Glasgow born Kirsty Mitchell has appeared in numerous film and television productions and was nominated for the 2011 Johnnie Walker Blue Label Great Scot Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Entertainment’.
Kirsty’s initial break-through performance came as Robert Duvall’s daughter in the film A Shot at Glory (2000).
This year she has three studio films coming out. ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ with Ryan Reynolds and Sam Jackson. ‘The Leisure Seeker’ with Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland and ‘Down a Dark Hall’ with Uma Thurman and AnnaSophia Robb.
We caught up with her for a round of 10 QUESTIONS WITH…
When did you realise you wanted to be a professional actor?
I was a very shy child, so it wasn’t until I was working as a dancer in my late teenage years and mixing with other actors in the industry that I realized it was a possibility. I had always been fascinated with film and emotional performances. I landed a few small television and film roles, but it was the discipline and the thrill of doing theater that finally made me NEED to be an actor.
What’s your proudest career moment/Job?
My proudest moments change with time. There’s always different obstacles in jobs that make me proud of what I worked through: fears, learning something new, etc. I remember my first Q&A after a stage performance of Irvine Welsh’s “You’ll Have Had Yer Hole”. I had done a lot of work on my character’s harrowing back story and there had been many tears shed in the audience through the performance. A vast number of audience members told me that they could see how much my character had fought through life and how it affected and resonated with them. How it made them realize things about themselves and see clearer. Any time that happens, it makes every extra part of this person you create and spend weeks/months working on, worth it . I made the character relatable and important to someone, and that makes me proud. Job wise, I loved playing Boudica in ‘Barbarians Rising’ for the History Channel. It was an extremely dialogue heavy part and different to anything I had done before. I was so elated to go to work every day and proud of my portrayal.
What’s the hardest thing about working on a tv/film set?
The hardest thing about working on set is different for every actor. I’m at home on set. For me, the more responsibility I have at work, the happier it makes me. I love to be disciplined with myself and focused. The hardest part for me is being away from home on my days off.
What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?
When auditioning, I always remind myself of this advice. Everyone in the room wants you to succeed. They want to cast the part and they want you to be great. That makes me feel supported instead of nervous.
Do you watch the work you’ve appeared in? What’s that like?
I always watch my work if I can. I watch to make sure I hit the emotional mark or landed the points in the scene. I learn from this. I want to see that what was happening inside, happened outside. I don’t criticize my look, I only want to improve my performance.
Who’s the best actor you’ve ever worked with? Why?
That’s a hard question. I’ve been blessed to work with a lot of extremely talented actors. I wouldn’t dare compare ability, but I’d say the most generous was Robert Duvall. He portrayed my father in the film ‘A Shot a Glory’. He taught me what it means to be off camera and how to help fellow actors get to where they want to be. Which doesn’t necessarily mean sticking to the script. His generosity has had a huge influence on me as an actor.
How do you approach learning lines?
Learning lines means locking myself away. I learn in blocks. Mostly separated by changes of pace in the scene. I then add them together and speed read with someone to find a flow and make sure I’m used to connecting the word sequences. Then I lock myself away again and add the emotion. I always walk in with a clear decision, but have a few different emotional versions of the scene in the back of my mind so I am somewhat prepared for whatever the Director asks for. It’s extra work, but it keeps me feeling confident.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d tell my younger self to, “Go for everything you want. People can only say no”.
What have you got coming up?
I’m currently filming in London, but unable to discuss the project. This year have three studio films coming out. ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ with Ryan Reynolds and Sam Jackson. ‘The Leisure Seeker’ with Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland and ‘Down a Dark Hall’ with Uma Thurman and AnnaSophia Robb.
If readers want to be an actor. What would you suggest?
People always ask how to become an actor. Some have an illusion that somehow, it’s an easy option. On the contrary. Like any other job, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out. Get yourself prepared for every situation. During down time focus on other things, like accents and new skills. There is a lot more to this than turning up for an audition or for work. Head shots, reels, social media, etc. Learn the skills you need to sell your product too. Self discipline is a must for success. Knowledge brings confidence. You can have natural talent, but true talent is a greater understanding of your subject. Study hard, work hard, experience everything and love every minute.