When did you start working in film and media?
Aged 14, in the BBC soap opera Eastenders, I was the troublesome youth that stole food from a market stall in Albert Square. After that, it was photo-shoots for magazines such as Woman’s Weekly or Take a Break, all the “granny mags”, nothing glamorous. Then I was an extra or given bit parts in various other TV soaps and films. Upon leaving school in Gloucester, I studied Media at the University of West England, Bristol, and then at Abingdon College, Oxford. I was doing as much acting and extras work as I could find, even as a runner (tea boy), or on set design – everything and anything from the BBC’s Casualty to Ridley Scott films. But then, that’s how you work your way into the business.
What is Hedda Gabler?
Hedda Gabler is my adaptation of Henrik Ibsen Hedda Gabler, and also his directorial debut.
I know it’s a big risk, and I know there will be many Ibsen purists who will criticise us heavily over this. But I believe we’re only doing what Ibsen himself would have done had he been adapting the stage play into a film script.
The famous wild party where Hedda’s former lover, Ejlert Løvberg falls off the waggon and loses his precious manuscript is only reported by other characters in the play, but not shown. Some previous television and film adaptations have shown it. Matthew John’s Hedda not only turns this into a complete scene in itself, but also creates for the first time a proper role for Mademoiselle Diana, the red-headed prostitute with whom Løvberg is involved. Her debut appearance is being created by actress Grace Gray.
This is also the first motion picture production of Hedda Gabler to be shot using high definition and other latest technical production values. Costumes, more lavish than in any previous filmed production, have been especially designed and created for the film and there is a lavish use of many more extras. The heavily Victorian interiors of Maunsel House 2 in Somerset provide a location more lavishly exotic than in any other previous film or television productions.
The cast of up-and-coming young British actors is headed by Hedda star Rita Ramnani. Speaking about her role, often regarded as the female Hamlet, in a recent BBC interview, Rita said she believes the character of Hedda will resonate strongly with today’s audiences.
Who are your role models in life?
My mum and dad.
What was it like partying with the likes of Michael Jackson and Prince Azim of Brunei?
That was an amazing party! Michael was a fantastically nice guy and that was a good party. I got to spend some days with some interesting people, Caprice, Aaron Paul, Jonathan Segal, Marcus Schenkenberg, Hinda Hicks, Elizabeth Shannon.
It was fab.
Is Prince Azim creative? Into films?
He tries to be, but it is obviously difficult for him to follow his desires.
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