren't available to you in your everyday life. And where they are, you can identify and see your own experiences from a different perspective. As an actor, words are vital, so reading allows me to expand my vocabulary on a daily basis. I always use a dictionary as discovering new words and alternative meanings are invaluable to me.
One thing I needed to say is that you are actually 4 days older than me! You are in much better shape than I am, I think I need to pull my finger out! Seriously though, don’t you find that being our age (41), that exercise and healthy eating is hard work?
Wow! Happy Birthday for the 6th!
No. It's not hard for me at all. I've always been able to eat what I want as I have a very fast metabolism. I've always eaten pretty healthily though. I don't smoke, have never taken drugs and don't drink enough alcohol to warrant calling me a drinker. Having trained in dance as well as acting from a young age, fitness has been something that has just been a part of my life.
If I can go back a couple of years and ask you about the series you did called Top Boy, and your character was one I know we all warmed to. Would you say that was one of your best earlier performances, and did you enjoy making that series?
I haven't seen Top Boy, so I can't comment on the final edit of my performance. And I don't see it as one of my earlier performances either, as I've been acting for 30 years. I still see it as one of my recent performances. It felt good while filming, and I knew I'd touched on something that an audience hadn't seen from me before on television, so was very pleased to be able to share that with the public. I had a great time during filming. The cast and crew were great to be around, and I very much enjoyed working with Yan, our director. I'm very grateful for the role of Leon. It was a defining moment of my career.
Last question, and I am interested in hearing you response, especially if you can put your poetic touch to it. If you were an animal, what would it be and why?
I ride the thermoclines of the country air. The view of my eye is the best of all our kind from up here. Gliding over my prey, I pass what I don't like. Very choosey am I with what I eat, that to go hungry is far better than a mediocre bite. And there it is; that for which I prey. That feast of the day. I'm focused and determined. Disciplined in my approach for never wrong is my feeling...
Beautiful words, just beautiful words! I would like to hear why a bird, even though from those words, I can get an idea?
Why a bird? Because I'm an observer. I sit back and watch. I take my time and think before I do anything. Birds have to consider everything. The wind. The speed. The weather. There's a lot to consider when flying. They have to make smart choices or there are huge consequences. I consider everything. I don't like negative consequences.