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THE BIG INTERVIEW: FTN interviews actor James Barriscale

February 20th, 2014 by Big Phil Comments

James Barriscale is no stranger to our screens having played in many popular prime-time television shows such as Silent Witness, Spooks, CasualtyHolby City, The ViceThe Bill, A Touch of Frost and more.  Now he is about to star in the return of popular drama WPC56 as Sargent John Swift alongside Jennie Jacques, Rachel Leskovac and John Bowler. 

WPC56 follows Gina Dawson, the first woman police constable to serve in her West Midlands hometown in 1956.  This popular television show is now in it’s second series and as Sgt.Swift, Barriscale is set to share some great story lines. Swift is the new desk Sargent at Brinford police station, old school, firm but fair. But he’s also looking for love…but will he find it?

This talented character actor trained at the highly regarded Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Since leaving he had had seasons with The RSCThe National Theatre and Donmar Warehouse. Other Regular TV appearances, include: MessiahCherishedMurphy’s LawRockfaceThe Broker’s Man and Diana : Death Of A Princess.   Recent Theatre credits include National Theatre’s Acclaimed St. Joan and the Original Cast of the multi award winning War Horse and leading the charge when it transferred into the West End’s New London Theatre.

Watch James in the new series of WPC56 as part of the BBC’s New 2014 Season in February – on BBC 1

FTN: When did you first get “the acting bug”?

JB: When I was very young watching films with my father. Watching films like Kelly’s Heroes, Casablanca, Signin’in the Rain or Twelve Angry Men but it’s those old black and white gangster films like Angels with Dirty Faces or Scarface that are most vivid in my memory.

FTN: You have worked in theatre, television, movies and also voice-over work in video games. Which medium would be your favourite or most challenging?

JB: I think the challenge is different in all the mediums. Theatre’s main challenge is keeping your energy and focus up night after night. With Tv and Film you are the last thing in a huge machine and that is both thrilling and humbling. The real masters of the craft are behind the camera. I love voice overs, you get jobs without auditioning, you turn up and you are handed anything from 3 words or with Video Games it can be 250 Lines an hour, 15 different accents. Shouting, screaming, being shot, swimming,electrocuted, whispering or a blood curdling fall to your death. And I love that. You are literally back in the playground.

“You can’t beat The Empire Strikes Back. Fromm the moment it opens, my stomach is in knots; by the end, I’m a gibbering mess. Fantastic!”

FTN: You have acted in a number of prestigous television dramas, including Kavanagh Q.C., The Vice, Murphy’s Law and Silent Witness to name but a few, what was it like to work on a well established television drama and did you receive any help or assistance from the regular cast members?

JB: I think the biggest help for me was watching. Actors are great at soaking up the tools for the trade. Just watch movies,people, friends and family. There is always a little recorder on with actors. Even at the most serious and life shattering moments, a little voice says….remember this feeling.

FTN: In Diana: Last Days of a Princess, you portrayed the character of Kez Wingfield. What was it like to work on this drama documentary and did you have to research your role?

JB: It was a great thing to be apart of. It was really well handled by Dangerous Films I think. We talked alot about the people we were portraying. And the director played us the eye witness accounts that intercut with our dramatised scenes. When we shot that fateful night in Paris, they closed the road and tunnel off where her car crashed. A stunt driver walked me down to the pillar which still had loads of paint markings and chunks of concrete missing. It was 3 am. It was silent. And I said a silent prayer for all those involved. Terrible.

“Even at the most serious and life shattering moments, a little voice says….remember this feeling.”

FTN: We at Following the Nerd are also massive fans of the Asassin’s Creed series, of which you have provided voices on several of the games in the series. Do you enjoy providing voice-overs and are you a gamer yourself?

JB: In 1981 I can still remember seeing my first Space Invader Video Game in a biker’s Cafe in Stratford Upon Avon. They’re were a dozen bikers all crowded around it, trying to get a look. Ever since then I’ve loved gaming. We had so many consoles over the years : Intellivision, Sega Master, Mega Drive I and II, The Amiga, Vectrex (Web warp!!) Then Of Course Nintendo Playstation 1,2,3, Xbox 360 and I’ve just gone back to Playstation with the beautiful PS4. It feels grown up. Like switching on a Record Player and playing Vinyl. So to be a part of The Assassin’s Creed world is such a thrill. I played Dutch sailor Richard Clutterbuck in AC3. I’m the one shouting out all the commands every time you take your Ship out. And on AC4 brilliantly they have me on the Ship again, calling out commands each time you set sail. Playing with myself has never been such fun!

FTN: We understand that you will soon be appearing on televison in the new series of BBC 1’s WPC56. Can you tell us a little bit about the character you will be playing in this drama?

JB: It’s set in 1956 in a small town near Birmingham. Dealing with all the struggles of the 50’s. Racism, homophobia or Sexism, the writers and producers aren’t afraid to tackle these very difficult subjects. I play Sgt.John Swift. A beautifully formed character created by Dominique Moloney. He’s old school but fair as he tries to juggle new recruits and his own love life! The arrival of a new secretary brings a whole new energy into the Station! But is she too much woman for the coppers?! Ha Ha. These were such fun scenes to shoot. It looks really lovely to look at too. We shot it in a disused Jewellers in the old quarter, 3 floors of shop, factory and storage. But it’s all wooden inside. So it looks so right for a 1950’s station. But the wigs and costumes did a wonderful job. Even the boys get a little sprinkle of brown dust that fills in all the little bald patches and receding hair lines!

“To be a part of The Assassin’s Creed world is such a thrill. I played Dutch sailor Richard Clutterbuck in AC3. I’m the one shouting out all the commands every time you take your Ship out”

FTN: Is this role a re-occuring guest role or are you now an addition to the main cast?

JB: Yes, I’m a new Regular.

FTN: Do you know when WPC56 will be aired in the UK?

JB: Pencilled for Feb 10th-14th

FTN: Finally, aside from the new series of WPC56, are you currently involved in any other projects that you can tell us about?

JB: I’m busy on a new Game Project (Hush Hush) and I’ve just got back from LA where I’ve been talking to people in the Animation industry – as I’ve written a feature animation script. So that’s a really exciting new area for me. Can’t tell you anything about it other than it takes place in London! Other than that you’ll catch me in Soho throughout the weeks doing voice overs. Can be a corporate,TV Ad, internal Video, Radio Ad, Sponser Promos or Idents – It makes every day exciting!

FTN: Oh and quickly, Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?

JB: For me you can’t beat The Empire Strikes Back. Fromm the moment it opens, my stomach is in knots; by the end, I’m a gibbering mess. Fantastic!

Find Jame son imdb or check out his show reel and voice reel

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I arrived on Earth in 1977 and have virtually devoted my entire existence to cult films, television programmes and cartoons. I am a very big fan of Star Wars and Star Trek; I may struggle with foreign languages but I can order live Gagh in Klingon! I’m the Nerd that knows the trivia but I’m hopeless at sport!