British actor Adeel Akhtar is quietly becoming a familiar face in the world of film and television. Having worked with the likes of Hugh Jackman, Sacha Baron Cohen and in his most recent project River, Stellan Skarsgard, we were lucky enough to catch up with the Utopia star as he took a well-earned break from Christmas Carol rehearsals…
Pitch River to us in your own words…
River is the story of a guy, John River, who is a policeman, but he suffers from an undiagnosed mental condition which forces him to communicate people in his life who have died. They can be interpreted as him not having had any sort of emotional closure over these people who have died, and him having unanswered questions surrounding their deaths, so he manifests them as real people. At his desk at work he has conversations with these imaginary ghosts.
It`s much darker than a lot of what you`ve worked on before. Do you prefer doing drama or doing comedy?
I don`t mind either really. As long as I have a connection with it; if I like the writing or the project in general, I really don`t mind which it is. Ideally you want to find something that has a bit of everything in it!
With your role in Utopia, people are starting to know who you are a lot more now. How does it feel to be becoming more of a household name?
Well, people still don`t really recognize me all that often. You`ll get the occasional person, but not massively. Just every now and again!
You`ve recently appeared in Pan too. Is Hugh Jackman as awesome in real life as he seems to be on screen?
Yeah, he`s a lovely man. He`s the sort of fella that knows he can walk into a room and heads will turn, but he never plays on it. He`s really sweet and down to earth and really approachable. I suppose you have to be though in that position, otherwise you`d probably lose touch with who you are and those around you.
If you could choose any actor, director of writer to work with, who would be your dream collaboration?
Anybody that I can sit down in front of and just have a really good conversation with, no matter whether they`re a writer or an actor or a director. I respect any actor who puts themselves in front of a camera and makes themselves emotionally vulnerable and communicates some sort of truth about the part they`re playing. I`m very lucky that I`ve never had to work with anyone I didn`t like! It all hinges on the kind of person that you are, not necessarily the experience you have. Lars Von Trier though, I would love to be in one of his films but I could sit down with him and have a conversation and then realize we`re not gonna be a good fit. But then there could be a guy who`s just come out of film school and I have a really good chat with him and he`s got an exciting idea that I just want to jump on. It always comes down to what you feel really. I love Lars Von Trier`s films, but you never know if that’s going to turn into a good working relationship. It always comes down to a conversation and how you respond to a person in that conversation.
River Series 1 is available on DVD and Blu-ray from November 30th