An in depth interview with actor, director, writer and
UK Ambassador for Giordano, Bryan Larkin
Bryan Larkin first became known to Outlander fans when, as a MacKenzie clansman named Geordie, he died in War Chieftain Dougal MacKenzie’s arms during Season 1, episode 4 ("The Gathering"), the result of a gruesome boar goring.
Since then, his star has been on a steady rise. He appeared in 2016’s London Has Fallen opposite mega-star Gerard Butler. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3300542/?ref_=nv_sr_1
Since then, Bryan’s career has skyrocketed. We caught up with him while he was between projects to talk about his latest adventures as an actor, filmmaker, and brand ambassador.
KJ: Let’s begin with your current life and career. What have you been up to since we last interviewed you for London Has Fallen?
BL: It’s almost exactly a year since we last spoke! A lot has changed. London Has Fallen was a huge success and it has opened a few more doors. I guess the biggest thing is that I spent three months in Hong Kong and China with Donnie Yen (Rogue One, Ip Man, xXx : Return of Xander Cage) and Andy Lau (The Great Wall, Infernal Affairs, Cold War) playing a leading role in Chasing The Dragon. It’s an epic tale based on the true history of police corruption in Hong Kong during the 70’s and it’s the first time I have played a real-life character: Ernest Hunt.
My own project, Die Trying, written by Rae Brunton, has now found producing partners and we are progressing towards making the film. I also shot a very ambitious short film set in London and Hong Kong with Carter Ferguson and Mike Leeder.
The only unfortunate thing about being in Hong Kong for so long is that I have had to turn down other equally high profile projects.
KJ: It’s been so cool to see your social media teasers about all those Hong Kong filming locations! Thanks for sharing photos with fans. Can you talk a bit about working in Hong Kong? For instance, how do you like filming on location there?
BL: Hong Kong and China are places I have always dreamed of visiting, let along work in. Hong Kong is one of the most fascinating places I have been to. The streets are so cinematic: the neon cascade of lights, the alleyways, the buildings, skyscrapers and mountains…basically everywhere you point a camera in Hong Kong is a filmmakers’ dream.
Mike Leeder, casting director for [Chasing the Dragon], and I explored many places during our down time; he took me to the site where they shot Bruce Lee’s (Enter the Dragon) and it transported me right back to my youth when I started Karate as a young boy. I stood at the very spot where one of my idols shot a movie that was influential on my younger years.
KJ: That must have been a chills-down-your-back kind of moment! What was it about Bruce Lee that spoke so strongly to the younger Bryan? Aside from sparking your interest in the martial arts, what inspired you about Lee and/or his films?
BL: His attitude, charisma and his philosophies. The way he moved as a martial artist on and off screen, like in interviews) . His philosophy and perception of the world around him and our place within it. The process of continual growth. Lee spoke about being like water. To be adaptable to any situation and as a young man hearing this it just always stuck with me. To be all things in like, to flow between one form and another.
KJ: And you haven’t just been making movies! Lately, we see your face everywhere in a new collaboration with globally-known label Giordano, a Hong-Kong based clothing designer who recently introduced you as their brand ambassador for the European market. There’s been quite a bit of buzz about that. http://www.thecoolector.com/giordano-bryan-larkin/ How did that all come about?
BL: That’s the kind of question that really gets me thinking about “if it wasn’t for so and so…”, but it all boils down to being in the right place at the right time. While I was in Hong Kong working on Chasing the Dragon I was introduced to Thomas Sandfield, a Norwegian-born photographer and one of the official photographers for Giordano. We got talking about how we both came to find ourselves in Hong Kong and he expressed his desire to introduce me to Mark Loynd, Head of International Brand Collaborations at Giordano. Their unique approach to marketing is to find people who have inspiring life journeys, and then market the brand through their own path in life. They are not interested in celebratory endorsements – they find real people to be more identifiable to a world market.
KJ: Giordano likes your realness! Mark Loynd, Head of International Brand Collaborations at Giordano commented in an interview, “Bryan’s story and his fight to the top personifies Giordano’s own values.” They like to feature REAL people, rather than models. Can you talk about that essential connection from your perspective?
BL: It’s like what I was saying earlier, they recognize the individual. Making someone an Ambassador for a company is no small thing and it’s flattering and reassuring that I fit their criteria. Giordano identifies with the substance of a person as much as they do about the style of their clothes. Mark and Alvin, who have been running this campaign at Giordano, have been great to work with and learn from.
KJ: Giordano also has an ongoing collaboration with the University of the Arts London. How does that impact the clothing designs?
BL: They are always in touch with what young designers are doing. What the designers of the future can bring to an established and international brand – that’s very exciting. Keeping in touch with what new trends are being set and rewarding them with the opportunities to design for them in the future.
KJ: Aside from the opportunity to learn something new and wear some terrific clothing, what do you enjoy most about representing this company?
BL: The ongoing relationship between myself and the team. I enjoy working with them immensely. They are like a family with a dedicated work ethic that have high standards. Being the UK Ambassador of the company has been challenging and rewarding. Our short film was also great because I got to work with Carter, who was the UK Producer, and my family were involved in the making of the film too, so that’s pretty special.
KJ: Great, segue, Bryan! Let’s take a look at that short film:
KJ: This aspect of their marketing campaign is unique. The film is about you; the product itself is not the star. How does it feel to have your "life journey" out there for the world to see? I would feel some nervousness. Do you?
BL: I don't feel nervous. It's who I am. Bear in mind these are just life moments; they are all relatable. We all try to maintain relationship balance, we all have family commitments, and we all struggle as we try to pursue our goals. We all have setbacks. There is far more left out of this video campaign than the viewer would ever know. I hope that the film delivers on its message: Stay on the path. Stay true to yourself. Work hard. Accept the setbacks. Keep on the path toward your goals, whatever they may be.
KJ: That's your real family in the film!? I did not realize this...and I'll bet other fans do not either. We assume we are seeing actors, especially since we know you are an actor. Which family members were involved?
BL: My sister, brother in law and two nephews appear in the film. As this is based on my life; their involvement is related to the idea that we all try to maintain close family ties as we pursue our own ambitions and goals in life. We are all challenged to create and maintain life balance.
KJ: What were their reactions to being part of the story? To being cast as themselves? To the finished product? Now that it's out there...any thoughts they have expressed?
BL: They are just very proud of it. We had so much fun making this together and it felt very satisfying to work with my family. But it wasn’t really work as we were being ourselves and they filmed the scenes. We had a script, obviously, but Thomas, the director, was like: “Go have fun. Let us worry about the filming part.”
KJ: Let’s consider the future: What will the Giordano ambassador be doing as we move into 2017?
BL: We are working through the first phase, which focuses on the Giordano branding in the UK alongside an already established brand, Lowe Alpine. There is a lot of press work still to do; I’ll be responsible for raising even more awareness about the brand through social media. In the summer, we will work more in Hong Kong to further the reach of the brand. We will then be working on a clothing line that I will promote in the UK and Asia. After that who knows…but I am looking forward to it!
KJ: Can you talk about any other projects you have on the back burner right now?
BL: Only just a little because it’s early stages. Die Trying, my project with Rae Brinton, has found a producing team and we are steadily moving towards making the film. I am finishing up on the Hong Kong / London short film that I made with Carter and we have plans now to tour festivals with it while in the meantime working towards a feature length film. There’s a few more movies I will be shooting through 2017, but that’s all I can say right now. I have a very busy year ahead.
KJ: We’re very glad you are busy! That's the upside, and I know you are grateful. But you have also been honest about the struggles on the way.
No one teaches a course called Success 101 for actors. What advice do you have for young actors who are trying to achieve career success?
BL: Best advice is to surround yourself with people better than yourself, learn from them, practice being better as often as you can. Get in front of the camera and act as much as possible and be objective about your development. Study other actors--their movement, speech, what they trying to do in the scene. And just keep working on your craft.
KJ: What will we see you in next (aside from Giordano)?
BL: I have a few movies coming out this year: Vengeance with Gary Daniels and Stu Bennet, directed by Ross Boyask; then there’s Dead Heading and then Chasing the Dragon with Donnie Yen and Andy Lau.
KJ: How can your fans be involved in your newest ventures?
BL: By staying tuned to the launch of the Giordano campaign in the UK and helping me spread the news. We’ve put in a lot of hard work and I am extremely proud of this project – the final product is quite beautiful, so I hope they can help me share my joy. Also, my cooperation with Giordano is a not a one-off – I have established an excellent rapport with the team at Giordano and there is a lot we will be doing together throughout the year, including a charity campaign which is in the works. It will be for a fantastic cause, so I hope my fans can help spread the word.
KJ: One last question: You have a chance to sum up the last year in one sentence. What is that sentence?
BL: It’s been like a roller coaster ride: exciting, exhilarating, and euphoric--and I don’t ever want to get off.