James studied at Guildford School of Acting. He made his West End debut in the hit Musical Jersey Boys playing Hank Majewski and covering the part of Bob Gaudio. Other theatre credits include Les Miserables (Queen’s Theatre, London), Lucky Stiff (Landor Theatre, London), The Full Monty (Key Theatre, Peterborough) and The Last Maharajah Workshop (Wyndham’s Theatre, London). James has recently finished touring the UK with Carnaby Street the musical.
Did you always want to be on stage or did you have other dream jobs as a kid?
I always wanted to be a pilot as a kid. I was always involved in theatre (Am Dram and youth theatre) but it was more of a hobby. I wanted to join the RAF as a fighter pilot! I went for a scholarship selection at RAF Cranwell at the age of 16 but there was a mix-up with the type of scholarship I was up for and they had no more places for pilots. So I planned on re-applying when I was 18, but then started helping a friend, Griffin Stephens, with his application to drama schools and thought “Why don’t I give this a go?!”, and then got in to GSA!
What was the first role you ever played and how old were you?
My first role outside of school plays was the role of Tommy in Blitz! the musical when I was about 9 or 10. It was a local Am Dram production and my mum was the choreographer. My brother Jason and I got our first tastes of the stage there, and then joined the Key Youth Theatre at the Key Theatre, Peterborough.
You just finished touring the UK with Carnaby Street the musical. Do you enjoy touring?
Carnaby Street was my first experience of touring and I have to say I loved it! It was only a 3 month tour, so there wasn’t really time to get frustrated with it. Obviously it is hard being away from home and loved ones, but it’s kind of a mini adventure and refreshing after being in London for 4 years.
You’ve been in several shows over the past years. What has been your favourite job so far and why?
My favourite job will always be Jersey Boys. It was my first largescale job out of college, my West End debut, and I got to cover and play Bob Gaudio a lot over the 2 years I was in the show. It was such a fun building to work in that I actually went back after I left the show to work backstage for a few months between acting jobs.
Would you ever consider returning to a show you’ve already been in or do you rather go for new shows and new challenges?
I’d certainly consider going back to any of the shows I’ve been in, but you’re always looking to progress your career and as yet I’ve never been a lead or a feature, so if I was to go back I’d always be looking for some sort of improvement if it was at all possible.
What are your dream roles?
This is a tough one, as there are so many. I always wanted to play Marius but I’m too old for that now! I’d love to play Javert, I just think there’s so much depth to that character. Princeton/Rod in Avenue Q would be a lot of fun, and Raoul in Phantom. So just a few!
This year you have been in one of the most popular musicals of all time (Les Miserable, obviously) and in a new musical set in 1960s London (Carnaby Street). What’s next for you then? Any plans for 2014 you can share?
At the moment there’s nothing lined up for 2014 unfortunately. There were a couple of things in the pipeline that didn’t work out but part of the job is being patient and waiting for the next opportunity to show itself, so watch this space!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I’d love to say that I see myself still performing, and preferably in a lead role in the West End! I’ve always wanted to move into TV/Film but that’s increasingly more and more difficult for Musical Theatre performers to do.
How do you spend your free time? Do you go to the theatre sometimes or do you rather do something completely different?
I go to the theatre when I can but it’s usually to see friends in their shows. The problem is that when you’re in a show you have very little time to go to the theatre and when you’re between acting jobs you can’t afford it! I’m a big motorsport fan, so I like to watch the F1 and I regularly go karting with friends. I’m also a bit of a computer game geek, so the Xbox gets a lot of use! And I play guitar and bass.
Last question and this is an all time favourite: If there was a movie about your life, who should play you? Obviously it can’t be yourself!
Tough question! And I saw that Jason said he’d pick me! Cheers bro! One of my favourite actors at the moment is Andrew Garfield, so I’d pick him!
Thank you James for taking the time to do this interview!
You can follow James on Twitter @jamesnwinter