I recently got the chance to talk to Matthew Bancroft about his role in ‘Candle To Water’. Here, Matthew talks about how he got involved in the project and what it was like working on-set with the cast and crew…
Hey Matthew. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Candle To Water’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
The idea behind this film is “To present five different contemporary stories involving different characters as one feature film. What these stories have in common are their expression of the way relational dysfunction prompts people to enact physical and/or emotional violence against themselves, each other or society. This common theme may be represented by a physical object or act that is not necessarily relevant to the plot, but which serves as a visual metaphor for the challenges facing different characters in different situations, who are confronted by the same problems”…clear enough for you? Ha, ha. That is the official blurb on it and I sure can’t do any better as I play a part in only one strand of the film.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play a bureaucrat high up in the shady echelons of the intelligence services. He is the kind of chap who is involved in briefing, debriefing and the making of decisions.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
It came in through my agent who asked if I was interested. I recognised it as something quite different and interesting in what it is trying to achieve, which I found appealing and so I just went with my gut on it.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
For a start there is no intentional effort to have the film ‘make sense’ in a conventional way, but to bind it together through theme. We’ve seen films before that have different stories come together, or run parallel, most notable for me would be Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’, which was masterful in weaving together these different stories with interesting and colourful characters to give us a great film. ‘Candle to Water‘ is slightly different to this, as each story you see will contain something that holds it together with the next story, and that might not be the through characters.
The film stars Jotham Annan, Clare-Hope Ashitey, your good self, Isaura Barbe-Brown, Clare Blake, Clemency Burton-Hill and Jeremy Clyde – with Nihat Seven onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
It was a great cast and crew. It always makes things so much easier when that part of it runs easily and you just concentrate on what you are there for. I think I had a dozey moment filming a scene with Andrew Tiernan who played ‘Uri/George’. I was just staring at him thinking, this guy looks really familiar, but I couldn’t think where from! So, as you do, I just asked. Now, Andrew was very familiar to me in one specific way. He was in ‘300’, which I think is fantastic and played ‘Ephialtes’ the disfigured hunchback. And there’s me saying “Oh yeah, that’s it! I can see it now”, Andrew just gave me a look that made me realised I’d just called him a disfigured hunchback. But then he burst into character, hunched over and stuff doing the voice. It was awesome seeing such an iconic character from the film just burst into life in front of me. A little bit surreal too.
Let’s talk a bit about you Matthew. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
Well there’s not much chance of me being a Viking or a fighter pilot or running around in some futuristic world shooting aliens or zombies and saving the day, so I figured pretending to do that would be the next best thing!
I just love films. I love great acting and where I’ve seen the most of it is on the screen. The subtlety of screen acting and doing it well is fascinating to me. I do love the theatre and try to watch more and more of it since I moved to London, because its world-class and its on the doorstep! There are hundreds of stories being told to people nightly, which is a bit odd when you think about it. But it’s how it effects people and captivates them and sometimes inspires them. For me, therein lies the magic I think. I guess I just wanted to be like the people who told the stories, be it on stage or screen.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
I’d ask them why first. Is it because you want to be an actor or is it because you want to be famous and you want everything that seems to go with successful acting? To be honest, I always say to people who start to come at it from what I see as the wrong direction, ‘I just wanna work! Never mind all that other stuff’. I think most actors who are really interested in the acting just want to do it and get the chance to do it as much as possible. If you want to be a footballer, you’d wanna play games right?
Get your basics covered. Get a list. Put on it training (both physical and acting), headshots, agent, possibly a showreel and put it up so you can see what you have done and what you have still to do. Tick boxes. If it’s screen work you want to do then apply for student films as you train. They can be innovative and informing. As the students are learning so can you. Plus you get a chance to work with others like yourself, some just starting out and some who have been doing it for years. It is a great way to get involved and network with others. You never know who you will meet… Always ask questions, but at the right times. Know all you can about the workplace you will occupy.
Train. Educate yourself. Having people tell you are doing something wrong isn’t useful, unless they are telling you why and how you can improve. It’s what you come up with in your head and how you interpret that for people to see. Sometimes you get it wrong and that’s alright, you just have to know when that is, hopefully adapt and overcome as quick as possible and in rehearsals.
And finally persevere. Play the long game. Just keep going and be prepared for when opportunity comes your way. You’re gonna hear ‘no’ a lot more than you hear ‘yes’. But that can be for so many reasons that you can’t worry about it. If you still want to keep doing it, then it’s for you.
You’ve been in a number of different films and TV series – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with and why? Any good stories?
When I first moved to London I got a part in the chorus of an opera film ‘The Magic Flute’. Kenneth Branagh directed it. I was just in awe watching him direct. Without seeing the action I knew what was happening just by watching him. It was like he was channelling his ideas and energy to the actors in front of him. Really extraordinary.
I played the part of a park ranger in a German production filming over here. So I learnt my lines etc., and went down to film on location. I rehearsed with the actress who was a lovely lady and pretty well-known in Germany. Rehearsed the action for the first scene together so I knew what I was doing and the crew did too. Camera rolls, I hit my mark, deliver my lines and then she starts speaking to me in German. I just stood their wondering what was going on? No one had told me I was going to be dubbed! All my sides had come through in English with no note of this. So I just had to waiting until she stopped talking and then say my lines, it was weird. But as I said before, you have to adapt and overcome, pretty quickly in this case, ha, ha. But I had great fun doing it.
Most surreal moment I had was probably being lucky enough to work on the last two Harry Potter films. Phenomenal sets and cast. The scale of both blew my mind. So I’m sat around in a forest waiting for a setup and Daniel Radcliffe just popped down next to me on my blanket and just started chatting. He was a cool guy. I don’t know what I expected but I didn’t think I’d use the word normal to describe him. You’d definitely go for a beer with him. He was a witty lad. We were talking through a take, oblivious to it filming. The 1st AD cut filming as someone was talking. Everyone is looking round in our direction and Dan piped up and took the wrap and just apologised. Then he jokingly threw in “I’m Harry Potter, what ya gonna do? Fire me?” Ha, ha. Took the edge right off it. Everything reset slick as could be and they just went again. Brilliant. I just said thanks to him and shut up when action was called. Someone later turned round to me and said “You realise he’s the most famous kid on the planet”. The more that thought grew in my head and what that must mean, the more I had to have respect for how he handles himself. I guess it made me glad I grew up unknown, so all my cock ups and faux pas weren’t splashed around the media for all to see.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
Oh it’s a bit of a mix. I have a bunch of classic rock. AC/DC and Guns n Roses for the gym, mixed with some dance and trance tunes just for a change of pace. Some Shinedown, Slashes R&FnR Album, Neil Young, Blue October. Both Bob’s, Dylan and Marley. Creedance Clearwater Revival and Counting Crows. The list takes a few more twist and turns. I’m also a bit of a Country Music fan, so a fair mix of that on there.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
I hate questions like this, they’re tough. Well, maybe Leonardo da Vinci, he’s a bit of an all rounder. Bruce Lee as I’ve always loved martial arts and the more you do it and learn what’s behind it, well, Bruce Lee helped spread Martial Arts to the western world. And he was cool. Argh who else! Maybe Frank Sinatra. He must have some stories. There’s a bunch of historic figures I’d love to ask questions and find out the real truth. But I reckon that’d be an interesting table.
If you could choose a literary character to will into existence, who would you choose and why?
Well I really like the lead character in Bernard Cornwell’s warrior series, ‘Uhtred’. He’s a big Viking warrior guy who can be harsh but fair and is a character stuck in a country that is changing from old to new (it’s based around the formation of England as we know it now). Not sure I’d like to be on the wrong side of him, but he’s probably my favourite fictional character this year.
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
I’m developing a few things and writing and hoping to gets things rolling on that side of things. I’ve also recently changed agent so I’m hoping that will spur things on. There’s some stuff on the horizon I can’t say much about as it’s all in the air, but it could be career changing for me. And by that I don’t mean I’m becoming a plumber. Oh to have the steady work, ha, ha!
Thanks for the interview!