In the last issue of LUSSO, we introduced four actors we believe will be dominating the stage and your screens in the next decade, however small, large or 3-dimensional those screens may be. Here’s four more alpha males from the survival-of-the-fittest savannah that is British acting talent, each giving an articulate insight into their personal passions.
Born in 1978 in Plaistow, London to Nigerian parents and youngest of four children, Jimmy has proven himself entrepreneurial as well as talented, dedicating himself to giving something back to his local community. It’s not for nothing that his local nickname is Mr Nice. Talent runs in the family. His eldest brother Sola is head percussionist in Jamiroquai.
“My company, Triforce Productions, was founded by myself and my business partner Fraser Ayres, who is also an actor. Everything we do is about giving talent the platform to be seen by the most important audience – casting directors, producers and directors across film and TV. People that can move their careers forward. One of our biggest events right now is Monologue Slam which is at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. The way that works is you have a one-minute round, a three-minute round and an improv round.
We have 10 slots and we audition over 200 people. My job is to introduce fresh talent to those that wouldn’t have seen any of this nature before. And of course I’m host with the most. With so much funding cuts in the arts, it’s important to be able to be seen by many people as possible and that’s what we provide.
Some of those with no training get parts immediately, which is great. Though I myself trained, and I still recommend it. Technique is very important because it allows you to spread yourself wider across the different mediums of film, television, theatre and even radio. Truthfully, it’s not necessarily easy to do theatre if you haven’t trained. That sense of craft really helps the stage actor connect with an audience. There’s a vast difference for example between doing a play for a few weeks and a few months.
Triforce are already making short films which we are showing. And there’s projects that I’m pitching to the BBC at the moment. We do hope to be seen as production company with established faces like Sheridan Smith. Of course I’m ambitious and I would like to develop the group into a production company very much as Simon Pegg has done. He has leveraged is his talent into a being content maker across all media. I look to American talent such as Matt Damon and George Clooney and what they’ve done with their careers as a better example to all of us back home.”
Jimmy wears: waistcoat and jacket – Vivienne Westwood at Van Mildert, trousers – Hardy Amies, shirt – Mr. Start.
Channeling the perfect English gentleman, Downie was raised near Hitchen in Bedfordshire. He’s made a name as multi-talent, acting in sketch comedy, gritty theatre, films and as an award-winning writer. When we talk, he has returned from a month of filming in deepest Costa Rica, portraying Montgomery Clyde, the eminent English explorer who befriends a friendly Peruvian bear called Paddington. When the film comes out later this year, Paddington will be talking like Colin Firth.
“Acting and writing go hand in hand for me. The creative part of sitting and creating worlds and characters. Most of what I do is funny. I’ve written and staged The Curse of Elizabeth Faulkner at the Charing Cross Theatre, which premiered during the Edinburgh Festival. Having it transferred to the West End is great. I’m not in it – I’m more of a creative consultant on the side. It’s a Gothic farce set in an Edwardian undertakers, which is failing because people aren’t dying in the right places. It becomes a kind of John Buchan-ish, Thirty-Nine Steps mystery – that kind of sprawling adventure set across the countryside in a race to cure this family of the terrible curse by exhuming a grave.
And I do have other comedy writing projects so yeah I’ve been very busy this year. I just like making people laugh, really. I have no interest in changing the world, telling them what’s going on in East Timor. I’m not about to create known Chomsky the Movie.
I’m about pure escapism – a bloody good laugh in the tradition of classic English comedy. I enjoy wordplay and clever dialogue which doesn’t rely on too many expletives or scatological references to get the laugh. To my mind, the characters should make funny situations.
In a sense, I’m trying to get back to the old school – what one might call a ‘crafted medium’ – shows like Hancock, Steptoe and Son and Father Ted. I’ve just been in Toast of London, which is written by the writer Father Ted creator Arthur Matthews. The man is a genuine genius.
The hardest thing doing new comedy today is being given the space to develop. Too many shows aren’t given the time to develop over a few seasons as Blackadder or Monty Python would’ve done 30 or 40 years ago. I do a show on Sky, called This is Jinsy and they’ve let us just try stuff, which harks back to those earlier days of TV comedy.
Tim wears: dinner suit – Hackett, shirt – Pin Collar Shirts.
From the Guinness council estate in Chelsea, to being a pro footballer, the face of Burberry, on to big starring roles, this intelligent and thoughtful young man is hoping to occupy the same cultural position as his heroes De Niro and Gary Oldman.
“I’m about to start a Frankenstein for Fox report, directed by Paul McGuigan. And I’ve just finished the new John Boorman film, Queen and Country which is the sequel to Hope and Glory.
I play Bill, the character who in the original film was 11 and now in this film is 18 and just starting national service in 1952. Luckily he doesn’t get sent off to Korea, he just gets to stay in the camp and teach the other soldiers how to type. He’s clever and knows how to work the system. From my point of view, what was interesting is that it’s a coming-of-age story filled with these incredibly interesting and eccentric characters, such as the RSM and all the other officers who played by great actors such as Richard E Grant and David Thewlis.
Some of the other recruits are confrontational and rebellious but my character – in essence the young John Boorman – is much more thoughtful. He’s a dreamer and a thinker.
What came out of doing this is realising that National Service was no bad thing. Yes, you have to do the marching, obey orders and do the square bashing, but everyone I interviewed who’d done it said they had a real laugh. They said it was the making of them.
What’s interesting is that in 1952 all the officers had already fought in the Second World War and sacrificed a lot for their country but these kids are about to experience the 60s. Rock n roll and freedom is coming.
Whatever you do in life, you’ll essentially be building upon a character for yourself. When I was 13 or 14 I was six-foot and had size 10 feet. I was bigger than my teachers and they had no power over me. I think I actually felt a little lost. I realise that an experience even as extreme as National Service can be a really defining moment. A constraining, confined situation helps you thrive. Of course some went to fight – in Korea or Malaysia or Suez – but there are upsides even I can see.
I’d love to make more stuff similar to the people who are my heroes like Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, but I think when they started their careers, the films the came out that had a lot more energy and maybe more social resentment. In the 80’s, the work of Alan Clarke and Ken Loach got more left-wing as society was going more right-wing. Today seems blander in may respects.
Many of my friends feel a bit lost and, to a certain extent, angry. We still all play football together and we walk around Fulham, which essentially is OUR neighbourhood. You see the new build luxury apartments along the river and million pound conversions of council houses and you ask yourself ‘where am I going to live? How can I have a family?’
I’m a very lucky man. I didn’t really have any training. I just really loved films. So I put myself on up casting website and got a couple short films and then did a play and then I got an agent. I’ve been really busy since then.
Callum wears: leather jacket – Hunter Gatherer, shirt – Vivienne Westwood at Van Mildert, tie – A. Sauvage, watch – Montblanc (Timewalker Twinfly Chronograph).
Ben Lloyd Hughes
Only out of Guildhall School of Music and Drama three years, and already having spanned Dickens, Shakespeare, Ed Miliband and teen sex’n’drugs instructional TV giant, Skins, Ben is proving hugely versatile. He’s now in cinemas, opposite Kate Winslet in the ‘new Hunger Games’, Divergent.
“I’ve just been in Henry V with Jude Law in the West End, at the Noel Coward theatre. Of course, these are the roles and productions you dream of when you’re first starting out. One can’t help look to those you’re starring with and take inspiration.
I’ll just look at Kate Winslet. She really takes the work seriously, but cannot take herself seriously at all. She’s a truly class act and if I had a career like hers, I would really consider myself lucky. She’s been really in high-quality dramas like Revolutionary Road and the Reader but is also managed to be in blockbusters like Titanic and now this, too.
Divergent is a really interesting concept about a young person in a future world where that person has to make a decision about what world they want to live in. It’s a classic science fiction, so you have great story married to great effects. I obviously love the Shakespeare, but there’s no shame in enjoying genre pieces as well. I’m always happy with a good rom-com, thriller or adventure film. You’re just looking for something that tells a great story because just special-effects and well-rendered monsters really isn’t going to fully explore the human experience.
That’s why even though I loved the Star Wars prequels as a kid, I really loved watching DVDs of the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies. It would be a dream to be in those kinds of productions. I’m fascinated by the process of how these big movies come together I remember seeing footage shot at the time of Return of the Jedi and in pre-production, George Lucas and the director Richard Donner and the production designer are all just coming up with ideas for scenes and first stories. They’re sculpting the material as they go. If you’re interested in how it all comes together, there’s so much material out there now. On YouTube, this guy’s loaded up a video of original trilogy up and he’s into cut in all the ‘making of’ elements, culled from around the net. You can watch the films come together, scene by scene, through the behind the scenes process. And now I get to see it for real in my job.
Have I been approached for the new one? I haven’t read the script but I’ll admit I have been in for it. Obviously, I must emphasise that every male actor I know in London has, too. But yes, it’s a dream for any grown male to have his own lightsaber.”
Ben wears: suit – Paul and Joe Homme, shirt – Pin Collar Shirts, watch – Montblanc (Nicolas Rieussec Rising Hours), shoes – Grenson.
Photography: Andres Reynaga.
Styling: David Bartlett, Styling Assistant: Perry Juby. Make up and Grooming by Mira Parmar using Tom Ford Beauty.
Shot on location at the Triton Penthouses www.thetritonpenthouses.com. A British Land Development. Prices start from £6 million.