This is the second part of my interview with my cousin David Dawson. Click here to read Part 1 >
Let’s take a step back in time and talk about growing up…
Did you have an acting hero when you were younger?
“I always say that Charlie Chaplin is one of my acting heroes because he was a working class fellow who worked incredibly hard and made his own work. A very clever man. I’m inspired by him. I love wonderful character actors like Julie Walters, Steve Buscemi, Gary Oldman, people like that. People who can transform and surprise you each time.
When did you decide you wanted to be an actor? I can’t even remember a time when you didn’t want to be one?
“I think that’s it. I was like two, I liked dressing up as characters and I’d spend a whole day being that character. And also like Grandad, he’d pretend to be the Great Stromboli at Christmas time and do the circus in the living room for the family… and that’s one of the things when I was really little that struck me – this feels good when you’re clapping and stuff.
I remember playing Batman and Robin in Nan and Grandad’s back garden after school. And you always liked interesting films.
“I used to love Clue [an 1985 movie based on the board game Cluedo].”
Now I’ve just got some questions about Widnes [our home town] because some of the children I’m working with are doing a series on inspirational Widnesians…
Growing up, what was your favourite part/memory of Widnes?
“I used to love the Spike Island Fair, I’d get excited every year when I was little and performing at the Queens Hall but that’s not here anymore. I used to love going to that drama club.”
“I loved Mrs Marshall at Lunt’s Heath [Primary School], she was a legend because she was very creative but you also wouldn’t mess with her. You had lots of fun with her, I liked teachers like that.
“There was a man called Mr Holmes [at Fairfield High School] a history teacher who used to jump on the tables to re-enact battles and things. That was really fun.”
Were you in any plays in primary school? Did you have any big parts?
“I was Joseph in the nativity. When I was five or six.”
What advice would you give to a school child in Widnes who want to be an actor?
“I’d say, watch loads of films, read lots of plays because I think being an actor is about experiencing life in all its forms and drama in all its genres so if you can, watch history films, horror films, love films, comedies… get a knowledge about everything that a human is capable of. Also, be brave and the less your care about making mistakes the better you’ll be. Always remember that every time you fall or don’t achieve, it’s only making you stronger so that you will achieve. It’s a tough business and you’re gonna be facing auditions and there’s going to be knockbacks as well as jobs.”
What was it like moving to London when you were eighteen? We all [the rest of our family] live within a mile so what was it like making that decision?
“I just knew it was something I had to do for acting. I love London. It’s a creative hub. Full of theatres, galleries and history. I know you don’t have to, but drama school is well worth looking into if you want to be an actor. I loved my time at RADA.”
[A big thank you to everyone who submitted questions for this interview]