WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link

5 minutes with: Marc Wootton - 'I would defy anyone to not have a heated debate after watching Bull'

We caught up with Nativity! star Marc Wootton to discuss Bull at the Young Vic and the visceral experience of theatre

Marc Wootton as Thomas in Bull
© Manuel Harlan

I've always had an interest in performing but I took quite a long way round. At school I did drama - being a rat in the Pied Piper of Hamelin wearing a very tight leotard was one of my first moments on stage - but it was post-university when I started to create my own work. I took a show to Edinburgh which did quite well and off the back of that won a Green Light award. It took me down the path of TV and got me a BBC2 half hour pilot.

I'd just finished a show out in America called La La Land when Marianne Elliott called me into the National for Season's Greetings . I sort of felt like I'd won a competition, I was very excited. I did that and really enjoyed it and since then I've kept a bit of a balance between telly, film and theatre and have been very lucky to have performed in some great venues with some fantastic people and brilliant scripts.

I like describing myself as an erotic dancer but there's not a lot of people that would concur with that description. I tried the erotic dancing line on someone the other day but the guy that I spoke to just took out a card and it turns out he runs an erotic cabaret. He said he'd love to see me dance. At that point you can't go 'it was a joke' so you have to nod and pop it in your wallet. But what do I describe myself as? I don't really, what am I? An actor and writer.

I think there is something really lovely about the shared experience of theatre. I love the ritual of it, even what we are doing here at the Young Vic, getting together with a group of people and putting on a show. It sounds so simple but it's so rewarding. That first read through where everyone is going 'oh god what is this' through to getting it up on its feet and trying things out under the guidance of a brilliant director. It's really exciting.

The worst types of auditions are going on tape. A plus for theatre is the fact that you get to meet the people that you're going to be working with whereas film and telly doesn't feel terribly collaborative. For me though, it's about keeping a healthy balance of creating my own pieces of work as well as collaborating with other people and I suppose with theatre it's about the right things coming along at the right time and meeting people that you connect with and thinking 'oh I'd love to spend some time doing this'.

Bull is a great piece of writing but I feel like if you say too much about it it's a bit of a spoiler. When I read it, I couldn't put it down. It's quite quick, it comes in under an hour but there's lots of twists and turns in it. The cast and I missed it first time round which is great because we'll turn it into something slightly different. I've just finished reading Brené Brown's most recent book and she talks about that little serotonin release we get when we hear a story that has a conclusive or positive end. We look for stories like that but - spoiler alert - Bull hasn't got that kind of ending and I really love the fact that it defies where you hope it would go.

The whole thing plays out in a workplace-come-bullfighting ring. The audience stand around us and lean on the side of the stage so it's going to be really interesting what that will feel like because you'll have eyes all around you. It's a bit of a spectacle, it's a really impressive set. The Young Vic is such a great place and a really exciting venue to be performing in. It's a really visceral theatrical experience. There's definitely a very strong relationship with the audience and I would defy anyone to be able to not have a heated debate after it.

My character Thomas is a hard worker and a believer that if you really work hard and you're good at your job then that's enough. But sadly, as we know, there are movers and shakers in this world that do other things to get ahead. He would probably be better off not in the workplace he is currently in.

I'm working on a comedy series for Channel 4 which I should be writing at the moment, as soon as Bull opens next week I will get back to it. I've also just been given a pilot for Channel 4 but it's slightly different, it's more of a documentary idea rather than a scripted comedy. Channel 4 is where it's at for me. It's the Young Vic of TV!

Bull runs at the Young Vic until 16 January.