Actor, Director and Writer Simon Naylor answered 20 questions
- Favourite show (whether you have been in it or not)?
There’s so many and I think it depends what mood I’m in but the one show that left me speechless was ‘Chicken Shop’ by Anna Jordan. She’s written some incredible things and this one was simply outstanding. I can’t wait to see her latest work, ‘Yen’ at the Royal Exchange!
- Favourite book?
Another tough one! I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to books – I’m all about my vikings and gladiators and knights – Game of Thrones and anything by Bernard Cornwell. As a bit of an ‘off-piste’ one, I loved ‘Brand New Friend’ by Mike Gayle – really needs to be made into a film!
- Favourite theatre?
Well, I think I’ve got to say the Wyndhams because it’s the first theatre I’ve performed in in the West End. There’s something pretty special about getting off the tube at Leicester Square and heading to work at one of the big ones! I do also love The Landor – it’s so intimate that it’s almost like TV.
- Favourite song?
Erm….again, it’s all about what mood I’m in. I sometimes love a bit of old school dance, anything by Oasis (obviously!) and right now my running tune is Carry On by Fun – when the drums kick in I can’t help but speed up!
- Favourite music?
I’m afraid I’m going to annoy a lot of people, but I really do like a lot of stuff. It all depends where I am and what I’m doing. From Cafe Del Mar to Robbie Williams I’m a bit eclectic. It can be embarrassing having my iPhone on shuffle! What you won’t find on there is anything that Radio 1 play after 6pm on a Friday night – rubbish!
- Favourite food?
Well, when I’m eating out, it’s going to take a strong menu to tear me away from a burger. I’m definitely a man of simple tastes when it comes to food. SoLita is a new discovery to me and the burgers there are bloody marvellous! (Can I swear?!)
- Favourite line from any show?
haha Well, ‘Joey doesn’t share food’ has always rang true with me but I guess until Friends is made into a stage show I can’t have that one. Proctor from ‘The Crucible’ has so many amazing quotes – everything he says is epic! ‘I will fall like an ocean on that court’ is maybe one of the best. So so many….
- What is your favourite role?
My favourite role without question is my last role. I played Harper in The Glasshouse at The Tristan Bates Theatre. It was a character that I’d worked with on and off for over a year and I was incredibly fortunate that the writer, Max Saunders-Singer wrote it for me. He is a brilliant writer and allowed me to bring in so many of my own ideas – it was a delight to play him. He was unlike any other character I’ve played before and I’d love the producers, Grindstone, to bring it back!
- What was your first role?
My first role I think was a moonbeam in a pantomime – I don’t remember it at all! My first professional job on stage was in Bouncers at the Lichfield Garrick – a great piece. Godber is a genius! My first TV role was Primeval where I was a Security Guard that was eaten by a dinosaur! Glamorous!
- And what role would you really like to play?
Well obviously John Proctor. I played him at Drama School and would love to do it again. He’s brilliant. Also, I’d love to Play Eddie in A View from the Bridge – I guess I’m a fan of Arthur Miller! On TV, I’d just love to do anything that is meaty… Broadchurch was sensational. Chris Chibnall writes such amazing stuff – I’d love to be in something he’d written.
- If you could be anyone else for the day, who would it be?
Ooh…good question! I’m not sure. My first thought was someone who owns their own island but I think that just means I need a holiday; and it’s a waste! I’d probably be the Queen – I’ve always wondered what she gets up to!!
- You’re clearly very talented and had a varied career, do you prefer writing, directing or performing?
Thank you! I will always have performing at the top – or at least for the foreseeable future. As I get older, I get more excited by directing as I want to put my stamp on things. Writing is more of something that just happens. I’ve only written a few things and it tends to be quite by accident. I have just converted one of my short plays, ‘IF’ into a full length play so we’ll see what happens with that!
- So to follow on, do you prefer TV or Theatre?
I’m going to be boring again – I think it depends! Some days I like TV, others theatre. They both do different things. There’s nothing that can beat the buzz of standing in the wings before a show or walking on stage for a curtain call. In TV though, I love the subtleties that it allows you to use; cameras see everything in detail that you might not see in a theatre.
- How did you get into marathon running?
If I’m honest I’m not sure! When I was at school I’d do ANYTHING to get out of cross country. In 2007 (I think!?) my mate asked if I wanted to do a 5k fundraiser run with him and it grew from there – half marathons, Spartan Race, Trailwalker (which was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done!) and now 3in3!
- If you weren’t a performer what would you be?
Richer! Erm…I wanted to be a soldier originally but I couldn’t as I have asthma! I guess what’s becoming clear is my ability to organise so maybe a producer. Is that allowed – it’s still to do with acting?! Marketing maybe?!
- What advice would you give 16 year old Simon?
Great question! First I’d say ‘save some money you idiot!’. Having said that, I’ve been really lucky and enjoyed myself with this career. I don’t know – difficult because I don’t think I’d want him to do much different. I’ve made some huge errors in my life but I think that’s supposed to happen!?
- What was the last stage show you saw and really enjoyed?
I’ve seen lots recently but I’ve tended to get more picky as I get old and bitter! It was sometime ago but I cannot forget Chicken Shop. I’ve rarely been moved so much by theatre.
- You taught at Italia Conti, did you enjoy spotting new talent?
Teaching has been incredible; at Conti and elsewhere. I’ve been so lucky to be able to continue doing what I love every day – it’s impossible for a lot of actors. It’s also great to see the students move through 3 years. I’ve seen quite a few graduate now and I still remember a lot of their auditions or first work for me. Conti is really holding it’s own with the big guns right now and some of the work that the graduates are getting is amazing. It’s great to see them on stage at the Globe or National or in huge films and TV shows. Auditions are still a favourite part of the teaching though – you never know who’s coming through the door next.
- What is your advice for anyone hoping to survive the Edinburgh Festival?
Edinburgh! Myself and the festival have had a short and bumpy relationship. I’ve been to the festival lots and it is awesome! It’s like a 24 hour party, every day, for a month. So much theatre! When I performed there however, I realised that it might be a little over saturated. I genuinely think that to go there and be ‘spotted’ is a thing of the past; so, my advice! Go there, soak it up, gain an invaluable experience but at the same time, know that you WILL leave with a lighter wallet and that you might not get out of it the ‘fame and glory’ that you wanted. It’s brilliant, with the right mindset!
- Can you tell us what you will be up to next?
Mainly training, panicking and fundraising! At least until April! I’ve just moved back to Manchester where I’m from and so I’m spending a lot of time meeting people and getting into the ‘crowd’ up there. It’s quite exciting to have a lot of new people to get to know. I have a play that someone has asked me to look at and do with them and of course, like every other actor, waiting for the phone to ring!
Thank you so much for helping me
If you would like to sponsor Simon for his 3 in 3 Marathon you can do so here