Joe Sims: Actor Interview

Joe Sims: Actor Interview

 "That feeling of winning a role is great because it feels like utter vindication of your sacrifices and choices as a performer. We can each of us say; "I'm an actor" but without people to share your belief it becomes a pipe dream or an exercise in futility." Joe Sims

Dear Members

Please join me in thanking actor Joe Sims for the incredible and inspirational interview he has given for you, our members, and also to be included, among other interviews, in our set of eBooks which are currently being developed and will be ready for you soon. Joe wouldn't want me to tell you this but I want you to know. The eBooks offer a profit share royalty to their contributors, but Joe is insisting his royalty goes to the BFA's fund to support new filmmaking and acting talent....what a lovely guy!


Tell us a little about yourself personally and creatively/personally. What is your role/career in the film industry?

I am an actor, though I've also worked my way from runner to 3rd ad to 2nd ad. Too scared to 1st though!

What first got you interested in film? How would you describe your film education?

Rich and varied. I think I've developed a voracious appetite for cinema that transcends genre. I believe it's imperative as a performer to watch a lot of film as you can learn as much about what you do like and wish to emulate as much as what you don't which is equally helpful; living vicariously through the mistakes of others.

Who or what do you cite as major inspirations for your work?

Anyone who has the moral courage of their convictions, that is brave enough to put their head above the parapet will always get my vote. "I've searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues to committees" is a quote I love. People that are brave and bold in their choices will leave behind not a flawless legacy but one of which they can be justifiably proud.

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm making a cartoon currently called Chuggington that promotes positive character traits to young people. I remember those cartoons in my formative years and really felt retrospectively they made a difference. As I now have a gorgeous nephew who's 2 I'm really pleased to be on board as it's a cracking show.

What was your first job in the industry?

I worked in the mail room at HTV west and then as a floor runner when I left school at 16

What is your favourite British Film? Why?

Trainspotting, A Clockwork Orange or My Name is Joe or strike a chord with me as they tap into the disillusioned and often disenfranchised youth of this country. These films capture the feeling of a certain time and encapsulate a pervasive feeling of that particular time.

Favourite film of any nation?

La Haine

Did any key individuals mentor or support and guide you when you first embarked on your career?

Absolutely, I think anybody who has been lucky enough to work in this industry would be blinkered or spectacularly arrogant to feel they aren't indebted to an army of people that cared enough to go the extra mile. My drama teacher that encouraged extra curricular study through running the Bristol Old Vic youth group Mandy Langston and HTV West youth leader Vanessa Bewley that helped get both my first production job leaving school and my first acting and presenting job.

Which film would you have loved to have worked on?

There are so many. It's my fond hope to make a film one day that people will have as the answer to this question but playing Vinz in La Haine would have been amazing but so would being jimmy Cagney in Angels with Dirty Faces or Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber! Probably though Good Will Hunting

What's the first film you ever saw?

The Never Ending Story. My brother got up and clapped at the end of he film! I'd never seen that done again until I lived in America. The audience are a lot more vocal and passionate in their watching of films there!

Who's your favourite director?

For me Scorsese or the Coen brothers

What's your favourite line or scene from a film? Why?

Sean: So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you'd probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can't tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You're a tough kid. And I'd ask you about war, you'd probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, "once more unto the breach dear friends." But you've never been near one. You've never held your best friend's head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I'd ask you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet. But you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn't know what it's like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn't know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms "visiting hours" don't apply to you. You don't know about real loss, 'cause it only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you... I don't see an intelligent, confident man... I see a cocky, scared shitless kid. But you're a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my fucking life apart. You're an orphan right?
[Will nods]
Sean: You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally... I don't give a shit about all that, because you know what, I can't learn anything from you, I can't read in some fuckin' book. Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I'm fascinated. I'm in. But you don't want to do that do you sport? You're terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief.

Favourite screen kiss? Why?

When al Pacino kisses his wife in Donnie Brasco before being going to his certain death. The naked simplicity of that moment is effortlessly beautiful.

Who's your favourite screen hero/villain? Why?

Christian Slater in true romance as he is a heroic everyman who steps up to the challenges that befall him through a strong moral compass and the love of a great women. Villain? Rocky Sullivan in Angels with Dirty Faces. Because there is none of us beyond redemption. That electric chair scene gives me shivers every time.

Favourite actor's performance?

Bruno Ganz in Downfall was just incredible. I think it must be so much harder to portray someone real and his Adolf Hitler was just amazing.

Funniest moment on film?

From top to toe I think Dumb and Dumber is a classic but the "our pets heads are falling off" scene is amazing!

Favourite last line to a film?

I'm a softy so It's a Wonderful Life's 'every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings'.

Most shocking scene in a film?

Without doubt the opening scene to the Irish film Intermission with Colin Farrell when he comes into the cafe.

What films would you recommend to people that they probably haven't seen?

La Haine, Angels with Dirty faces or 4 Shades of Brown.

You've recently enjoyed being part of ITV's extremely successful series Broadchurch. Working on a fantastic script with some of our country's best actors and experienced a huge rating's hit. Something for you to be extremely proud of and I know our members would be fascinated and inspired by how you won the role and what the experience was like. A few questions specifically on Broadchurch…

How did you come to the role? Did your agent put your forward? Or did it come to you by another means?

It's always difficult to know. I was very lucky to have met the script exec Sam Hoyle at a play and we got on very well and I think that, and my agents hard work, worked in tandem to get me a meeting with James Strong and Kelly and Victor the casting directors.

Did you get to read the whole script prior to auditioning?

No, I was attached at quite an early stage but you had an amazing feeling even very early on that these very accomplished people were infectiously excited about what the series had in store. So in spite of my best efforts to play it cool I went from the first audition desperate to be involved.

Did you have a feeling about it straight away? Does that happen? Can you read a script and know instinctively if something is special? Either a script or a role?

I've never had such a strong sense of excitement when the door goes and the new installments have been sent to your house. I was and remain completely in thrall of Chris Chibnall's writing and I know this is true of the entire cast. We felt it was something incredible but of course that love for a project needs to be shared by the British viewing public and we are eternally grateful that it was.

What was the audition process like? Who did you see first? Did you struggle with nerves at all – either for Broadchurch or other auditions? How many times were you asked to be seen before you won the role?

You are always nervous when you are auditioning for a project that is so special. I went in a good few times before the role was mine but it was a labour of love each time because with each audition I got to find out a little bit more about the plot lines! I was a huge fan of United which Chris and James had done together so the idea of working with guys of that caliber is a) daunting but b) exciting and everything you'd ever hoped for when training.

What was the feeling of winning Nasty Nige like?

Incredible! That feeling of winning a role is great because it feels like utter vindication of your sacrifices and choices as a performer. We can each of us say; "I'm an actor" but without people to share your belief it becomes a pipe dream or an exercise in futility. That's not to say if it doesn't come straight away you should stop. There are myriad reasons why a part doesn't go your way and a lot of them have nothing to do with you as a person but when the stars align and you get the nod that feeling of euphoria is unparalleled.

When you do win a fantastic role in a major series does it make the many struggles along the way feel worth it?

See above. But yes of course and I think the salad days and rejection and the hardship of scraping together the rent means you are a more well rounded person and subsequently an actor. So it hurts but it helps. I think that's probably true of relationships too. To be burned gives you incredible insight, pathos and empathy which makes you a better partner in the long run? These are also tools that can be used if you feel brave enough (hopefully without sounding too cynical!) to portray that emotional honesty on set, stage etc.

Tell us a little about your experiences on the shoot? Was it a difficult shoot? Taxing? A joyous experience? Did the cast come together well. From watching everyone certainly felt like a community despite the fractures that the storyline takes them through. Was there a level of bonding that lead to the familiarity that we felt on the screen?

Right from the outset the camaraderie was something that I've rarely had the fortune to experience. I'd had the pleasure of working with David Tennant before on Romeo and Juliet for radio 4 and he instantly introduced me to the whole cast which was so lovely of him and put me immediately at my ease. When you feel completely comfortable with everyone you create an environment conducive to doing your best work and this is an environment that James and Euros our two directors and all the cast and crew fostered with extremely powerful results. We all socialise together and I think as long as we each draw breath we will look back so fondly of that amazing few months we spent in the West Country.

How did you deal with having to work with a storyline as upsetting and distressing as a child's murder?

Of course, that emotional intensity is a powerful thing and in the wrong hands is a disaster waiting to happen but when everyone is so dedicated to telling a story with the naked truth and intensity that it deserves then you all pull together as a team and would go to any lengths to ensure the highest quality. This is testament to Richard Stokes the producer and the entire production team that worked so hard to make sure that everything is in place for all pieces of the jigsaw to fulfil their full potential. That feeling of synergy I thought was absolutely humbling.

You were Danny's father's closest friend and I think you played a layered and complex character brilliantly. There must be a subtle line in such a drama to display the many sides of an atypical human being, some hidden, some aggressive without making it feel heavy handed or there for the sake of showing the audience a red herring. How did you prepare and manage to tread such a difficult fine line so skilfully?

We would speak at length with Chris, James and Euros whose doors were always open to discuss however we were feeling and this adds to a layered considered performance. When the writing and directing is that good it's very difficult to get it wrong as an actor because it's so honest and sincere. This multilayered character is on the page and it's an honour to be afforded the opportunity to be able to take it from the page to the screen. Sometimes, without sounding too pretentious the words just sit so effortlessly in your mouth to inhabit a character like Nige becomes effortless. There is no need to force anything that isn't there and working with actors like Andy Buchan, David Tennant, Jodie Whittaker, Olivia Colman, Pauline Quirke and the list goes on is like the cheapest drama school ever! Such subtle, nuanced performances that you can't help but to learn and grow.

Was it an overall emotional experience for you? In particular the final scenes? Not only for the emotional climax of such a tragic tale but also when such an immense experience came to a close for you personally?

The art department did such a great job during my interrogation. David and I shot all of those scenes chronologically in one day in that really small interrogation room and it was amazing. The dossier that he gives me about my fathers past and the death of my biological sister was so detailed and descriptive that reading it I would defy anyone not to break down in floods of tears. Alex our first A.D. was so considerate throughout and cultivated the perfect atmosphere to allow David and I to do our best and by the end I was emotionally drained and felt that I was able to do some of the bravest work of my career to date. I would love to be afforded the opportunity to explore Nige's life post that revelation but alas that decision doesn't rest with me and I will say whatever Chris and the Kudos team have in store for us in series 2 whether I'm in it or I'm watching from home I cannot wait to see what they conjure up as it's sure to be an incredible ride.

Joe, this interview, the eBooks and the site and the BFA itself is all for actors and filmmakers wanting to get on and make their way with their vocations. Would you be kind enough to give them some final words of advice? The kind of advice you would have benefited from some years ago, perhaps when you were in a doubtful time and thinking it was all too hard or too soul destroying....

Genuinely the best bit of advice I could give anyone is to be the kind of person that someone would want to be around for 6 months. The work for all involved can involve unsociable hours and to be away from our friends and family for an extended time. When directors are meeting you it's absolutely in their contemplation to think "would we get on?" Is he or she as well as being an actor that would add to the final product on stage or on screen someone that I could spend time with. There are thousands of people that would kill for each job and hundreds that could do it extremely well so being a charming, gregarious person might just be the difference between success and failure. Also, it's a very small world. People talk. So think about the reputation you would like to create for yourself. In my experience surly, arrogant people tend to end up unemployed, bitter and alone. I guess that's not just advice for acting but a blueprint for life! Try your best, prepare well and have the bollocks to be brave and trust your's sounder than you think. I wish each and every one of you a lifetime of success in one of the most edifying and exciting careers in the world. (Unless you are 6ft 3in tall with a shaven head in which case I'd be truly grateful if you left the parts to me!) if you have any further questions please tweet them to me @joesims10 x

I believe we need heroes
Keri Collins interview….


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