Jonas Armstrong, starring in the British thriller Twenty8K, talks to View’s Matthew Turner about acting, working hard in the film industry and the hardships of auditions and success.
Tell us about the film and how you got involved, first of all?
I met up with Neil Thompson, one of the directors, about 4 years ago for an audition for one of his previous films, a movie called ‘Clubbed’. Nothing sort of happened with that but I got the script through for Twenty8K, read it, you know, really liked the part and I went down to meet Neil for the read-through and was off with it, and four weeks later we started. So I think I was quite late on to get on board, for whatever reasons, but I fully enjoyed the script and thought I could really do something with the part. So I went ahead with it.
How has the shoot been so far?
It’s been great! Today is my last day. But it’s been a great shoot, just because of the nature of the project, the sort of inner-city locations and all the rest of it. The cast and crew and everything, it’s been a pleasure, you know, it’s been one of the good jobs, it’s been great.
Who do you play in the film?
I play a character called Clint O’Connor, who’s an old acquaintance of Deeva’s. When you meet him he’s sort of running a youth centre for youths in and around the area. You learn that he was involved with gangs and he’s done time in jail, and he comes out and on the face of it he’s sorted his life out and become rehabilitated and, you know, tries to give back to the community with working in the youth centre and looking after the football teams and all that. But then as the film progresses you learn there’s a different side to him, a more sort of menacing side, but I can’t really talk more about that as it’s like the climax of the film.
Is that what attracted you to it then, the fact that he has these two sides to him?
Yeah, definitely, and it wasn’t just sort of a play upon underlying things, in general of his going throughout the film, so that’s what interested me and drew me towards it.
What is your take on the genre of British movies that’s coming up now? Have you seen Anuvahood with Adam Deacon?
No, I haven’t seen it. But I have worked with Adam years ago, about 7 years ago. But I do think it’s great because this genre on its own does stand up and it does appeal to people and is not just an action or a comedy, there are lots of levels to it which I think appeal to a wider audience, it’s been great to be a part of it.
What is the difference between filming TV stuff compared to a film shoot?
I think there’s a bit more time, I mean you can’t take forever and obviously the scenes have to move on and there’s a schedule to adhere to and keep to. But I think it’s more of a relaxed atmosphere. There’s not that much of a difference to be fair, not that much for us, you know, as the actors.
Has there been much down-time, socializing with the other actors?
Well, you see, my days are quite sporadic, I’m sort of in, then I’m out and I’m not living in London anymore. I head back up the road when I’ve finished and because of where the hotel is based there’s not really that much to be getting on with and the people. So I haven’t seen that many of the actors that much outside of it, to be honest. I’m sure if the shoot was longer, and I was in more, that would have been the case, yeah. We all get on brilliantly, believe me they are all wicked!
Have you worked with any of them before?
I’ve worked with Stephen Dillane, we did a Miss Marple (The Secret of
Chimneys) about two years ago. [Laughs] Filmed in Knebworth House, which was great. And I’ve worked with Nichola Burley, I think it was one of her first jobs, I worked with her in a TV series called Ghost Squad for Channel 4, which was about undercover police. It was about 6 years ago, and Nichola was only 17, one of her first gigs, so I worked with her. And Derek Riddell I’ve worked with on this thing that’s coming out soon, it’s called The Field of Blood, which is set in Glasgow in the 80s. So yeah, I’ve worked with a few of them.
What are your plans for the future?
I was supposed to be doing a film called Salvation’s Door, about 3 weeks after this finished. But I just found out the funding hasn’t been put in place properly. So that has been postponed which is a bit of a shit, but you know, these things happen and I just have to get on with it. So no, nothing immediately after.
Are you going to continue doing British movies or going to America?
There’s always the temptation to go over there but I think you have to sort of judge it right, and not just go on a whim and I also think it’s best to go on the back of something. You know if something does well over there whether it’s TV or film that has a bit of a buzz about it, then I think that’s the right time to go over, rather than just going along with a flock of other people and be anonymous and all that. But, yeah, in time. I’m only young - I tell myself, anyway [Laughs].Yeah, in time, I’m sure!