The journey of becoming an actor, truly going through the rigors will put you in positions where you are forced to have self-awareness, compassion, and to deal with your demons, most people are simply not challenged in that way and remain in an unconscious state. Some people will see someone chasing their dreams and try to sabotage them. I don’t get that, I see motivated, passionate people and I want to help them.
It’s important to notice whether people are coming at you with support and encouragement or whether they’re seeking to ‘take you down a peg’, I’m not one for ‘tall poppy syndrome’ culture, it’s tough out there, hard for everyone nowadays, if someone does well at something they should be encouraged. That’s my take on it.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Laurence Fuller. He is best known for his lead roles in independent films Road To The Well, Apostle Peter & The Last Supper, Paint It Red and Echoes Of You, but he got his start in British theatre, training at Bristol Old Vic and taking the lead role in the West End theatre production of Madness In Valencia. During the lockdown, he has rediscovered his passion for writing with a screenplay about his father MODERN ART, which so far this year has won awards and placed as a Finalist in 15 of the screenwriting competitions so far this year.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I spent my first years of life in Bath England, the large Robert Natkin painting which hung above our living room called “The Acrobat” signified all that had come before me. The smell of wet plaster wafted throughout the house, emanating from my mother’s studio. She was a sculptor and if she wasn’t casting one of her loved ones in bronze she was creating still lives from fruit and wine bottles. The sound of a tapping typewriter came from my father’s study as he wrote edgy art criticism. Between tadpoles in the pond outside and the snails crawling up the lawn in welcomes yet fleeting sunshine of an English summer, it was ideal.
I was four when my father passed. What hardships then transpired, were counterbalanced by what it conversely instilled in me, a respect for the preciousness of life, and a knowledge of how fleeting it is. It made me more determined to do something with the time I had.
My family moved to Australia when I was Seven, I took to the theatre mostly. Plays by Brecht, Mother Courage, Threepenny Opera, and Shakespeare, Caliban in The Tempest.
Films were like a secret desire, I wanted to make movies about the characters around me, I wanted to portray them, live out great adventures. As I grew up it became not only about adventure but the complexities of the human drama, Scorsese films were my favorite. It was a secret obsession. My stepfather was stringently averse to the encroachment of American Modernism, but I found this to be limiting. What about the great American films? What about the exceptions? What about the cinematic masterpieces?
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
As I started doing more Shakespeare in small theatre productions in Canberra I remember a few performances really stuck out to me.
John Bell from Bell Shakespeare doing Richard III, he is really Australia’s Laurence Olivier and brought Shakespeare to our generation of young Australians. An incredibly dynamic performer. I don’t know if he has done letter performances then that perhaps he has, but to me it’s so far the best I’ve seen anyone on stage. I don’t think I’ve ever been so gripped from beginning to end in any production.
When I applied to drama schools several years later all my peers were choosing monologues from Hamlet, but I chose Richard III. It was something my late tutor at Bristol Old Vic Bonnie Hurren commented on as well, why at 19 was I choosing this crippled, middle-aged, disfigured slithering King and not the young and spritely Prince Harry from Henry IV?
The first day that I met Bonnie I was several hours early for the audition day, I’d lost the letter with the details on it and thought I should go in first thing in the morning just in case, I was waiting in the lobby of the old Victorian building that would be the home for my course that year, she walked down the creek wooden stairs completely in her own world thinking of time passed, relationships never fulfilled, desires misaligned, a fellow course member would later say to me she thought that Bonnie spent a lot of her time crying in private, I never knew why he thought this, there was a shrill exuberance to her and an unshakable grace, that I suppose in reflection masked a deep unrequitedness. In my eyes, she was a strong figure that knew the secrets to it all if only she would reveal them to me. She was a very tall and slender woman her movements were always graceful and completely synced up with the rest of her mind and voice. Not unlike Lesley Manville’s portrayal of Cyril in Phantom Thread. Bonnie was used to a very tidy routine when it came to the running of her course, we were there to learn excellence in our craft, nothing else would be tolerated. As she walked down the stairs I interrupted her thoughts with a confident introduction, impelled purely by the same determination which has seen me through to this point. She was startled, yet I could tell happily so, she told me I was too early and that I should go over the road across the park to get some hot chocolate at her favorite cafe, I did and it was delicious.
Though my audition piece to gain acceptance in BOVTS was not as you would have imagined up until this point, To Be Or Not To Be, it was Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent from the opening monologue of Richard III. A choice which Bonnie later berated me for, but at the time seemed intrigued enough to talk me out of my placement I had received at the Oxford School Of Drama. There was some connection we’d formed that morning which only intensified the following year, and began the seed of a deep Method rebellion within me that has never died.
Often during that time I would sit on the steps of the building and imagine what Day-Lewis’ time here must have been like, the teachers often talked about him, about performances he gave which foreshadowed the greatness to come. The intensity he had about everything, he’d often stop by on his motorcycle to visit them. I tried to imagine what he had learned from his time there and how much what we now know him for can be attributed to that learning.
I did the piece again when I got to LA and started training at Ivana Chubbuck Studio at first under Michael Woolson. I brought this rotisserie chicken on stage and started ripping it apart half-naked with bare hands and wiping the chicken breeze on my chest. That was a more experimental take, I just thought Richard is so good at playing up to his monstrous reputation and using it to his advantage, why not go all out. My peers still recount ‘remember the chicken?’
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Around 2005 I acquired a painting by Peter Booth, who was one of the top painters in Australia at the time, his dystopian view and epic landscape with this mythic narrative was really powerful. There was one painting, in particular, that was shown to me by the art dealer Rex Irwin “Man With Bandaged Head”, a figure of a man who was without identity, internally and externally covered in bandages. I held onto that painting living through poverty as a young struggling artist, with nothing else to my name. And I made a film about the experience, at the time it was semi-autobiographical, heavily doctored by the writer/director Jim Lounsbury, but the core of the story was there and that painting was at its center. Possession(s) was about a man who gave up everything in his life to own a work of art only to have its physical value as an object destroyed. After the film was made I did end up selling that painting and that raised me enough funds to move to LA and start my journey making films.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I should preface this story with the common cultural custom in Europe to kiss someone on the cheek when you hug and greet them, it’s sort of an old fashioned, but everyone is used to it. Probably that custom will be put on hold for a while with all that’s going on in the world, but at this time we were pandemic free.
My first manager meeting in LA was with a lady I had been corresponding with via email at one of the top firms in Hollywood. She had heard good things about me, was excited about my play and my auditions tapes. We were excited to meet each other and I’d finally made it across the pond and I could see her in person. I waited in the lobby of this firm, slightly nervous and she came out to greet me with arms stretched out. I immediately offered my hand to shake, but she battered it away and went in for the hug, I suppose as we had been corresponding for so long. This lady happened to be slightly short, and I’m slightly tall so she came up to just below my neck. As a habit and automatic reaction to a hug greeting, I went for a customary cheek kiss, but as her cheek was not exposed and I could only see the top of her head, I kissed the top of her head, and the kissing sound that accompanies the cool and smooth kiss on the cheek greeting was almost twice as loud. This was immediately followed by a silence which felt like forever, as she totally unacquainted with the custom and being very much a Los Angelean, who for the most part are completely uncomfortable with their personal space being invaded, remained awkwardly frozen in the hug, I could almost hear her thoughts ‘did he just kiss the top of my head?’
The meeting from that point on was pretty much a disaster and I didn’t end up signing with that company. Lesson learned; always know the customs of the culture you’re in!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Obviously productions are up in the air at the moment, but am definitely excited about what I do have coming up:
MODERN ART is a screenplay I’ve been developing for 4 years. I just started submitting the screenplay to competitions this year and already it has won a 3rd place award at a completion for best Screenplay and received Finalist placement in 10 others.
This project has allowed me a dialog with the father I never knew. Until now Peter Fuller was for me, a box of papers at the TATE museum. When I decided to write a screenplay about him, what I discovered amongst those papers has changed my life forever. I’m excited to share with the world, what I have found.
Peter Fuller was like a punch in the guts to the art world from 1969 to 1990, and until his last breath he was radical. His writings spanned art history, psychology, sociology, aesthetics, biology, and religion, all emanating from his primary fascination with the arts. But it was his search for beauty in life and in art which made him so fascinating. The extent to which Peter invested himself in this discovery proved that Modern Art is not only a medium for entertainment and trade, but by engaging with artfully we could come to know ourselves.
His loss was a tragedy not just me but for leaders of the art world, and yet rediscovering him in this way I have perhaps gotten to know him better than I could have living. We need this story now, our world needs healing, its heart is breaking. I know that developing this project has been for me personally a consoling and life-changing experience, my hope is that it will be for others too.
Once you’ve had enough education, make use of it by creating something of your own. There will come a time when putting too much weight on that stuff will hold you back and what you really need to be doing is to put in the hard graft and actually making something to call your own. All actors should write.
I believe that making art should be akin to an act of love, whether it is love for a muse, the piece, or love for oneself, otherwise it doesn’t make much sense. My father, once talked about painting being like a skin between the internal and external world, he was talking about the work of the American Abstract painter Robert Natkin, but I think that idea translates to all the arts. And like the child has objects, toys, teddy bears which he/she transfers their emotional inner life to create their manifestations of the world they would want to see so too do we grow up as adults spiraling over the same behaviors with greater intensity, focus and realization. He also said that ‘Great art, makes great demands upon us’, the best artists lead by example in that sense, as their work comes from inside, it is an extension of their inner world, which like Kiefer or Enrique Martinez Celaya there develops an iconography, language and myth of its own.
I also did a short recently with director Henry Quilici that has interesting parallels and is currently getting some love on Twitter, it is a really heartfelt short about a classical pianist and a homeless boy that seems to be capturing people’s imagination right now. That can now be seen here and is being passed around the Twitosphere: http://www.laurencefuller.art/echoes-of-you
Five Families is a proof of concept short I acted in for director Adam Cushman, taking the point of view that the police are actually the new gangsters. Which has become increasingly relevant in light of recent events and is now becoming an important story. In that one I had the honor of acting opposite screen legend Barry Primus, who comes from that whole DeNiro, Scorsese crew and just had a great supporting part in the Irishman.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
It’s very important to be inclusive of all members of humanity and not to discriminate or be racist towards anyone, for any reason. Discrimination, unfortunately, happens a lot in our industry to everyone for different reasons, and that is sad. I believe in meritocracy if you have the passion, the talent, the skill to be the best person for the job, then you should get that job. If your film is the best film, it should be programmed in the festival. It is sad that it’s not necessarily that way. If you grow up with the goal of becoming the greatest piano player, the top lawyer, or doctor, there is a clear path to getting there and more often than not you will be judged on your ability. If your goal is to be the best actor, writer, or filmmaker, you quickly find how political it all is. It’s unfortunate and it also becomes a daily struggle to navigate. Privilege comes in many forms, but it’s a positive step that if you are diverse there are now many funds, programs, and scholarships that have been set up since I started in the industry but in the last five years especially.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1.) When you’re starting out you’re really trying to figure out who you are and what you have to offer, this is actually the most important thing you can do. Drama Schools can only be there to facilitate that and never any more, they can’t give it to you. I remember searching for my artistic identity in my teachers in vain. Like nurses can only be there to facilitate your creative birth, but you have to ultimately be the one to do it and follow through.
I remember going into Bristol Old Vic thinking it would provide me with the secrets to unlocking my soul. Of course the teachers already know that this can only be done from within you. I remember the head tutor of my course at Bristol Old Vic, Bonnie Hurren saying I should read David Mamet’s True & False specifically because it serves as an ideological deconstruction of the institutional art. It inevitably goes too far and it’s hunting of ideology can only can to false conclusions. After I finished the book I went back to Bonnie and asked if I no longer needed to be at the school anymore because I’d read it.
Theory can never surpass the universal values of learning, mastery. Learn from the best, there are many practitioners doing admirable work out there who are capable leaders and dramaturgists. But it’s important to never just get lost in one person’s ideas. Each person should find out for themselves what they believe in, not merely as a polemical response either because there isn’t much use in dwelling on what you dislike or what you do not identify with, this usually just leads to a cankering of the creative force, the libido, the will and doesn’t go anywhere. Find out who you are and what you love, be that and foster that. The lesson for me was: beware of false prophets.
2.) The feature I had out earlier this year “Paint It Red” was about the search for faith, but not in a religious sense, faith in the realization of one’s own artistic vision, in this case, the survival of a struggling artist in his quest to get out of poverty and survive a very fortunate and very threatening bit of good luck. At the same time, the underlying themes and relationships deal with artistic integrity and ethics. I had a brilliant time exploring the life of a painter for a while. It inspired me to paint my own first painting, which was a long time coming.
I wrote this poem about working on that character; “Alone in the darkness of our own avoidance to the beast of feeling that lurks in the passionate night unseen, chained to the stumps of reason, practical, bland objects, unrelated interactions in the presence of other people which relate solely to food or to intercourse or to expending less effort. All these things make me want to smash those chains and for all those things to dissipate. All these perspex surfaces hiding the truth. Ciaran is running through the hills of a dream of the world he wished to create, sprinting up mountainsides to grab at a feeling for something real. He is a man of faith, who knew what he stood for and would demand it of life. And yet he knew that if he let any of it slip even for a moment, it would all fall apart and that dream he so carefully cherished and held onto would fall into the hands of another equally hungry LA dream chaser.”
3.) I remember punching the floor with excitement when my agent called me telling me I’d booked the role.
The first draft that I read when they called me in to audition was initially a full 90 minutes of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ. The casting director Billy Damota initially brought me in for a much smaller role, it was one of the apostles that I think was actually cut from the final draft, the piece was a monolog, a moral dilemma. Jesus had just told his 12 disciples that one of them was about to betray him, of course, we know in hindsight it was Judas, but the narrative explores what was going on in the minds of the apostles in that moment, their doubts and insecurities, as they wrestled with their humanity. I remember the final line was “is it me lord?” as in, is it me that betrays you? As I was walking out the audition the casting associate Dea Vise stopped me and said ‘wait Laurence, there’s another role they wanted you to read for’, she then handed me a 20 pages script titled The Fisherman about a Roman soldier talking to an older apostle as he is progressively converted to Christianity. They gave me an hour to read over the script, then they brought me back in to read for the director Gabe Sabloff who was the mastermind behind all this. A week later I got a call from my agent saying ‘you’ve got the part’, it was one of the most exciting moments of my life.
The casting director, Dea Vise tells the story like this; “Laurence Fuller was reading to play a Roman guard. He had a few lines and was basically just in a few scenes as the story was originally about Peter at the Last Supper with Jesus and the Apostles. Well, Laurence came in the room, read his few lines so thoughtfully and with such brilliance that he got the job to play the guard watching over Apostle Peter (played by Robert Loggia) while he was in prison. As a matter of fact, Laurence was SO GOOD that they rewrote the movie to be about the relationship between the guard and Peter. So, the names above the title in the movie are now Robert Loggia and Laurence Fuller and, of course, Jesus was played by Bruce Marciano. Three names above the title and one of them started out with a few lines. Be that good. Be that interesting to watch! Break a leg out there!”
4.) The film ECHOES OF YOU is about a classical pianist who finds fulfillment in an unlikely place. As he’s auditioning and falling short of becoming a concert pianist he meets a young homeless boy and teaches him how to play a song he wrote for his father. This all comes back around in a really surprising, karmic and spiritual experience.
The director Henry Quilici really nailed that concept of the spiritual in art, and how the arts can be a compassionate, humanitarian thing. We treat it as a gift to someone else. And do I think I found it? Yeah. The experience of making this short was very emotional. It was an emotional part, and so it did require me to go into some vulnerable places within myself.
I remember first reading the script and bursting into tears when I came to the end. That message of faith in the capacity for even the smallest of moments can be reimagined through the artist’s lens to something illuminating and beautiful.
I think it’s rare to find that sort of message in the modern world, there’s a lot out there that’s just attention-grabbing nonsense. It also depends on the person receiving the thing, to one person a flower could bring them to tears in pure exaltation at the complexities of existence, to another, it might be nothing but a wet twig. It depends on the capacity for sensitivity and sensual faculties of the individual. As an artist that is the aspect that’s pointless to even try and control, any attempts to do so will leave the work itself feeling inauthentic. For those reasons I really have become immune to what the reception to my work is a lot of the time. To make anything of worth you have to have that sort of conviction in your own ability to create what you know to be good work and to do what you want to do. The artist Anselm Kiefer said that each work of art cancels out those that precede it. He was talking about the language of history as a contribution to culture.
I knew for this piece specifically if it was structured for the effect of a beautiful karmic experience, that was designed to inspire compassion. That in itself is very difficult to accomplish, so it had to be real love, really beautiful and powerfully compassionate. It had to be the biggest moment in this man’s life. Bigger than winning an Oscar. Like being rekindled with the love of one’s life, seeing their child or anyone they have loved and felt really deserved it, become a success in the world. I knew I had to open up and be vulnerable in front of the camera, which is impossible to fake, the camera sees everything, it took digging deep and talking to the ghosts of my past.
That’s the only way to get through to people with this sort of message, is to speak the truth from the depths of your humanity and have faith that people will listen, because if it is authentic then, they will, they will. All the lead roles I’ve had so far in “Road To The Well”, “Apostle Peter & The Last Supper” and “Paint It Red” have been about a person losing their faith and then finding it again with stronger conviction in some other form later on, that is much the same with this piece too.
Henry showed me a short documentary he made about discovering his grandfather through a box of letters and journals he found in the attic. We discussed how eerily similar the project which fills my days is, a film about my father, the late art critic Peter Fuller and going through his journals almost every day from the TATE archive. I’ve made my way through a huge chunk of his writings public and private, to piece together who he was. Of course, to understand him I also needed to read through the work of his collaborators and all his influences as well. And now his echoes speak to me, and some things are so special they take more than just one lifetime to complete. That’s really what this piece is about, the Greek philosopher Hippocrates said: “Life is short, but art is long”.
I saw this film as an opportunity to contribute to something beautiful. The biggest thing was finding the internal objects for what the piano meant to me and my journey. The struggle that I’ve been through as an artist, and the people in my life I’ve been doing this for. I saw the ghosts of my ancestors who I imagined knowing, what it would mean to them to see me on that stage, the underlying sense of loss knowing that I will never have that, I will never see their faces in that audience. But to live it out like Stanislavsky would say ‘as if’ for the rest of us living to enjoy.
The accent was one aspect to this performance, I’ve worked with an American accent a lot in LA it’s bread and butter. Speaking in my natural voice out here people say to me ‘you have an accent’, but everyone who speaks a language speaks with an accent and we learned that accent when we were young from the people around us. The same can be done in adulthood if need be.
Andrew is very masculine, and very feminine at the same time. That paradox is something I could identify with. I’m a heterointercourse male, but I also feel left out of the discussion when it comes to rigid gender definitions, I feel misrepresented. In my daily practices of writing poetry and Martial Arts, I feel in touch with the extremities of both the masculine and feminine within myself. I wrote a poem about it which took me the better part of a year to finish, thirty pages of prose, representing the extreme forces of male and female within me battling it out for Elysium. In part I was inspired by three female artists in England right now who have depicted The Minotaur, there is this masculine sensual creature that has a physicality, a powerful frame, a capacity to rule as king of paradise and yet by that same token a beautiful emotional complexity as he sits reading through pages of poetry. There’s something amazing and compassionate about that to see the redeemable and positive qualities of this creature’s contribution to the world when all else would see him as something frightening to destroy. Regardless of some of the more superficial representations of The Minotaur throughout art history, I feel there’s something a lot more genuine and passionate about these female’s extension of where Picasso left off, the myth of the minotaur. In the paradox of extremities of both the masculine and the feminine and finding love for oneself.
With “Echoes Of You” the first meeting with Henry Quilici happened at the end of last year shooting his USC short “Tweaker Speak” about a meth addict dealing with the demons of addiction as he tried to get his daughter back. A very different piece. I noticed the things Henry would say were very to the point, very clear, uncluttered by doubts or abstract theory, his notes always referred back to the story or to human experience.
A couple months later I was contacted by Henry and his producer Cam Burnett (a young filmmaker with similar sensibilities). When I first read the script and came to the end, I burst into tears, it had come to me soon after I had finished reading a passage by John Berger in his book “A Painter Of Our Time” which detailed the life of an artist, most often one of constant sacrifice for their work. Henry had captured that plight so beautifully with this story, I had to do it.
Henry showed me a short documentary he made about discovering his grandfather through a box of letters and journals he found in the attic. We discussed how eerily similar the project which fills my days is, a film about my father, the late art critic Peter Fuller and going through his journals almost every day from the TATE archive. I’ve made my way through a huge chunk of his writings public and private, to piece together a singular man of principles in his writings. And now his echoes speak to me. Some things are so special they take more than just one lifetime to complete. That’s really what this piece is about, the Greek philosopher Hippocrates said “Life is short, but art is long”.
I found Henry to be incredibly clear about what he wanted, everything very specific in emotional terms, he spoke very subjectively and compassionately, not the sort of move your head a little to the left which can leave actors feeling like meat puppets and end up with mechanical performances. He worked as many of the best directors do, from the inside out.
In many ways, I feel Echoes Of You is about time. Man and time have such strange relationship, as we exist in time but the way we experience it is never as it actually unfolds. As our internal clock passes with a tether to society’s expectations of us, we too little consider the effect our actions are having on the people around us. The echoes of not just our voice in a cave, but our movements in the world each day. To show up each day sit down at the keys, explore the depths of our unconscious.
Echoes have are a vital component in the acting process, because what we end up becoming in performance is an echo of that first reading of the script, and that feeling which bounces off the walls of our unconscious, the ever-expanding and retracting self, is reshaped with every bump. Like throwing clay against a wall, picking it up and throwing it again against another. Time forms a totally new object, with the heart of the original idea, but with time and movement a new object entirely.
The time it takes for something truly special to emerge in our culture can be an arduous one, this is why it is so important for artists to have faith, to have the strength to step back and see a bit further into the future and into the past with all their actions.
For instance, there is the intention to hit a piano key, the thought, the will to create music, the doing of it, the vibrations in wood and in the air which causes the sound and then there is the trace memory the sound makes into us. The next day the vibrations are gone but what is it that remains, what else can we call it but a feeling.
Pushing into these echoes of ourselves man finds again another feeling, another self, rewriting of one’s own personal history reveals many selves splintered off into a kaleidoscope of you.
Even the best and brightest fall prey to doubts because of the time it can take from the conception of an idea to its real-life manifestation. And yet there are moments that are eternal for us, moments which last in eternity as long as we last and when we give them to another they last forever in them. Those things we cherish that make the world better for our existing and their creation pushing forward a spiritual progress.
The compassionate passing on to generations is an important part of this story. If we chose to listen, we can take the best of somebody with us on the hardest roads in life that stretch out before us. It can feel like whispers in the wind sometimes when we talk about something that has a deep and powerful resonance to us.
This piece made me think deeply about the effects of what I wish to leave behind. What marks in the sand I wish to make. We’re all scratching up the dirt at the moment, thousands of impressions made, often without thought for their effects.
What matters are not the constant floods of change which define our generation, but the development of the spirit, the inner world which we must cherish and rely on to provide us with hope.
In the week before shooting, I read Viktor E Frenkel’s “Man’s Search For Meaning” in which he suggests the survivors of the concentration camps during WWII of which he himself was a survivor, had something to live for, that they could cherish on the inside. That they had been touched by great works of art, literature, theatre and music and these moments in their life were the memories which got them through.
Confronted with a boy who is living through possibly the worst conditions a child could be subjected to in our society, I think Andrew gave him all that he had, and aside from the odd sandwich and a place to crash, what he had to give was music, the stronger Andrew could instill this dream of music, the better chance that echoes had of speaking through all the overwhelming obstacles this boy had to encounter.
Henry’s brother Max Quilici wrote the main theme to Echoes. The piece was so minimally and yet effectively done, I felt there was no way I could do this part without learning at least some of the piano in order to play this song. With the couple weeks of preparation, never having laid hands on a piano before, I managed to learn how to play the first half of the song.
I came across a documentary preparing for the role called Pianomania, about a piano tuner for some of the world’s best pianists. He was someone whose love for the piano extends beyond the performance, becomes almost an intellectual pursuit, like preparing for a role that one never acts. The language that he began to use to describe moments within a sound was complex, abstract and beautiful. The joy and the passion for the music then became a dedication to the development of someone else’s craft.
That has always been something that’s interested me, how much should we use art of the same medium to influence our work. I feel that art should be the language to express the fullness of life. But the conflict then comes when confronted with another’s work that we stand in admiration, that admiration must then come from an ideal within us that we wish to reach. Then the choice becomes whether to run forward towards that same goal, almost like an Oedipus trying to surpass the father, or whether to stand back and remain in a place of fixed and constant admiration allowing it to either influence one’s work in another medium, or is it enough to touch a place within a performance, to shape the artists work by pushing a sound, an aesthetic a feeling further than they could have by themselves. The position of a conductor to a musician, a director to an actor, or a parent to a child, shaping the raw materials of a human being in a particular direction, for the purpose of benefiting humanity.
5.) Brace yourself, because you’re going to need to have a lot of patience, as well as determination and persistence, bear in mind, people are reading into everything you put out there so approach your professional relationships with confidence and love and with the intention to help communities of people make art.
Make peace with yourself, deep down find an inner resolve that is self-rewarding. Don’t expect much from others, just be thankful to be there and to have the opportunity to do what you love. It’s a job and it’s also a gift that you’re giving, even in the strangest of characters, you’re reflecting a part of humanity back at itself. Stay away from high conflict people in your personal life as much as possible. That can be quite a challenge, especially in LA for some reason, people who feed off drama are dangerous to your precious faculties as an artist and can drain you, look instead to the people who show you love and encouragement, know that’s happening for a reason and seek more of that. I’ve seen people shoot themselves in the foot enough times to know that attitude is a huge factor. Even talking to agents can be really insightful when they have to deal with a client who’s just bitching at them instead of being grateful for the positive things they’ve done. Just like you want to avoid high conflict people, don’t be one!
Focus on what you are and what you want to become, notice the people who are helping you become that and walk away from the people who are not.
I personally do a lot of reflecting and learning from mistakes, by doing so I feel I have a very attuned gauge to fairness, if someone consistently does not take accountability it’s a sign to limit exposure as much a possible.
Obviously there’s a lot of advice already out there about cracking into the business etc, so that should be easy enough to google. My input about that is to spend time on your business, on your social media, unfortunately, that is important now. But curate your social media, for what you put out and what you take in, protect your cognition and your internal objects. Too much flicking around the unimportant stuff will dull the senses. I do think there is a higher use of social media in a sense. If you can train yourself to use it sparingly but to use it to seek out things that you like and the people in your communities that are regularly engaging with those same things. Theatre and independent films are great places to start. I love going to the film festivals that my films get into and then meeting the other filmmakers and actors there, talking to them and going to their screenings. The ones in California I love are Dances With Films, Newport Beach Film Festival and San Diego Film Festival, a few others too, then you have all the majors everybody knows about Sundance et al.
And while you’re looking to get cast in your next project in between auditions I would personally advise writing everyday.
When Adam Cushman approached me to play Seymour in “Five Families”, we discussed how there was something Romantic about Seymour’s longing for the past, he told me to read Shelley, that sort of emotional intensity was something I wanted to capture for this character. I’d met Adam on his last feature “The Maestro” which turned out to be a hit at the film festivals, I was cast in that to play the young John Williams by producer David J Philips, and I met David at the premiere of “Road To The Well” at Dances With Films Festival in Hollywood not long before that.
Barry Primus was playing my Grandfather, we rehearsed on location which turned out to be Barry’s house. As he showed us around we walked past a poster of the film he directed and DeNiro was peering out, Barry had directed him in the film “Mistresses”, I looked around and there were family pictures with one of the people who I was reading about in books back in my early discoveries of cinema, whose performances had inspired me to go on this journey in the first place. And a few weeks later I was sat opposite Barry peering into his eyes as he was playing my grandfather locked in a power struggle with the young Oedipus that was my character. It felt like I was apart of that legacy in some way.
I couldn’t have predicted something like that would happen and I would be there on that day. I just knew when I met the director Adam Cushman there was something special about this artist and I wanted to be apart of his journey. Like Day-Lewis, I had been inspired by DeNiro’s capacity to push the boundaries of film acting and to take what I’d learned from the British theatre to the American screen. I wrote this one about the experience;
“Adam Cushman helped me find my darkness with this piece, it was rooted in a longing for the past in adolescence and lost love, a time when people followed their desire without consideration for every consequence, but to challenge the status quo with action.
The last of a dying breed of gangster, nostalgic and Romantic for another time when passions followed glory and the challenges of the will, were met with the force of present days. Today I am a better man, today I feel that carnal longing, tomorrow is destroyed by the turning of coming authority. They pressure me to give up my sword, but I shall die by valiance and go down in history as the first forever gangster glory.
Six shooters shuddering in the pockets of my armed forces, there I am wishing for you to change your ways to musty running hallways of life and lofty dreams.
Protect your family, know who they are, know that legacy will be written on your tombstone carved in marble, heroes are carved in marble and the weak go silently by.
Shelley’s letters of time in a course of crossroads between God and invention told the story a man and monster, broken by his own innate creation.”
By a twist of fate “Five Families” just had its premiere at the same festival I met David three years before, Dances With Films. Networking is a karmic experience, it’s more like a spiritual journey than anything else, we’re all little beacons transmitting our message out to others in the darkness of consciousness, follow the light.
Some people can read the entirety of a poet like William Blake and all they’ll choose to focus on is the word ‘bottom’, or some other salacious misrepresentation of the author, whereas someone else will read the exact same piece of work and walk away transformed and reignited by all the passions a Romantic poet has to offer. Not that Blake’s poems are for the innocent, some are but not all, neither are Charles Baudelaire’s “Flowers Of Evil”, nor Lord Byron’s body of work, almost none of the truly great works of art are wholly pure, and why should they be? They do not cross anyone else’s boundaries but are self-accepting of both humanity’s chaos and its light, its masculine and its feminine, the paradox within. The greatest works of art of all mediums are undeniable, unrepressed.
In this sense, I try to have a higher consciousness about what you see in other people. Entertainers, filmmakers, writers, performers of all kinds are not just characters in your own personal fantasies, they’re real people with all sorts of longings, fears, desires, pains and joys. It’s not just about who you know, not who knows you, but what you see in someone else and how you choose to relate to others. I worked with Jane Berliner (talent manager at Authentic) for a number of years and she talked about having integrity in business, and I watched how she had a well-tuned sense of fairness with how she went about things, positive and negative, and I respected that and tried to learn as much as I could from her as an arts entrepreneur. I suppose my career advice is about that, have integrity in your professional relationships, and see yourself as a budding arts entrepreneur, trust that the rest will follow.
For instance, who knows where “Five Families” will go, who will get to see it and what will happen next.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I think one should just focus on the personal journey, I wouldn’t even know how to begin trying to be a rival to other actors, unless it was part of a scene, what would be the point?
It has to be a personal, spiritual journey, that is really about trying to find out who you are and investing your passions. If film has fed your soul like it has mine. By filmmakers like Terrence Malick, Stanley Kubrick, Christopher Nolan, PT Andersson, Lars Von Trier, Barry Jenkins, Nicholas Winding Refn,
Films like “The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Crawford” and “The Assassination of Richard Nixon”, are both brilliant performances, two of my favorite films of all time for the acting alone, but also the scores and the cinematography. However, I think anyone with a serious interest in becoming an artist and therefore a public figure should watch these movies as a letter of caution to the flip side of what happens when you do start to get attention for your work. It’s not so much the people who are happy with themselves and doing well that you have to worry about, it’s the people who are not accomplishing their goals and project onto you all their fears and desires. That is actually the thing to be careful of, fellow creatives are colleagues and usually want to collaborate and form healthy connections.
So far I have had to deal with some invasions of privacy, so I would advise if you start to notice creepy things start to happen, fortunately, there are laws in place to protect you from people who become too much. Unfortunately in all realms of life, you’re likely to come across abusive or toxic people, people with mental health issues or difficult upbringings. I’ve actually not had this as much from my fellow creatives or people who are fulfilling their true purpose in life so much as people who are unhappy with their lot. The journey of becoming an actor, truly going through the rigors will put you in positions where you are forced to have self-awareness, compassion, and to deal with your demons, most people are simply not challenged in that way and remain in an unconscious state. Some people will see someone chasing their dreams and try to sabotage them. I don’t get that, I see motivated, passionate people and I want to help them.
It’s important to notice whether people are coming at you with support and encouragement or whether they’re seeking to ‘take you down a peg’, I’m not one for ‘tall poppy syndrome’ culture, it’s tough out there, hard for everyone nowadays, if someone does well at something they should be encouraged. That’s my take on it.
Personally I look up to people like Leonardo DiCaprio, he’s really never put a foot wrong on the movie star climb, he’s definitely had his fun; yachts at Cannes et al and why not bask in a bit of that once you’ve earned it, there’s also an aspect of the showman which is important to promote a film, a lot of that stuff, red carpets, etc, it looks glamorous from the outside, but what’s actually going on is hard work.
But Leo’s also been the executive producer to some of the best films in cinema history and his social media is 90% him traveling the world to help charitable causes, develop natural sanctuaries to make the world a better place, help tribes in the Amazon, spread awareness about climate change and protecting endangered animals. That is modern chivalry in my opinion.
It’s still a ways off for me to be able to do much of that stuff, but still, I’ve supported the arts in many ways, been executive producer on a number of artistic indie passion projects and also individuals in my life, helped them to develop their careers and artistic outlook in different ways. As well as supporting various environmental charities as much as I can, I also look up to Lucy Fry in that regard, she’s constantly doing positive things for the environment and at the moment is on a mission to save and plant trees.
Surround yourself with people who believe in themselves, hold people accountable for their behavior towards you, but mostly focus on attending your own garden, leave others to tend their own, leave salacious or slanderous gossip to low thinkers and you will not have any problems with rivalry.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I believe art is incredibly important to us right now, poetry, painting, great cinema, these things are precious to us in these times, for the preservation of our souls if we have hope and belief in humanity, we will get through this.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would like to take this opportunity to thank every director that has believed in me enough to trust me with a role in their production and collaborate with me on the development of a character.
Simon Evans in Madness In Valencia, we took that little unsuspecting play from a 40 seat theatre in south London to Trafalgar Studios in the West End and I delivered possibly the wildest performance of my career so far, and I have Simon to thank for giving me that freedom. That play really gave me my start, allowed me to come to LA with a bit of something behind me and book roles like the lead in Road To The Well. The director of that film Jon Cvack also was a great collaborator and pushed me intellectually to delve into the mindset of a philosophy dropout who has his will tested to the extremes when he framed for murder. That film opened a lot of doors and I’m still surprised at how many people reach out to me that have caught it on streaming on Amazon Prime.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Great art makes great demands upon us” — Peter Fuller
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
The Saffie Brothers, ever since I saw Heaven Knows What at Arclight after its Sundance premiere, I knew I’d just witnessed something special they truly are the auteurs of our generation and I can see them sticking around for a long time.
How can our readers follow you online?
I’m pretty active on Twitter, I like posting about the films I watch and my favorite performances, as well as updates about my own films — https://twitter.com/LaurenceFuller
My Instagram is — https://www.instagram.com/laurencefuller
And my website with my films and writing projects is www.laurencefuller.art
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!