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5 minutes with Joel Fry: 'Actors have taught me what not to do'

Currently appearing at the Park Theatre in Raising Martha, the Game of Thrones actor tells us about the pressures of acting, and playing Jimi Hendrix

Joel Fry
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

I went to the Brit School and RADA, but in the year between I ushered at the Royal Court. That was my first real connection with professional people. I got to watch loads of really cool plays. There was one called Plasticine upstairs, a Russian dude [Vassily Sigarev] wrote it and it was really dark. There was no stage and everyone was just running around. I came from Devon and had never seen anything like it.

I don't really believe in a 'big break'. Instead I think there's moments of experiencing extreme pressure and overcoming it. I was in a film called 10,000 BC and we were on top of this massive ramp in the middle of the desert. I had to run around all these marks and then say my line, but the director thought I was saying something different. It happened three times, and I was actually saying the right line. In front of all these people, he blasted out over the speakers: "You're saying the wrong line!" I thought: well this is all on me now, I could totally have a meltdown. But I didn't, luckily.

Through working with other actors, I've probably learnt things not to do, rather than what I should be doing. There are times where you think: I'm definitely not going to end up like that. Things like concentrating on the wrong aspect of the work. You should take your work very seriously, but not take yourself too seriously. Some people get that the wrong way round.

Raising Martha is a new play about an old frog farm which is under siege by animal rights activists. The farm has diversified into a cannabis farm, but it's a very special type of cannabis which is mixed with the toads that you lick. It's about human rights, drug addiction and family. But the big theme is rights - having the right to do this and that. It's like a dark comedy farce.

I'm playing Jago, a militant vegan animal rights activist. It's been a while since I've done a play. Hopefully people will turn up and laugh out loud, because it is funny, but then go home and think: wow, the world's gone crazy. I think that's why they're putting it on now.

If I could only play one more part, it would be Jimi Hendrix. I've never played him and it would be a little bit of a dream, I listened to his music constantly for about ten years. Also, I'd get to play guitar all day and walk around in big clothes.

Raising Martha runs at the Park Theatre from 17 January to 11 February, with previews from 12 January.