Actor Russell Tovey is Busy, Busy, Busy!!
Written by: Vaughn Eris Stewart
Photography: Joseph Sinclair
Styling: Joseph Kocharian at Gary Represents
Hair: Shukeel Murtaza @ The Only Agency
Make up: Justine Jenkins
Russell Tovey’s life is filled with all the things he loves – his acting career, his beautiful dogs that he adores, his involvement in the art community, a new podcast, and a book that he has coming out in May 2021. Cool America Magazine caught up with the star to find out the latest on all these wonderful things.
How did you get involved in acting?
Watching films growing up were a huge inspiration for me and knew I wanted to do some kind of entertainment. The Goonies was one of my favorites and transported me to another place – I really wanted to be one of those kids! At a young age I signed to a kid’s agency and attended local drama clubs. I went 2-3 nights a week and all weekend when I first started. I only really felt it was a serious career when I started doing plays.
I know that you have done a lot of work, but do you remember your first acting role on set and how you felt?
Yes! I was 11 years old and was cast in a police drama called The Bill for ITV. I remember feeling excited every single second and watching what everyone was doing as well as wanting to impress whoever was behind the camera!
What makes you want to act?
Good Writing! It’s all about great dialogue and storytelling.
What’s the most difficult role that you had to play and why?
Joe Pitt in Angels in America. He never got a happy or hopeful ending and that really affected me. I took that role home and carried it around with me for months after.
Of all the characters that you played, what character was most like you?
That would be telling. There is a lot of me in the role of Kevin in Looking.
What are you currently working on?
I am fortunate to still be working at the moment and recently completed a SONY movie with Celine Dion and Priyanka Chopra as well as a full improv movie with Jamie Adams, which were both really fun. I am also writing loads and have three TV shows in development – that’s exciting! I am also constantly recording interviews for my podcast TalkArt, so that requires a lot of time researching guests.
I know you were supposed to hit the stage soon in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf but it got cancelled because of Covid19. Do you prefer the stage over TV and film?
They all require different technical skill, but ultimately, I will always choose a play over anything.
What do you love to do outside of acting?
Art, art, art. Dogs, dogs, dogs. Gym, gym, gym. And…red wine!
“Art is such a huge part of my life and is as much a love as acting.”
What do you like to do when the day is totally yours?
Looking at art and dog cuddles. Taking the dogs for a walk whilst scouting the streets of London for art is absolute heaven for me.
You co-host an art podcast called Talk Art and have a book coming out in May. Tell us a bit about the book and how you balance this side of your life with your acting?
The book is TalkArt’s view of the art world. It reflects all the artists and institutions that we love as well as the art movements that have affected and moved us. Art is such a huge part of my life and is as much a love as acting. Being able to produce that into something that I can share with other people feels like the biggest privilege. The podcast is an act of pure love and passion and of being a total art geek. The book feels like a special collection of the inner workings of our (my podcast co-host Robert Diament) brains. It’s very personal to us and is very much our taste and view of the art world. We get so much pleasure and fun from art – we just want to spread that.
Name one director, one actor and one actress you would like to work with?
Stephen Soderberg, Mark Ruffalo and Sarah Lancashire.
What’s your most memorable moment in the industry?
The first preview of The History Boys. I have never felt a rush like that before or something similar since.
What advice would you give an aspiring actor/actress?
Go to your local drama clubs and after school acting lessons. Keep imagining yourself playing the roles you really want to play. Visualize everything and learn how to connect emotionally to your feelings – when you can do that, you can feel everything. Never doubt yourself. The relationships you make along the way are important.
“I am lucky to have an amazing family and great friends.”
Has Covid19 given you time to reflect on your life. And if so, how?
It really did force me to slow down. I was constantly on the ‘go’ before lockdown and it’s been a really amazing opportunity to reassess everything. I am lucky to have an amazing family and great friends. This pandemic has really shown, even more, how important it is to look after each other.
2020 was a crazy year. What do you think humanity is going through right now?
Name five things on your bucket list?
House by the sea, meet David Hockney in person, green-light my TV shows, produce a documentary and learn a Newcastle accent.
What do you think is your best trait?
What do you think is your worst trait?
Assuming everyone else is kind.
Favorite fashion designer(s)?
I’ll name a few that I am into at the moment…Paul Smith, Brunello Cucinelli, LOEWE, Marc Jacobs, J Crew, Dunhill
Our magazine is called Cool America. What do you feel is cool about America?
What’s cool about your country?
What’s cool about you?
My enthusiasm. Never apologise for being enthusiastic.
“It’s all about great dialogue and storytelling.”
Lastly, you have an upcoming exhibition you are creating that includes some American artists. Tell us a little about that?
It’s a group show at Carl Freedman Gallery in Margate. It’s figuration but it’s all taken from one painting in particular: Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe. The exhibition is called Breakfast under the Tree, and it’s about how we live now. It was configured pre-Covid, but a lot of artists have reacted to what it is to live now with friends, families, in groups, how we socialize, how we have breakfast, how we have dinner and just hang out with friends in the park. It’s a very special show and was really exciting to bring together so many artists that I care about and love. They are my heroes. They’re geniuses. To put them all together in a show is phenomenal. And yes, some of artists are from the U.S. and have not yet had shows here in the U.K., so I am really proud that the first time they will be seen in our country will be at my show.
Credit: Talk Art: Everything you wanted to know about contemporary art but were afraid to ask is available for Pre-order on Amazon and will be released in May ‘21. You can download Talk Art wherever you subscribe to your podcasts.