A career switch before turning 40 catapulted Brad Moore into the acting profession. JLife’s Evangeline Spachis spoke to the London-based actor about his upbringing and finally working in his dream job.
Before becoming an actor, you had a varied working career. What was it that made you switch to acting?
Growing up, I was always in awe of actors and comedians. I can remember aged seven going to the Odeon in Leicester Square with my family to watch Paul Newman in The Sting. Like most of the world, I fell in love with the movies instantly.
When I was 10 I lived in the same road as Pauline Quirke, from Birds of Feather. She would come home from drama school and we’d to play acting games together on the street outside our flat. The buzz I got from performing on that street never really left me. I just suppressed it, as I didn’t do anything at all from then until I was approaching 40.
As an adult, I had lots of different jobs and companies and lived in many different countries but nothing really ever felt right. I was always searching for ways to show off and mostly ended up doing it in the pub, which was like a stage to me.
Then I had my son, and I started telling him bedtime stories. We would make our own stories up playing with characters and voices. I got such a buzz from entertaining him; it was the buzz I had remembered on that street. So it was my son, plus the fear of not following my heart, that got me performing again.
Your mother was a ballerina. In some ways, do you think you were always destined to end up in the arts?
My mum influences everything I do. She is the most amazing person I’ve ever met. My son calls her ‘Nanny Mafia’ not because she a mob boss who gives people concrete slippers, but because everywhere she goes, people love and respect her.
She loved ballet and tap dancing. She was very artistic in many ways. I can see her in our kitchen years ago saying “shuffle, hop, step” and then serving me dinner!
In Golden Years, you worked with some British acting greats, like Virginia McKenna, Bernard Hill, Sue Johnston and Simon Callow. What was this like?
I felt very lucky to be a part of this project. The ensemble was amazing and so humble and supportive. These guys are some of our country’s best actors and people I had grown up watching. Yosser Hughes’ (Bernard Hill) head-butt in Alan Bleasdale’s The Boys from the Black Stuff still haunts me now.
The strange thing is, I had just shot a film with Steven Berkoff and Bernard Hill called North vs South, which was my first lead role. In the script, my character was not afraid of anyone and a bit of a psychotic nutcase, so I guess that helped.
Then when it came to the read through for Golden Years, I was staring across the table at Simon Callow, Una Stubbs, Phil Davis, and all these incredibly accomplished actors and it suddenly struck me: I was in a comedy, and had to be funny! I had never played a comedic character before. It wasn’t a very good read through from me, but come shooting time, I worked it out.
You are currently working on Gloves Off, a film that you co-wrote and star in. Is it your ambition to work behind the camera?
I honestly don’t have any desire to get behind the camera. I co-wrote Gloves Off because it was my story idea that was pitched to Steve Nesbitt, the director of North vs South, and he said “I like it. Let’s write it together.” That was that.
As someone who has developed productions and starred in 20 short films, what do you think about British film today?
The British film industry is very tough, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. Subscription VOD (video on demand) and other digital platforms have a real stronghold, and have made it difficult for British film producers to earn a living.
When I started, I went on the stand-up comedy circuit for two years and during this time, around 20 short film parts came my way. There is a big short filmmaking community in London and it’s like six degrees of separation; everyone knows each other. Those first two years were like my training ground.
The Rise was partly filmed in Leeds. Do you have any connections to the city?
My first real dialogue scene in a feature film was in The Rise with Timothy Spall. No pressure. I’ve since shot two more films here, North vs South and Gloves Off.
I love Leeds. I’m happiest when acting so having done so much of it here, Leeds now feels like a home-from-home. The city centre is really lively, and if I want peace and quiet I’ll drive out to Ilkley Moor.
I’ve spent many days wandering around the shopping centre learning my lines and speaking them out loud, which might have freaked a few people out!
You mentioned Pauline Quirke who has since gone on to form the Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts, one branch of which is in Leeds. Would you agree that early training is the key to success?
I think if you are young and passionate enough, drama school is great. You can learn all the disciplines like accents, improvisation and movement. It helps if there is some raw talent and the urge to ‘make believe’ must exist to begin with. If you’re obsessed enough, you can cultivate talent, but it’s going to be hard work.
However I do strongly believe pure drama school doesn’t make our best actors. I like what I call ‘real world’ actors: people who have ‘lived’ and you can see as it permeates from their pores into the performance. You can’t teach that – it has to be learnt.
I remember my first scene with Timothy Spall and, chatting over a cup of tea, he said: “A mum once came up to me and said ‘My daughter wants to act.’ I say to them: ‘That’s not enough’.”
Who are your acting inspirations?
I’ve been lucky to work with some brilliant actors, and I’ve tried to learn from all of them. If I had to pick one, I’d say Paul Newman. I watched him in The Sting all those years ago and I cannot resist watching Road to Perdition every time it comes on telly. What an actor.
Brad’s latest film, Golden Years, will be available on DVD and Digital HD from 29th August.