Monday, 19 December 2011

My appearance in Jonathan Creek and other abominations.

When I enter a room people often ask me if I'm cold. This is because I have the sort of posture that suggests that I am cold. I have the posture of a cold man. Those of you who saw me brilliantly deliver the single line 'How can you tell?' in a 2003 episode of Jonathan Creek will not be surprised to learn that I went to drama school. There my posture was somewhat of an issue for the faculty. A lot of time was spend trying to correct it. I think they feared I'd have a career of simply playing cold men. Upon arrival at drama school I was very skinny and so was not too worried. I was quite happy to play Gulag prisoners in big movies for the rest of my days. But then my diet of potato waffles, chicken burgers from Abduls and Guinness helped my waist to expand and my career in the Gulag seemed no longer guaranteed. I too, started to worry about my posture.

The thing is posture isn't a very easy thing to correct. Although I did seem to spend every morning doing Alexander technique (rolling around on the floor) it didn't seem to be changing for me at any noticeable rate. Other students waxed smugly about the wonders it was doing but it always looked to me like they had perfect posture in the first place. It grew into a massive annoyance for me. It's a weird thing to move to the other side of the country to learn your trade and to find that not being able to pull your shoulders back is your biggest obstacle.

I'd like to think that my posture is moderately improved although if a former teacher was to see me they'd no doubt tell me it's still shit. It's almost certainly had an effect on the type of roles I've been given. I seem to have played a remarkable number of children, freakish virgins and mentally handicapped people. Perhaps if my shoulders would simply move an inch or two back I'd be competing with Ryan Gosling.

That reminds me of a story. Years ago I changed agents. My new agent was contacted by a casting director from The Bill who had been trying to track me down for a few days. They were very keen to see me for a role they thought I was perfect for. I awaited the script with excitement. The Bill, back then, was a rite of passage it seemed and it looked like I was about to make my mark. What was the role that I was so perfect for? A new bad boy PC? A local villain?I'll tell you what it was. A 15 year old with special needs. At the audition I gave it my best. Then the casting director told me I didn't need to do 'the voice'. Here's the thing. I wasn't doing a voice. I wasn't doing a voice! This means, ladies and gentlemen, that my voice to that casting director sounded like a bad actor attempting the voice of a teenager with special needs.

Whilst I'm in the mood to tell you grim stories from my chequered career I'd like to briefly bring you back to my appearance on Jonathan Creek. I did in fact have three lines in that episode but two of them were cut. Why? Because I shit. It was my first TV job and I had no idea what the frig I was doing. In the unlikely event that anyone reading this runs a drama school (I know I have a big readership in the Eastern European absurdist theatre world) then do by all means try and coax your students shoulders into optimum position. I do, however, suggest that you spend at least a modicum of time teaching them how the fuck a TV shoot works. The thing is that's where they are likely to find the bulk of their income and if they walk onto their first set utterly clueless then they are going to look like a giant twat. I was and I did.

It's hard to describe just how useless I was that day. Without knowing any of the technical jargon and being riddled with nerves I must have looked like a 6th century Native American who'd been transported and forced to walk around the Ideal Homes show in Earls Court. I distinctly remember hearing the director and the writer debating as to whether they could cut my part and still make the scene work. The answer was in the edit. They kept the one line and then quickly cut to Colin McFarlane who would later appear in The Dark Knight. Well done, Colin. Nice to see you've done so well. How come you don't keep in touch anymore? It's me! Fergus! I played the paramedic in Jonathan... Colin?... Colin?

It occurs to me that in the current climate in which there is less and less work for actors talking about how shit I can be may not be wise. If any casting directors are reading this I should point out that I am in fact amazing. I have moved on a lot for my Jonathan Creek appearance which is about 5 mins 30 into this clip...

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