I recently got the chance to sit down with rising British actor James Floyd to talk to him about his leading role in ‘Everywhere And Nowhere’, out in UK cinemas right now. Here, James talks about the film’s cultural and technical aspects and what is coming up for him in the future….
Hey James. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. Obviously we’re here to talk about your new film “Everywhere And Nowhere”, in which you play the main lead – Ash Khan. What’s the general plotline of this film?
No problem at all. When broken down to its bare bones, it’s a story of following your dreams (or not). And taking full responsibility for which ever route one chooses, by recognizing all the strings attached that come with both choices. This particular film uses the context of multi-cultural contemporary London and the British Asian community as two worlds that collide or collaborate when a young man comes of age. Specifically a 20-year-old Pakistani Muslim who has a burning desire to become an international DJ, despite huge obstacles in his way from family and other forces, including himself.
What was it about the project that first interested you?
The short answer is ‘I needed to work’. Sounds trivial and boring but the truth is that if you are an up and coming actor in this business, one needs to build up a CV of credits that people actually hear about in the industry and of course hopefully audiences also. The best way to do that these days is to be in high-profile film. This was a huge opportunity for me to show people that I can hold my own as a leading man in film. Luckily I have some positive heat on me now, so I have access to some really exciting filmmakers. The more ‘polished’ answer is that when you receive an audition for a film that has people onboard it like Brian Tufano – (cinematographer of ‘Trainspotting’, ‘Quadraphenia’ and ‘Billy Elliot’) then you try that little bit harder to get the part. Brian is a super talented bona fide legend of a humanoid. Also, I wanted to get some free English breakfasts, one of the great perks of working in British film!
The film plays on a few cultural ideas – can you identify with any of them on a personal level?
Yes and no. I can empathize with anyone who is culturally confused and therefore is lacking a concrete identity. Also, I guess being an actor in a very non showbiz family, I can relate to anyone who wants to follow their artistic dreams. However I never had the same high-octane conflict that my character, Ash, has in ‘Everywhere & Nowhere’. He has a tough weekend in this movie!
Did you get trained on DJing at all when you went for the role, or had you already had experience in the scene beforehand?
I had no experience at all aside from growing up in the Garage music scene of 90s North West London. So I had observed some DJs. But I had to learn a heck of a lot in the skill of turntablism. So I spent as much time as possible soaking up the DJ life with crews like Droppin Science (Nickname, Matman, Daredevil). Also, I had help from lovely people like X-Kutz, Boy Wonder and the legend that is Sub-Zero. I basically got to a place where I could fake DJ very well. So in the film I am doing things like crab scratching and complex mixes that look great because the musical talent did an incredible job of putting in the sounds after. If it wasn’t for DJ Nerm, Engine Earz Experiment, Sukh Knight and the great Harry Love I wouldn’t have looked as authentic as I do on-screen.
What was it like on-set? I hear Simon Webbe and Adam Deacon feature in the movie…
Yes they do. They were both really great fun and very humble men to work with. Just the way I like it. Just come in, do the work well and have some fun with no egos. The general vibe on set was very relaxed until it got to the end of the shoot days where we only had a bit of time to grab shots. But I love the pressure of filming like that, it forces you to just ‘be’ in the moment as the character. The most fun I had was with the boys in the car scenes, because it was like we were in character all day and the camera was a fly on the wall. I think Adam Deacon, Elyes Gabel and Neet Mohan deserve a lot of credit for making those scenes so authentic.
The film features tons of music – what music are you listening to right now?
I have Burial in my ears right now. They are a great unique sound of contemporary London. I also am really feeling Lupe Fiasco’s new album. I went to see Engine Earz Experiment live recently, he is the sonic future. Oh and of course I always listen to my favourite soul voices of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding.
Let’s talk about you James – what made you want to get into acting in the first place?
I flirted with the idea of being a professional actor in my late teens but never had the courage or belief to think I could do it. I wanted to do it because I loved what the Royal Shakespeare Company was doing in the 90s at The Barbican. Those actors like Desmond Barrit, William Houston, Antony Sher and Aidan Mcardle inspired me. But what makes me so special to think I could be one also? I still can’t answer that, I feel that I am just a guy who had a lucky break through the National Youth Theatre 5 years ago, and am now suddenly starring in films. It’s chance, for the most part. Truly. Don’t get me wrong I work as hard as is possible, but the fact that I am doing movies now doesn’t mean I wasn’t ready a few years ago. I really think that unless you are the product of heavy nepotism then you have to be accepted by the machine of the industry, not the other way round. I’m just glad that the industry seems to like me at the moment. It’s probably because I am a half white male who can apparently play leading roles.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue an acting career?
Honestly, I would say do not do it. But if you can conquer continuous rejection by dozens of people, and yet still have the madness to go and pursue it regardless, then become an actor. I would put that and hard work ethic above talent, pertaining to a more pragmatic advice for becoming an actor or artist of any kind I guess. However I am being paradoxical because I am personally much more interested in creative talent. Because I am one of the few nutters in this industry who believes in blind optimism and that raw talent will win out in the long run.
You’ve been in a few films and made a recurring appearance in ‘Dream Team’ – what have been your favourite moments or experiences of your career thus far?
Definitely not ‘Dream Team’! Haha. No, it was an amazing learning curve in screen acting for me. I just wished they worked on the scripts more. My favourite moments have perhaps been on my last few films. But what really stands out in hindsight is the friendships one makes. I have met some horrible, immoral people but also some wonderful souls. I have several close friends as a result of this bizarre industry. Like Tracy Brimm, Cassandra Moss and Sally El Hosaini. Three utterly unique people whom I learn from every time I see them. I just love creative forces of nature who never gather any moss and keep on rolling harder than Ol Man River.
What does a James Floyd day consist of?
Get up. Sit on the toilet, have a creative idea. Eat. Doubt how innovative my idea was. Eat. Return to the bowl. Have another Eureka moment. Quickly realise that one was worse than the previous. Then read a script I am auditioning for. Prep like a madman. Do some work on my new film, ‘My Brother The Devil’. Do some writing on my new secret screenplay. See my friends at 1am. Eat. Dream. Follow that dream.
What’s coming up for you in 2011?
Potentially my most exciting year yet. I am about to shoot the lead role in a film called ‘My Brother The Devil’. It is the best script I have read in my career so far. Written and directed by a future heavyweight talent, Sally El Hosaini. It also stars an actor I am a huge fan of, Saïd Taghmaoui, who was in ‘La Haine’, ‘Three Kings’ and ‘GI Joe’. If I do one of these kinds of scripts in my whole career I will eternally sleep with a smile when I die! God that was pretentious! Haha. Anyway, the film will be out next year. You can follow my career and life at: www.twitter.com/iJamesFloyd / www.facebook.com/JamesFloydOfficial.
Thanks for the interview!