The Actor’s Questionnaire: Jamie Thompson

February 5, 2014 | Filed Under Acting, Actor's Questionnaire 

So here’s a thing: every week, I’m going to be sticking up answers to a questionnaire I wrote from a different actor whose career is at about the same stage as my own. Hopefully, they’ll give an illuminating sense of what it’s like to be an actor in the trenches. If you would like to take part in the questionnaire, drop me a line and I’ll send it to you. This week: Jamie Thompson.


Name: Jamie Thompson
Location: London
Playing age: 35-40
Type: Dads, professionals, tall people.

Why did you become an actor?
It’s the only thing I’ve ever really thought I was half decent at. That, and it’s the best job in the world.

How long have you been acting professionally?
7 rollercoaster years.

Do you prefer stage/screen/spoken word?
Technically the mediums are very different, but really it’s all the same to me – It’s storytelling. So as long as I’m telling the story, I don’t mind the medium.

Is acting your sole form of income/creative expression?
Unfortunately I’m not at the stage yet where I can rely solely on acting work, although it’s obviously the goal. I love to write as well, and I teach drama through various companies. I dabble a bit in music, but the music is personal and my own thing, I’d never release anything.

What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do on set?
Fake masturbation on stage. Actually quite liberating, but I’m glad my mother wasn’t there!

What is your stance on paid/unpaid work?
Well I won’t be a hypocrite – I’ve done unpaid work to build up a good showreel, and some (what I thought were) interesting theatre jobs.
For an actor with zero credits? Yes, if you like the project, can spare the time and it doesn’t cost you anything, then go for it – as long as it enhances the type of characters you see yourself playing, and the quality of the finished product is likely to be good.
For an actor like me, 7 years down the line? No, I refuse to now.

How do you find roles?
Apart from my agent sourcing work I wouldn’t have access to otherwise, I use various casting websites such as CCP and StarNow. Also, I have lovely friends who write roles for me!

How do you approach a role?
With a very open mind. It’s difficult when you’ve been cast to know if what you did in the audition was exactly the right thing, as there might have been some other reason than just your acting that you were cast! So I try to forget the audition to a certain extent and approach things freshly. Just reading the script/play without judgement is a good start. If it’s a film script I chat to the director ASAP as it’s usually the only time you’ll get his/her attention fully before you walk on the set. It’s your chance to iron out character issues and find the common ground between their expectation and your approach. If it’s a play, I’ll try to attend rehearsals as off book as I can be, depending on the length of time between casting and rehearsals beginning. Then it leaves time to play with the role and talk with the director. I’m usually quite relaxed about finding the character as I trust that they will appear if I do the leg work/research beforehand.

What would be the single biggest piece of advice you would give to any actor?
Have a sense of humour and balls of steel – you’re going to need them! Also, be nice and respectful, especially to tech people (stage management, lighting, sound etc.), as you’d be surprised how many actors have lost future roles by their reputation for being difficult to work with.

How do you cope with quiet times/self-doubt?
Sometimes I don’t, is the honest answer. Friends in the business understand and can generally help you get rid of the black acting dog. But ultimately you just have to remember this is a creative choice, no one said it would be easy. Grin and bear it, work as hard as you can with every opportunity and at the end of the day, laugh! It’s only acting, it won’t kill you!

What’s the next big move in your career?
To get the film I have written made.

Whose footsteps would you most like to follow in, career wise/who do you admire the most?
I like the sand that has no footprints, so I’m going in that direction.

What is your single best/worst experience as an actor (on the job or off)?
My best experience has to be Rep Theatre in 2007, as it proved to me that I could do 6 plays in 6 weeks and still come out with my sanity and pride. As a new actor at the time I’d faced the challenge and won!

Do you have anything coming up?
A release of a short Film by Giant Jack Productions called ‘KIT’, and pre-production on a short film called ‘Flat Of The Blade’, written by Edwin Flay [aw, shucks! – Ed.].


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