I recently got the chance to talk to Cosima Shaw about her role in new film, ‘Papadopoulos & Sons’. Here, Cosima talks about how she involved in the project and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…
Thank you for having me here.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
The fully anglicized Harry Papadopoulos, a widowed business man of Greek-Cypriot descent, has made a big name for himself in the food industry. But as the financial crash unfolds, he ‘overleverages’ himself and is thus stripped of most his assets including his home. He is forced to move his three kids and loyal housekeeper/nanny into the only thing he still owns-an abandoned fish and chip shop he used to run with his now estranged brother. Although going back to basics and making peace with his brother is the last thing on his mind to begin with, it turns out to be the ticket to true happiness for him and his family. Of course, there are a few surprises in store along the way.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play ‘Sophie’, an accountant/ financial advisor, who has recently got divorced and moved to London from her native New York to ‘make a fresh start’, i.e. she is planning to get out of her current job, wants to start a small business and live a simpler life. Other than her shrewd, you only live once type colleague Rob – (Ed Stoppard), Sophie becomes the voice of reason to Harry in many ways by urging him not to take out more loans in order to sustain what would effectively be a cardboard version of his former life. Her interest in Harry go beyond empathy-she identifies with the turning point-moment in Harry’s life. So, his rescue from further ruin becomes a project for her, in the process of which she becomes attracted to him. I am the good guy.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I did a regular audition. I had read the script, which had a lovely flow and ease about it, a comforting quality, which seemed to be caused by the fact that it wasn’t trying to be too clever and surprising. It felt very round and honest. And with regards to Sophie I felt like I knew her and almost could not wait to go to the audition. In the meeting, everyone was so incredibly supportive and enthusiastic that it was a real joy to be there. The excitement about the project getting up on its feet was tangible. I found out almost immediately that I got it and that was that.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
Apart from being an accomplished film, especially for a first feature as well as some very fine performances, it’s the facts around the film that really make it stand out. I think it is fair to call it a film for the people. Marcus Markou wrote, directed, financed and self-distributed this film. I cannot even begin to describe what a labour of love this has been for him and all the people in his life. But if there is any justice, then it would appear that he is being rewarded by the droves of people literally demanding to see this film, which is now making its way through cinemas across the country due entirely to the powers of social media combined with Marcus’s tireless efforts to keep the blogs going, hand out flyers, talk to people, keeping the enthusiasm going, etc.
The film stars Stephen Dillane, Georgia Groome, Ed Stoppard, Frank Dillane, Georges Corraface, Selina Cadell, Georgia Leonidas and Richard Durgen – with Marcus Markou onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
We shot the end of the film quite early on in the schedule and it was a big set-up, dancing, a crane shot, very technical etc. It was also essential to convey that we had been through this journey together. Everyone had to go in firing on all cylinders, which they did and I think it shows regardless of the fact that we were only at the beginning and sums up the spirit of the film beautifully.
Working out how the relationship between Sophie and Harry evolves and more so, why, was quite a challenge amongst the overriding narrative of the film, but both Marcus and Stephen were really keen to discuss this as much as we could. In any case, working with Stephen was a real learning curve, from the way he questioned so many details and then does so little when he acts, yet manages to express volumes. In Marcus’s case this often meant precious time off set spent answering my emails! He has been an inspiration in terms of his sheer drive, but also the open-mindedness and patience he has displayed during the whole process.
Let’s talk a bit about you Cosima. What made you want to get into the acting industry in the first place?
I was always a bit of a performer as a child, dancing singing and making up shows for people. At 12 I was cast in my first commercial and did a few TV gigs very early on. It just happened, but I wasn’t ready to go to drama school straight after school. When I returned to acting professionally later it was a very conscious decision that I wanted to give it a go after I had tried out lots of other things I was interested in at the time. I finally surrendered.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
Never compare yourself to others. Goals are important, but each career path is unique. If you can make a career of it and make a living out of it that is a big achievement. If anything more comes of it then that’s the icing on the cake. What counts is that you do good work and enjoy the ride. Working out how to make that happen is part of it all.
You’ve been in a number of different film and TV projects – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with and why? Any good stories?
I have always liked working with those who co-operate rather than doing their own thing. They take on board the whole picture, which might include the fact that your character is just in this one scene with them and what does that mean for the actor behind it, etc. And I really appreciate it when other actors are a good laugh and don’t have any hang-ups or attitude issues, no matter how famous they are. For some actors this means a whole ‘professional’ persona that they adopt on a job, others are just themselves-whatever works. Alec Baldwin was one of the first big names I worked with and I couldn’t quite believe how much he told me about himself within an hour of having met him. I think he was in a bad place in his personal life at the time and just wanted to talk to people. It was a bit overwhelming. There are so many actors I could mention, who are not just awesome to watch at work, but really nice people… David Tennant, Lindsay Duncan, Rufus Sewell, Stephen Mangan. And obviously everyone on ‘Papadopoulos’. And I have a huge amount of respect for comedy actors – that’s a real skill.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
Not enough. I keep deleting my library by accident. A playlist that I’m getting sick of. A lot of Bowie. Feist. Lianne Le Havas, Toro y Moi.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
Paul Newman or Katherine Hepburn – (depending on choice 2) for obvious reasons. Then it’s a tie between Tina Brown, Alistair Campbell and Noam Chomsky – lots of questions on the future of print media, the planet, mankind! And lastly my partner Alex – we work well together and he could help me ask the questions and do magic tricks for everyone.
Which film was your favourite of 2012 and why?
‘Barbara’ by Christian Petzold. I like the slow pace of his films, the stillness, the meticulousness of the camera. His films always have a solid and somewhat worthy storyline, but it is the characters that drive his films. And he gets the most captivating performances out of Nina Hoss.
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
I just finished filming a pilot in Budapest for the CW network called ‘The Selection’. There are a few things in the pipeline that I am very excited about, but too early to mention. And I would really like to do another play soon.
Thanks for the interview!