Brad is a British actor from Hertfordshire known primarily for his roles in The Rise, Montana and Long Time Coming. Brad has appeared in six feature films including Mercenaries alongside Billy Zane, Best Laid Plans alongside Stephen Graham and The Rise with Timothy Spall. His most recent roles were in short film Ruminate starring Rebecca Hall and that of DC Stephen Phelps in Montana due out December 2014. Brad has just completed his first lead role in the feature film Long Time Coming with Stephen Berkoff and Bernard Hill.
FTN: When did you realise you had an interest in acting and did you attend any acting or drama classes?
BM: As a 10-year-old boy I lived next door to Pauline quirk from birds of a feather. We used to play acting games in the old fashioned cobbled street in Stamford hill. We had so much fun and I loved using our imaginations. This gave me confidence to perform in a few school plays but sadly nothing else until much later in life.
I know now looking back that the feeling you get from creating characters and performing stayed with me. I have been in love with films and admired actors and comedians all my life but it wasn’t till I approached 40 that I had the courage to quit work and start stand up comedy, which I always knew would then lead to acting. I didn’t have time on my side to train but the stand-up was a massive learning curve for performance. I then literally blagged a couple of parts in short films which led to me via recommendation eventually acting in over 20 shorts for film makers who couldn’t afford real actors!
That stage time over two years was really my drama school and gave me the confidence to attack the features that have recently come around. My most recent part was a very dark character, shades of The Joker in a britflick kinda way! I had to learn to get fully submerged so I had several sessions with the method coach Shelly Mitchell. She is based in LA so we ran them via skype which was tricky but they definitely have me some focus.
FTN: One of your first, and most impressive roles, was in the film The Rises. What was it like to work on that movie alongside Timothy Spall, particularly in the impressive shooting locations?
BM: Working on The Rise was an enormous experience. It was my first cameo in a decent size budget. The talent on the film was incredible. Director Rowan Athale was a screen international star of the future and eventually won a break through bafta for The Rise which also screened at 24 prestigious festivals including Toronto and the London film festival. My scenes were with Tim Spall who I grew up admiring from his Mike Leigh performances and was one of the reasons I made the crazy decision to start acting at 40! Not to mention Olivier award winning Luke Treadway and Mathew Lewis ( Neville long bottom from Harry potter) and Vanessa Kirkby another screen international star of the future. I felt like I was on set with legends! I didn’t train as an actor and was self taught really, so I have always studied what actors do to create behaviour on set. With this film I felt like Charlie at the chocolate factory!
FTN:You have just finished making the British action film Montana. Can you tell us a little bit about the premise of Montana and your character Detective Steven Phelps?
BM: Phelps is a very corrupt, somewhat degenerate, boozy and violent detective. He controls the local area and the Winchester estate which our story is centered around. We enter the story as he and his side kick West are collecting cash from the street and happily accepting brown bags of cash from the cartel for watching their backs and bending laws for them.
Phelps’ whole Eco system has been upset by the introduction of the Serbian soldier killing drug dealers and superior officer DCI jones ( Michelle Farley) has being drafted in to put pressure on him to clean up the mess and find Montana and Dimitri . His gambling debts are escalating so he tries to exploit both sides of the law for his own financial gain. Phelps represents most of the black comedy in the film and he very much a copper you don’t wanna be arrested by, he is a very nasty piece of work.
FTN: How did you come by this role, did you have to attend many auditions?
BM: I was introduced to Mo by one of the film’s producers who I had previously worked with. Mo and I then met up one night in Hoxton to talk about the script. We clicked immediately and together set about putting finance together and developing the script. I brought on board Jeremy Sheldon, a writer I have worked closely with on previous films, and producers Mark Foligno and Gareth Roberts.
The script evolved dramatically from the original draft by Peter Lowe. In terms of developing the character of Stephen Phelps, Mo and I took to the streets of Poplar and on the council estate where we shot the film. I would just stay in character for 20 mins at a time. We would just hang out and let the world of this estate just revolve around us. On one of those days we were offered various drugs and witnessed under cover policmen arrest a guy who had robed the butchers opposite where we were sitting!! Pretty crazy but Mo then wrote the scene into the film to set up the nature of the area!
FTN: Montana looks like a very action-packed thriller. Did you and the cast have to undergo any special stunt or weapons training in preparation for your role?
BM: The level of action is incredible given the budget of the film. The lead actors, Mckell and Lars, went through five weeks of boot camp training for the fights and gun play. I had a few stunts to perform but nothing compared to what they went through. The stunt director was Peter Pedrero who is very experienced and a fantastic guy who makes you feel very safe, regardless of what you’re about to do! He also worked on The Rise so it was lovely to have that familiarity and trust. I hope Pete gets the recognition he deserves when Montana is released in December
FTN: Director Mo Ali previously directed the futuristic British film Shank. What was it like to work with him on this project?
BM: Working with Mo was really two different experiences.
Ahead of the shoot was a lot of fun and then during principle photography it was quite intense. Mo is a very strong character and knows what he wants from you in his film. I had to fight hard for some of my character and scene choices and often we met each other in the middle ground of compromise. Mostly we were on the page together. Mo has an amazing visual imagination, very comic book in nature. A 14-year-old boy becomes a trained killer vigilante in a ninja outfit…
FTN: Aside from Montana, are there any other projects that you are currently working on?
BM: I’ve just completed my first lead role in a feature film entitled Long Time Coming that we shot in Leeds. It’s a very colorful and quite unique piece with Keith Allen, Steven Berkoff and Bernard hill. Along with rising talent Elliot Tittensor (Shameless), It’s a debut feature from the director Steve Nesbitt who I guarantee you will be hearing a lot about in the future and Producer Ben Footitt. He is an enormous talent and incredibly caring guy. Think Captain Kirk on the enterprise and that gives you an idea of how he helmed the ship!
FTN: Brad, thanks for taking the time to chat with us and we wish you every success in the future…