Film Courage: Where did you grow up?
John Curran: I grew up in Wimbledon, London. Pretty normal life I would say. I’m the youngest of four and spent a lot of my youth playing sports like Cricket, Rugby, football, athletics etc.
Film Courage: Which of your parents do you resemble most?
John: Well since my Dad was an actor I suppose it would be easy to say I’m most like him but I’d like to think I have some of my mother’s sense of humor as well.
Film Courage: What were you like as a child?
John: Sports crazy. Played it, followed it…probably too much!
Film Courage: Did your parents encourage acting and filmmaking?
John: They neither encouraged it nor discouraged it. But they clearly expressed the risks involved and that a “secure” job may be the way to go.
Film Courage: What are the best qualities that each of your parents taught you?
John: Interesting question, they were pretty strong about having good manners, being responsible, humility those sort of things. I’m still working on it!
Film Courage: Did you study dramatic arts in college?
John: I did not. I’ve always said my acting training was watching my Dad who was an actor with the National Theater for many years. I missed some of his early work obviously because I was too young but saw plenty of his work in the theater and obviously some of his TV and film work. He used to run his lines at home so I would hear him rehearsing in the next room. He also helped me in some elocution contests and for some school readings when I was young.
Film Courage: Favorite actor as a child?
John: My Dad…because he was my Dad! Seriously though, I remember seeing Steve McQueen in “The great escape” and thought he was very cool. Lawrence Olivier was also a big influence when I was young because he was the artistic director at the National when my Dad was there.
Film Courage: John, excellent job in your role as Detective Dan Skok. Can you tell us who he is in CONGRATULATIONS!?
John: Thanks very much! Det. Skok is the lead detective in the search for a missing boy who goes missing from his own house.
.Film Courage: Much of Detective Skok’s inner longing seems to be about purpose and belonging. How does this play out in your own acting career?
John: Hmm, interesting question again. Not quite sure how to answer that one but acting is at it’s most satisfying when you work on a project that has passion all over it. From the writer to the art department, the camera people, lighting, wardrobe, the actors, etc, when that happens you have the best chance of everyone producing good work. Thanks to Mike Brune’s lead it was huge passion from many people that allowed “Congratulations!” happen.
Film Courage: How did Mike present the script to you?
John: Well, it really starts with a short film we did quite a few years ago called “The Adventure”. Someone sent me an audition for a short saying that the people making it were really good. The script was also fantastic. So I went to the audition and Mike Brune was kind enough to cast me in one of the lead roles. It went on to win a number of awards at festivals all over the world. It’s a beautiful piece of film making. So, when I saw how Mike made that I thought to myself “if they ever ask me again, I’m in!” (Which is still the case by the way!). So, a few years later Mike called me up and said he had an idea for a film and would I be interested in playing the lead character. So I just said yes straight away I think and then, I think it was about a year later, he sent me the script with this fabulous character. It was a no brainer for me.
Film Courage: What made you say ‘yes’ to this project?
John: Trust the film maker!
Film Courage: You were in the insurance industry for about a decade, do you remember the day you changed careers?
John: Like a lot of people, I did a school play and instantly fell in love with acting, that was it, the bug hit me there and then and basically has never left! But sport as I mentioned was a big part of my life when I was young and it was hard to commit to both acting and sport. So then I sort of fell into the Insurance industry but always still thought deep down that I was going to become an actor but frankly wasn’t quite sure how to do it, certainly not back in England where most actors do indeed come from drama school. Fortunately I was able to travel to the US through insurance and started taking acting classes in LA and then in Atlanta to see if I still had the bug. I did and knew I wanted to make the transition while I was still at an age that made sense.
Film Courage: Tough love advice for someone looking to switch from a corporate career to more creative freelance work?
John: Well there’s a question!
I detest cliches, but the fact is you have to love what you do. I enjoyed many aspects of the insurance industry but I always believed I was meant to be an actor. The other thing for me was that I didn’t want to reach a point in my life where I would have regretted not giving it a try. The other thing is you have to absolutely believe in yourself and your ability. Having said that, you’re not going to get every role and sure you’re going to have some down time. So if you can find another line of work to help you through those times that’s also beneficial and if that is tied into the entertainment industry that’s even better. But always keep your acting as your main focus and keep working at it.
There is one other thing I would say to this whole point of transitioning from a “secure” job to something more creative/risky. I had a number of good experiences in Insurance but since I got into the entertainment industry I have had some of the most extraordinary experiences that money cannot buy.
Film Courage: When you take on a role, what do you do with a character?
John: Every actor approaches their roles in different ways and I respect any approach an actor takes to get to the place they need to get to for a scene. Having said that I’m personally not an actor that needs to know what my character had for breakfast that morning. I find normally that the more I read a script the more the character develops in a sort of organic way. At that point I like to discuss if possible with the director and other actors in the scene to see if I’m on track. Hopefully I am or else I’m in big trouble!
Film Courage: Do you watch yourself on screen?
John: Sure, but only if I think I’m going to like it!
Seriously, I do like to see if it’s credible. If I can believe the character I’m satisfied, if I can’t I’m not.
I actually think it’s very important to watch your work, especially early on, because you need the feedback. You need to see what works and what doesn’t so you can adapt your craft next time.
Film Courage: Since entertainment was what you knew growing up, what did you observe from watching your father and mother?
John: Well I think I answered some of that about my Dad before but my Mother was actually very entertaining also. She actually performed in amateur dramatics herself when she was young, in fact that was how they met. When we were young she would act out scenes in a make believe shop as the shop owner and all these imaginary customers would come into the shop. She was hysterical.
Yes, it was interesting when we were young. Dad was not very theatrical outside the theater but we were lucky to have some well known actors and actresses visit every now and then. It was probably another big influence on me.
Film Courage: How much do you learn about being in front of the camera from being behind the camera with your video production company?
John: A great deal actually. It’s amazing what you can pick up about on camera performance by looking through the lens. Biggest lesson? Less is more!
Film Courage: From your role as Detective Dan Skok in CONGRATULATIONS! you sound American born without question. How much do you work on dialects and perfect accents? Any books, tapes or classes to recommend?
John: That’s music to my ears!
It was tough at first trying to do the American accent. I did listen to tapes by a dialect coach who was specifically training British actors to do American accents. I forget his name but Iearned a lot from those tapes. The major differences are the vowels and the letter r. Accents are good challenges for actors.
Film Courage: Most challenging scene of CONGRATULATIONS! and how did you work through it?
John: Well I don’t want to give it away but there’s a scene that required a lot of energy in it that takes place in a number of different locations so the challenge of it was trying to remember what energy level you were at when you shot at the previous location which might have been two days earlier!
Film Courage: Where is CONGRATULATIONS! available to watch?
John: In the US it is available on iTunes, google play, vudu, Xbox and I believe it will be on Amazon soon. Hopefully it will be available internationally soon also.
Film Courage: What’s the kindest thing you’ve done for someone?
John: Hmm, not really for me to say. Hopefully I do some kind things every now and then!
Film Courage: If your life were a motion picture, what would the title be?
John: “What on earth do you think you’re doing?!
Film Courage: What’s one big question you’d like answered?
John: Can Chelsea win the Premier league this season?!
Film Courage: What’s next for you creatively?
I’m delighted to be working with Dan Bush on his next movie “The Dark Red.” Another great group of people and a fabulous script. Also, next year look out for “Capt. America 3” and Dean Devlin’s “Goestorm.”
John Curran is an Actor and an Independent Video Producer.
As an Actor his film credits include: Billy Bob Thornton’s Jayne Mansfield’s Car, Quarantine 2: Terminal, Robert Redford’s The Conspirator, Marry Me, The Librarian 3: Curse of the Judas Chalice, Bobby Jones’ Stroke of Genius, Roland Emmerich’s The Patriot.
His TV Credits include, HBO’s John Adams, Army Wives, MTV’s Teen Wolf, Drop Dead Diva.
His Video Production work is geared towards the small to medium size business that wants to increase their exposure, through the power of video, over the internet, on cable, at trade shows, in waiting rooms or wherever there is a monitor and eyes that can see it!
Before acting and video production, John spent over a decade in the insurance industry in London and Los Angeles, brokering commercial insurance for a wide variety of businesses including some Fortune 500 companies. This experience he sees as invaluable for understanding the business side of a video while his acting experience he see’s as invaluable for the creative side of a video. This strong combination he feels is fairly unique amongst the video production industry.
About 15 years ago John decided to follow in his father’s footsteps who was a notable actor at the National Theatre and in London’s West End generally. Entertainment was what he grew up knowing and the creative process is very much in his genes.
CONNECT WITH JOHN:
The most crucial hours of any missing persons case are the first seventy-two. But it is the next 87,660 hours and beyond when the real challenges present themselves. When an investigator must keep searching despite decaying evidence, aging children or deteriorating acuity, herein lies the specialty of veteran Detective Dan Skok of the Missing Persons Bureau.
Eight year-old Paul Ryan Gray goes missing in his own house throwing the Gray family into chaos. Det. Skok and his team of investigators recognize the unusual nature of such a case. In an equally unusual response, Skok and his team move into the house and become residents of the crime scene in order to solve this oddball mystery.
As one family disintegrates, another is built.