I was lucky enough to see As Is on its press night and met the charming and highly talented Giles Cooper. It occurred to me I knew very little about him and so what follows is in his own words (unedited) the answers to my questions. Watch out for the reference to Joan Collins which is my particular favourite!
1) When did you fall in love with the stage and performing?
At school. Performing petrified me but once I was on the fear was replaced by a dizzying high which I guess I became addicted to from a young age. Once I learnt I could do it for a profession…my fate was sealed.
2) In your Twitter bio its says Actor and sometimes PR so how does that work and what came first the PR or the acting?
Acting came first. PR was something I fell into when I finished a big acting job and could sense a longer spell of unemployment than usual. I was only due to stay for 3 weeks…10 years later I’m an account director. I work with an extraordinary company who allow me to take time out to rehearse acting gigs I really want to do. Then I work around performance schedules. For this show – I’m at my desk 8.30am to 6pm and then at the theatre for 6.45pm to warm up. It’s tough but allows me pursue my dream whilst not living in complete poverty.
3) Tell me more about your career and you?
How about I give you a couple of stories from my career? On tour with Joan Collins we ended up doing a week in Birmingham. One afternoon, after we’d been to see a film, we couldn’t summon a taxi for love or money. There was nothing else for it. We had to take…the bus. Seriously. I took Joan Collins on a public bus in Birmingham. Top deck. She quite enjoyed it – except when I made a quip about senior citizens bus passes.
One memory I’ll always cherish was our final performance of After the Dance at the National. We’d been a surprise hit for the theatre and had become a fantastically close company. After the show, once the audience had gone, we reassembled on the Lyttelton stage and enjoyed champagne, giggled, smoked and celebrated the show, whilst still in full costume – just like it was the 1930’s all over again. And then, because it was my birthday, everyone sang me Happy Birthday.
4) How did you come to get involved with this show As Is (which I feel is one of the most important pieces I’ve ever seen!)
Andrew Keates, our director, got in touch and I read the play and loved it. It’s a play that is, whilst very much of its time, an important reminder of a terrifying period for not just the gay community but anyone touched by HIV and AIDS in the 80’s and early 90’s.
5) What is the best show you’ve recently seen?
I was lucky enough to catch a performance of Deaf West’s new version of the musical Spring Awakening in LA last year. It featured hearing and deaf performers and sign language throughout. I’m not generally a fan of musicals per se but this was breath taking. The show is transferring to Broadway this autumn – if you’re in NYC…I can’t recommend highly enough.
6) What’s next for Giles?
I’m in Alan Bennett’s ‘The Lady in the Van‘ film which is out in November but other than that I’ll simply head wherever I’m wanted.
Two random questions
7) Who do you feel is the most influential person in the world today? In general?
Jay Z’s pretty influential…right? Do you mean influential to me? Mmmm…my five year old niece Nell. She says. I do.
8) If you could have any “super power” what would it be?
Flying. I often dream about being able to spring up float away – probably something to do with my height (I can never see a bloody thing at music festivals)