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Actor James Hurn: ‘Nothing is ever handed to you. Never sit and wait for the phone to ring’

James Hurn. Photo: John Clark James Hurn. Photo: John Clark
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My first job was at London’s Royal Court in a play called Clubbed Out. It was a three-hander directed by Rufus Norris. I landed the role after being seen in my final year at LAMDA, so my first professional job came in 1998, just before I had finished my three-year course. The casting director had seen me in one of my shows and approached me and my head of year to see if I could take part in their new-writing season.

Clubbed Out was a wonderful introduction to the professional world of acting because it was a small cast and we were all in the same boat. Rufus was and still is a fantastic person to work with and made me feel extremely comfortable. He was a young director at the time and it immediately felt as though he was one of my best mates. As far as being nervous, even to this day, I get nerves. I find having good nerves helps my performance and keeps me on my toes.

Looking back, I was approached by several agents at the time of my graduation. It was a mixture of large international agencies and small British agents. Choosing an agent is a big decision for any young performer. I have no regrets about the decisions I made, but I do sometimes wonder how things may have been if I had made some different choices.

From those first experiences I learned quickly that nothing is ever handed to you. Never sit and wait for the phone to ring. Knock on doors and write emails – an old-fashioned handwritten letter can sometimes open up the right avenue. If you find yourself with time on your hands, do as I have: try writing some of your own material and go through the process of getting it to performance level.

CV: James Hurn

Age: 42
Training: LAMDA
Theatre includes: Habeas Corpus, Clubbed Out, The 39 Steps, Cadillac Ranch, Songs of Grace and Redemption, Tin Drum, Hancock’s Half Hour: One Man, Many Voices, Hancock and Co
TV includes: Band of Brothers, Dead Ringers, Blaired Vision, Scoop, Sven – The Coach, the Cash and His Lovers, Gina’s Laughing Gear
Other credits: The Bid on BBC Radio 4, numerous voice-over work for TV and radio
Agent: Pemberton Associates

James Hurn’s solo show Hancock and Co is on tour. For details go to jameshurn.com He was talking to John Byrne