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...
Jason Maza starred as 'Tommy' in Sucker Punch at the Royal Court Downstairs Theatre
Date of Birth?
24 April 1987
Place of birth?
Bart’s Hospital, London, (I was one of the last babies born there so that must make me special!)
Did you go to training school, if so which one?
I went to a Saturday drama club, called Collins Performing Arts in Romford. I got a place at central School of Speech of Drama when I was 18 but had an agent and was working so after asking everyone I knew for advice, decided not to go.
Briefly tell us how you became involved with Sucker Punch.
The casting director at the Royal Court had cast me in another production a year before, so they brought me in… but this audition process was not the norm. First up was a boxing workshop, if you got passed that then you got to read and once this stage was also passed you went on to do a movement workshop, it was pretty intense.
Briefly tell us about the character of Tommy you play in Sucker Punch
Tommy is a boxer, a very good boxer, on his way to the top, he’s driven by status and feels the need to put people in their place. He also represents a lot of young boys attitude throughout that time, the plays is set in the 80’s and Tommy’s attitude towards the black characters in the play are pretty strong, you could say he’s the villain of the piece.
Your first stage performance?
My first stage performance was “The Cage” written by Deborah Gearing and John Burgess (I was 18) I still see John now and hear from him regularly, he was the most giving director I’ve worked with. It was young cast the brilliant (Zawe Ashton) was featured too. The way he nurtured us was amazing…
Career highlight to date?
I’ve been very lucky, there have been lots of great moments, possible my role in Shifty, the film was made with pennies, but the reviews and response was superb. I am hoping the next highlight will be my next film, THE TAPES, (out in November) which I star in and am a producer of... very excited.
What roles would you most like to play?
I want to push myself as much as I can, I enjoy the challenge of a role, I don’t like it if it’s too easy, I like to have to do stuff physically, for example Sucker Punch I’ve lost 1 stone and half to get down to the right weight for a welter weight boxer.. So I suppose as long as it’s challenging and a great script...
As an actor, do you have a preference for stage, TV or film?
Theatre and film will always come first I have a huge love for both, because you get rehearsals and you get the time to perfect what your trying to do, make it the best it can be. In TV there are so many constraints like budget and timing... it can sometimes feel like you have to suffer quality over substance.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
“Learn to love auditions” (as quoted by my mum)… and I really do, until your Johnny Deep you’re always going to have to audition and screen test…
What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?
Probably throughout my play at the Bush Theatre “Flight Path”… let’s just say I was dying to go and I had a little accident...
What is the most annoying part about your job?
Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you I LOVE what I do, however the most annoying part I suppose is doing jobs for free or next to no money. People assume because I work in TV and film I get paid big bucks! I promise you most Brit films I’ve done haven’t been well paid, however I suppose whilst I’m young this is the time to graft, graft and graft! I’m smiling to myself as I remember the cast of a film I was in being paid £48 per day, now that’s a tight budget... but it was a great film so I can’t complain too much.
If you had not become a performer, what might you have done instead?
Hmmm, probably a footballer, I played semi pro level, and if not that then a trader in the city... (I’m shuddering at the thought)
Favourite after-show haunts
Loving Shoreditch house although I’m not a member…. Balans is great for a late night feast…
Who are your favourite actors/actresses?
Someone I look up to is British actor Ray Winstone... If you look what he has achieved, he started off as a working class British film actor to a big star in Hollywood. We’re from similar backgrounds as well as the same area so I suppose I can relate to him. If I have half the career he has I’ll be very happy.
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and what would you say to them?
At the moment, it would have to be Muhammad Ali (in his prime, before his famous quote”) I’d say “do you fancy a spar, Mr Ali? I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”
What was the last book you read, and name some of your favourite authors?
Chris Evans autobiography, it was a really good read. That man has some stories to tell. The underlying theme throughout the book which is something I live by everyday is ‘you got to work hard no excuses’./
What was the last film you saw, and name some of your favourite movies?
Four Lions…best film I’m seen in a while, I felt privileged to have worked with three of the main cast who feature in it. If you haven’t seen it you must…
Favourite TV programmes?
I’m addicted to Entourage… but I’ve just bought the Soprano’s box set which I’m half way through and can’t get enough…
Favourite holiday destinations?
I haven’t been away for a while because of work…but no city ever compares to London...I did a job in Cape Town, South Africa, which was amazing…
Do you have any hobbies?
Yeah I love sport. When I can play a bit of 5 a side I’m happy. I was invited to play in a game which James McAvoy organises…that was fun. Also as we do a lot of boxing in Sucker Punch, I’m doing a lot of training with former European boxing champ, the brilliant Errol Christie. Do you have any superstitions?
I do actually, although weirdly I don’t consider myself superstitious. I refuse to highlight scripts in yellow until I’m offered the job. Also I’m a sucker for the stepping on three drains one, silly I know!
What are your future plans?
To keep developing as an actor – basically be the best I can be. Also I’d like to continue expanding on producing films. I recent co founded a production company named PURE FILMS and we have several scripts on the fire at the moment which I’m really excited about, can’t wait to show people what I’ve been up to!