Nick Blood is starring in the brand new West End musical Backbeat - based on the formation and early years of The Beatles, he can also be seen as Kieran in the new Sky comedy Trollied . He very kindly took some time out of tech week to answer a few questions about preparation for the role and how he feels about kicking off a West End run.
Alright Kieran. Long time no see.
What can you tell us about Backbeat?
It’s an adaptation of the film which tells the little known story of the 5th Beatle and the bands formative years in Hamburg. Centering on the triangular relationship between Stu Sutcliffe [Nick's character], Astrid Kircherr [Ruta Gedmintas] and John Lennon [Andrew Knott]. Essentially it’s a play about relationships with the backdrop of the most famous band in the world.
No Pressure then! How did you feel on the first day of rehearsals
The usual ‘I’m gonna be found out and they’ll sack me’… But to be honest it’s probably the most comfortable I’ve felt at the start of the rehearsal process, I had spent the run up to starting doing lots of research and learning my lines so I felt well prepared. Also, the other ‘Beatles’ and I met up for a jam on the Friday before which helped break the ice, and then David Leveaux [director] came down and he has a wonderful way about him that makes you feel trusted and that you have his total support. Having said that, the fact that I couldn’t play bass was a huge worry… When i saw the other lads play I thought I’d have no chance of catching up.
Did you know much Sutcliffe before this?
Coincidentally my dad grew up just a few doors down from Stu in Huyton, Liverpool, so he had often told me the story. But there was a hell of a lot I wasn’t aware of.
How did you research the part?
I spent a small fortune on any books I could find about Stuart and read and read and read. Just trying to absorb as much about him as possible. As there’s no footage of him it meant I had to do a lot of deduction about how he might have been and his influences. That lead me to look at a lot of art and a few films of some of his idols. I listened to early recordings of the Beatles and just reading about the era was also helpful
You’ve had a great couple of years mixing stage roles with tv work, do you have a favourite yet?
That’s a really hard question that I never manage to really answer. I always say that they are like doing two completely different jobs.
I love the variation in filming, no two days are the same and performance-wise you often have a greater responsibility for what you do as there is less rehearsal time. Seeing the finished product is great, usually you’ve had a few months to forget about what happens and you get lots of little surprises from the edit and seeing the other scenes that you weren’t involved in.
Theatre is a whole different ball game. Rehearsals allow you the freedom to really experiment, and the buzz of live performance is incomparable. I really can’t pick between the two but I do feel fortunate to have had a good mix of both. Towards the end of a theatre job I start to crave some filming, and towards the end of a filming job I yearn for a bit of theatre. I’m just fickle.
Are you excited, nervous or just ready to take on the west end?
Now that you’ve asked me that question I’m starting to get nervous…
I’m definitely excited to start. We’re in tech week so we’re all itching to get an audience in. I am nervous because I don’t really know what to expect. The show is so different to anything I’ve done before so it’s been a huge learning curve.
What made you become an actor?
I would never have been satisfied doing anything else. When I was 7 I went to the local drama club, mainly because you got to stay up till 9pm, and from that moment on I couldn’t understand why anyone else would ever want to do anything but acting. It was just so much fun, messing around with your mates and coming up with characters and stories. All we did really was impro and devising, nothing with scripts, so it encouraged you to let your imagination run wild.
What’s the best thing you’ve seen at the theatre?
Ummm… Tough one. I’m going to change the question to ‘what was the most recent best thing what you’ve seen at the theatre?’. In which case I’d probably have to say Posh at the Royal Court. I can’t say I ‘enjoyed’ the experience, it made me feel sick to my stomach, I nearly didn’t go back in for the second half it had got me so angry. But that’s what was great about it. I hate ‘political theatre’ because it’s largely a display of mutual masturbation. A White, middle class, liberal audience get to feel terribly good about being oh so liberal as they watch a play that makes it very clear that racism, sexism, homophobia etc are all bad things. The audience can nod in agreement and then go home to their nice comfortable homes and respectable jobs and pontificate about how bad racism, sexism, homophobia etc are, at the same time doing absolutely nothing to help anyone suffering at the hands of racism, sexism, homophobia etc.
The difference with Posh was that instead of presenting these ideas to the audience, it just concentrated on telling a story about this group of young men and the events of their evening. Without ramming it down the audiences throats, it let us form our own opinions about the characters we saw on stage and their actions. It made me, and I think others, feel responsible for what was happening on stage, we were in on it, we were complicit by being so apathetic about the gap between the privileged and not-so-privileged classes in our society.
I honestly think if every citizen had seen that play before the last election we wouldn’t have a Tory government and we wouldnt be seeing our public services cut as we are at the moment.
Great Answer!! What’s your favourite film?
Another tough question. Can I do a list? I’m gonna do a list. I’ll probably forget loads. Ok, here we go…
This is England
Wind That Shakes the Barley
Withnail and I
Room For Romeo Brass
Moulin Rouge (Baz Lurman’s)
Natural Born Killers
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
If you could have any part from any play what would it be and where would it be on?
I’d like Martin Mcdonagh to write me a part for a play at the Royal Court.
The Good Review would like to say an enormous thank you to Nick for giving his time so kindly, we wish him every success with this run and everything he attempts in the future. He’s one to watch, and a brilliant, brilliant man.
Backbeat will be performed at The Duke of York Theatre from 24th September 2011 until 24th March 2012
Box office: 0844 871 7623