JAMES SUTTON is known to millions up and down the country having spent many years as a regular in two of the nation’s biggest soaps – EMMERDALE and HOLLYOAKS. It was the portrayal of James Sutton and Guy Burnet’s gay affair storyline in 2007 that won HOLLYOAKS Broadcast of the Year at the Stonewall Awards, an organisation that campaigns for equality for gay men and women.
We caught up with James for a round of 10 QUESTIONS WITH…
Oh….Well….I guess I’m going to be an actor now!
When did you realise you wanted to become an actor?
I don’t think I ever really made the decision to BECOME an actor, its just something I’ve always done since an early age. I think when I got accepted into Drama School that I first thought, “Oh….Well….I guess Im going to be an actor now..”
What’s your proudest career moment?
My proudest career moment was probably becoming an Ambassador for Survivors Manchester, a male sexual assault support centre. I was part of a male rape storyline on Channel 4’s Hollyoaks and during through my research I got very involved, emotionally involved, in the incredible work they do. I’m enormously proud of the storyline, but even prouder to be able to lend my support and my voice to helping men overcome sexual violence and abuse.
How do you prepare for auditions? Do you enjoy them?
I don’t have any special preparation for an audition, apart from learning the lines. Its amazing to me that actors can go into a casting having to sight read off a page, especially if they’ve had enough time to prepare it. It’s basic but it shows you’ve put the time in. If the text allows, I like to make fairly bold choices when I’m auditioning. The casting director wants to see YOUR interpretation so, be brave, make definite choices, even if the casting director doesn’t agree with them, that’s half the fun in bringing dialogue to life. I don’t think any actor really enjoys the audition process but it is a necessary evil unfortunately.
Shows like Hollyoaks are renowned for shooting lots of material each day. How do you cope with the speed of it?
Being in a long running soap can be challenging, the daily page count for one can be daunting, especially if youre in a dialogue heavy storyline. Again, it comes down to preparation. You want to walk on set knowing exactly what youre doing. The director often wont have time to work with you on a one to one basis so if you’re feeling lost or don’t know your lines well enough, you can fall on your arse and no one wants to be the guy that slows a whole shoot down.
There used to be a stigma with appearing in soaps. Does it still exist?
I think there is still a certain amount of stigma attached to appearing in a soap. Less than there was in the past but it certainly still exists. I’ve experienced negativity and even been patronised in the past by people in the industry. It’s a snobbery for sure but one that can be overcome with opportunity. All (all) actors want is a level playing field and a bit of fairness. Yes, I might have appeared in a continuing drama (the word soap is so old fashioned darling), and yes you might think its shite, but that’s subjective.
Is there a knack to shooting so many scenes out of order?
Shooting material out of order has never really bothered me, it helps to have a copy of your scenes in order, in a folder, so you’ve got something to refer back to.
What techniques do you use to get yourself into the right head-space very quickly on set?
I like to take myself off for a minute if I need to get into a particular head-space. Some actors listen to music, go get some fresh air, but for me, a couple of minutes of stillness and mindfulness are enough. Ive seen actors shouting and spitting until theyre read in the face, to get themselves ready for a scene where they must be angry, whatever works for you I guess.
There are only simple 3 rules to being a (television) actor. Turn up on time – Know your lines – Don’t be a c*nt. Simple really but you’d be amazing the amount of actors that can’t manage it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Enjoy it. I was very caught up in my own sense of self when I was training. I was trying so hard to give the type of performance I thought people wanted to see, that I wasn’t actually enjoying any of the work I was doing. If you’re privileged enough to be a working actor, enjoy it, you’re obviously doing something right.
What are you up to at the moment?
I’m ‘resting’ at the moment, taking dialect classes and going to castings, which is actually a nice change as Ive not stopped working for quite a long time. I finished shooting a factual drama out in Bulgaria, earlier this year, that was a shit-tonne of fun. I got to ride horses and stab guys with a sword. And all being well I’m shooting a movie later this year in Oxford.