Actor Adam Leese, whose credits include Bridget Jones’ Baby and King of Thieves, is on hand to give our Easter #SetReady 2019 Actors a workshop in ‘Acting for Screen.’
We had a little chat with Adam to learn more about him and his career in the industry;
How and when did you get into the film industry?
In 1998 I secured my first screen job on Victoria Woods BBC Sitcom ‘Dinnerladies’ whilst in my last term at Arts Ed Drama school. In 2004 I was cast in the lead role in my first feature film called ‘EMR’ (opposite an up and coming actor called Tom Hardy).
What do you do now?
20 years on and I’m still going! I’ve now racked up just over 60 professional credits predominantly in TV, Film and Commercials. My latest releases were ‘King of Thieves’ opposite Michael Caine and ’The Kid Who Would be King’ which in in cinemas now. I’m also a voting member and Youth mentor for BAFTA and teach screen acting at various drama schools around the southeast.
What are your biggest achievements, career wise?
My first Feature film ‘EMR’ won several ‘Best Film’ Awards at Festivals such as Washington, San Francisco and Nuremberg. But for me the best achievement was when it won The Best UK Feature award at London’s prestigious Raindance Festival where it beat off stiff competition in Shane Meadow’s ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’.
My thing I’m most proud of though is that I’ve managed to sustain a career in acting for the past 20 years.
What advice would you give to young Filmmakers / Actors wanting to break into the industry?
Get on with it! Don’t wait for people to come to you or to be discovered. Get out there, make things, play with ideas, make mistakes and learn from them, get some mates together and make a movie. Ok, so it might not get shown at the local cinema but the learning process is invaluable. I’ve seen it so often where some actors have been launched into stratospheric stardom and haven’t really had the opportunity to make mistakes and now have to do it in a very public eye! In this technological day and age there’s really no excuse. You’ll tell yourself a million reasons why you can’t make something but these are normal insecurities and the difference between those doing it and those that aren’t is just that; they’ve taken the leap of faith.
Once you’ve taken that leap of faith then be professional. Turn up on time having done your homework. I’ve been fortunate enough to be there at the beginning of several famous actors careers like Tom Hardy, John Boyega and Andrew Scott and there’s one thing in my opinion, that they all had in common (apart from being great actors!); they take the work seriously but they don’t take themselves too seriously. So this would be my general advice for conducting oneself in the industry.
Who is your favourite British Actor and why?
I have the utmost respect for the British actors, past and present, who have assisted in creating a reputation which sees British Actors as some of the best in the world. I’m also incredibly lucky to have worked with so many very fine actors from highly established Oscar winners such as Olivia Coleman and Colin Firth to newer kids on the block like John Boyega. For every ‘famous’ British actor there are dozens of ridiculously talented British Actors who fill the supporting roles. I could name lots of them, who’ve you’ve probably seen lots but don’t know, as my favourite actors BUT my favourite recognised British actor at the moment would be between Tom Hardy and Daniel Day Lewis. Both of them make incredibly bold and clear choices which is essential for a good performance. Indecision creates wishy washy acting in my opinion. Daniel Day Lewis pips it though; he’s just so effortless in his execution, just like the swan gliding along the surface in a storm despite the legs going like the clappers! He puts in a copious amount of homework to make it look that easy.
Who is your favourite British Filmmaker and why?
Thankfully we’re living in a time when this is a really tough question! From the pioneers like Ridley Scott and Stanley Kubrick to those smashing the boundaries such as Christopher Nolan and Duncan Jones. It would also be pretty bad practice for me not to mention a director I’ve worked with! So I might have to answer this in two parts!
There’s a couple that I worked with who are brilliant, Firstly Sharon McGuire who directed me in Bridget Jones’ Baby. She’s hilariously funny and allows her actors to have fun and play! She’s got the best eye for comedy and knows how to create a secure set where the actors feel safe to bring out the fool!
Secondly is Joe Cornish who has directed me in Attack the Block and more recently The Kid Who Would be King. Not only is Joe a great filmmaker but also an excellent writer. What I love about him is that he’s making bold movies! A lot of movies lately try to be all things to all people but Joe knows his target audience and makes the best movies for that audience. It’s in the same vein as early Spielberg when he was making movies such as E.T or The Goonies. Joe’s an incredible visual director and knows what he wants from a performance. He’s also huge fun to work with!
But I would love to work with Christopher Nolan. I love the way he’s a very practical director and tries to keep green screen to a minimum. He has incredible vision and imagination and has a great understanding of character status and the way it shifts. The behind the scenes footage on the Inception DVD is well worth a watch!