“Never be afraid to hear people out. You never know what might come of it. Inspiration comes from the least likely places sometimes. But you also have be your own filter. You’ll hear a lot more bad ideas and opinions than good ones, only you can decide which is which.”
I had the pleasure to interview Charlotte Kirk. Charlotte was born in Kent, England. Her passion for acting began at the age of 11 when she saw Gone with the Wind for the first time and fell in love with both the stage and screen alike. Taking her first steps in theatre, she performed in Greek tragedies ‘Agamemnon’ and ‘Arturo Ui’, along with plays such as ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Oliver Twist’, and ‘Hairspray’. Having attended the prestigious Italia Conti School of Acting in London, her skills were further refined working with Jigsaw Performing Arts in the UK and Susan Batson and Lee Strasberg in New York City. In early 2015, Charlotte landed a starring role in ‘Vice’, (Lionsgate 2016) a sci-fi thriller, opposite Bruce Willis and Thomas Jane. Charlotte has completed seven feature films since, including the female lead opposite Stephen Baldwin in film-noir comedy ‘No Panic with a Hint of Hysteria’ (Dir. Tomasz Szafranski), the female lead in psychological drama ‘The Depths’ (award winner at 7 film festivals), alongside appearances in ‘How To Be Single’ (Warner Bros 2017) and ‘Ocean’s 8′ (Dir. Gary Ross, Warner Bros. 2018) with Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock. Charlotte has just completed filming on the controversial conspiracy drama ‘Nicole and O.J.’ (Dir. Joshua Newton) in which she plays the title role of Nicole Brown Simpson, due for release in 2019. Charlotte also enjoys singing and has released two music videos ‘Eyes in Love’ and ‘I Get the Feeling Again’, and performed the end title track for ‘No Panic with a Hint of Hysteria’. Charlotte resides in Los Angeles.
Thank you so much for joining us. What’s your backstory?
I was born in Kent, just outside London. My passion for acting began quite early on, around age 11, when I first saw Gone with the Wind. I didn’t become an actor overnight, but seeing that movie definitely had an impact on me. I also loved to sing, often locking myself away in my bedroom, turning the volume up on my stereo and blaring out the latest chart hits at the top of my lungs.
I wasn’t a natural academic and didn’t enjoy school much because of that. I’d often spend my time in class daydreaming. That’s when I knew I had a truly vivid imagination and it needed stimulation, so as a teenager I began watching more and more movies and television, soaking them up like a sponge. I loved being carried away by the stories and characters, but was equally fascinated by the movie-making process and wanted so much to be part of it. I dreamed of being Vivian Leigh kissing Clark Gable, I imagined being Meryl Streep divorcing Dustin Hoffman, and I certainly hoped to emulate Hilary Swank stepping up on stage to collect her Oscar. But Hollywood seemed a million miles away to me then.
But every epic journey begins with a few first small steps, and for me that meant going to drama school. I managed to get into the Italia Conti School of Acting and whilst there performed in a wide variety of plays including Greek tragedies ‘Agamemnon’ and ‘Arturo Ui’, as well as classics like ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Oliver Twist’, and musicals like ’Hairspray’, further refining my singing skills. I knew I’d found my calling, but also really found my feet on stage. I was hooked by the acting bug.
Coming from more humble origins, I found myself feeling quite isolated within the UK acting community. I’d always felt there was a kind of unspoken elitism at work there and figured that in order to give myself a better chance I needed to take even bigger steps. So after graduating from drama school, aged 19, I packed up and moved to the US. It was kind of an all or nothing decision really. It could have backfired horribly, my parents were certainly skeptical, but I figured it was worth the risk and took the plunge.
Living in the US was like a breath of fresh air, and the day I was accepted by the Lee Strasburg Institute in LA felt like a whole new chapter in my life had begun. I quickly managed to land a couple of supporting roles in features like sci-fi thriller ‘Vice’ alongside Bruce Willis and New Line release ‘How to be Single’.
Soon after I was spotted on stage by a talented young Polish director who had flown all the way to the US to find an American actress to play the lead in his movie. He ended up casting me, a Brit! It was my first leading role and the best part was that I got to play comedy. I’d spent many evenings at home watching classic Uk comedy on tv. Shows like ‘Only Fools and Horses’ were such a big part of my life growing up. David Jason’s brilliant ‘Del Boy’ felt like a member of our family! I’ve always loved comedy and this was a chance to tap into my natural comic streak. ‘No Panic, with a Hint of Hysteria’ which we shot during a freezing winter in Poland, is a lovingly crafted homage to 30’s slapstick and 40’s film noir. It’s a real gem and I’m incredibly proud of my work on it.
That was a couple of years ago. Since then I’ve done a number of leading roles, lots of exciting things happening….!
What are some of the most interesting and exciting projects you’re working on now?
There are a couple of projects I can’t mention just yet but one I can talk about is that I am very excited to be currently shooting “Nicole and OJ” playing the title role of Nicole Brown Simpson. It’s my first time playing a real life person, and there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that. Of course, everything always comes from the script, but the nice thing about this role is having knowledge of the true story to fall back on and help with the research. It’s been quite a journey this one, it’s a true passion project, and I’ve really enjoyed getting into her head and looking at things from a perspective very different to my own.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
They say never meet your idols because you will be disappointed, well I can say I certainly wasn’t disappointed when I met Al Pacino for the first time. Surreal that’s for sure! The legend you’re used to seeing on the big screen was right there in front of me. He’s so humble and just a genuinely nice guy.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
From Cleopatra to Elizabeth I to Emmeline Pankhurst to Rosa Parks, strong women have always inspired me. All these women had a such a strong belief in what they were doing and against all odds they achieved their aims, either directly or indirectly. And as such they will continue to be an inspiration for generations to come.
What do you do to “sharpen your craft”? Can you share any stories?
I think just by living and experiencing life you’re subconsciously strengthening your instrument. And of course, every project presents a very different set of challenges, so it’s always a unique and individual process. Ultimately it always comes down to the script, and collaboration with the film-maker, but there are other things, like wardrobe and environment that help shape a character. I like to do Scene-work and I continue to do coaching. You can never know enough!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I think part of the job as an actor is allow people to escape from what’s going on in their own lives, if only for a few hours. I think that’s the service we provide, and it’s a good thing. But I also try and choose projects that have something positive to say, or a strong message.
Can you share 6 “non-intuitive tips” to succeed in a career in Hollywood? Can you share an example for each
Be selective — If you’re lucky you may get offered multiple projects. One of the hardest things is having the courage to turn down stuff that isn’t right for you, even though it may be right (and a success) for someone else. It’s tough, but if the shoe doesn’t fit… Just be sure you’re doing things for the right reasons.
Never listen to naysayers — Pretty self-explanatory really. There’s always someone who wants to put you down. Ignore them. You just need thick skin sometimes.
Always listen to advice, but don’t always heed it — Never be afraid to hear people out. You never know what might come of it. Inspiration comes from the least likely places sometimes. But you also have be your own filter. You’ll hear a lot more bad ideas and opinions than good ones, only you can decide which is which.
Go with what your gut tells you — As above, at the end of the day it’s your gut that’s going to tell you what’s a good script to do, or what’s a good character to play, or which piece of advice to listen to. All you can do is listen to it. Artists stand or fall on instinct, nothing more.
Think outside the box — Don’t just wait for the work to come to you. Make you’re own luck by making things happen for yourself. Create your own projects. I’ve recently started writing and producing, creating projects from the ground up so I can be more in control of what I do and the kind of roles I get to play, basically so I can give myself more options really.
Never give up — It’s taken me more than a few twists and turns to get where I am today. I’ve made some bold moves, some bad choices, and a few good ones too. It’s not an easy career to pursue. There’s a lot of competition out there, but it’s well worth the effort. So be stubborn, be committed and persist.
Originally published at medium.com