From Fun Home to Waitress, from Next to Normal to Finding Neverland - it's always fun collating the various rumours flying around theatreland. After a very busy...
Bill Ward is currently playing Sam Phillips in Million Dollar Quartet at Noel Coward Theatre
Place of birth?
Newcastle upon Tyne. I'm a bit of a posh Geordie, but a Geordie nevertheless, and very proud of it.
Did you go to training school, if so which one?
Yes, when I was 32. I did a one year post-grad at The Actors Company at The London Centre for Theatre Studies in Shoreditch. 40 hours a week training, crammed into a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so you could work during the rest of the week to pay your way through Drama School. Which also meant you got access to some of the best teachers in London.
Briefly tell us how you became involved with Million Dollar Quartet?
I was lucky enough to be sent the script, and really really liked the story. The jamming session which the show is based on is a pretty legendary event in the States, but not so over here. Then I did the audition along with everyone else, and am absolutely delighted I was offered the part.
Your first stage performance?
Doing a play exclusively in Latin at prep school when I was 11. We did it on some grass outside a swimming pool. I’m still not sure why.
Career highlight to date?
Playing a gnome called Kevin for an outdoor performance group for 3 magnificent days at Glastonbury. I was in a massive storyline in Coronation Street at the time, but it's amazing what you can get away with underneath a red pointy hat, stick-on beard and specs.
What roles would you most like to play?
After Kevin the Gnome, there's not much that really cuts it.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
Do your best. My Dad always used to say that to me.
What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage/TV?
Early in previews for Million Dollar Quartet, a telephone I happened to be talking into on stage suddenly, and very obviously, became detached from the wall. Tricky to come back from that.
What is the most annoying part about your job?
Trying to find the right time to eat. Too early and you're eating your own fist by 10pm, too late and you're still fighting off chicken burrito narcosis as the curtain goes up.
If you had not become a performer, what might you have done instead?
Before I re-trained as an actor, for ten years I had a proper and really rather successful career as an Account Director and Senior Strategic Planner for some of the top Advertising Agencies in the country, including Saatchi and Saatchi, and BBH.
Who are your favourite actors/actresses?
Film-wise, Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, which they were both in, was one of my favourite films growing up. Stage-wise, I'd go to see pretty much anything Mark Rylance was in.
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and what would you say to them?
My mum died quite a long time ago. I'd like to say hello to her again.
What was the last book you read, and name some of your favourite authors?
"Best Man for Dummies". I'm a dummy, and I recently needed (and was delighted) to be a best man. I just bought The Spirit Level, and The Age of Absurdity off Amazon for some holiday reading.
What was the last film you saw, and name some of your favourite movies?
Actually the first cut of a film I was in last year called "The Great Ghost Rescue", which I think is due for release at some point this year. It was one of those invited screening type things early on a Sunday morning in a biggish cinema in the West End. Growing up, I loved pretty much anything with Clint Eastwood in it, particularly the spaghetti westerns. Fistful of Dollars, Few Dollars More, Outlaw Josey Wales, that kind of thing.
Favourite TV programmes?
Actually, I've gone off TV a fair bit in the past couple of years. I still watch a lot of sport on it though.
Favourite holiday destinations?
I tend to like places that are not particularly busy, and quite cold. Iceland is extraordinary, so is Chile. Currently a very big fan indeed of the far north west of Scotland.
Do you have any hobbies?
When I'm not acting, I'm a very keen landscape photographer. My first exhibition "WinterTide" showed at The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, and at The Tabernacle in Notting Hill earlier this year. My photography website is www.thingsthatihaveseen.com, if you'd like to have a look. I've also been a mad keen surfer for the last 20 years or so, and have surfed various bits of Britain, Europe, California etc... I get to the sea as often as I can.
Do you have any superstitions?
Yes, absolutely loads, and I'm absolutely not telling you what they are.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?
A camera, a radio, and a surfboard. Brilliant. When can I start?
What are your future plans?