Stuart Martin Opens Up About His Acting Career, Himself and Life.
Written by: Vaughn eric Stewart
Photographer: Joseph Sinclair
Stylist: Krishan Parmar
Groomer: Katrin Rees
Stuart Martin is as talented an actor as they come. An actor who immerses himself in his craft, and loves the process that’s needed to get the best result for the characters that he plays. He’s also a very humble man that enjoys the simple things in life like family, friends and good Italian food, with a glass of red wine. Cool America caught up with Stuart and found out a lot about this man, who is definitely a class act.
Hi, Stuart. Let’s begin by asking how you got involved in acting?
Hello! Thanks so much for chatting with me! I’m from a little town in Scotland where acting’s not really something you do. But it was always something that I wanted to do as a kid, I was obsessed with the cinema and movies. I’d watch them thinking what an amazing job that would be. I didn’t get started till I was maybe 17 or 18 when I went to college and drama school. When I finished, I was lucky enough to start working, I moved to London and started doing jobs in theatre mostly.
I’ve read some pretty good reviews about your character William Wellington in Miss Scarlet and the Duke? Tell me about William.
The response to the show has been so lovely from the States. There’s been a real following on Twitter and social media. Its lovely people are enjoying it and getting on board with the characters. William’s a brilliant character, I love playing him. He’s a Victorian copper, a detective in Scotland Yard. Very much a man of his time. Over worked and under a lot of pressure to solve a mountain of cases that never seem to stop piling up. He can be short tempered and easy to anger but he’s a big softy at heart. Especially when it comes to his relationship with Eliza. What I love about him and love about playing him is he’s unapologetic in his ways — he says what he thinks and he doesn’t hide his frustrations. That’s a lot of fun to play.
How did you prep to play William?
Just a lot of reading. I love all the research before a job. It’s really the only time you get to do it, because once the job starts there’s no time. I think I had a few months off before and got to just read and research and work on the scripts. Bits of Arthur Conan Doyle and lots of books on the Victorians and what they were up to.
“I was lucky enough to get to work with Danny Boyle, my dream director, a few years back.”
You’ve been working as a professional actor for several years, what’s the most challenging thing about being an actor?
I think it’s the best job in the world and a great way to live your life. It’s never dull. It’s always different and challenging in different ways. But that’s a good thing. I love it. There are challenges. Going away to Eastern Europe, or wherever you’re filming for five months at a time. Being away from your family, especially in this time, as you can’t fly back every weekend. That can be really really tough. I sometimes question if it’s worth it, that time away, when I’m in the middle of it. All that stress on your family and you. But then when you get back home, when you’ve finished the job, you get all this amazing time with them. Months and months at a time between jobs. That is amazing. And time not a lot of people get. You’re sometimes doing seventy, eighty-hour weeks so I don’t feel guilty about taking those months off and just chilling with my boy and my wife when we can. That’s special and makes the time away worth it. And there’s not many jobs where you get to do that.
What character did you play that kept you up a night?
Oh man, it used to be all of them. I’ve got better at it now, I think. I try and prep as much as I can and hope that that’s good enough. Don’t have too much unnecessary stress about it. I did a character a few years back where I had to learn Native American. Pages and pages of it. That definitely kept me up at night. Terrified that I was going to screw it up the next day on set.
“Having kids definitely makes you think of the future and what it holds for them.”
Do you put a lot of thought into your acting choices or do you let it flow out of you naturally?
I think I’ve got to a stage where it’s a real mix of both. I try and learn as much as I can in the research before shooting. Sort of saturate my brain with it all, then I try to forget it all when we start shooting. The same goes for choices on set. I’ll really labor over scenes when I’m prepping the days leading up to shooting. But then I just let all that go and see what comes out on the day. I used to really beat myself up after scenes and replay them in my head and be frustrated with how they went. Now I just forget. What happened that day is what happened. There’s a thousand ways the scene could have been played but that’s the way it got played on that day. It’s done, you can’t play them all.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished on a prequel to Zack Snyder’s upcoming Army of the Dead film for Netflix. It’s a bank heist film, and is going to be really cool. I’m excited for people to see it. And Zacks main film, that looks amazing.
What actor do you watch everything he is in?
Michael Fassbender, I love him, and Will Ferrell. No matter what he’s in he makes me crease myself.
What actress do you watch everything that’s she is in?
Olivia Colman. I saw her in Tyrannosaur a few years ago and it’s one of the most incredible performances I’ve ever seen. I was watching it going ‘How did she do that?’ She’s incredible. And incredible in everything.
Who is your dream director to work with?
I was lucky enough to get to work with Danny Boyle, my dream director, a few years back. It was an amazing experience. He’s cool as fuck. And brilliant. Growing up watching his films made me want to be an actor. I also loved working with Matthias Schweighöfer, on the Army of the Dead prequel. I would be happy in a world just doing his films. He’s a dream director. And a proper dude.
Any tips for those aspiring actors out there?
Just do it. What’s the worst that can happen. You’ll never know unless you give it a go. And if it doesn’t work out after a few years and you’re not enjoying that life then switch up and do something else. You haven’t lost anything. You’ll have had an amazing few year living in London or New York or LA, meeting really interesting people, learning about life and getting pissed. What is there to lose? I think you’ve got to be realistic with yourself and what’s makes you happy as well. If it’s not making you happy, if you find that the uncertainty of the job and the uncertainty of the income is an issue, then know when to quit. I always said if I couldn’t make enough money to pay my rent solely off acting by the time I was 25 I would quit. And do something else. Luckily, I managed to, but that might not always be the case.
“I’m from a little town in Scotland where acting’s not really something you do.”
How are you dealing with COVID-19? How has it affected your life?
It’s been a bit mad, hasn’t it? A year on and we’re still here. Our industry has taken a real hit. A lot of the people in the industry, especially theatre are just being destroyed by it. It’s brutal. I was lucky enough to go and do a job in Prague during lockdown. It’s a totally different experience. You are basically self-isolating for two and a half months to protect the set from shutdowns. I hope that’s something that changes. And moving forward, the thing that is now causing issues is the hotel quarantine. It makes it very difficult to accept a job that’s not in the UK, as you don’t know whether you will be able to get home to see your family, or whether they will be able to get to you. It’s completely changed the landscape. Unfortunately, most of my work is abroad so I’m having to make some difficult decisions right now. Hopefully we can get to a bit more normality in the next six months with travel, but it’s very hard to tell, isn’t it?
There’s a lot going on in this world. Do you feel you have an obligation to make this world a better place than passed generations?
I think every generation feels that. Sometimes, in retrospect, we get things wrong. I think we’re making strides to make it better. Having kids definitely makes you think of the future and what it holds for them. I do sometimes get hit with an overwhelming feeling of worry when I think of what the world will be in 30 years when my son and daughter are my age, but more so in 60 years when my grandkids are my age. My big worry is what will be left of the oceans. This planet’s blood. Unless we change how we treat them, there won’t be any oceans left in 50 years. That’s a real worry. But I believe in us as people. And you see the way the world pulled together to deal with COVID-19. So, I have no doubt that we will heal the planet. Hopefully, it won’t be too late.
If you had a message to share, what would it be?
Be happy, life’s too short. You’ll be grand either way. My mate sent me that the other day and it stuck with me. I like it.
Is there anything that you would professionally like to do besides acting?
I’ve always always wanted to have a business. Since I was a young kid. A service business. A restaurant, or a bar or a Gym or something. I always loved working in service when I was an out of work as an actor. So maybe one day I’ll do that. I think I’d like to get old and fat and have an Italian restaurant that my family and friends would come to and hang out. I’ll just sit in the corner drinking red wine and eating pasta all day.
Our magazine is called Cool America. What do you thing is cool about America?
I fucking love America. What’s cool about it? Everything! I love the people, the attitude. I love dive bars and the diners with drip coffee. I love that you can get a massive slice of amazing pizza for a few dollars. Anywhere. I love chipotle. I love the little red straws you put in your bourbon. I love driving down the freeway in LA with the sun shining with the tunes on. I love America. Especially LA and New York. I really miss it and can’t wait to get back.
What do you find uncool about America?
Donald trump. He was pretty uncool. But he’s gone now. So, America is cool once again.
What do you find cool about yourself?
Nothing. But my kid finds me funny mostly so I’m happy with that.