Justin is an actor, voice artist and award-winning writer living in the south of England. He has worked with TBC Audio over a number of years voicing various characters on projects such as ‘The Other 1%’ and ‘Protect and Survive’. His recent work on screen includes comedy roles in TV programmes such as ‘Drunk History UK’, and film roles including ‘Adventure Boyz’, ‘Monster’ and ’13 Graves’. Upcoming film projects include ‘Vindication Swim’ and ‘Are We Monsters’.
TO1%: When did you know you first wanted to be actor?
JKH: I’ve always been a performer. Initially however, I was a singer. From about the age of three I’d been reading music scores in the back of the car whilst my Mum took my older sister to violin lessons. Then I started singing and it was from there I got into musicals and knew I wanted to sing on stage. Now, I just act.
TO1%: What was your first professional gig?
JKH: It was probably when I was around eight, singing professionally in one of the few professional parish church choirs in the country. My first paid acting gig was Snoopy the Musical in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. My first BBC gig was Joanna Trollope’s ‘The Choir’ in 1994, which had an amazing cast.
TO1%: Some people practice in front of a mirror some people think that’s really artificial? What’s your take?
JKH: Not so much now but when I was younger I absolutely pulled faces in the mirror. For some reason, I thought I was too smiley, so I practised various facial expressions to try to ‘re-set’ my face muscles! Now, it’s more about intention rather than facial expression, as most of my work is film which tends to focus more on lack of facial movement. But a mirror is still useful for warm-ups.
TO1%: How did you get involved with The Other 1%
JKH: I think it was through a staged play reading for the Sussex Playwrights which Simon was producing.
TO1%: If you could play any film, tv, stage or literary character, who would it be and why?
JKH: I had the immense pleasure of playing Jim Hacker in the stage version of ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ a couple of years ago and it was a fantastic experience. Not only is the writing brilliant and sharp, it’s a real workout for the actors on stage as it’s so fast-paced. But my middle school teacher, Mr Broadbent, told my parents I’d be Prime Minister one day, so it was great to achieve his dreams! I’d like to play Malvolio from ‘Twelfth Night’ at some stage.
TO1%: Do you practice your craft when you’re ‘resting’ and how?
JKH: Yes, I read plays and participate in recorded readings, as well as continuing to work on voice over jobs. Additionally, I try to attend training courses, although it’s difficult in this particular environment. Self-tape training courses run by casting directors such as Manuel Puro are fantastic though.
TO1%: How much of your acting would you say is craft and how much instinct? In the States Method Acting is often seen as the Holy Grail, how do you feel about that?
JKH: I don’t believe in method acting, where someone stays in character for the duration of the job, but I do subscribe to the Stanislavsky way of doing things. I construct a character and a backstory and look at how that character is psychologically motivated by the events they go through, their short and long-term goals and the barriers they need to overcome to achieve what they want. But to do this believably it takes a lot of practice prior to allowing yourself to let go ‘in the moment’ when the camera is on or when you step on to the stage.
TO1%: Do you ever find you start to become the characters you play when you’re off stage or off set? Has anyone ever noticed?
JKH: No, not really. It’s important to make a clear space within yourself for the character to inhabit. Prior to starting and after finishing, you need to let it go. That said, it is sometimes a useful exercise to inhabit a character in real life consciously in order to achieve a particular goal – for example, sending out your ‘best you’ to an audition and disassociating yourself from the result (getting ‘the job’) in order to enjoy the moment (performing to the best of your ability).
TO1%: It’s a hard one, but if you had to choose and could only do pre-recorded OR live performance for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?
JKH: Pre-recorded. Firstly, whilst the immediacy of feedback from an audience is enjoyable, the ability to enhance more people’s lives over time with art is better served when it can be recorded for posterity. Secondly, if you can stand it, it’s good to watch back so that you can see what the camera sees and use that learning for the future – and generally in most cases that lesson is ‘do less’. And finally, there seems to be a shift where stage/live performance is going to be increasingly recorded due to the current climate, so I think inevitably, even live performance will be recorded for increased revenue opportunities as the industry struggles to re-build itself.
TO1%: What’s your trick for learning lines?
JKH: There’s no real trick. You need to put the work in. I tend to break it down into small chunks, repeat several times, then build up on that. That’s after I’ve analyzed the scene to understand the motivation from where the text comes from psychologically. Walking around or doing another task whilst learning the lines is also a useful way of embedding it into your subconscious. Sometimes singing the lines helps also.
TO1%: Do you read your reviews and at what stage in a run of a play?
JKH: Not really. I’ve found through writing and getting book reviews and notes on screenplays that everyone has their own opinion. That’s not for me to agree or disagree with and it’s for them to own it.
TO1%: Do you have any superstitions other than not whistling in the stage wings and calling that Shakespeare play The Scottish Play?
JKH: No, not really. It’s a job and preparation is key. The important point is to make everything an enjoyable experience for others in a professional context. Once everyone is relaxed and enjoying themselves, things work much better and there’s less opportunity for mistakes to happen or for fear to take over.
TO1%: If you could have a masterclass from one director and one actor who would they be?
JKH: Sam Mendes and Eddie Marsan.
TO1%: If you become a superstar, will you demand specific bottled water and go on a paleo diet?
JKH: I’ve actually tried the paleo diet so no, I won’t be going on that again. And I prefer tap water wherever possible, even in restaurants!
Based on the South Coast of England, THE OTHER 1% was created by award-winning producer SIMON MOORHEAD, whose production company TBC AUDIO creates and distributes original, full-cast audiobooks with the aim of promoting local actors and writers to a global audience.