From the age of 11 I knew that I wanted to be an actor but didn’t know how to make a career in it. Therefore when I completed my schooling I worked as a Joiner/Carpenter but still had the burning passion to be an actor, so at the age of 18 I started to perform in amateur dramatics making my debut on stage. I continued over the next 3 years performing in drama, musicals and pantomime, developing my skills in theatre performance. This was a great grounding to build confidence and foundation for my future professional career.
indieactivity: Did you study acting?
Carl: With a burning ambition to become a professional actor I began to take private one to one elocution and drama lessons at the age of 20, this was followed a year later by me giving up my job as a Joiner so I could enroll full time at drama school. I began to attend the Liverpool Theatre School and College where I studied drama and dance. I studied for 4 years and developed new skills with the great support of my family and tutors such as Miss Norah Button (The Principal) Tessa Headspeath, Sandra Ellison (Drama teachers) and many more.
I feel that because I had worked for several years before going back into educational study it gave me many benefits and a more mature approach to learning. I never wasted a moment at drama school and always gave 110% and still do. I completed my training with teacher qualifications in drama and dance.
indieactivity: What acting technique do you use?
Carl: After 27 years of mainly performing in theatre I tended to focus more on the correct delivery of the script, but then I was given the opportunity to portray the character of Henry in a film called Self Same Sky. This was a modern adaption based on Shakespeare’s play Henry the fourth part 2. Here I was given such freedom to explore the character of Henry by the wonderful Directors William Forster and Michael Mannion, that I discovered new attributes about my performance and approach in film in contrast to my theatre background.
I felt that I had actually come home and found my forte. After all the years of acting, portraying Henry felt like a new door opening. My approach was and is a mixture between method and emotional performance. I relate the characters situations and emotions with my own life experiences and emotional memories. This allows me to lead my performance with an emotional base from within, thus allowing the exterior expressions to happen naturally.
indieactivity: Do you take courses to improve your craft?
Carl: As with any business CPD is a must. So yes I continue to attend workshops and also still involve myself in student films to share my skills and to use the productions as further training development. We are a business and a product so we must keep our skills updated and evolve.
indieactivity: What acting books do you read?
Carl: I tend to read autobiographies of actors to understand their experiences as people and how they may or may not use those experiences in their performances.
indieactivity: How do you keep fit as an actor?
Carl: From the age of 16 I began to train with weights and entered several bodybuilding competitions but once I entered drama school I began to train in dance. Therefore I started to cross train and I reduced my muscle size. I became more supple and fitter. I continued working out in gyms and became a fitness teacher alongside my dance and drama training. I still workout with weights and keep myself fit and active with horse riding and climbing. Mentally I have always read books,mainly factual and I try to always take a spiritual approach in life.
indieactivity: How do you prepare for a role, when you get it?
Carl: I read the script several times to understand the situations that my character must face and see how he responds to those situations. I try to discuss the backstory with the writer or director and then I begin to build my character. Piece by piece I will number each situation my character faces with an emotional score. For instance 10 being perhaps complete euphoria or complete devastation.
I then begin to liken theses emotional levels to experiences from my own life where I have felt that particular level of emotion. When performing the scene especially in film or television this allows me to feel the situation and relive that appropriate level of emotion thus feeling my characters life. Feeling from the inside allows the exterior response to happen naturally without having to act.
indieactivity: How do you create a character from a script into a person?
Carl: As above. Using the emotions of the scene and character lends itself into how that character walks, talks etc.
indieactivity: How do you stay fresh on a production set?
Carl: I prefer the director and crew to call me by the character’s name always and I tend to stay quiet and focused until needed.
indieactivity: Describe a memorable character you played?
Carl: Apart from portraying the character of Henry in Self Same Sky 2012 Dir William Forster/ Michael Mannion there was the portrayal of Rory Storm in the stage play The King of Liverpool/Beautiful Dreamer 1991.
Rory Storm (Alan Caldwell) and the Hurricanes were the biggest rock and roll group in Liverpool before the Beatles. Ringo Starr was their drummer and John, Paul and George were all close friends of Rory.
The story is told by Rory which includes songs that the band recorded in the merseybeat era. Rory passed away in 1972 and it was my honor to be able to portray such an iconic man and also eventually to perform with members of the original band (Johnnie Guitar, Lou Walters). The greatest feedback came from Iris, Rory’s sister who said that my performance was just like watching Rory.
indieactivity: Explain one creative choice you took on set?
Carl: When portraying the character of Henry (Self Same Sky) there was a scene at the end where Henry was dying in bed and lay in a coma. So for full effect I requested that I would not be seen by the other actors until they actually entered the room at the beginning of the scene.
The visual shock of seeing my character struggling to breathe and laying in the bed, automatically created a tension and morbid atmosphere within the room. The other characters reacted accordingly and tears flowed throughout the scene, including the director and crew. The director was enthralled with the result.
indieactivity: What do you want most from a director?
Carl: Detail is always a must from a director. Details regarding their understanding of the character and how that character fits into the whole scheme of the play or screen play. Also detail regarding the whole piece. Guidance is great and flexibility in allowing the actor to bring their ideas and approach to the character development.
indieactivity: What actors do you long to work with?
Carl: I would like to work with Daniel Day Lewis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Carl: Daniel Day Lewis because of the depth he gives to his characters and his intensity and Arnie because I admire everything that he has achieved throughout his life.
indieactivity: What advice would you give to actors?
Carl: Whenever I have had the opportunity to teach students I always remind them that Professionalism is a state of mind and not dictated by how much you earn. I have worked with many actors who are labeled as professional, but fall far short when on set and those who are labeled as amateur yet prove to be professional.
My advice is, whether it be a low budget film or theatre piece or a big budget production always be professional with your approach. This quality will always stand you in good stead in this business. Remember that it is a business and you are your product, so promote your product always in a professional manner.
indieactivity: Briefly write about your career?
Carl: I have covered some of this information in previous answers, but after completing a 4 year fulltime course at the Liverpool Theatre School and College (LTSC) where I qualified as a dance and drama teacher I have been fortunate to perform in most genres of Musicals, Dramas both on stage and screen. Most of my career has been spent in theatre portraying such roles as Riff in Westside Story, Dr Ruddock in The Retribution (A musical drama written by myself based on Nathaniel Hawthornes classic The Scarlet Letter), Hamlet in Hamlet, Duncan in Macbeth and many more that can be seen on my links below.
Moving on to film and television I have portrayed various protagonist type characters both in the UK and in Italy and India. These characters have helped me develop my skills as a screen actor as opposed to a stage actor. Developing a more realistic approach to the performance (Less is more). As mentioned earlier developing the character from within from the emotional story/backstory of the character in question. I am enjoying my progression into film and television away from theatre and I look forward to the projects that I already have lined up in the UK and US.
I am currently working on a new project by writer and director Peter Sinseeya called Matopulas. It is written for Television and revolves around the life’s of three main characters set in Liverpool. I portray James Kneller a wealthy businessman with taste for murder. The project is gritty and has a beautiful sense of film noir.
Another film I am due to be a part of is Eleven by Rock Salt. A beautiful yet sad story set in the WW1 trenches. It has an abundance of veteran actors and is set for Television and Cinema. Production begins early January 2018. I am portraying Dr Kauffman a german doctor. A wonderful role with the added challenge of having to speak in german.