Susan Wokoma

What was the last thing or object you found that you kept?
I found a little teddy bear in Brockwell Park the other week and I was premenstrual and it was very cute and it had been a long day so I took it home, gave it a nice hot bath and now he lives in a drawer.  

What is the last film you saw that you consequently classified as a classic?
Probably I, Daniel Blake – me and many other cinema goers at my screening were inconsolable during the end credits. A woman came over and gave me a hug it was that guttural a reaction. It perfectly captures a very current injustice of class. And nothing seems to be changing.

What do you often buy too much of? 
Mochas. They’re just a grown up hot chocolate and I find them very comforting.

Acting notwithstanding, what have you always (or usually) found easy to remember or learn?
Late ’90s/ early 2000 pop dance moves. Steps, Britney, Backstreet Boys, N’Sync. The moment I hear one of their tracks, my body starts doing the choreography, involuntarily. My older sister used to run dance drills for the rest of us on Saturday mornings in our living room, and now they’re a part of my DNA. I’ve accepted my fate.

What is the worst meal you’ve ever ordered? 
When I was in Romania with my ex and his parents, we went to a Dracula themed restaurant for tourist giggles and it was the most peculiar place. All the dishes had full on names like ‘DEVIL’S CHICKEN’ but it was just half a chicken wing doused in petrol which they set alight and just left you to it, flames a-go-go. It was a stressful and hilarious dining experience.

What is your favourite party or celebration movie scene?
When Muriel and Rhonda do the big F You ‘Waterloo’ dance routine in Muriel’s Wedding – my idea of geeky heaven.

What is an activity you love but feel “too old” for?
Tinder. Wouldn’t say I loved it though… I actually use the phrase “I completed Tinder”.

One of your latest projects, Porters, delves into the lives of employees at a contemporary hospital. What other “regular job” would you like to see get a similarly in-depth perspective? 
Cleaners. My mother was a cleaner my entire life and her longest stint was at a probabation centre and at Mi5. I was only small when she started there but my imagination used to run riot with all the crazy things I imagined she was probably getting up to during her night shifts. The reality was she was probably just cleaning dusty toilets.

Want more? Watch our behind-the-scenes film.

Susan Wokoma can be seen in Labour of Love, on now until 2 December 2017 at the Noel Coward Theatre, London (UK).

As told to Paul Vaughan for TPJ
Creative Director & Photographer: Jessie Craig
Hair & Makeup: Helen Asher

Oliver Coopersmith

Who is your favourite public figure to watch interviews of? 
There’s loads, I’m a sucker for The Graham Norton Show. I haven’t missed an episode in years.

What part of your family history did you find interesting or surprising to learn?
My dad had to stop for petrol when my mum was in labour with my brother. It didn’t go down well.

Would you rather give advice to yourself 10 years ago or receive advice from yourself 10 years in the future?
Receive advice from myself 10 years in the future. Although I’m sure that person would say the same thing.

What was at one point one of your favourite films that you now enjoy the least?
When I was 13 I was obsessed with a film called Stormbreakerwhere a teenager is chosen by MI6 to be a secret agent. I was hoping it was based on true events but it turns out that doesn’t happen… does it?

If you could only bring one book with you to work for the next year, what do you bring?
A dictionary: people in this industry use words I don’t understand.

Who have you learned the most about film and acting from?
I can’t narrow it down to one person. I learn the most from other actors, watching them, working with them and talking to them.

What living person would you like the chance to talk to again?
My agent.

What is your most uninteresting interest?
Watching England play football.

Tin Star, your newest project revolves around a small town murder. This is a recurring theme in film and literature that parallels/ juxtaposes the stories set in urban cities. Where do you perceive the greater fear, in the isolated tension of the rural or the manic chaos of urban living? 
I don’t think locations are scary, I think people are. In Tin Star there’s a sense that crime shouldn’t exist somewhere naturally beautiful and peaceful and it doesn’t really until people come and shatter it. God, that’s a tragic metaphor.

Want more? Watch our behind-the-scenes film.

Oliver Coopersmith can be seen now in Tin Star, on SKY Atlantic (UK) and Amazon Prime (US).

As told to Paul Vaughan for TPJ
Creative Director & Photographer: Jessie Craig
Grooming: Helen Asher

Inside Look: Christian Cooke

Christian Cooke on the set of Knives in Hens in London, UK on September 26, 2017.

We spoke to actor Christian Cooke about his role as Pony William in the Donmar Warehouse production of Knives in Hens.

Knives in Hens is set in a rugged ‘pre-industrial’ time and place far removed from contemporary life. What was the nature of the conversations with the director and fellow cast regarding how these characters exist, or even your own thought process?
A lot of the early work we did was physical. Lots of movements work to really get inside the bodies of these people and consider how they move. They are people of the land who were put to work from a young age so it was important for us to understand as much as possible, the nature of that hardship and how that reflected in their movement. And with that the economy of how they move when they’re not working.
We also spent hours talking about how relationships between men and women have changed throughout the years and how the ideas of masculine and feminine have also evolved over time. It was important for us not to judge these characters but to understand the world in which they were a part of.

Have your feelings of the play or your character shifted since you first performed it? If so why or how?
I don’t think my feelings towards William have changed. I’ve always understood him and sympathised with him and a strong sense of his own longing and pain. The great thing about theatre is that you’re always finding new things in the work and making new discoveries with the language. That’s the joy of repeating it every night. No two shows are ever the same and sometimes the language resonates in a new or different way.

Do you prefer having a more abstract, sparse setting/ environment for your performances? Does it pose a greater challenge or do you tend to find more with less? 
I think as long as the set and the props you’re working with is true to the nature of the work you are doing  and helps to define the directors vision, then that’s fine. When the set or props start to distract from the language or the work in a negative way, it’s better to strip things back.

What is your favourite moment in the play that doesn’t involve your character? 
I love it when the Miller decides to leave and the Young Woman asks where he’s going and he replies, “to the town won’t call me, Miller.” I love that exchange. In fact that whole scene is my favourite scene in the play. The language is so economical and powerful. Both characters have grown and have a new horizon in their sights. It’s an extremely hopeful scene.

Applause and ovations notwithstanding – what has been the most rewarding moment of your experience on this production so far?
Working with Yael Farber. She’s an artist to her very core and someone who makes me want to be better every day.

What is a small perhaps even imperceptible detail from your performance or the play itself that is an incredibly significant element?
I think the speech that I have at the end of scene one about the field can be easily looked over because it comes so early in the piece. But it’s incredibly important to show William’s longing and pain and it’s a part of him that doesn’t resurface until the end. He hides that side of him for most of the play but it’s important that the audience remember that it exists within him.

Christian Cooke applied his stage makeup in his dressing room.

Cooke pointed to a joke from his fellow castmates.

Before performances, Cooke often listened to the soundtrack of The Assassination of Jesse James.

Props backstage.

Cooke warmed up on stage before the evening’s performance.

Christian Cooke can be seen in Knives in Hens, on now until 7 October 2017 at the Donmar Warehouse, London (UK).

As told to Paul Vaughan for TPJ
Photographer: Jessie Craig

Katie Leung

(L) Top by SANDRO. Skirt by LE KILT. (R) Top by NORSE PROJECTS.

Who do you know who has the ‘best’ voice – and qualify what your standards are for them being ‘best’
Sara Kestelman who I worked with recently in a production at Hampstead Theatre has a magnificent voice which resonated effortlessly in the space on stage, piercing through the soul without the need for volume/ shouting. She also happens to be an incredible actress.

What was the last habit that you took up and the last one that you’ve given up?
Taken up menthols. Given up coffee.

If the last three places you read about or watched became a travel itinerary, where would you go? 
Pyongyang, Los Angeles, San Sebastián.

Similarly to ‘writers block’, have you ever experienced or heard of actors suffering from a ‘performers block’?
Yes and especially in theatre when you’re given the time to explore the character. Sometimes I find myself resorting to clichés that are untruthful and have to start over.

Jacket & skirt by HOLLY FULTON.

Regardless of how accurate it is or was, which actor (or character) did/ do you relate the most?
Bob Harris from Lost in Translation.

What shouldn’t be looked at as a chore?
Your job.

What is your greatest fear or concern pertaining to creativity?
That it might be stifled by self doubt.

Are there any days in the past year composed of moments you can recall vividly? What made it so memorable?
Watching my 17 year old sister opening up her presents on Christmas Day. It was our first Christmas together.

Want more? Watch our behind-the-scenes film.

Katie Leung can be seen in The Foreigner in cinemas worldwide this fall.

As told to Paul Vaughan for TPJ
Creative Director & Photographer: Jessie Craig
Stylist: Harriet Byczok
Hair: Tracie Cant
Makeup: Gia Mills

Millie Brady

(L) Top by PETER PILOTTO. (R) Top by WHISTLES. Skirt by PETER PILOTTO.

What book/ movie/ TV show do you think you’ve recommended more than any other?
Philomena, The Help and Big Little Lies probably are my most recent big 3 for recommendations.

What are you happy that happened while you were alive and at an age where you could/ can understand and remember?
Being taught to read is a personal memory that’s so important to me and one I remember vividly. On a wider scale, I’m happy to have been able to witness the outcry from women across the world for equal rights and see everyone come together for the Women’s Marches. It was unbelievably moving. The legalisation of same sex marriage across the world is something else I am so happy to have witnessed in my life. There’s still a way to go but it’s been amazing to watch the domino effect of positivity allowing love to be recognised – no matter what the gender combination.

What stands out as the best or worst day you’ve had in recent memory?
I actually had a best/ worst day recently when I’d had one too many job rejections. It momentarily crushes you. I was sat in the hairdressers crying with mirrors all around and everyone looking over staring. They were probably thinking I was having a breakdown about a bad hair cut. I was at such a low point. I think that’s the hardest part of being an actor. You never get used to rejection but when you get the call saying you’ve got the job, it makes it all worth it. Thankfully at the end of this day, I got the call which makes it all worth it saying I’d got a job.

(L) Top by PETER PILOTTO. (R) Top by WHISTLES. Skirt by PETER PILOTTO.

What is the last song you looked up after hearing it in a film or on TV?
September Song from Big Little Lies

Is there a particular piece of imperfect art that you admire more because of its flaws?
Lowry’s matchstick figures milling around in depictions of industrial Northern England. I love how childlike they are. They’re not big loud paintings, they show every day life from a perspective that doesn’t glamourise it. They’re painted in a simple style in basic neutral colours which then becomes something beautiful.

What job should be tip-worthy?
Teachers, doctors and rescue workers. The people that are unsung heroes and fighting to help the world. They should get all the tips!

Do you find that it is more challenging working with ‘name’ or ‘established’ directors (ex. Guy Ritchie on King Arthur: Legend of the Sword), where you’re coming to work with an expectation of them and their body of work?
In my small experience so far in the industry, I haven’t noticed a change or a challenge working with more established names. Perhaps I will but, so far, the people I’ve worked with have been passionate and easygoing. I think there’s a certain air of confidence that a person gets if they’ve been highly recognised for their work, or perhaps they’re just better at disguising their insecurities – I haven’t worked it out yet.

Want more? Watch our behind-the-scenes film.

Millie Brady can be seen now in The Last Kingdom on Netflix (US) and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword in cinemas worldwide.

As told to Paul Vaughan for TPJ
Creative Director & Photographer: Jessie Craig
Stylist: Francesca Turner
Hair: Fabio Nogueira
Makeup: Adele Sanderson