KJ: Hi Bryan. I’m hoping we can talk a bit today about the life of the working actor, which is a mystery to most people. For example, there’s that illusion of “overnight success,” which is a total fallacy. This is a profession that requires years of training, hard physical and mental work, and over it all looms the constant specter of rejection. Seriously, why do people want to be actors??
BL: It’s a precarious life. There is no formula for success as an actor. I have had A-list actors tell me how talented I am to my face and mean it, yet I have gone without acting work for almost a year sometimes.
KJ: You have to be resilient, for sure. And at times you must get discouraged or disillusioned with your career or with the life of an actor. What keeps you going?
BL: What keeps me going is my drive. I am very driven and I am passionate about being creative.
KJ: What makes the difference, then, between success and failure in this business?
BL: A lot of success is about luck. It’s also about good relationships and equally about an agent and manager team being able to get you in the room with a director. And then you need to smash the audition. I have been in audition situations where I have given it my best and they went with a different actor because he was older, younger…and sometimes because they wanted somebody of a different race but didn’t know that until they saw me.
KJ: So auditioning you helped them decide what they did NOT want. That’s crushing. And it’s also the reality of the profession.
BL: It’s crazy. But what is so rewarding for me is the opportunity to be exposed. To truly be myself. We all wear social masks and acting for me is about lowering the mask for a short time during auditions and while you are preparing for a role. It’s one of the rare times when you are at your most vulnerable and naked. That’s an incredibly liberating experience. To truly be yourself under imaginary circumstances so there’s absolutely no bullshit going on. You are out on a limb. Naked. But there are no consequences because it is only make believe. I convince myself that for the next few moments anything could happen. You could die, for example. That’s the trigger. The “in.”
If you go into an audition with the objective that you are there to solve a problem and you are flexible in your approach that is a good start.
KJ: What keeps you going in spite of the setbacks?
BL: What keeps me going is that I simply need to do it. It’s not a want. Acting and my other creative ventures are part of my survival. I need a creative outlet. Thankfully I do have other interests. I have a routine, I keep in shape, I read, I socialize with friends, I travel, I direct other people’s short projects. I even do photography and do it to a standard that subsidizes my efforts to build a career in film and TV.
KJ: Is being an actor a blessing or a curse?
BL: Oh definitely a blessing. I am fortunate to have found what it is that I want to do with the rest of my life. And if I don’t I always have my creativity. Even if I had to survive on a desert island I’d still be creative. I’d probably be writing scripts in the sand. (Laughter)
KJ: Would you want a child of your own to follow this career path?
BL: I’d support anything a child of mine wanted to do. Acting--of course, as long as they pursued it with passion, didn’t have any expectations, and could live with the rejection. But I would encourage an interest in the world, in art, in politics… to inhale as many aspects of life as they could, because if acting is all you have then you are doomed. You’d also be a pretty dull person.
KJ: I’m going to shift gears a bit now and ask about your personal life. Don’t get scared…. I have some very clever questions. For example, what does your real life look like these days?
BL: I’m going to give you possibly the worst answer you will ever get to that question. It’s a bit like a painting of something years from completion that gets a few new strokes and shades every day.
KJ: I know you have been crazy busy with several projects, meetings, etc. I’m sure it can be stressful. What, more than anything, affects your personal outlook on life right now?
BL: Security. Loyalty. Family. Friendship. Honesty. Integrity. And a good steak.
KJ: OK, steak. Noted. But seriously, you work an insane amount. How do you balance your life?
BL: It’s not easy to balance. I think it all comes down to prioritizing my time. I try to limit time spent doing each thing I do. I often sacrifice things in order to make a casting, have time with friends, put food on the table, and then have some time to switch off my phone and resist the urge to respond. I am not ashamed to admit it: a lot of people might think it’s crazy, to live a life with no certainties, to choose a career path where success and failure are more about politics, looks and chemistry than talent and hard work. I mean seriously, I know people who have given up on the profession who had more talent and drive than most of the people at a Hollywood luncheon and it used to really bother me why they couldn’t catch a break. It takes a very specific kind of person to be an actor. For the most of us you just have to keep getting better and keep kicking in doors and then be patient and know when it’s time to back off and wait. We all live in a precarious world where nothing is certain; even the great friendships we have today could turn around tomorrow. Bad luck can turn good. What’s more important to me is to strive towards something I need to do and be happy with the outcome. And if not, then keep pushing. I have knocked on a few doors and they didn’t open until I “politely” kicked them in. I don’t regret it.
KJ: You live in London…is big city life your choice or your sentence?
BL: I live in London because there are more opportunities for me here than I experienced in Scotland. I worked a lot in Scotland but it was difficult to maintain any momentum. I believed that I had to move in order to progress and be closer to an industry that I love. Many more decisions are made here [in London] but not always.
KJ: Who do you turn to for advice?
BL: It depends on what advice it is. Career? Life? Next moves? I often rely on instinct and take huge calculated risks. I will spare you the details. (Laughter)
KJ: Ok I just made a note to talk about your risky behavior next time….
BL: I think a calculated risk is worth taking if you absolutely have no other choice. But that is up to the individual.
KJ: What do you believe in? Go ahead---show us your wild side. UFO’s, fairy tales, religion, true love, reincarnation…?
BL: I have grown apathetic about politics but I still vote. I do think that one person can make a change. I strongly believe in being positive, no matter the circumstances. I think that if you put out a feeling of negativity then negative things will happen. I think if you demonstrate kindness then more kind people will enter your life. I believe in reciprocation. I used to get angry when people didn’t thank me for holding a door open but now I just smile and do it anyway. I avoid negative people as much as possible. I treat everybody the same way. As for true love, I think you get what you deserve provided you know that some people will never love you the same way back. If you want to see a UFO then you might be waiting for a very long time. I don’t believe there is a space station with a bunch of green people milling around cranking out space ships.
KJ: I am disappointed about the UFO bit…
BL: Don’t get me started on Santa
KJ: I’ve been warned. Ok then, what music is the soundtrack for your life?
BL: Anything from Ludovico Einaudi!
KJ: I had to Google that. I may be a new fan! He’s a terrific pianist/composer. Let’s let the readers meet him too...
KJ: While Einaudi plays in the background, can you describe your vision of a perfect life?
BL: A time-machine, a teleporter and a packet of wine gums.
KJ: I had to Google wine gums too. This is turning into a lot of work for me. You were supposed to be doing all the heavylifting. I may need a nap now. Before we say goodbye, one last question: what’s happening with your charity project?
BL: We are talking about a change of direction. Something closer to home. We want people to see the benefits of their donations, and we are discussing how that would be possible. There are so many charities out there and so many celebrities endorsing them and I don’t always see where the money is going. The more popular the star the more likely they are to reach their charity goals. Donors are supporting the star and not always the cause. The Larkinators and I are looking at ways in which we can tackle this in the future. That’s our direction and it’s really very important to me. But when I got the opportunity to work with those who have given up so much of their time to help me do this fundraising work I didn’t know that it would be so difficult. Collectively we have acknowledged this and during this time we have gotten to know each other as people, so it’s been a learning curve. But I think a change of direction is good. Our hearts are in it. We are all behind it. There will be some news on that in the near future.