WhatsOnStage Logo

20 Questions with ... Chimerica's Sean Gilder

Sean Gilder, best known for his portrayal of Paddy Maguire in Shameless, stars in Lucy Kirkwood's new play Chimerica, which premiered at the Almeida Theatre last night (28 May 2013).

WhatsOnStage logo

Sean Gilder in Chimerica
Where and when were you born?

I was born in Brampton in Cumbria in March 1964.

What made you want to become an actor?

I remember that as a child, I always wanted to be older and loved pretending to be somebody else. I suppose it started then.

If you hadn't become an actor, what might you have done professionally?

I am infuriatingly curious, and will turn over the smallest stone. So I think I would have been a traveller or an explorer.

First big break?

Performing in the original production of Our Boys in 1993 at the Cockpit Theatre - I played the role of Keith.

Career highlights to date?

I really enjoyed my recent role in the film Selfish Giant, Our Boys and the play I did at the Hampstead Theatre – Little Malcolm and his Struggle Against the Eunuchs (which starred Ewan McGregor).

Acting heroes?

Too many to mention! If I had to put an actor on loop, it would be Al Pacino.

And beyond theatre, who would you like to swap places with?
Ray Mears is pretty cool.

What was the first thing you saw on stage that had a big impact on you?

Philistines, an RSC production, at The Other Place in Stratford in 1985. It had an incredible cast including Fiona Shaw, Tom Mannion, David Burke and Anna Calder-Marshall.

And the last?

I loved Jerusalem in the West End.

Can you tell us about Chimerica?

Chimerica is the story of Joe, a photojournalist who took a picture of a protestor in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989. In 2012, he goes on a search to find the Tank Man.

Who do you play?

Mel Stanwyck, a friend and work colleague of Joe (played by Stephen Campbell Moore).

Did it change much through rehearsal?

Not in rehearsal, but inevitably it changed and developed through previews.

How much research did you do?

I watched a lot of films about journalists, including All the President's Men and Salvador. I studied Modern History at university so have always been interested in China and also have friends who have made documentaries so asked them questions on the topic.

To what extent do you think the relationship between China and America will define this century?

It is such a huge question that it is a university thesis!

Have a go?
Well there's India, South America and the rest of the developing world on the bench so to speak. And Europe and America are tired and could be substituted at any moment.

Do you like working at the Almeida?

I love it; it is my favourite place to work in London. I have done two plays here before (Enemies and The Earthly Paradise) and it was a pleasure to return. The staff are so committed and wonderful.

What's your favourite post-show haunt?

I am a happy father of two so I like to get home to my wife and have a cup of tea! That's the northerner in me.

Do you often get recognised?
I do, yes.

What for?
Shameless is the one I still get recognised for a lot.

Dream stage role?

I would love to get back to Shakespeare, something like Richard III or Macbeth. Another one would be performing in a Harold Pinter play.

Chimerica continues at the Almeida until 6 July 2013