Interview with Lara Lemon

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Lara_Lemon photographed by Wolf Marloh

I began acting in school plays (the highlight was playing a statue aged 8!) but I didn’t start to take it seriously until I joined a youth theatre in my late teens. It was only then that I thought I could really do this as a career. I recently won the Actress in a Leading Role award at the Southampton International Film Festival and Best Supporting Actress at the Chelsea Film Festival, New York. I am also on a tour of the UK with a production of ‘Strictly Murder’ (see poster below) which is a brilliant thriller.

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Lara Lemons is Suzy in the UK production titled Strictly Murder

indieactivity: How did you become an actor?
Lara: I took a course with the National Youth Theatre once I left school and then went on to join a little repertory theatre company in Reading for a year. Sadly the place no longer exists but 14 plays in a year was the most wonderful experience. We worked on everything from Shakespeare to Pantomime, from French Farce to new writing. For me the short rehearsal periods taught me how invaluable my instinct was and how important it was to make bold and quick decisions.

indieactivity: What acting technique do you use?
Lara: It depends on the project, director and other cast members – I think often adaptability is so important. Sometimes I work with directors who focus on Meisner or Stanislavski methods, whereas other times due to the role my technique can be quite technical. As long as you build a believable character there is no right way of doing it.

indieactivity: What acting books do you read?
Lara: I don’t read too many books on acting – I’m more of a visual and practical learner – but the staples on my bookshelf are David Mamet’s and Uta Hagen’s books. Not strictly an acting book, ‘No Turn Unstoned’ by Diana Rigg charts the terrible reviews received by wonderful actors, plays and directors. When I first received a bad review in the press a friend bought me a copy – I would totally recommend it to others! I would love to curate reviews from an updated version one day.

indieactivity: How do you keep fit as an actor?
Lara: Physically, if I have time I try to do some yoga or go to the gym. Mentally, I watch a lot of theatre and films so I am up to date with what’s going on in the industry and also to find inspiration. I’m lucky that I work in the corporate roleplay too so the improvisation allows me to stretch my muscles. Apart from that, time with animals and a crossword a day keeps my mind and soul happy!

indieactivity:  How do you prepare for a role when you get it?
Lara: On set I want to know the script inside out/back to front! I don’t want to be searching for lines. I love to discuss the scenes with my scene partners and the director and am happy to rehearse it a few times. My fear is too much rehearsal for film might stifle my spontaneity and I could get stuck in my head. I love improvising around scenes to find out what more is going on that hasn’t been written down on paper too. If there is any background research I need to do, I’ll get that done. You never know how that might inform your performance. When I played Niamh in ‘Off-Piste’ it was vital to know about Northern Ireland’s recent history because of the content of the film and her attitude to the world and other characters.

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Lara Lemon as Niamh O’Brian in Off-Piste walking up head.

indieactivity: Describe a memorable character you played?
Lara: 2015, I had the opportunity to head over to the French Alps with Jack in the Box Productions to film ‘Off-Piste’. I play Niamh, a Northern Irish girl who travels to France to take revenge on someone. The writers, Glen Kirby and Steve Trotter, wrote a great flawed character so when I got the job I was thrilled. The team were brilliant and so focused on making a great film for a small budget. The icing on the cake is that ‘Off-Piste’ has just been released on DVD in Asda, Amazon and HMV and online on Amazon Prime. I’ve also been nominated for a Best Actress award alongside Fiona Shaw at the SIFF.

indieactivity: What do you want most from a director?
Lara: Really I want to see inside their head! But seeing as that is impossible (at the moment 😉) I want to have a mutual trust and an honest dialogue. If something isn’t right, I want to know and if something isn’t working I want to work with the director and other actors to find the solution. Although, you normally don’t have a lot of time to spend hours exploring on set, I do like there to be a sense of play to keep the energy fresh and the instinct heightened!

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Lara Lemon as Niamh O’Brian in Off-Piste bar scene

indieactivity: What actors do you long to work with?
Lara: Oh my goodness, I don’t even know where I’d begin. Here are just a few actors I love watching (to choose would be like choosing between children!) Denise Gough, Daniel Mays, Imelda Staunton, Cate Blanchett, Helen McCrory, Kate Fleetwood, Billie Piper, Julie Walters, Joanna Scanlan, Maureen Beattie, Zawe Ashton, Olivia Colman, Parker Posey, Nick Holder, Rory Kinnear, Leonardo Di Caprio, Stanley Tucci

indieactivity: Why?
Lara: These actors are all so truthful and their energy is captivating. There is also a sense of joy in what they are doing. Even when the scene is harrowing, their energy suggests they want to be there and they love what they do. I believe that reads on screen.

indieactivity: What advice would you give to actors?
Lara: I don’t know if I’m in a position to be giving out advice to others but I’d have a few tips for my younger self. Know your worth, don’t let people use you – as much as you love this, people are not doing you a favour by putting them in your student/no budget film. This is your job and they need your expertise. Follow opportunites. If someone who can help you shows interest, pursue it, don’t wait for them to come back for you. Take risks in the business and in your work.

indieactivity: Briefly write about your career?
Lara: I’ve been lucky enough to work on so many different projects since leaving college. Highlights have been playing Lady Macbeth and Anne Frank on stage, seeing the world with work and working with some amazing people on stage and screen. My CV and showreel can be viewed on and keep up to date with all my adventures on my twitter page, @Lara_Lemons

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  • Hey Lara. We finally go your interview published, and in time to sync with you new play ‘Strictly Murder’. Tell us about the tour, where you have been, and the response to the play so far.

    • Lara Lemon

      Thank you so much! The play has been going really well thanks. Great reviews and we’ve done about 20 venues so far including Windsor, Inverness, Poole, Colchester, Harrogate, Malvern, Isle of Wight, Crewe and we’ve got a fair few to go. Really looking forward to playing Swansea, Guildford and especially Kingston! Im constantly updating on my Twitter and Instagram as to where we are! X

  • Lara Lemon

    Thanks for this Oladapo – what you’re doing is brilliant!