20 Questions With...Gerard Kearns
Date: 13 June 2005
Shameless actor Gerard Kearns - whoís currently starring in A Thousand Yards at Southwark Playhouse Ė shares the joys of a busmanís holiday in Edinburgh, advises politicians to stick to politics & reveals why Maxine Peake is a second mother.
Itís hard to believe the Channel 4 series Shameless only aired for the first time in January 2004. The hugely popular series shot young Mancunian actor Gerard Kearns to fame as a member of the UKís most dysfunctional family, the Gallaghers. Paul Abbotís comedy drama is set on the Chatsworth Estate where Kearns and the rest of his onscreen family captured the hearts of the nation.
On stage, Kearns has performed in Hanky Park at the Lowry and Borstal Boy at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2002. His small screen credits include Doctors, Heartbeat and Holby City as well as all three series of Shameless.
Kearns makes his London stage debut at Southwark Playhouse this month in the world premiere of A N Zakarianís A Thousand Yards. The production, directed by Roisin McBrinn, continues its limited season until 25 June 2005.
Date & place of birth
I was born in the Royal Oldham Hospital on 4 October 1984, so Iím a Libra, a nice balance of everything.
Lives now in...
I live with my family in England, the World, the Universe. But whilst Iím in London Iím staying at Maxine Peakeís. Sheís like a second mum to me Ė part of the Shameless family!
I trained at David Johnsonís workshops at Laine Management in Manchester.
First big break
Shameless, my one and only. It was a big break because Iíd never done anything before that apart from extra work and regional theatre.
Career highlights to date
Borstal Boy, which I did at the Edinburgh Festival Ė going naked on stage at the age of 16 and not being paid! My mum didnít come to see that. It was a kind of work/holiday experience because I had both at the same time. You canít beat going on, doing the show, then going out and getting blathered! We had plenty of time to recover before the next dayís show. It was great!
Favourite production you've ever worked on
Doctors was a good one. I got to drive a car and I smashed the window by accident Ė I slammed the door too hard! Also Hanky Park at the Lowry in Manchester. I really liked that because I got to work with all my old friends from the workshop and to practice my movements and stage technique. Shameless, too, because I got to work for Channel 4 and that was something Iíd wanted to do for a long time, since I saw films like Trainspotting.
It has to be Jody Lee Latham (who plays Kearnsí brother in Shameless) because we are both around the same age and we can have a laugh and relate to each other. An age gap changes scenarios and the kind of conversations you have doesnít it?
Ridley Scott because he has an eye for barren landscapes and actors with fight in them. And James Foley on the sole evidence of his film of Glengarry Glen Ross.
David Mamet for Glengarry and John Steinbeck for Of Mice and Men because both those plays really get my emotions going. Also, although theyíre not playwrights, Hunter S Thompson and Terry Gilliam for the screen version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas because the monologues in that are in a league of their own.
What roles would you most like to play still?
As many as imaginable. Iíd like to be a bad guy or a gangster but really as many as imaginable - make sure you say that - and a love role with a beautiful womanÖ
If you hadnít become an actor, what would you have done professionally?
A dustbin man. I donít know, Iíve still got ambitions. Iíd love to do music - I can still do that anyway, canít I?
Youíve made a name for yourself on TV. Why do you want to work on stage? Why do you think theatre is important?
You get one shot and it has to be right. Nothing beats the feeling of being on stage, warming an audience, getting instant smiles and cries, hallos, goodbyes.
What was the first thing you saw on stage? And the last?
We watched Scrooge at the Palace Theatre when I was at primary school and I couldnít believe how real they made it look. He had this mirror which he walked through, which you donít think is going to be possible on stage, but they made it possible, amazing. Watching a film is not a patch on watching a play. You are in there, watching it happening in front of you, thatís what really got me. Recently, I went and watched Maxine Peake at the Royal Exchange in Rutherford and Son. That was excellent, really good and I want to see Death of a Salesman.
What advice would you give the government to secure the future of British theatre?
Bring in as much new talent as possible and work with it. Tell the politicians to go and watch more theatre too. That might open their eyes a bit to whatís going on. Also, remember, Westminster isnít a stage, itís real life. Some politicians are better actors than real ones. They need to start telling the truth.
If you could swap places with one person (living or dead) for a day, who would it be?
Can I be two? Al Pacino, to pick up as many of his ideas, tools and techniques, so I could have a career like his. Heís an actor for life and a pro, thatís what you want. The other is Peter Sellers for being an absolute comic genius. Heís so subtle, you canít beat him. Theyíd be two good people to be for a day, donít you think?
Roald Dahlís Georgeís Marvellous Medicine, John Grishamís A Time to Kill and Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. I havenít read The Da Vinci Code yet. Everyone says itís amazing, but itís the ones people build up that are crap and the ones that no oneís heard of that are amazing.
Favourite holiday destinations
The south of France, Ireland, and Iíd love to go to Rio de Janeiro.
Yeah well, I donít go on it much any more, but when I was at college I liked www.smileygames.com - it kept me occupied for the whole year!
Why did you want to accept your part in A Thousand Yards?
My character sees hope in everything, and I think itís a great mentality to have. He can count brush marks in painting, heís a congenital liar and heís a very amusing person without knowing it.
This is your first play in the capital. How do you feel about facing a London audience?
Great Ė how does a London audience feel about facing me?
Whatís your favourite line from A Thousand Yards?
ĒFunny as in ha ha?Ē
ďNo, funny as in are you taking the piss?Ē
What are your plans for the future? Anything else youíd like to add?
To be an actor for life. Iíd love to do music as well, but as long as I entertain with my feet on the ground Iím sure Iíll do fine. To all my family and friends hello, goodbye and bon soir.
- Gerard Kearns was speaking to Hannah Kennedy
A Thousand Yards is playing at Southwark Playhouse until 25 June 2005.