September Q&A with James Garnon

Fresh from appearing opposite Ralph Feinnes in the critically acclaimed Richard III at the Almeida,  Globe regular James Garnon was kind enough to share his thoughts with us on a range of subjects.  Always self-effacing, James' unique perspective certainly put a smile on our faces...

Can you tell us a little bit about the projects that you have been working on recently?

I have just finished working on  Richard III at the Almeida.  Ralph Fiennes played Richard and having been in Mark Rylance's production a couple of years ago, it was fascinating  to obliquely observe the differences.  Before that I played Pericles at the Globe and Autolycus in The Winter's Tale.

 Reflecting on your career, which piece of work gives you greatest satisfaction?

Playing Hamlet for The Factory theatre company. Every night entirely improvised around objects brought by the audience and with a randomised cast selected via scissor-paper-stones. Terrifying but exhilarating.

What do you find inspires creativity in you? 

Rigorously prepararing whilst never being afraid to surprise myself.

Do you have any personal ambitions as yet unattained?

I have never suffered, or benefited from, ambition. I row my boat, down the stream, merrily.

Who has been the most influential person in your life and why?

Charlie Hartill, a school friend. He killed himself some years ago but he taught me to teach myself and that lives with me always.

What is the most challenging experience you have had and why?

Commuting on Southern Trains... 

Which decade in the last 100 years has done the most to shape UK culture and which has had the biggest impact on you?

I'd love to plump for the sixties or 45-55, but sadly I have to pick the Eighties. Personally it was when I grew up but it was also when all the great liberal and social advances made after the Wars began to be undone. We are only now  waking up to the scale of the damage.

Do you feel style is important or is it an unnecessary superficiality?

It is a necessary superficiality. It is not only important, it is unavoidable. Fashion on the other hand....

If you could hold on to one memory from your life forever, what would that be?

Oh it would be a cobbled together false memory of my family smiling as I scored a try at the old Arms Park on stage in front of a deliriously appreciative audience while I walk all the dogs I've ever loved on the South Downs as a five year old.

What is the funniest thing you have ever witnessed?

Very hard to describe briefly but the expression on a friend's face after we'd shared a social car crash. It was so funny I rolled on my back in an Edinburgh puddle.

Where do you call home and how do you feel about it?

In all soppy honesty, it is wherever my wife is. If she isn't in our house it doesn't feel very much like home. (I would include my kids here but I am already preparing myself for when the ungrateful brats up-sticks and leave.)

What is your favourite city on the planet and why?

I don't really like cities. I love aspects of all of them but I'd far rather stand among trees.

What is your favourite place to get away from it all and unwind?

In a red bottle. Near cheese.

What 5 books/films/shows do you recommend every man should experience?

I don't. When I know someone and know something they'd like, boy! I'm excited to suggest it but "things everyone should experience"? I never hate anything more than things I'm told to like.... 

5 desert island discs please?

Latest Flame by Elvis Presley

Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads

The Bull by Jake Thackray

Play Dead by Bjork

Mendleson's overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream