It’s coming your way, full steam ahead! Actually it’s already here and you’re loving it! So tell us how does it feel? 

To be an actor? To be in movies? To be on planet earth? (Laughs) It’s amazing. Growing up in a tiny village and doing these roles is kind of weird. I still have these insecure feeling that it’s not achievable, that I’m not good enough and yet… I need to work it out and get rid of that. The universe is telling me that I’m in the right place.

Damn, right, you are.

Maybe it comes from a deeper insecurity, but I feel that I need to work harder. 

And what could you be doing more?

I’m trying to find the balance in between patience, hard work and determination. It’s not an easy balance to find.

Do you have determination?

Yes, but I think that the drive to work hard overrides the patience part.  In the northern village I come from everyone is a plumber, or a farmer, or a miner, so it’s always pure hard work. Then you come to London and Los Angeles, and it’s a different vibe innit?

Surprise, surprise!

In this industry you need to learn patience. I’ve been in it for almost 10 years now, I started when I was 19. In any other company, in real full-time employment, there is a standard progression of work, where you get promoted and promoted and you see your progression.

And I can see it in you.

Yes, you can, but it’s so subjective. It’s difficult to perceive it as an actor.

So how do you keep steady?

Writing. If I didn’t have a writing, I think I would’ve gone insane. Because every actor waits for the job, finds it difficult, and gets stressed – where is the work man? But when I write a script, I become so invested and engrossed that I forget I am an actor and when I get an email from my agent that I’ve got an audition for a role, I have forgotten I’m an actor! So yeah the writing keeps me sane.

The writing is geared to develop acting roles for you?

Not anymore. In the beginning, maybe… now I’ve fallen in love with the craft too much to write just for myself. Nothing wrong with writing roles for oneself – lots of people do it – but I don’t necessarily wanna be in the films that I write. All the films have written recently, I don’t have a part in them. I also want to direct, so I have to take a step back.

But maybe in this specific day and age people are allowed to be their own promoters, right? Maybe it’s even expected to a certain degree? To be your own franchise, the director of your narrative, the producer of your own career.

Yes, but personally I feel that if you take on too many roles, then certain ones lack, and you can focus more if you take on less. At the moment, I would rather just write and direct than act. That may change when I’m 40. Right now, I worry I wouldn’t be focused enough on both acting and directing at once. 

Cliche question, but who is your favourite director?

The Safdie brothers! When Good Time came out, that was the sort of thing I wanted to make and be in. Good Time and Uncut Gems are two of my favourite films. Obviously Martin Scorsese has always been a massive inspiration. 

Very macho artists, very inner city stories.

I don’t know why I gravitate towards this. As a kid I used to overwatch all the Schwarzenegger movies. Maybe I saw this over masculine hero and thought – I should be like that! Maybe I should be a hero! Once I sat on a beanbag and watched all the five Rocky Balboa movies in a row, on a portable DVD player. I moved away from that now, I think differently. I’m all for entertainment, that’s great, but at this moment that’s not where my head is, I would rather do important films with gritty stories like Femme or Scrapper, interesting stories that aren’t huge budget. And I don’t know how to do them yet, but I want to learn. But in this industry you can’t really always carve the perfect path for yourself, and you just have to go with the flow sometimes, so if a shark thriller and a sniper movie come my way… of course!

And yet these two movies The Last Breath and Take Cover are very technical. The process to bring them to life is not as straightforward as the public may think. Can you guide us through the process?

I got taught how to scuba dive! I was on site asking the rest of the cast – can you believe we are doing this for a living? This is our 9 to 5! I mean it’s a tough job, scary, there was a stunt coordinator but I did 95% on my scenes, only a couple of scenes of what you see on the screen is not me. There is a scene in which I take off my mask underwater and it’s pitch black, it was petrifying. It’s actually dangerous. Some of my friends said – use your stunt double if you can! This was not fun and games, one mistake and you could lose your life. There are precise protocols you have been taught, as you could run out of oxygen.

Are you really telling us you put in your life on the line for your art?

Yeah I suppose so, I’m not even kidding! There were serious conversations between myself and the cast. I felt a certain responsibility towards leading our cast – look, if anyone is uncomfortable, none of us goes under until we’re all comfortable. We have to be in this together. It has to be a partnership. 

Sounds like the director and producer in you were emerging to the forefront.

That’s right, the director and producers are not in the water. They are in the production village on the edge of the water. So whilst we are under there, we’re on our own. The stunt doubles were highly trained guys. We were safe, but… there is a couple of occasions when you may panic or… sometimes when we were doing high paced scenes and maybe also it was the pressure of water, you couldn’t get your breath back, and you’d be breathing really heavy for a long time afterwards. 

What about the stunts of Take Cover?

Scott Adkins is this super high-end martial arts actor. He’s been in tons of martial art films. He has fought Jean Van Damme! He is quality! I didn’t get to study or practice martial arts all my life, but I got to do lots of my own stunts which was cool, learned a lot how this snipers work… firing serious weapons… it was very fun. Again a thrilling ride! I got in shape for the film. There were some dangerous stunts, but the experiences that I had I would never be able to have them on a normal normal 9 to 5 life. It’s just crazy!

It’s a good life, uh? But what about this horror movie you have just written?

It’s my third short movie as a director, and it will be turned into a feature. My second short was a comedy horror. I loved Stranger Things and I knew I wanted to make a horror, a slow burn crime thriller, heavy on dialogue, very Tarantino-esque. It got a good response and entered the horror community film festivals, and I really enjoyed it. So I thought – oh snap! maybe I should write another one? And I did, and I submitted it to this investment platform that raises money through blockchain and NFTs, and it’s basically about a broke, washed up, greasy haired photographer who hopes to get a groundbreaking career changing shot. So he sneaks into an abandoned house, murder scene, and in there, lurks this parasitic monster. First time I worked with special effects!  We are all prepped and we will probably be shooting three months time. The team is all there, so it is very exciting. In the meantime we are also developing The Drop, – turning my first short into a feature film. 

What is The Drop about?

On the surface it looks just like a crime thriller, a drug deal going wrong, but what I discovered, while asking myself questions such as – why am writing this stuff? It’s all about dreams, probably from childhood. It’s about all the people stamping on your dreams. People laugh and say – you can’t do that! The theme of the film is that you got this cops and criminals and I want to paint a picture that they are all the same. We are all human. Everybody has a dream. Everybody wants to escape this mundane life. That’s really the brunt of it. It is heavily focused on cars. They are all on their way to this rendezvous where the drug deal will go wrong. On the way we get to know all these characters. Like with the Safdie brothers, we fall in love with characters that we think we should not fall in love with. We think that we should hate the antagonist, but along the way we think – hey, I really like him!? He is flawed, he is not the typical hero that we usually like. I kind of want to trick you into not knowing who the hero is. Who is the main? Who is the lead here?  Maybe it’s coming from my childhood.


It’s all about acting. People are very quick to tell you that you shouldn’t do it. They tell you it’s not gonna work. They tell you quickly that it can’t be. That it’s too big, you know? That it’s too far-fetched. 

To me this is like a dark side of Britannia. This predisposition to warn people not to let themselves dream big. To know their place. And it feels a bit disappointing to me that in 2024 it still exists and they are still doing it to kids like you.

Oh it is! It’s kind of funny in a way, but unfortunately one also starts to believe it. Maybe it’s true! Maybe this stupid! Maybe you shouldn’t do that? And this movie The Drop is about what I felt, what my emotions were.  I started to say – maybe they are right! Maybe I shouldn’t do that. And now, don’t get me wrong, now people are saying – hey, I’m supporting you. And I’m like – yeah now you do! Now that I have done movies they’re like, I’m so proud of you. And I’m – of course you are! What about when I was starting out? At family parties, there’s always somebody who says – how long are you gonna give it? And I am like – what do you mean? Till what? Til you make it! So I ask – what do you do? And they go I’m a  school teacher.  And I go – have you made it yet? Do you own the school right now? And they go – I don’t understand what you’re talking about. Well I’m gonna give it the rest of my life because that’s what I wanna do. To me all I set out to do was to buy food. I never set out to be a Hollywood blockbuster movie star. I get it there is only one percent of movie actors who do that. So if I can provide food and pay bills, I just want to do this thing, it doesn’t have to be so big. Doesn’t have to be so grand. I don’t know, I mean we can go even deeper if you want (laughs).

Interview and photography by Andrea Vecchiato.

THE LAST BREATH is coming out 1st July 2024.

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