Starring alongside A-list actors such as Ray Liotta, Willem Dafoe, Morgan Freeman, John Cusack and other household names, fans of action-packed films will immediately recognize UK-based actor Anthony Warren for his tough guy roles in the unforgettable thriller films “The Contract,” “Control” and “The Marksman.”
With Warren’s roles often including portrayals of authentic American accents, counting an impressive southern accent for his distinguished delivery of Brock in “Control,” no audience would guess his Jamaican roots or his London upbringing upon watching him on screen.
Since Warren’s television debut on the BBC’s six-time BAFTA and International Emmy Award winning comedy crime drama “Screen One” in the early ‘90s, his reputation for giving show stopping performances has become common knowledge throughout the industry.
Over the years Warren has displayed his indisputable capacity for fast-paced drama on the BBC’s repeat National Television Award winner, “Eastenders” and ITV’s “The Bill,” twice winner of the National Television Award for most popular TV series, winner of British Academy Award for Best Single Documentary and British Academy Film and TV Award (BAFTA).
While action is his preferred genre, Warren’s strengths are anything but limited. He has brought his rare prowess to a tremendous plethora of productions spanning blockbuster films, hit television shows and high-profile theatre projects including the opera version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s production of “Carousel” with Opera North, which earned rave reviews when it toured Ireland, England and Scotland in 2015.
Displaying potent versatility in the theatre, Warren gave a knock-out performance in “Killing Passion,” a love story requiring an array of emotions. He recalls, “It was, and still is, mentally and physically, the most demanding piece of work…that I’ve ever done.”
As an actor, Anthony Warren is continually pursuing new avenues, mediums and characters that challenge his craft and provide opportunities for growth. Adding to his already dynamic body of work, audiences can currently catch him in the starring role of the controversial homosexual attorney Colin Esroy, as well as Barrington Spence, on the radio show “492 Korna Klub.” The first community interactive radio drama series of its kind, “492 Korna Klub” is broadcast live every Friday at 5 PM on Galaxy FM 102.5.
Warren’s career, which began more than two decades ago, shows no signs of slowing down. Read on for a hint about his upcoming projects, as well how he spends some of his free time working to benefit the community as a youth development worker.
Where are you from?
AW: I was born Greenwich Hospital, London, England. My parents came here in the 60’s from Jamaica and like many were looking for a better life. Moving to different areas in Southeast London (Brockley, Walworth and Camberwell), I was never far from uncles and aunts and who had also left the Caribbean for England.
When and how did you get into acting?
AW: I got into acting over 22 ago. Initially starting as a hobby, however, growing into a passion and eventually a career choice. Always being the family member singing along to every record, pretending to be different characters and enjoying swapping pranks with the patriarch. I remember at the age of seven, I crept behind his chair while he was having his dinner in front of the black and white TV and screamed, out at the top of my lungs, “boo.” The tray flew north and the beer can he was about to gulp gagged his scream that turned into a splutter of food and drink enticing me to giggle out loud, though my laughter was cut short by a fuming father, whose volcanic rage had me legging it through the house. Luckily I escaped a hiding by seeking refuge behind my giggling mother who had also witnessed the scene.
As I got older societal and cultural differences steered me into different vocations (higher education, accounting and working as a chef) that were thought of as attainable and exceptable. However, upon watching a play starring Victor Romeo Evens, I was inspired.
The second and definite motivation came from a very good friend and brilliant actor, Gary Macdonald. Observing him and the acting world made me realize it was my true vocation. I joined the Ovalhouse, in Kennington, taking improvisation classes and other workshops. I loved it and decided to be part of the Ovalhouse`s production of “Awarak,” a play based on the experiences of the Awarak indians while being conquered by the deeply religions Spanish. After doing various productions at the Ovalhouse I decided, with the help of my mentor and teacher, Jude Alderton, to go to drama school…I had to queue overnight to gain a place! I loved it! During my last year I managed to acquire an agent and have never looked back.
Can you tell us about some of the film projects you’ve done?
AW: I have been involved in a number of film projects in the UK and Europe. Many of my projects have required my character to speak with a generalised American Accent. In one such a film “The Contract,” I played a mercenary called, Royko, who was also an expert helicopter pilot.
I really enjoyed bringing a bit of sensitivity to the tough guy character.
One of the most memorable experiences occurred after I had just finished a scene, the director, Bruce Beresford, who was nominated for the Oscar twice, Golden globes once, BAFTA once and won the AFI on numerous occasions, came up to me with a big smile on his face. He had agonised over whether or not to cut my lines for he felt they didn’t work, however, after my delivery of them he congratulated me and was impressed that I made the lines work. The project also gave me the chance to work with established actors such as; Oscar Winner, Morgan Freeman, multi-award winner and nominee, John Cusack, IFV winner and very talented actor, Corey Johnson and other very established actors (Alice Krige, Jonathan Hyde and Gary Whelan).
Another project “Control,” required me to develop a southern American accent. The character was called Brock, a security nurse to an evil psychopath, played by Golden Globe winner and multiple award nominee, Ray Liotta. My most memorable moment during filming occurred while waiting to rehearse a duologue scene with Ray. We decided on a line read between us on set. We ended up, naturally, blocking the scene without direction which the, multiple award winning director, Tim Hunter, gave us a big “thank you” for saving time. Also involved in the project were award winning actors and multiple nominees, Willem Dafoe, Stephen Rea and Michelle Rodriguez.
However, the film which gave me the most enjoyment in doing an American accent was co-starring in “The Marksman,” as Captain Naish, leader of an elite army team. I had to lead the team in a mission in a non-friendly zone. My most memorable and also embarrassing moment occurred when we were doing a night shoot. I had to lead the team through the forest, however it was at running pace and I had marked out my route in preparation. On action I confidently began my route at a very fast running pace. While running my feet hooked on to a tree root and I, with AK rifle in tow and ready for action, went comically flying through the air. The cast and crew were in fits of laughter and I was reminded by the army consultant that, “That’s not how they do it in the Marines!” Wesley Snipes played a rogue soldier who had his own ideas for the mission which created conflict between our characters. The film was directed by Marcus Adam with William Hope and Emma Samms also co-starring.
How about television projects?
AW: I have been involved with many TV projects. The TV project which I had the most appearances in (fifteen episodes) was ITV’s police series, “The Bill,” twice winner of the National Television Award for most popular TV series, winner of British Academy Award for Best Single Documentary and British Academy Film and TV Award (BAFTA).
I have also had guest appearances in “EastEnders,” one of UK’s highest rated TV projects and repeat National Television Award winner for most popular TV show, still currently running on BBC.
Another BBC project, “Casualty,” has seen me doing three different guest appearances. One of the roles/appearances was that of a businessman whose wife suddenly collapses with a fatal ailment; very emotional and teary-eyed scenes. I have appeared In a TV mini-series called, “Dangerous Lady.” The story focuses on the Ryan family, a group of gangland brothers, led by Golden Globe nominee, Jason Isaacs, who eventually accepts their sister, played by multiple award winner Susan Lynch, into the violent family business. The character I portrayed was that of Tony Dooley, an enforcer for the Ryan family.
They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?
AW: I loved the scripts and love playing differing characters.
You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
AW: I choose based on how much emotion the character gets to display and how much I like the script.
Do you feel that you get cast to play a certain type of character more than others?
AW: Yes, on film I generally get cast as the baddie or soldier, however, on stage I have played a cross section of characters young and old.
Can you tell us about some of the theatre productions you’ve participated in up until now?
AW: I have been involved with multiple stage productions throughout my acting career, all with their own brand of uniqueness and idiosyncrasies. However, there are a few which stand out for me.
One of them being a three-hander called, “Killing Passion,” a piece based on a love story from the Mahabharata, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. The character I portrayed was that of an Indian Brahman and leading character, Shridaman. I had to lose drastic weight and develop a movement that displayed physical ineptitude. Initially, a four and a half hour piece that required an array of emotions. It was, and still is, mentally and physically, the most demanding piece of work, albeit film, stage, radio or TV, that I’ve ever done. Initially opening at the Lyric Studio, Hammersmith, we nationally toured over sixty performances around different regions of England and Wales. The piece was directed by Alby James and produced by the nationally recognised Temba Theatre Company.
Another piece called “Who’s Boss,” produced at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, in which I was the lead, we had to talk and walk in rhythm to recorded and live music. The character I portrayed, Dawson Grant, gets caught between trying to do the right thing as he is caught up in a drugs war . In this piece I had a scene dubbed “madness;” it was a solo scene and I had to transform out of, a musically choreographed, psychedelic state (quickly adjusting mentally and physically) into the next scene where I had to be in position on stage to be physically attacked by running a crazed lover. The transition had to be fast and one performance I didn’t get around quick enough to set myself up and she nearly knocked me off the stage!
In “Fantasy Bond’s,” directed by Mick Mahoney I portrayed a character called Michael. A true story based on a well known football thug (that I actually met) who had fallen in love with a family member of notorious London gangsters.
Further, I have also been involved with a few musicals, I was the lead male in “Brashana O” directed by Geoffrey Creswell, as well as “Dreams Across The Ocean” directed by Ray Shell.
Performing in an opera version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s production of “Carousel With Opera North” in Leeds was amazing. I portrayed an angel that helps the hero redeem himself. With a cast of well over 50 we toured England, Ireland and Scotland. When I got the part I was seriously worried that my singing would not be strong enough, however, I was informed to not worry for I didn’t have to sing a number but had to sing during the curtain call. Opera singing is no picnic, I can tell you!!
Out of all your productions both in the theatre and on screen, what has been your favorite project, or projects, so far and why?
AW: That’s a difficult question to answer. I love acting on stage and on camera. However, admittedly, I loved running around pretending to be an elite army officer and doing explosive action shots in the film “The Marksman.”
What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?
AW: I don’t have a preference, I love all the genres. However, in the horror film “Deaths of Ian Stone,” I loved wearing a prosthetic claw. I guess if I had to pick it would be action or movies with great stunts.
What separates you from other actors?
AW: I cannot separate myself from other actors for every actor can play any role given to them due to my belief that acting is a reflection on life with weird and wonderful imagination, however, how well they play that role is decided by the audience.
What projects do you have coming up?
AW: AR Film Studio has earmarked me for a character in their film called “Coach,” (working title) next year (2017). Another indie film company, 2Hot Films, has also earmarked me for one of their projects next year. In addition, I am currently performing on Galaxy Radio (London) a radio play called “492 Korna Klub.” The script is completely improvised, though, guide notes are read out/given to the cast performing that evening one hour before going live. I have been doing it for three years now and love using my imagination to create drama and performing spontaneously.
What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?
AW: I love getting leading roles on camera and TV that enrich the audience.
Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?
AW: It gives me a sense of freedom and enjoyment which appeals to my personality.