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netribution > features > interview with adrian lester > page two

How daunting was your first lead?
Completely. It was a lot of fun though and I learnt loads from it, I had a great time doing it but its a shame the film wasn't better received because it is a fantastic film.

What do you think were the reasons for that?
I think people had had enough, especially in America with Clinton this and Clinton that and when the film came out they'd had enough.

Was the timing of its release a coincidence?
The book had come out which was one reason, Nichols had bought the rights and it all went ahead into pre production which was all fine. We shot it and everything was going smoothly, we finished the film and it was in post, the morning I left my flat to go to America to do ADR work on it I bought the paper only to see the Clinton and Monica Lewinsky story for the first time. By the time I reached America it was just gathering steam daily, people were talking about impeachment and by the time we were ready to release the film Clinton was answering questions before a jury live on TV. I remember thinking, 'what do we do with this film now? I think that had we released it earlier it would have been very successful indeed but real life and what actually happened was far more fascinating. It did well on video though and I think it was a real gem.

When did you first know that you wanted to be an actor?
When I joined the youth theatre at 14 and I left Birmingham for at 18 to go to Rada.

How strong was your accent?
My accent wasn't that strong because when I was at home I was hearing Jamaican, I only picked up the Birmingham accent from friends and teachers. But it was much stronger than it is now. Rada has a reputation for being a voice finishing school which is absolute crap because most of the people who hold that opinion don't go there. What it did teach you was how to do accents and after living in London for 10 years my accent is a mish mash of many influences..

Do you like cricket?

Damn. question.
(laughter) There's a whole avenue of chat gone!

Well I thought I'd slip it in there. Who did you play in Best?
I played a night club owner called Rocky. I wasn't one of the footballers. Big afro, Angela Davies, Jackson 5 afro like a microphone.

How did you get in involved in Get Out There?
They asked me and I loved the idea but I knew Claire Killner who did it before. When they asked me I said, 'Hell yeah!' I'm all for stuff like this because I think its really good for people to get a chance to get their work seen away from the normal avenues. I've watched my wife send out scripts and drafts and they are read by people who haven't got a bloody clue how to judge things and are just looking for their own remit. They need, for example, more dramas about hospitals so they'll read the first 5 pages, pick a middle 5 pages and read the last 5 pages and if it doesn't fit the criteria they'll bin it and move on. They never create anything they are just watching what the public is watching and TV is one step behind them, except for late night on Channel 4.

What was your brief?
Well, because I'm about to go off and do Hamlet for almost a year, the brief is to do a 5 minute Hamlet, or 5 minutes of Hamlet. They can do a storyboard, script it or film it, its quite wide actually, any moment or time period, explore anything. That's the brief. There are so many emotions to be expressed within it like revenge, love, honour, war to relationships with your family and to the opposite sex. They are all explored in the play and, as an actor you have to explore them all when you go in to rehearse the play. That's why its so easy to become unhinged because you are exploring and fucking about with emotions that hold your life together.

Is that your favourite of Shakespeare's plays?
It could well be because all of the above elements are there and are explored in one go, I like the tragedies but I really, really enjoyed As You Like It.

Where will it be?
Its for Peter Brook and it will open in Paris sometime in November.


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