I recently got the opportunity to talk to Frankie Fitzgerald about his role in new indie horror film, ‘Stormhouse’. Here, Frankie talks about working with the cast and crew on-set, what it was like working on ‘Eastenders’ back in 2000 and what’s coming up for him in 2011…
Hey Frankie. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘Stormhouse’ is coming out in selected UK cinemas soon. The story revolves around a ghost whisperer being called in by the Army to talk to a supernatural entity. Not long after she arrives, all hell breaks loose.
I’ve seen the trailer for the film – it’s very ‘Paranormal Activity’ esque, coupled together with Friar Jacques being sung creepy, clapping, and nana nana…..what made you want to become part of this project?
I loved the script because it had a real sense of claustrophobia to it, plus in the film I get to handle guns and loads of people die… who wouldn’t want to be a part of something like that!
How would you say this film differs from other horror films released this year?
I’d imagine you can see connections with things like ‘Paranormal Activity’ due to the supernatural presence in both, but our film is also surrounded with a lot of conspiracy theory.
With ‘Stormhouse’ being a horror film, did anything strange happen on-set?
I’m sure there are plenty of tales – the base was a very creepy place. Luckily, I didn’t have to stay for too long…
Is it true that the cast and crew lived on location and were kept to a military regime? What do you remember about that period – before, during and after shooting?
They certainly were, I had a couple of days at the beginning of the shoot and a couple of days at the end, and the difference in everyone over that short period was amazing! Physically you could see a difference! I think that made the film’s realism work even more.
What would you personally do if you encountered a supernatural entity – run away or talk to it?
Oh I’d definitely sit down for a chat and cup of tea, would be the most interesting conversation anyone is likely to have!
Let’s talk a bit about you Frankie – what made you want to become an actor in the first place?
It was the first thing I ever wanted to do seriously, I made that decision when I was 14 and taking my options I picked Drama first and foremost. My parents questioned my decision to see if I was serious – I was, so they supported me and we worked hard together until I got ‘Eastenders’!
What advice would you give to any UK actors wanting to get into the industry?
Don’t get lazy, we’ve all done it and we’ll all do it again – if you’re an actor you need to put the time and effort into being one, and don’t give up!
In 2000, you played Ashley Cotton in ‘Eastenders’ – 10 years on, are you still recognised in the street for it? What was it like working on such a key British institution for 29 episodes? Do you still watch the show?
I can’t believe that after all this time I’m still recognised for that role more than any! That shows you just how big the show is! It was the most amazing start to a career anyone could ask for, you can learn more in a week on ‘Eastenders’ than in two years at Drama school. Especially at 15. You’re like a sponge trying to cling to water, just sucking it all in. I still catch it occasionally – my mum and girlfriend are still fans.
You have also had roles in such things as ‘Harry and Cosh’, ‘Dream Team’, ‘He Kills Coppers’ – which has been your favourite project – TV or film – to work on and why?
Difficult one. Looking at both ends the spectrum, I’d have to say ‘Troy’ and ‘Dream Team’. ‘Troy’ was where I got to meet and work with some amazing people, the pure scale of the film was amazing, daunting and overwhelming at the same time. ‘Dream Team’ was just a perfect job at a perfect time, it was my first role out of Drama school. Nine months shooting with some of the best people I’ve worked with. We were all young, up and coming professionals with a real desire to work so despite our budgets I think we did a pretty good job.
Who has been your favourite actor / actress to work alongside and why?
I’ve been really lucky to work and meet some fantastic actors but ultimately there can be only one June Brown. She took me under her wing, gave me some of the best advice I could ask for and has always been a constant support to this day. I owe her a lot!
What’s coming up for you in 2011?
Lots, In April last year I opened the Centre Stage Theatre Academy for children with my partner Lydia. We teach performing arts to children and I have to say it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. We write, direct and produce two full-scale musicals a year with the kids and its been an amazing twelve months for us. In twelve months we now teach over 100 students a week. I’ve also made a comedy pilot that we are hoping to get developed as well as a couple of features that are in pre-production. I’ll also be doing a small stint on Jon Culshaw’s ‘Impression Show’ later in the year so things are very busy indeed.
Thanks for the interview!