We know Layton Williams best for his role as Stephen in Bad Education... and now that character is coming to the big screen for the first time this week with The Bad Education Movie.
The Bad Education Movie will mark the first big screen outing for Williams as he juggles film, television and theatre projects - he really has a very busy second half of 2015 to look forward to.
We caught up with the actor to chat about the film, making the transition onto the big screen, and the exciting theatre work that he has in the pipeline.
- You are about to return to the role of Stephen as The Bad Education Movie is set to hit the big screen, so can you tell me a bit about the film and what fans of the TV series can expect?
I would say it's more of a standalone movie and if you haven't seen Bad Education as a series, you can still get into this as a movie, which is cool. It is not just a carry one from the series as there is a new story.
The movie follows the characters as they go on an after school/summer trip to celebrate their time together and all of the madness that has happened; if you have seen the trailer then you will know that it is full of craziness. It is bigger, better and funnier than before. Fingers crossed it is going to be a success.
- Of course, the film comes off the back of the success of the television series so can you talk about Stephen and how we are going to see him develop throughout the new film?
Stephen is a bubbly guy who is the one in the class that makes everyone laugh. He doesn't take anything too seriously but loves his singing and dancing - he may have a little moment in the movie and I am really happy that they have tried to get that in. He is just going along for the ride. There is a lot of drama with this character, of course, and he screams at many things. He just spends the movie being fabulous (laughs).
- You have been with the TV series since 2012, so what was it about this character and the script that was the initial attraction for you?
I actually started reading the script around 2010/11, which was a couple of years before we got Bad Education onto the screen. I was a school kid when I started reading the script and so I really could relate to the character a lot, which is nice. Every time I play that character, I go back to my fifteen-year-old self and it is nice to be able to tap into that experience as I was very close to that character at that age.
I remember going from school in my school uniform to the BBC to read for the character of Stephen. I think he is out there, he likes to do the singing, and dancing like I do and he is just a really fun part to play. He is a character with whom I get to have a real laugh.
- This film also marks your movie debut, so how did you find the whole big screen experience? And how did shooting the film compare to shooting the TV series?
The thing is, I think because we all knew each other, we are all friends, and it was the same camera crew, it didn't feel too different. The only difference was we were away and I have never filmed away before; I have only ever shot things in London.
We were down in Cornwall, we were in a hotel together, we would socialise together in the evening, and that was a really nice part of the shoot. If this is going to be our last - with the series and now a movie, you never know what's going to happen - I thought it was nice to be away for a month and have a good time because over the years that some of us have known each other, we have become really close.
It was different because it was bigger and better; you could tell it was lifted and it wasn't a series. There were many guest actors and it was a little bit more exciting because you knew it was going to be on the big screen. It was great.
- The movie also sees you reunite with director Elliot Hegarty, so how did you find working with him again? And what kind of director is he?
Elliot is really lovely, very approachable, and he takes some of your ideas for the characters on board because we have been playing these characters beforehand. We have had a whole host of different directors during the filming of the TV show and to have a director back was really nice, as you could feel relaxed with him because we had worked with him before.
He gives you a couple of options and says what he thinks - of course, you never know which take they have used until you see the edit. I will do something really extreme and he will be like 'perhaps reign that in a little bit Layton, maybe not too much.' I will do what he says and he will be like 'actually, go back to what you did.'
Stephen is a character that is always 110% and I always try to capture that - sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. It is really nice to have a director to guide you and remind you think back to how you would act when you were fifteen. It has been brilliant to have Elliot about.
- It sounds like it has been a very collaborative process between director and actor?
It's not just the director as Jack (Whitehall), being the writer, really does tie in to what we say and what kinds of things are cool at the moment. As years go on, the world has changed and some of the things that Stephen says in the first series he wouldn't say in the movie as the 'kids chat on the street' is changing. Jack is really good at capturing that in the writing and in the direction; they really just try to make it as current and as relatable to the kids as possible.
- How much improvising goes on between the cast now that you all know each other so well?
There are bits and bobs. Sometimes you just have to bite your tongue otherwise, you will just crack up. You have got to time it right and you have got to make sure that it is funny. When it does happen and it works, it is great. We have a chemistry now, we can just play off each other, we thrown things in, and I think that they like that, as it is something that helps grow the show. We always have a little say in some of the lines.
- You are currently on stage on tour with Matthew Bourne's show The Car Man, so how is that going so far?
It is lovely. I am in London at the moment with The Car Man; we have already done the UK tour and a little stint in Italy, which was great as it was my first time working away. It is nice to be in London, at home, relaxed, sleeping in my own bed, not living out of a suitcase, and just doing what I love in the evening.
- Matthew Bourne is one of the best British choreographers, so how have you found working with him?
I have really really enjoyed it, as this project has been an amazing experience. I have been completely inspired by every cast member and it is has been great sharing the stage with them. We alternate roles as well to keep it fresh. It is just a great way to work and it really has something special.
We had our gala night on Sunday, all of the celebs came to see the show, and there were many familiar faces in the audience. It's a big deal as everyone comes out for Matthew Bourne's show. Hopefully, I will get to work with him again as he has been lovely.
- You are also going to be returning to the stage with a new production of Hairspray - so what drew to this role? When do you start work on that?
I finish The Car Man on Sunday August 9th and I start rehearsals for Hairspray on Monday 10th. I don't know how that is going to work out but it really is one thing after another. Hairspray will be a UK tour as well; it will be twenty-five venues over nine months.
It is a pretty hefty tour, it will be the longest tour that I have ever done, and it will be my third tour. Hairspray will also be my first musical theatre job since I was a kid. It is going to be a new experience but I know I am going to love it, as this is what I started off doing. This is going to be a new challenge.
- During your career, you have mixed theatre roles with TV work and now a film role, so how do you find working between the different mediums?
I really love it. I really like tackling something fresh, new and every job is a different challenge. I don't think I would want to stay with just one discipline or format. I have focused on dance with The Car Man and I have really pushed my dance to the next limit.
I have never felt as strong dancer as I do now.
I feel I am at the peak of my dance right now and then I am going to go and do musical theatre where I hope my voice will feel the strongest that it has ever been. I have got a movie coming out while I am on tour and I would love keep working like this; I don't want to say 'I am just a television actor' or 'I just do theatre.' I just want to keep going, hopefully the jobs will come in, and I can do it all.
- You are really just setting out on your acting career, so what do you see yourself going? Do you want to continue juggling film, TV, and theatre or do you perhaps want to focus on one going forward?
I think I definitely do. I think I would like to do a bit more television. Off the back of the movie, I hope more things come in and I get to do more TV and film work. I don't really think too far ahead and if it works, it works.
I know what my strengths are and if TV doesn't come in and I am offered theatre, that would not be a disappointment for me. I am just going to see what happens and not read too much into it.
The Bad Education Movie is released 21st August.