Phoenix James Interview with Online Cinema Magazine, Filmy Aces by Prashant H Hari from FilmyAces.com
FilmyAces.com is VERY excited to grab an exclusive interview with actor Phoenix James
FilmyAces: How long have you been in entertainment and acting? Please tell us a little bit about your previous experience in Cinema and modelling? Where did the journey start and what has been your experience so far?
Phoenix: I’ve been passionately engaged in entertainment and stage performance since 1998 and have been happily enjoying this whirlwind romance acting for screen since 2009. Around that period I performed my first lead acting role in a short film called Baby Anne directed by a wonderful soul and now friend by the name of Andrew Soko. He praised and believed in my abilities when a few others didn’t so I appreciate him immensely for that. My first experience and early forays into modelling for photographs, catwalk fashion shows and events began at age 17. The earliest I can remember is a fundraiser event that took place in London raising money for Sickle Cell.
FilmyAces: What do you think is the main role of an actor?
Phoenix: The main role of the actor, I’ve come to learn, is not to be an actor at all but a reactor, to not appear to be acting and to just be. The actor’s main role is also to be a great listener. Acting to me is a lot more about listening than about speaking. Being also present in the spaces in between the actual “acting”. Receptiveness…there’s a word. To be receptive or to “act” as a receptor, being ready to receive above just waiting to give or to deliver your part. Oh and learning ones lines, that in particular is also the main role of the actor. It is our role and our role alone, and not that of the runner, director, the cameraman or the lighting guys. I think sometimes somewhere that gets overlooked. Let’s do our part.
FilmyAces: Please tell us about some of the movies you’ve worked on so far to date? And what have you enjoyed about them? Incl short films or TV?
Phoenix: I’ve played the lead acting role in independent low budget films Baby Anne, Love Dog, On The Inside, I Luv U, Sober, In The Mourning, A Man Walks Into A Bar, 3rd Time Lucky, A Contribution and The Engagement. Additionally and equally as spectacular, I have appeared in a few smaller guest speaking roles including BBC television’s Eastenders and Lee Nelson’s Well Good Show as well as played small featured roles in movies Cleanskin and Skyfall. I’ve also been very fortunate to have worked behind the scenes as a stand-in and body double on movies including Thor: The Dark World, The Gunman and Mission Impossible 5. With all of these and more I’ve greatly enjoyed the process of getting myself into characters, learning lines, being on set, rehearsing parts, interacting and working with different actors, directors and filmmakers helping to bring stories, scripts and scenes to life. A film set is a truly magical place.
FilmyAces: What is your dream role in cinema? If you could enact one role from any movie in Cinema History, what part would you love to play?
Phoenix: My dream role in cinema is yet to be decided, probably after I’ve played a few high profile cinematic leading roles in any genre, but I would really enjoy doing a comedy role as I’ve done very few of those…just to show more of my diversity and range and generally have a good laugh really. I’ve played mostly quite serious and solemn roles where nothing in those moments could be considered a laughing matter. I’d love to perhaps re-enact any one of James Cagney’s gangster roles from that era as I remember watching him as a youngster and just loved it all. Perhaps films Angels With Dirty Faces or White Heat. I’d also love to play a Stormtrooper in a Star Wars movie. That would be super cool too as I grew up watching those films and had all of the toys etc. I’m yet to meet the person who wouldn’t want to be a Stormtrooper! So yes, may the force be with me.
FilmyAces: Who are some of your favourite actresses of all time and why?
Phoenix: The list is endless but right now, I can say for all the time that I have been focused on being an actor, I really love watching Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett to name a few actresses. They are just really great at what they do. I worked recently on the set of one of Cate Blanchett’s upcoming films with Disney and watched her act out a scene a few times and thought to myself, wow this woman is an incredible actress. I tell everyone about her. There’s so many super talented actresses famous and non-famous in my list of special favourites.
FilmyAces: Who are some of your favourite actors of all time and why?
Phoenix: For me, like with the actress I just mentioned, it’s mostly the actors that I have had the opportunity to be on set with and see working live and up close in front of me doing their thing that have come to be among my favourites. Seeing them prepare, get into character and being able to not only learn from them but also, in their presence, being able to relate to their methods and their process. Actors such as Peter Capaldi (new Doctor Who) – a complete genius, Johnny Depp – a skilled master, Tom Cruise – totally 100% driven, committed and determined, Ralph Fiennes – fascinatingly brilliant, Brad Pitt – true focus and excellence, Idris Elba – exceedingly talented and William Hurt – a profound actor whom I learnt a lot from in a very short space of time and whom I give a lot of thanks to for the brief one to one time he spent tutoring me. I would’ve loved to have met, had a conversation and worked with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, he was and is just an exceptionally outstanding actor. I have a very long list of other favourites I’d like to meet and work with also.
FilmyAces: What are some of your favourite films of all time?
Phoenix: Okay let’s see…and just a few of my favourite films of all time are…(drum roll, please)… White Heat starring James Cagney, Virginia Mayo and Edmond O’Brien, Shawshank Redemption starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, Good Will Hunting starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Men of Honour starring Cuba Gooding Jnr and Robert De Niro, Heat starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, and Remember The Titans starring Denzel Washington, Will Patton and Ryan Hurst.
FilmyAces: Who is the one director you have the most respect for?
Phoenix: I wish I could name just one but there’s a good few who have earned my respect the most. They are the directors who despite not attending film school were driven and had belief in themselves enough to get their act together, learn what they needed to learn, going on to create great work for all of the world to see, and in doing so have become highly successful and respected within their field. That’s not to take away from any director who has been to film school, studied and honed their craft that way. It’s really interesting when you do a search and look up which successful film directors never attended film school but instead just went to films.
FilmyAces: What has been your modelling experience so far? How different is it from the world of cinema?
Phoenix: I’ve been modelling since around 1994 in varying capacities. I won a Fashion TV Best Male Model Award in 2007. My acting has been and is an extension of my modelling; a dance with movement, non-movement, motion, motionlessness and back and forth together. Modelling for me, at least from a photographic and editorial point of view is, for the most part, all about a still moment frozen and captured in a still frame. Cinema is different because it’s always in motion and you are instead, for the most part, capturing moving moments. They are, with that said, one and the same and interchangeable at any given moment but at the same time different, and I think in all of that somewhere is the how.
FilmyAces: What would you like to achieve in cinema over the next 10 years? What is your overall career objective?
Phoenix: Over the next 10 years I’d like to have achieved starring roles appearing alongside A-list actors considered to be at the very top of their craft and to have worked with numerous directors of an equally, if not more, high status. I’d like to be in high demand, a highly sought after outstanding actor with the choice of picking and choosing from the best roles available. I’d like to be a special guest at cinema, film and music related events where everyone in the room has either won an Oscar or a Grammy, Emmy, Golden Globe or BAFTA award or the equivalent or has been nominated for one or considered should have been. In 10 years I’d like my family and friends and fans to be watching my critically acclaimed lead acting performances on big screens at prestigious venues all across the world. I’d also like one of them to be an award winning film that I’ve written, directed and produced myself too, and to have already won or at the very least to have been nominated for a few of the aforementioned awards for acting.
FilmyAces: Do you watch movies from other parts of the world aside from Hollywood Cinema like Bollywood, Hong Kong, Korean, Australia and New Zealand Cinema? Which ones are your favourites and why?
Phoenix: Yes I do, and I really enjoy them. There’s a particular style to foreign films from the writing, to the acting, to the directing that is quite different from the Hollywood style of cinema and it’s altogether refreshing, bold, inspiring, creative and fresh and I love it. I’m currently enjoying films showing at the Latin American Film Festival right now. One in particular of those I’ve just seen is called ‘To Kill A Man’ written and directed by Alejandro Fernández Almendras whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet also. It’s a beautiful film based on true events, it’s a great watch and beautifully executed.
FilmyAces: Who is the dream director you’d like to work with one day?
Phoenix: I’d quite like to work directly with J.J. Abrams (director of Mission Impossible III, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Wars Episode VII). He for me is absolutely amazing at what he does and I just like the guy, very personable, amazingly creative, and just a cool spirit…so yes, J.J. Abrams to mention just one director…and not one day…right now…today!
And that’s all the questions from me Phoenix. On behalf of FILMYACES, I would like to sincerely thank you for your time and effort for this interview. Look forward to our next chat and all the best.
Prashant H Hari