Tom Varey’s authenticity is everything to him in both his acting and his personal life. Cool America Magazine caught up with him to find out about the man who prefers to stay an original.
Written by: Vaughn Stewart
Photography: Jemima Marriott
Styling: M London styling
Stylist’s assistant: Barbaraella
Grooming: Maria Comparetto @ The Only Agency using Ben Hancock for Men
Where are you from Originally? I’m from Mossley, Lancashire. But I’ve lived in London now for around ten years.
What influenced you to begin acting? As a kid I was always wanting to put on shows for my Gran in the living room – must have been really annoying for her – and I’d pretty much be doing Ace Ventura impressions. Then I attended a local drama club originally to keep my friend company, but there was something about entertaining people and messing about that I really enjoyed. When I studied drama at college my teacher had a lot of belief in me and said I should think about applying for drama school, so I di
Was your family supportive of you becoming an actor? Very supportive, and I’m very grateful for that. It’s something that no one in my family has ever pursued so it’s great that they were so enthusiastic for me to give it a go. Especially in the early days when we were travelling miles and miles for drama school auditions.
“Entertainment should offer people escape from the real world.”
What is your creative Mantra? Like what do you live by to stay on the cusp as a creative? I remember watching a David Bowie interview in which he said ‘never play to the gallery’ and thinking that was the key. I think creatively you always have to remember why it was you got into this industry and always stay authentic to that. So, I’m kind of borrowing that, hope that’s okay.
How important is the influence of mainstream culture to your process? I reckon it’s definitely played its part, but I’m not sure if that’s something I’m consciously aware of at the moment. I’m not sure I’m that person who has his finger on the pulse of mainstream culture though, but my housemates are very good at showing me things that are hot.
What’s your process when taking on a character?After reading the scripts a few times I get an idea of who the character is and then I think about whether I’ve seen this kind of person or aspects of this person – do I know anyone like this? Are there any characters from tv or film that are similar in anyway? And then just start playing around with things and see what sits right. Once I have a good idea of who this person is, then looking scene to scene at what the character wants and whether that fits in with the overall arc of their development.
Has there ever been a character that has kept you up at night? Every single one, you always want to make it as perfect as possible, whatever perfect is. I did a play just before the pandemic where my character had a scene where he comes in like a drunken-whirlwind and makes everyone feel very uncomfortable, that gave me a few sleepless nights. Acting drunk I found very tricky, you don’t want to over-egg the pudding.
“I think all you can ever be is authentic to yourself.”
What makes your work uniquely something only you can capture in the roles you take on? To echo one of the answers above, I think all you can ever be is authentic to yourself, I am the only person who has my instincts and my impulses, so I think that all you can do is prepare, prepare, prepare – and put your own mark on it, but be authentic and don’t try to do what you think the gallery wants.
What are you currently working on? I’m taping for a few things at the moment, and working on my French.
Of all the characters you played, who was most like you? I played ‘Trev’ in an indie film called ‘Pond Life’. I think he was the most similar to me, and there are aspects of ‘Jack” in ‘Ridley Road’ that are similar, maybe that lone wolf kind of feeling, but Trev more so.
Least like you? The drunken whirlwind character, ‘Peter’ from ‘a taste of Honey’. He was a racist, homophobic womanizer, and generally horrible man.
Any advice for any aspiring actors out there? Advice, advice, advice. Probably just to remember why you want to do this, and stay true to that.
On another subject, how has the Pandemic affected you personally? For me personally, there’s been a lot of time for self-reflection I suppose. Also, in the beginning, I was saying, ‘okay I’m going to learn French, I’m going to become the best guitar player in the world and I’m going to open up a banana bread store.’ However, the longer the lockdown went on the more I learned to listen to what my body actually wanted day to day. I learned not to be too hard on yourself and just get through it the best you can.
Do you think that there was something that we all needed to learn?I think if there has been something to take away it’s that collectively we are stronger.
How do you feel you can make a small difference in this world as an entertainer?Entertainment should offer people escape from the real world. When I watch my favorite movies or shows I am somewhere else for a little bit and its fun. If you can transport someone to a different time or place, or make them laugh or cry or feel something, I think that’s a pretty cool thing.
We are called Cool America, what do you think is cool about America?When I hear Cool America I think of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, Paul Newman, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the list goes on. There have been so many hugely talented creative wonderful people to come from America, so I guess it would be that. Also, Mountain Dew, that’s a tasty drink.
What makes you cool, and please don’t be modest? Trying very hard to be cool, but being open about that.
Clothing: Outfit: Lyph, Shoes: Doc Martins