One Man, Two Guvnors Interview: Owain Arthur
This is my first interview for TheSprout. I won't deny I was quite scared. But I worked out fine. In the interview, much was discussed. It was only after would that I released I had missed out a question: What would you be doing if you weren't doing acting? All the other questions I found had their own certain relevance. Owain Arthur is certainly a character and was a joy to speak to over the phone. His cheeky little laugh is unforgettable. I'm very pleased to have chatted with him.
Being based on Goldoni's The Servant Of Two Masters, how would you describe this new adaptation?
Goldoni wrote that a very long time ago. Our show is based in the 60s in Brighton. Everybody can refer to the 60s. Whether you were born then or whether you weren't. Everybody has some kind of connection to the 60s. It still influential on how we live our lives today. You can connect your life to it today. Richard Bean (writer) and Nicholas Hynter (director) make this work and it's outstanding. There is a lot of physical comedy. I don't know if you know commedia dell'arte (but of course)? That's the Holy Grail of comedy. But here you will see some similarities, but you might also think you were watching a completely different play. It's loosely based on it, I would say.
How much can you relate to your character, Francis Henshall in One Man, Two Guvnors?
It's about food. The first act is about trying to eat. If you see the size of me, you'll understand how I can properly relate very well to that! The character is all based on human things that we all relate to. He wants food more than anybody. Whilst in the second act he wants sex more than anybody... these are all things we can relate to.
Like Henshall, have you ever worked in two jobs at the same time?
Yes, kind of. As an actor you have to juggle some things around a bit. I've been doing little jobs here and there, whilst doing voice-over work, cartoon work, interviews. As an actor you are always juggling two jobs. If you're fortunate. But you are always thinking about the next one.
Having performed in The History Boys, would you consider doing another Alan Bennett play?
Absolutely. Alan Bennett is just a national treasure isn't he? The work he does is so good. It's of its time and has a huge shelf life. If you did The History Boys today, it would have a different meaning. That's brilliant writing. He's such a nice man as well. Anybody could work for Alan Bennett again.
Do you prefer to cry or laugh, and why?
Well laugh all the way isn't it? Well I'm sure there are people out there who prefer to cry than laugh. I'm sure you've come across some of them. I tend to laugh more than the average person. Or so I'm told. I just go through life enjoying it. But laughing is a big part of my life.
Laughter is the gateway to the soul.
Well, that's a good point!
Where did your love of acting come from?
This is a tricky one. When I was very young, I didn't really want to do acting... at all. When we used to go to Sunday school, we had to stand up on the pulpit and read pieces of the Bible. I never wanted to do it.
No, not at all.
Well the Bible would put anybody off...
I'm not saying anything about the Bible here.
No, I understand. I understand! [I laugh]
[He laughs] But...it wasn't until I did a school play. I just walked on stage. I was in the Babanod Uchaf (he translates this for me and said it meant the 'highest babies' with that great laugh of his). Because I went to a Welsh-speaking school, it was term that we used for that class. You weren't the youngest, but you were the oldest of the youngest. Just and endearing way of saying what class you were in. I can't even remember the last time I said Babanod Uchaf! But anyway, I was in that class and I was asked to be in the play, just for the cute factor. All I did was walk on stage and pretend I fired a gun like B. A. Baracus (Mr. T in The A-Team for you younger readers) and everybody thought, 'Ahhhhhh how cute,' and started laughing. When I had that little reaction, I though hold on, what's this? I kinda like this.
Looking back, it's probably there where the seed was planted. But after that I got the part on the Welsh soap opera Rownd A Rownd and I was on that for nine years. That's when I thought let's give this acting business a go. I moved down to London and wanted to further my knowledge of acting, basically.
That's a good segue into my next question: Would you be interested in more Welsh-speaking roles today?
Absolutely. Welsh is my first language. For me a job is a job. Be it in Welsh or English. I did actually do a play in Germany in 2011 and I didn't even do it at school. As long as the piece is good, language is not a barrier.
Any message for budding actors out there?
Yeah. It's kind of a clich, but if you know that's what you want to, do some research into acting. You've got to have a thick skin. If you can't think of anything else you want to do, do it [he laughs again]. If you think of something else you would like to do, do that [laughs once more]. It's not a very inspiring thing to say, but you just know. If you want to do it, you just know. You have to just stick to it, basically. Because things might happen for you, things might not. Keep it real, if you like. Just don't fool yourself.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, isn't it?
And finally, how would you describe yourself in three words.
[He pauses and blows his lips loudly] How would you describe yourself in three words?
What? Myself? Personally?
I would say...passionate...artistic.
Artistic or autistic?
Well it depends on the day.
Depends on the night before!
[laughing but regaining my composer] And... what would the third one be for me... kind... friendly. Yes. One or the other.
Yeah. I suppose I'm passionate. God you've made this hard!
I know, I've put you on the spot haven't I? I know, I know.
Jeez. I. Do you know what I mean? Joker, I suppose... and a Greek god...
That's two! [laughing nervously] I'll put god... do you want god?
God! F*****g hell! [laughs] I'm not allowed Greek god, am I?
Umm. Yeah... that's fine. That's not a big deal. Which Greek god?
It was supposed to be ironic.
I know. I know. I'm only pulling your arm. Right well that's my questions. Is there anything you wanted to add? I know you're very busy.
Well... I don't know what angle you're going to be writing this interview...
Well, with the best intentions. Of course!
Right. I love doing what I love now. I'm very fortunate. Time to keep my feet on the ground basically. I'm grateful for everything I have and I'm just going to relish every moment. Coming up to Cardiff next week. Hopefully it will be a memorable one. I'm very proud of the show and the work I'm doing. Everything that's lead up to this point...
Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't it start in Cardiff tomorrow [the interview was conducted yesterday]?
It does! I'm removing the ice off my car! I'm on my way to Cardiff tonight. Hopefully...
I look forward to the show. Best of luck!