I recently got the chance to talk to Suzanne Kendall about her leading role in ‘Got To Run’. Here, Suzanne talks about her character, her favourite UK landmarks and her upcoming projects….
Hey Suzanne. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘Got To Run’ will be coming out in selected cinemas on 14th June 2011. What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
Sarah McGuire – a lingerie sales person who works for dodgy Jack Pratt – has to make a five-night tour of Pratt‘s customers in the north of England. Her car mechanic boyfriend – Colin – is not happy that she is leaving him to fend for himself but Sarah is at the end of the road and is glad to get away. Running is her only real passion, and when a chance meeting in a bar furnishes her with a list of ten beautiful places to go running in Britain, it opens up a world of opportunity for her. Initially, the places are en route between her sales assignments, but finally Sarah has to make the decision to get off the beaten track and go on the run. The story is essentially about someone embarking on a journey of self-development, self-discovery and self-fulfillment – Sarah identifies the things in her life that are making her unhappy (her boyfriend, her job, her lifestyle) and becomes brave enough to make some drastic changes. She is empowered by her passion for running and inspired by the beautiful places she runs in.
You play the main lead in the film – how much would you say you identify with your character and the overall journey she takes throughout the course of the film?
I initially identified with Sarah’s ambition and, to some extent, her frustration about not fully reaching her potential. I admired Sarah’s bravery in taking action to realise herself and her ambitions – she taught me something there!
What was it like working on-set with the other cast and crew?
Well, that’s an interesting question because the ‘set’ was constantly changing – the film was on location – we traveled from Slough in south-east England to the Scottish Highlands and for the most part, that really involved only one cast member – me! The crew on the road was very small (4 people!) so as well as being a road trip on film, we experienced a real live road trip too! It was lots of fun, we went to many beautiful places in the UK and enjoyed one of the hottest, least rainy months of June I can ever remember! After the location work, we shot the interior scenes near the film company’s base back in south-east England. Here, I got to work with some other cast who came in for just a day or two’s filming. I enjoyed my jaunt around the country and hogging the ‘limelight’ BUT it was nice to share it with other actors for a change and to work and play with them too! Living out of a suitcase was also becoming a bit of a drag….! Plus, I got a rest from running around the countryside.
From the outset, what was it about the film that made you want to become part of it?
The fact that I identified with the character, enjoyed the story, and thought that there was a clear character journey for me to bring to life – Sarah goes from being unhappy and repressed to happy and emancipated and she caused that change to happen herself. She realises what she really wants in life and realises her potential. I also enjoy running and liked the idea of exploring all the wonderful beauty spots she visits in Britain.
From the trailer, you can tell the film is shot in a variety of different UK locations – what is your favourite UK city, town or landmark and why?
We did indeed go to many wonderfully stunning places all over the UK (Lindisfarne / Holy Island, Hadrian’s Wall, Castlerigg, Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Loch Lomond / Ben Lomond, etc, etc) but I’d have to say that my favourite place has to be the county of Somerset in south-west England where I was born and raised. It’s a beautiful and often mysterious countryside – warm, friendly people, cider, cheese and that rich and opulent regional accent which is like music to the ears!
Let’s talk a bit about you Suzanne – what made you want to get into acting in the first place?
I was four years old when first encountered the stage – I was on holiday with my parents and we were staying at a resort where some entertainment was offered – a play and dance / cabaret show for which a stage was erected. I watched the stage being built with great fascination a few days prior to the show’s opening. I wanted so desperately to see what was going to be performed on it and begged my parents to allow me to stay up on the evening of the performance. It was of course after my bedtime and my parents promised to wake me but they didn’t (or couldn’t) and I missed it. I was devastated. But, the stage and scenery were still up the following day so I went to explore it. It was still buzzing with the magic and energy of the show and I could still feel the presence of the actors and audience in the space – haunting it like ghosts. I was enraptured. From then on I have always participated in the performing arts and theatre. It was / is part of my life and part of me as a person and always will be. Although I read sociology and psychology at University, I decided that I’d like to pursue acting professionally – I found academia too dry and missed the constant inspiration I received from acting. So, I went off to drama school after Uni when I was in my early 20s (six years ago). I have wanted to be / have been an actress for as long as I can remember but it was only in my early 20s that I decided to make it my career choice. Two years after graduating from drama school, I was introduced more to the world of film by a director I have gone on to work with many times, including on ‘Got To Run’ – Robbie Moffat. Again, as I was as a four-year-old with the stage / theatre, I was enraptured. I was lucky enough to work in film (and I have been working regularly in film since 2007) and to experience the magic of it which I still do not fully understand. I remain fascinated and intrigued and in awe of the craft and I want to do more of it!
What advice would you give to UK actors trying to get into the industry?
Keep at it! You have to deal with a lot of rejection, but ride it out and see each day as a new opportunity. Live as much as you work – collect all your life experiences so you can use them / access them for your acting. Get on with and be nice to people – no one wants to work with someone who is difficult to get along with as it is a collaborative business in which you work very closely with other people.
What does a Suzanne Kendall day usually consist of?
There is no ‘usually’ about my life at all – some might think I live quite chaotically, but I sort of thrive on the chaos. I do however exercise daily (run, swim, fitness DVDs) – it clears the cobwebs from my head and I keep in regular contact with family and friends. I enjoy the company of my other friends in the biz and like to go to the theatre, cinema, a party or just the pub with them! Of course, I am forever chasing up work opportunities – that’s a full-time job! Bearing this in mind, it’s really wonderful when you ARE working. It also gives life some sort of routine and purpose too!
Who has been your favourite actor to work with so far and why?
An actor named James Sutherland who played Lear to my Cordelia in a new version of King Lear – ‘Lear and His Daughters’ at The Kings Head in September 2010. Following this, we auditioned for a theatre company together and used some material from David Hare’s ‘Skylight’ – he played Tom and I played Kyra. Throughout the rehearsal process, he taught me a lot of things about acting – giving me his own insights which I greatly appreciated, admired and respected – he has 16 years in the business compared to my mere five. He made me realise that the actor’s journey is a continual one and that it is also related to your development as a person. He always inspires me. Furthermore, he has enriched my knowledge about film by introducing me to many classic movies and iconic stars of the silver screen.
You’re currently filming ‘Villains’, and you’ve just finished production on two films – ‘Crab Island’ and ‘Maureen’ – what can you tell us about these projects?
‘Villains’ actually finished shooting in April 2011. It was made by the same people who were responsible for ‘Got To Run’. Again, some of it was on location – in Northumberland. I play a very different character to Sarah McGuire. My character in this one is not good, meek and self improving, oh no….. Kitty Sheilds is bad through and through, very assertive and is on a road to nowhere (except possibly hell!). ‘Crab Island’ was shot in Devon in August / September last year. It’s set in the 17th century so it was good fun (although slightly uncomfortable at times) to wear clothing from that period. I play Daisy Crab who rules the roost in her family to her two other sisters and father. They are the only inhabitants on the island so when they experience family breakdown, the whole island society breaks down too! The film explores the breakdown and rebuilding of their quirky little unit. ‘Maureen’ (written by the very talented Daniel Stone) was a short film I produced and acted in which was screened the Cannes Short Film Corner during the Cannes Film Festival 2010. It was followed up this year by a film called ‘Perks of The Job’ – a co-production between myself and a lovely actress called Victoria Johnston – we are ‘Ken & Jon productions’ (taken from our surnames).
What’s coming up for you in 2011?
Well, I’ve just signed with a new agent / agency – Lee Thomas at Actors International, so I’m looking forward to working with them and continuing to build my career. There are a few exciting projects that I am attached to / have been approached about but I won’t say too much yet – we’ll have to wait for them to materialize – fingers crossed! ‘Got To Run’ was screened at The Empire Cinema, Leicester Square in January 2011 and again in June 2011. There will be further screenings in the near future. In the meantime, DVD copies of the film can be obtained from Palm Tree Entertainment – please see their website – or buy through Amazon.
Thanks for the interview!