5 minutes with: Ray Fearon – 'I really wanted to be a tennis player but acting took over'

The actor, currently starring in ”Hecuba”, discusses growing up, giving Agamemnon soul and taking audition tips from George Clooney

I was a junior tennis player, I used to play for Middlesex County and I really wanted to play tennis professionally but acting took over.

I started off doing community theatre. I grew up in Harlesden and started to do workshops around the Stonebridge Estate. We formed a theatre company and leisure services gave us a bit of money to get a director and stage management, we used to get the lighting ourselves and toured plays in the community centres around the Borough of Brent. From there I joined the Royal Court and Tricycle youth theatres and went to drama school after that.

I left drama school with a very good agent and a job. Rep theatre was still going, so I went to the Liverpool Everyman, Oxford Stage Company, Manchester Royal Exchange, and then I came here [to the RSC]. I always wanted to do theatre, but more than anything else I just wanted to be a good actor.

I go up for so many auditions that bad ones don’t really register. I remember George Clooney saying ‘You don’t have a job before you audition, when you go into an audition you don’t have a job and when you leave the audition you still don’t have a job.’ Thinking like that kind of takes the pressure off a bit.

Marina Carr has done a fantastic adaptation of Hecuba, seen from a woman’s point of view and from the point of view of the Trojans instead of the Greeks. It’s modern language, and it’s funny and tragic at the same time. I was sent it back in February when I was out in New York and from the first reading I thought ‘I really hope I do this’.

Agamemnon normally get’s a bad deal, people give him bad press, but Marina has somehow made him human in this. The personality and character that she has given him… she’s given him soul.

Rehearsals have been great, Erica Whyman is a fantastic director. The great thing is that it’s modern, Greek drama can be very condense and hard to follow, but this is an easy to follow, moving story.

I love being an associate artist here at the RSC. I just feel that lots of people have great careers and go off and do movies, and good luck to them – I just feel you should always come back to theatre and be here for others.

I’ve just finished doing Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson, Emma Thompson and everybody else. I’m back to New York after this, the last series of Da Vinci’s Demons which starts to air in America in October, they show it here on Fox.

Hecuba runs at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon until 17 October 2015.