The actor chatted to Emma Clarendon about starring in Bitter Wheat at the Garrick Theatre and Danny Boyle’s latest film Yesterday.
Hi Alexander thanks so much for talking to me. Could you explain a bit more about what audiences can expect from Bitter Wheat? Bitter wheat is David Mamet’s new play, a satire on the inner workings of Hollywood through the story’s central character Barney Fein played by John Malkovich. If you’re a Mamet fan, you can expect to hear his trademark rhythmic dialogue and wit on display. John brings together an incredible and timely performance. The play is perhaps a little divisive but will get you talking on the way out and that’s important.
How are you feeling about being part of this production? I feel immensely privileged to have been cast in a production like this. Watching John over rehearsals has been such an eye opener for me as an actor and I’ve learnt a great deal from him and David. John’s attitude to the work is incredible; he’s spontaneous so there is never a dull moment on stage. David is very meticulous with his direction. He knows exactly what he wants to see. I sort of threw away my own process as an actor as I really wanted to use the opportunity to take away as much as I could from both John and David.
What was it about David Mamet’s play that stood out for you and made you want to be involved with this production? David’s dialogue is something very fun to play with. He comes as a very respected playwright and when I auditioned for the role I knew I would be meeting someone who has such an incredible depth of knowledge of theatre. To take away and learn from someone of his standing was a golden opportunity. Then of course…John was playing the lead role. I would get the chance to stand and be shouted at by him for three months… I mean that’s a rare opportunity for an actor as well! Most actor’s dream! Finally playing this part of Roberto, a Belizean office intern, whom can’t quite get things right. It was a very Manuellian part, which I thought I could inject some humour into.
What are you most looking forward to about being part of bringing this play to the stage for the first time? I’m looking forward to gauging different audiences’ reactions, which of course are different every night. Having those conversations with my friends and with strangers who come to see it is going to be important. I really hope the play offers a wider conversation.
So as well as being on stage we can soon see you on screen again too. Could you tell me a little bit more about what ‘Yesterday’ is about? Yes! Yesterday is a lovely British Summer film directed by Danny Boyle and written by Richard Curtis. The story follows Jack Malik, a struggling singer songwriter who gets hit by a bus and then wakes up to find himself in a world where ‘The Beatles’ no longer exist.
It seems like it is going to be a real feel-good film – how was it being part of that? It certainly is and it’s nice to be a part of something that can hopefully bring people together over the summer after years and months of uncertainty and division! Again, I was working with two incredible individuals who have contributed enormously to British cinema. It was also great to be in a film with The Beatles music! My character Gavin can’t get enough of the songs so I spent a lot of time dancing around and being silly on set.
You seem to be really busy at the moment – do you think you will get a chance to relax at all? Well I have my days fairly free and on stage every night and I’m really enjoying it. I’m enjoying the routine of going to the theatre every day and finding out how it’s received by the audience. To be in a West End theatre like The Garrick that has so much history, and knowing how many other plays have been put on there too – I do feel like a proper actor at the moment!
What is next in store for you? I have a film coming out later this year called The Outpost. Ideally I’d like to retain a balance of working on stage as well as working on film/TV. Mostly, I’m still trying to learn as much as I can and take from each opportunity as it comes.
By Emma Clarendon
Bitter Wheat continues to play at the Garrick Theatre. To book tickets click here or visit: See Tickets, Love Theatre.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Encore Tickets, Last Minute.com, West End Theatre Breaks or From the Box Office.
Yesterday is out in cinemas now.