Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed actor Leo Parkes about his career, what he loves about acting, and his recent projects. I had the privilege of working with Leo on Hollowhood in his role as Andy Harkness, and he is truly a highlight of the film.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I’m Leo, 37 years of age, a big 6’4” lump living and working in Stafford. Originally from Werrington in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
When did you first realise you wanted to be an actor?
Like probably all kids, I loved dressing up and play-acting from as early as I can remember! My older sister was very theatrical and we used to put on magic shows, etc. In high school I joined the drama club which was a wonderful escape from the woes of the playground, and a chance to express myself in a way I couldn’t otherwise do.
What is your favourite thing about performing?
Performing on stage used to give me a real buzz, all that nervous energy and adrenaline culminating in that moment. It’s been many years since I’ve done that type of acting but I always remember getting that thrill and feeling it was all worth it. With my more recent acting, I’d say getting to know the other actors and then bouncing off them during the filming of a scene was my highlight.
What classes or training sessions have you taken to support your acting career?
No official training (does it show? 😉). I just watch a lot of great actors doing their thing on film and tv.
What was your first professional acting job?
Well I’ve never actually received a professional fee for acting (I’m not sure i could in all conscience accept it) but the first acting job I did with others who are professionals was Hollowhood, a spooky, Hallowe’en-set thriller made by the wonderful Barnes and Mckinney.
What was your most recent professional acting job?
Tell me a favourite experience in your career. Something that stands out in your memories and makes you want to find more experiences like it.
That would also have to be Hollowhood (a lot of my answers are going to be based around this movie!). It was a thrill and an honour from the moment I was asked to be part of it – a world away from my day job. It’s tricky to pick one moment from the shoot, there were so many great times. I loved being part of the making of the film, not just as Andy Harkness but getting behind the camera and learning about sound, filming etc. Using the clapper!
Meeting the other actors and hearing their stories (the fabulous Jo Liptrott). The actual ray of sunshine that is Josette Celeste. Unintentional faceplanting with everyone’s favourite vicar James Johnson. Nailing a scene in one take with JJ Barnes. Dance tips from the delightful Jennie Walsh. Getting to be angry (like physically angry) with Jonathan McKinney. Being blown away by the talent of my friends Vicky Burke and Kate Marris. The feeling of teamwork, of achieving something. oh and recording a single!!
What was your toughest experience in your acting career?
I think the toughest part is learning to stop being too critical of myself. Too often after a scene was shot I would dwell on it because the lines didn’t come out how I intended, or I felt like I was the weakest one on set. Seeing and hearing myself on screen is also a toughie – I’m getting a little better with that one! You’ve just got to remind yourself that you’re there because people want you to be part of what they’re doing. Self-belief – honestly for me it’s been the steepest learning curve out of everything.
Have you family and friends been supportive of your acting career?
I think it came a little out of left field for a lot of people! Haha. There’s been some gentle ribbing from some quarters but yes, my friends and family have been excited and intrigued by it all.
Tell me some career goals. What would you like to achieve?
In terms of acting I’d simply like to try out some more stuff, get my teeth into some different roles. I do think I’m suited to stage work so maybe I could get involved in some amateur dramatics?
Tell me something you were surprised by, something you had never realised about being a professional actor.
The sheer amount of work that goes into the production of a film is what surprised me – one scene can be comprised of so many different rolls, takes, edits, angles… also walking and acting is a tricky one (who knew?) – you have to go at an unnaturally slower pace to make sure that sound and camera can keep up with you!
What are words of advice you have for other aspiring actors?
Don’t beat yourself up, try to bring something uniquely ‘you’ to the role, learn as much as you can, enjoy yourself!!
Give me your social links so people can come and find you!