Friday, 17 December 2010

LSD Magazine Interviews Actor Andrew Tiernan (Issue 6)

You may know the face, but not the name.  He’s one of those actors whose been around for many years and has played many varied roles in Television and Cinema.  Though staying out of the mainstream media and choosing not to court the press as so many actors have chosen to, he still manages to appear in some of the biggest grossing movies for some years, in memorable performances in such films as Roman Polanski’s The Pianist, and more recently in the bloodthirsty symbolism laden Hollywood Blockbuster; 300 where he played the traitorous hunchback; Ephialtes (Eff-e-al-tees) he was completely unrecognisable under full body prosthetics.  So how does someone like Tiernan manage to sustain a career without being recognised?

WA:    When was it we first met again?

AT:    Erm, I met you round the Mellow Mix, the rehearsal studio off Stoke Newington Road, for those that don’t know.

WA:    That’s right. Hackney has always been a hotbed of creative talent and a host of current TV / film stars were squatting in the Borough during the 1980's. What brought you to the Borough?

AT:    The 22 Bus.

WA:    But you were squatting too?  Right?

AT:    Yes, those were the days!  I’d met John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) after a PiL gig and he told me to move to London.  I’d read about squatting during the Punk era and I knew bands like The Clash and the Pistols had all squatted, so it wasn’t such a taboo as it is now.  When I was at Drama Centre things got pretty tight and I ended up homeless, so a few of us found this house in Hackney, it was a run down Council property and had a sitting tenant, this old Jamaican lady called Mrs. Stewart and she let us in and it went on from there, I thought I was only going to be in there a couple of weeks, but I ended up squatting there from the 80’s right through into the late 90’s it saw me through the rest of Drama school and also enabled me to make a lot of choices in my work, I turned down some great stuff, but money wasn’t the objective, I was happy where I was and we were all doing our own thing. 

I should write a book about it one day, the tales that house could tell about the people who frequented it along the years.  People would turn up out of the blue and it had a number of movie star visitors stay there.  It was also a place where Actors who had just broken up with girl/boyfriends would turn up to stay and tell us all their woes.  Sometimes it was a bit like “Withnail and I.”  It’s crazy how the area has changed so much since then, but I think the creativity still lives on.

The thing about where I lived, was because I was there for such a long period of time, it wasn’t what you’d imagine a squat to look like, we were homeless and it became a home and we kept everything in good repair.  Unfortunately, it all came to an end when one of the later residents decided to get greedy and do a deal with the council and got developers to buy it, so they could all make some money.  Such is life eh?

WA:    You were brought up on a council estate in a tough part of the world, what made you choose acting?

AT:    I think when you live in those kinds of areas you learn how to act, because you can turn a corner on an estate at any given time and bump into one of the many local bullies and if you can’t fight, you have to be able to get yourself out of that situation and that’s when the acting comes into play.  (If you want to use that analogy)   But everyone has an action to play in everyday life to get what they want.
WA:    You've played a hard man in many movies, how did playing Ephialtes in the film 300 feel for you as a character?

AT:    I have never actually played a hard man, even though people think that those are the characters I play.  I play interesting people with strange traits and faults.  I have played people with mental problems and sometimes my employers and fellow cast members think I’m like that for real.  I was even given a Disabled person’s suite at a hotel I was staying in once because they’d heard I was the Hunchback in 300.  Ephialtes was probably the hardest person I’ve ever played, if you want to use that tag.  A lot of people with disabilities are really “hard”, much harder in fact than a lot of these movie gangsters, because they really have something to fight for.

The thing about being a character actor is that people recognize you for the roles that they remember most, such as the stuttering psychopath in Cracker, but because you’re not the hero a lot of the time they don’t know your actual name, so they see you in the street and don’t quite know where they’ve seen you before.  Or if you’re a copper, you seem to think that I was on your wanted list that morning, believe me that has happened on more than one occasion.


Featured Artists, Visionaries, Interesting Folk

Ananda nahu, The Correspondents, Solo One, Soulflux, The Orb + Youth, Jerm IX, 69 DB, Raymond Salvatore Harmon, Rennie Pilgrem, The Yes Men, Resto, Chaz, Neurodriver, Lokey, Elate, Dhear One, Page 51, Umek, Karma, K-Guy, Richard A Webster, William Parry, Andy C, Jesus Greus, Push Pony, James Lightning Wilks, Dominic Spreadlove, AK - 47, Mr Sofalumpkins, Mat Banbury, MikkiM, David Corden, Ian Milne, Punch Music, Hudson Zuma,   

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