Following my interview with director Tom Paton talking about his new film ‘Redwood’ which you can find here, his leading man Mike Beckingham took time out from his filming preparation to talk to us about his role in ‘Redwood’ and also his future ambitions.
Geek Syndicate (GS): You have a list of films in development and more planned, how are you managing the pace of such a quickly flourishing career?
Mike Beckingham (MB): I love the pace, this is the career I want to be working in. I am a hard worker, I need to keep the momentum going and build my profile. ‘Redwood’ is something I am very proud to be a part of. When you list the films I have been involved in and am about to make, it is amazing.
GS: You have previously worked with Georgia Hilton on ‘Subconscious’. What have you learned from her that you will bring into working with Tom Paton on ‘Redwood’?
MB: Georgia was the first director to take a punt on me. She gave me a lot of freedom to try out my ideas and experiment with the script. I was flown out to the USA and we were working 18 hours a day on a very cramped submarine. The days were so long, sometimes we just slept on the submarine! We either broke or got close to the highest number of scenes ever filmed in one day. That experience really taught me what it takes to be an actor and the kind of work ethic that it involves. Although I am lucky that doing what I love means that no day feels like ‘going to work’. Working on a submarine that had tourist groups coming through meant that I also had to film my scenes at very close quarters with a live audience! I also starred with Tim Abell who performed in Jerry Bruckheimer’s ‘Soldier of Fortune’ and he really took me under his wing and taught me a lot.
GS: What are your expectations about working with Tom Paton on ‘Redwood’?
MB: When we met, ‘Redwood’ wasn’t established. I was at a Q&A for Tom’s film ‘Pandorica’ and when I heard him talk about the film, his methodologies and his drive and ambition I felt a connection with him. We have similar ideas and ambitions and we are both self-taught in our fields so it felt as though we were on the same wave length. We touched base after the screening of ‘Pandorica’ and agreed to wait for the right project. Suddenly ‘Redwood’ came up and I jumped at the chance, the script was brilliant.
GS: Tom has said that he based the lead role on people that he had encountered. Has this influenced how you approached the character?
MB: I read an interview with Jake Gyllenhaall where he talked about living the lifestyle of your character to understand them and improve your portrayal. Tom has written such a multi layered character that there has been a lot for me to work with and so I have been spending these last few weeks building a connection with him and working on how to best bring the character to life on screen.
GS: What do you think you are going to enjoy most about filming with Tom?
MB: I think who Tom is away from filming. The key to a film’s success is collaboration and that relationship has to start away from the cameras. He is an interesting person to be around and that helps a lot. We also have a great location in the forests of Poland so we can immerse ourselves totally in the location.
GS: Do you have any tricks up your sleeve for when you meet your fellow cast members and have to bond with them quickly and start working?
MB: My mum said always talk to someone as if you have known them for ten years and then you can put them at ease. I always try to be relaxed and be myself around people and then it is easy to hit it off. In a strange twist, I will be working with ‘Buffy’ actor Nicholas Brendon and it was my New York acting coach that discovered Sarah Michelle Gellar so that will be another point of connection.
GS: Tom said that he was very impressed with your audition, did you have to prepare anything in particular for that audition?
MB: We had already discussed the film and Tom is always open to actors having their own ideas. Some he takes on and some he doesn’t. He put me at my ease and that is always the best conditions to give your best work.
GS: What are your career ambitions moving forward? Do you see yourself in front of or behind the cameras?
MB: I am a fully focused actor. It is the best feeling in the world when someone asks you what you do for a living and you can say that you are an actor. I am a 3rd generation actor and so have always been inspired to do that as a career. I want to be the biggest British actor I can be. I am midway through my current five year plan so in 2.5 years I plan to be acting opposite Tom Hardy. I work very hard and surround myself with like-minded people, I am determined to succeed.
GS: Why Tom Hardy?
MB: I admire his character choices, his demeanour and the journey he has been on. He is always true to himself. I want to emulate that. I have ‘to thine own self be true’ tattooed on my chest! If you can be true to yourself, you can be true to others.
GS: You have acted in thrillers and now horror, what is next for you?
MB: I am going to be in a war film starting filming in 2017 called ‘Pegasus Bridge’. I will be playing Corporal Jack Bailey telling the story of the June 1944 Normandy attacks. Researching that character raised some fascinating stories. I love to test myself and expand my horizons so I am open to the whole spectrum of scripts.
GS: You have talked about your 5 year plan, when you look back, how will you know that you have really made it?
MB: The whole reason I want to be an actor is to inspire people. When you have had a hard week, you go to the cinema and I want to be in films that offer a real escape to people. I am striving to get to the top. I will know I have made it when a director is casting for a great British actor and I am the first name that comes into their mind.
‘Redwood’ is currently filming and will be released in Spring 2017.
Interviewer: The Aviator.