Karl Theobald

Karl Theobald

Karl Theobald is back on the big screen this week as he stars alongside Ned Dennehy, Richard Lumsden, and Jeremy Swift in new comedy Downhill.

We caught up with the actor to chat about the film working with a first time filmmaker, and recording an album.

- Downhill hits the big screen this week, so can you tell me a bit about the film?

Downhill is a comedy/drama that follows four guys who are going through a mid-life crisis.

Together they do the coast-to-coast walk: it is a bit of a reunion really. During the journey, all of their different inner conflicts come out.

- You take on the role of Keith in the film, so what was it about this character and the script that particularly sparked your interest?

I like the fact that he is quite a quiet man and yet has this inner conflict: that struggle with yourself - rather than an external situation - I thought was quiet interesting.

I liked his own personal journey in the movie really.

- Well that does lead me into my next question. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about the character and how we are going to see him - and the relationships that he has - develop throughout the film?

I am not quite sure that the relationships do change. They start off quite optimistic and become quite revealing to each other.

I think it is just the idea that these men have changed in their lives, and they all harbour some dark secret or conflict within themselves that they have never really resolved.

It is really on this journey that they are able to resolve them, when they are just left alone with nature. There is nowhere else to run (film).

- James Rouse is making his directorial debut with this film, so how did you find working with him as a first time filmmaker?

It was interesting actually, because... a lot of the film is improvised, and so we did lots and lots of takes.

For a commercials director, he is really good with actors: he knows how to bring out subtle twists in plots, without being too grand about it.

That was something I really liked and one the reasons that I really liked working with him.

- What kind of director was James Rouse? Was he quite collaborative?

Yes, he was very collaborative. It was very open. That is a way that I like to work and a way that I seem to have found myself working. I seem to be instinctively drawn to those types of projects. Acting is not that creative (laughs): you are given lines, told how to say them, and where to stand.

It is incredible that actors get the most commercial acknowledgement in filming, because it is really the writers and editors: it is not like actors are poets or novelists; they are just saying other people's lines. I am sure other actors would have a lot to say about that.

Therefore, the nearest you can get to being creative is improvising, as it gives you the chance to come up with your own lines and ideas.

- You say that a lot of Downhill was improvised, so how much is that a way of working that you enjoy?

I always seem to work that way (laughs). There have been a couple of things that I have done that have been quite strict.

Even when I have done theatre, I have been told off for improvising my way through scenes. I was pulled aside by the theatre manager: you are marked in a little black book if you do anything wrong.

I think the writer was in and may have been a little upset by my improvisation: it was only one line.

- Ned Dennehy, Richard Lumsden, Jeremy Swift star alongside you, so how did you find working with them? How did you build the camaraderie that is so evident in the film?

I think there was camaraderie on set. Weirdly, every piece of filming that I do, it is as nothing else exists, only that world. Therefore, I very much take on that world, and it is almost like mirroring what is going on.

We did do the coast to coast during the filming, and we did stay in some of those places: it was like I was living that story.

I suppose it was quite method because we were walking the walk, becoming friends, and getting drunk. There were never any spiteful arguments and everyone remained pretty civilised: which was nice. Ned and I got on really well.

Jeremy and Richard are both married with kids, while Ned and I are bachelors. We got on quite well and we didn't have the responsibility that they had. Funnily enough, it seems when middle-aged married men are let off the lease they really go for it: they were monsters on that film. Ned and I were in bed by 10pm (laughs).

- Throughout your career, we have seen you work in theatre, film and TV, so how do you find moving between the three mediums?

I like it; I like to keep bouncing about with different things. I have also just recorded as album as well: it is an album of songs that I have written.

I like to keep moving between the different mediums because I do easily get bored. That is not a reflection on the project; I think I just get bored with myself more than anything: I have to constantly move around and avoid myself. I like going from medium to medium.

- How do you find film and TV compare? And is there one in particular that you prefer working in?

Not really. Film is maybe a little quicker. Most films can be about an hour and a half where a series could be three of four hours, so it just takes longer to film them.

Apart from that, I don't think there is too much difference. I suppose film seem more glamorous by the outside world: however, it is probably less fun and pays less.

There is some really good writing going on in TV at the moment. I have been very lucky, but some really bad films are made.

- We have also seen you do some writing and producing for a couple of different projects, so how much is behind the camera something that interests you?

I would love to direct a film. I have written a couple of screenplay and have been in talks with people, but it is such a long process. That is part of the reason why I got into music as well, as it is as if you are writing little short stories.

You can write, produce, and make it yourself: with film and TV, you need a whole nation to agree to it. I would love to direct and write in the future.

- Can you tell us a little bit about this new album and what we can expect from it? And what made this the right time to get in the studio to record an album?

It is quite laid back and has a jazzy feel to it, with some up-tempo, jaunty, swingy stuff. It is a bit of fun really.

I didn't really pick up an instrument until I was about twenty, and it took me years to learn how to play the guitar.

I always had the intention of writing my own songs, but because I was so new to it, I was opened up to a whole world of song writing. Every time I tried to write, I would come across someone who had already done that and said that.

Then I got into acting and stand-up. Having more of a stable career allowed me to explore this a little more. As I said, I was writing a film, and it was going through development hell... three years ago I moved to a new place and I decided that I was going to make it a home of creativity.

I re-strung my guitar, and decided in between jobs that I would use it to write songs. A friend who I use to play music with encouraged me.

He plays the saxophone, and that is why I tried to make the tracks quite jazzy: I don't like rock saxophone. I suppose, the timing was just right and everything fell into place.

- Finally, what's next for you?

Hopefully, we will probably do a little tour. I am just filming Plebs. Beyond that, I have no idea.

Downhill is released 30th May.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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