Interview with actress Antonia Clarke:
Alexane Dunn shines a light on rising star Antonia Clarke.
Would you recommend the area as a place for young people to live?
I’ve lived here all my life so I don’t really know anything better, but all my friends live here and the park is great. It’s a family orientated area I guess, so it’s good for all these toddlers, and although right now I’m hoping to move out, it’s a really lovely family space.
Where do you plan to settle in the future?
I’m actually moving out in September, either to Brixton or Peckham. So, as I said, it’s a lovely area to grow up in, but I think once you get to a certain age you need to become more independent and move out. And I don’t want to rely so much on my mum.
Have you always wanted to be an actor?
No, I haven’t. I found out I wanted to be an actress when I was fifteen, when I didn’t get into the school play. I was really upset about it. So, then I went to get myself an agent outside of school. But maybe subconsciously I’ve always wanted to be one, because I’ve always kind of been that weird kid who makes up stories in her head. I’m the youngest child as well, so growing up I spent a lot of time on my own.
How have your parents reacted to your career?
Yeah, I mean when I first wanted to do it my mum was a bit like, okay, good luck with that. Have your fun and then come back and get a real job. But she is actually surprisingly supportive. When I want to learn lines or something she’s always there, helping me out. My dad kind of stays on the sidelines doesn’t really get involved, which is nice. They kind of let me do my own thing rather than suffocating me.
You’ve often been cast as ghosts. Is this a coincidence or is it something you’re particularly good at?
Yeah, it was weird. I literally did about three ghostly things all in a row. I don’t know why it happened. It just came to me. It wasn’t necessarily typecasting. In the first one, in “Light fields”, this ITV drama, I played a ghost; and then I played in a psychological horror film called “Mindscape”, where I played a manipulative bully who then later becomes a victim, which was fun. And then I’ve also just done a horror film called “Altar”, where I’m being haunted. So they are all under the bracket of ghostly horror films. But I am kind of attracted to dark subject matter like that. I think it’s really interesting. It’s all very unpredictable, so for an actress that’s really great to work with.
Are you ever embarrassed about your friends and family seeing some of the more daring characters you’ve played, like in “Skins”?
Oh, yeah, I’m incredibly embarrassed. It’s always embarrassing watching you though, and especially with “Skins”, because I was still at school when that happened, so the whole of my school was watching that. And my parents were watching that, but at the end of the day you’ve just got to try and glaze over it. I mean filming scenes like that is always hard, but you just need to do it and take a deep breath. It’s awkward, but fun at the same time. You have to just laugh about it with the other actors.
What has been your favourite role?
Lots of people ask me this and I could never really answer it because I’ve been lucky enough to play lots of different roles. They’ve all been so great; I’ve absolutely loved them. In “Altar”, this film I’ve just done, I was playing this girl with a really interesting journey. But then I’ve also just done this ITV drama called “The Great Fire”, where it was completely different, set in 1666, dancing with the King of England. You can’t really compare roles when they’re just worlds apart.
How do you find interacting with the big names off stage, such as Woody Allen?
It’s weird because when you meet people like that you realise that they are just a normal person. That hype around them dissolves and you just see this normal human being. But no, it was always weird and you always have to catch yourself. But looking back it’s weirder than it felt at the time because I just rolled with it and with Woody Allen. I took his direction and he did a good job.
What do you prefer, TV or film acting?
Well they are actually very similar. I think the big difference is theatre. But TV is different because normally if you’re doing a series you have so much more to film in a shorter space of time so it’s much more punchy and you need to get things done. Whereas with film, you have a lot of time to perfect this one scene and it can actually go on a bit. But no, they are both very similar, and I love both. If I can get a job, I’ll do it.
Do you plan to ever move on to theatre, or have you found your place on screen?
I would love to move on to theatre. I think it would be really close-minded if the only thing I wanted to do were TV and film. I mean obviously the fact that I haven’t been to drama school is a limitation, but here’s hoping that one day I can do some theatre, because that would be a real dream.
Do you believe an acting career is purely based on talent and perseverance or just luck?
I think it is hard work, but for some people they just have that big break and it’s all great for them. For me I think I’ve actually had to work quite hard. I’ve kind of done the slow burn, starting with the CBBC dramas, so I think I definitely had to work my way up, and hopefully I can carry on working upwards.
Can you be taught to act, or does it have to come naturally?
I think you should have an instinct for it. Like, I have a weird theory about singing, that you can never teach singing. You have to have a sort of natural disposition, to be able to sing. No, I think you need to have a feel for it. I, for example, didn’t go to drama school, so I’ve been learning on these film sets, and from what I have heard from most people, you just need to soak up everything and if you can act, great, you can improve that, but I don’t think you can necessarily be taught.
How do you beat audition nerves?
Ooh my first audition! When I first started out acting I was painfully shy, ridiculously shy. I couldn’t even look people in the eye. It was awful. In one of my first auditions the casting director said, if I wanted to cast a frightened rabbit, I would cast you. And I was just sitting there thinking, great, this is a really good first experience. But I’ve kind of developed this thing where you put on this sort of façade when you go into an audition, of a much more self-assured character. It’s almost like you’re playing another role.
Do you have any advice for aspiring actors?
I’d say if you’re really passionate about something then you just go for it and work really hard and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Work hard, that’s the main thing. And know when you have it good and be thankful when you have a job.
Thank you, Antonia. It’s been a real pleasure meeting you.