Conversations...with actor, Daniel Fearn.


I often say that one of the happiest years of my life was my year at Chichester College in the mid 90's. The friends I made that year are still some of my closest friends now. We laughed together, cried together, acted together and grew up together, some of us even going on to drama school in London, together.

One of those friends was Daniel Fearn. Dan and I have a very brother-sister relationship. We bicker, a lot, we laugh, a lot, and sometimes we're just plain vile to each other. These are signs of a solid friendship. Dan has had great success in his acting career and juggles it beautifully with his other role as a loving husband and father of three.



Lindsey Bowden (LB)

Hey Dan, thanks for sitting down for a chat. How’s it going?


Daniel Fearn (DF)

I’m good, obviously spinning out about what is going on in the world at the moment (Coronavirus) but yep I guess I’m good!


LB

Yep it's definitely taking over all our lives, but I love how people are coming together, we're the strongest asset each other has.


DF

Yeah definitely.


LB

We, of course, met back in the ’90s and went to Chi college and onto drama school together, but can you tell us at what age you actually started acting?


DF

I remember it was way back in 1987 so I would have been 10 years old. It was my first intro to improvisation, at a Sunday School! Basically we would act out stories from the bible, and at Christmas time we improvised an entire play about the nativity.

I played King Herod and I was terrifying! The show was quite dark, to be honest. At the time I loved the fact that I could stomp around the stage shouting at people and no one could stop me!

Daniel Fearn in 'Eastenders' (BBC)

LB

Wait, you still do that!


DF

(Laughs a lot) Yeah I probably do!


LB

So after college, a handful of us went onto Mountview Academy to formally train. Weirdly I don't think we've ever chatted about this, but how was that experience for you?


DF

For me, it was an essential journey I needed to take. I grew up at drama school really. I probably went through every single emotion ten times over! I cottoned on fairly quickly that training to be an actor is like being a big bag of pic ‘n’ mix, the more you pick and choose what works for you, the more honed you become as an actor. I loved it, but I was ready to get going during the 3rd year. What about you cause you took a year out?


Daniel Fearn & Tracey Ullman in 'Tracey Breaks the News'

LB

I did yep. Like you, I needed drama school and the discipline and to find out who I was as an actor. On the whole, I loved it and benefitted a great deal from it, but I sometimes wonder if I should have got some life experience first. Life gives you a lot of tools that can be transferred to acting skills and with maturity comes emotional maturity. Looking forward to getting there?



DF

(smirks) That didn't take long.


LB

(Laughs) Couldn't resist! So when you left drama school, how did you find that transition of going from somewhere pretty safe into the big wide world of unemployed actors?


DF

Well, I cheated really, as, at one of our last shows, a casting director gave me a break and cast me as the young Bob Hoskins in 'Don Quixote' (for Hallmark films). I remember where I was the day the casting director rang me to say I landed the job. I was with our mutual friend from Chichester, Patrick Casey, in HMV. So, as soon as people knew I had got my first gig I had agents ringing up and meetings to attend, etc. So yeah I had a relatively fast intro into acting and the business for me was easily as safe as drama school. The casting directors were equally as supportive as my favourite tutors, but as soon as I started not landing parts, I felt for the first time ‘the cold part’ of the business. Competition, second-guessing, envy. As my Dad said at the time; “You are going into a cut-throat business.”


Daniel Fearn in 'Jamestown' (SKY TV)

LB

It's interesting now that I see it from a producer and actor's viewpoint. When it works, it's the most wonderful thing, and when it doesn't, it's bloody brutal. You’ve been fortunate to have had a pretty steady career appearing in various dramas, films, plays, and commercials. Do you have any jobs that stand out as being special to you?


DF

Yes, I have a few and all for different reasons. My last/current role in ‘All of Us’ at The National Theatre directed by Ian Rickson. It was written by Francesca Martinez, who is primarily known as being a comedian, yet it’s such a thought-provoking play. Every once in a while you get a really special project and this is just brilliant. We were due to open this week but due to the Coronavirus, we only got as far as the final dress rehearsal. The NT is going to bring back the play but we had to put the show on record and document it. It was so exciting staying in a closed building and literally locking a small invited audience in. Our director did a speech at the start of the show saying “Welcome to the NT and a night of ‘Illegal Theatre”. I’m pretty sure we were the only show in the West End playing!

Daniel Fearn is so Money Supermarket!

I also loved filming a Money Supermarket commercial a few years ago where they flew me to LA first class and put me up in a five-star hotel on Sunset Boulevard. I made sure in my downtime to catch up with friends and family including our mutual friend Callum Blue and my Aunty (Godmother).





LB

I remember that as I had flown out of LA a couple of days before you flew in. I was staying with Callum as well, so he only just got rid of me when he got landed with you!


DF

Yeah, he preferred having me there.


LB

Whatever. So, a common misconception from people is that once you've been in something successful then you're mega rich and set for life. We all know, however, that that isn't the case at all! When you were out of work, what other jobs did you do?


DF

I have done a shed ton of temp jobs. Bar work was probably my favourite, jumping from an institution like drama school straight into an institution of the ‘pub community’ was brilliant. So many characters it was amazing. Something to really draw on as an actor. I also worked as a strawberry picker and worked with one of the leading doctors researching psychometric testing.


LB

Wow, I didn't know that. I worked in a chocolate factory and as a Victorian whore at the London Dungeon!


DF

Typecast again!


LB

How dare you...I was never Victorian.


DF

(laughs)


LB

You worked on one of the biggest shows this decade, 'Peaky Blinders', playing King Maine, that must have been an incredible experience?


Cillian Murphy, Aidan Gillen & Daniel Fearn in 'Peaky Blinders'

DF

Yes, definitely and I love playing him too. It is rare that you get to play a character that is so completely fearless that you wonder why this guy is still alive! Weirdly it was one of the most confident I have been in an audition scenario, but I knew I had an edge as my wife is from Birmingham so I knew I could nail the accent. I then coupled that by basing him on a few people I know (including my Dad) and that 'Peaky Blinders' swag (which actors either have or don’t apparently) and that was that. Colm, the director, said to me after my audition “you’re fuckin’ deadly” so I kind of knew I had done all right! All of the cast and crew are amazing on it. Really supportive and down to earth. The level of detail is great. One of the shirts I wore was an original 1920’s number!


LB

Such an amazing experience. You and your lovely wife, Georgina, who also works in the business, are a very busy couple with 3 kids! How do you both manage to balance the work/family life?


DF

I absolutely love being a Dad. As soon as I became one I knew that my focus was now on my kids and not myself. My children are lucky though as most of the time I am around to do the school run etc. My eldest will say things like ‘why do you keep doing acting work Daddy haven’t you done enough?” and the other will be like, “Are you going to work today Daddy” whilst ushering me out the door! Weekends are family time so I guess conventionally we are pretty much normal. When I have to film for long periods it's tough, so we always try to be 2 steps ahead.


LB

So with a good solid 20 years in the business, how would you say the acting world has

changed in terms of securing jobs and do you think social media now plays a part?

Daniel Fearn & Kevin Bishop in 'Porridge' (BBC)

DF

I think the way of securing jobs has largely remained the same to be honest. It’s still incredibly hard to get an agent, and you do need one to get those good opportunities. The influence of America means that by and large, you must be off-book for TV and film auditions. Social media wise I’m not sure, I mean for me, a 42 year old dinosaur who only has 300 twitter followers, I probably don’t really know how it works. I’ve only ever got gigs from my agent, but back in the day before the internet, we had PCR which was a red magazine type thing.


LB

Gosh yes, I remember PCR!


DF

Yeah, it was great as it had casting directors addresses and lots of leads for stuff, etc. Spotlight also gives unrepresented actors access to a basic link board which is great, something a few of us fought for years ago. I love the fact that nowadays you don’t need to print reproductions of your 10 x 8 shots either. It seemed so clunky back then, but you felt an enormous sense of well being when you had printed 40 CV’s and 40 letters, attaching them to your photo and posting them all off. Email has made it way quicker and cheaper. Self-tapes seem to be a popular thing nowadays also.


LB

So what do you feel are the most important qualities to have as an actor?


DF

Gravitas. I have always been a fan of the heavyweights; Albert Finney, Oliver Reed, Robert Shaw, Robert DeNiro, and Al Pacino, and one thing they all have in common is gravitas. So yes, I think that is the most important thing you can have, as well as bringing ideas, focus, drive, research, ability to listen and humility.


Oliver Reed, Robert Shaw & Robert De Niro - the Heavyweights.

LB

Yep I agree. What’s the best piece of advice someone gave to you when you said you wanted to be an actor?


DF

It was from the late great Richard Briers, he said, “The best advice I can give you as an actor is to always listen”. He was right, and it's something I constantly remind myself of, especially whenever I am in the room auditioning or in rehearsals. I always say to actors starting out in the industry “smooth seas never made skilled sailors"!


LB

You're so wise. Sometimes I wish I were you.


DF

I know.


Follow Daniel Fearn on Instagram @fearninator and Twitter @MrDFearn


Follow Lindsey Bowden on Instagram @lindseybowden76 and Twitter @lindseybowden76

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