Samuel Barnett

Samuel Barnett starred as 'Leantio' in Women Beware Women at the Olivier, National Theatre

25 April 1980

Place of Birth?
Born in Whitby, North Yorkshire

Did you go to training school, if so which one?
Trained for three years at LAMDA, graduated 2001

Briefly tell us how you became involved with Women Beware Women.
I'd been wanting to work with Marianne Elliot for ages. She cast me in something a few years ago which I then wasn't available to do and i was gutted about that. But then she asked me to audition for Women Beware Women and I jumped at the chance. She's an incredible director and a wonderful person.

Briefly tell us about the character of Leantio
Leantio is a clerk who works at the docks in shipping and he Hates his job. He works away from home and on one trip he meets Bianca who is very much about his social station but they fall in love and marry very quickly. He takes her home and tries to hide her because she's so beautiful that he's paranoid she'll be stolen away from him if other men see her. Which is exactly what happens. He's someone we can all relate to, to an extent. He has very low self-esteem. He feels he deserves better than his lot in life but doesn't really believe that he can ever have it. So when he does find himsef marrying a woman he thought would never look twice at him, he almost ruins it by not believeing she really wants him and will stay with him, even though she leaves everything she's ever known in order to be with him. He's a very sympathetic character, but also compulsive, nervous and slightly paranoid.

Your first stage performance?
My first amateur stage performance was in Wind In The Willows at the Whitby Spa Pavillion with the Whitby Amateur Dramatic Society at the age of six. My first professional stage performance was in The Accrington Pals in the Minerva Theatre in Chichester.

Career highlight to date?
It's difficult to pick a career highlight because every job has offered something different. Sometimes it's an acting challenge, sometimes foreign travel, sometimes a chance to play something I would never normally get to play, but mostly it's the people who make a job great. I'd have to pick out the History Boys as being a highlight. It was made so special by the group of people I was working with, both the actors and the stage management team. Also, the way people took the show to heart made it something very special to be part of. I made life-long friends from that show. In terms of acting challenges, Women Beware Women has been very important for me because I wasn't entirely sure I could pull off a classical piece of theatre. I found the language a great challenge. And in terms of a personal challenge, I'm doing a one-man show called "The Man," written by James Graham, at the Finborough Theatre, (on the nights I'm not performing in Women Beware Women) and I never thought I would be brave enough to do something like that, but it's actually one of the most thrilling experiences I've had on the stage. It's very exposing being up there on my own but the rapport I get with the audience takes the fear out of it. They become a character in themselves.

As an actor, do you have a preference for stage, tv or film?
I love moving between theatre, tv, film and radio. I don't really have a preference. And they're not all that different to one another. It's mostly a question of scale. Even in theatre, in a small space like The Bush or The Finborough you can give a performance that you might normally reserve for tv or film. But in the Olivier Theatre you couldn't give that small a performance. You have to be bigger and really choose your moments to be still or subtle, and I don't think it's the kind of performance you could give on tv. It would look too big. But in terms of acting, I don't feel there's a huge difference between any of the mediums and I don't have a preference. There's more waiting around when filming, but then it feels very fresh and instant. You get a real relationship with a live audience in the theatre and the key is to keep the performance fresh night after night. I Love theatre but I also love acting so I'm grateful to get the chance to do it, whichever medium I'm doing it through.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Actors don't tend to give one another advice. I've learned by watching others. Watching Frances De La Tour and Richard Griffiths and Malcolm Sinclair has really taught me a lot about comedy, stillness, timing and not emoting. I have worked with some amazing directors who are also brilliant teachers, such as Nick Hytner, Marianne Elliot, James Grieve, Stephen Friers and Jane Campion. My training at LAMDA has been invaluable, and so has watching people who have honed their craft over long-term careers in the business.

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?
My most embarrassing moments in acting always involve corpsing. I hate it because when it starts I literally can't stop it. It's actually uncomfortable not to be able to control myself. It happened during The History Boys when Frances did a particularly funny reaction to a line I said and I just lost it. It also happened when I was filming Desperate Romantics and Zoe Tapper and I got the giggles and couldn't stop. We got shouted at in the end because we were running out of time but we just couldn't help it and I don't even know what set us off. Sometimes I get so tired during filming that the smallest thing makes me go.

What is the most annoying part of your job?
The most annoying part about my job is the uncertainty, not knowing when the next job will come along. But apart from that, it's a dream job. I can't believe I get employed to do something I love doing.

If you had not been a performer, what might you have done instead?
If I hadn't gone into acting I might have been a dancer. I danced all through my childhood to the age of 18 when I went to drama school. I can't think what other job I would have done if not some sort of performing. There's nothing else I want to do or am any good at.

Favourite after-show haunts?
Joe Allen's

Who are your favourite actors/ actresses?
Frances De La Tour, Anna Maxwell Martin, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane, Simon Russell Beale, Robert Downey Jr. There are loads more but I can't think of anymore right now.

What was the last book you read, and name some of your favourite authors?
The last book I read was called Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Some of my favourite authors include Ian McEwan, Phillip Pullman, Iain Banks, Audrey Niffenegger.

What was the last film you saw, and name some of your favourite movies?
The last film I saw was The Ghost. Some of my favourite films include American Beauty, The Breakfast Club, Stand By Me, Blair Witch Project, A Single Man, True Lies, Terminator 1 and 2, Let The Right One In, The Lives Of Others, Trains Planes and Automobiles, Trading Places, Up, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Son of Rambo. I could go on but I won't.

Favourite TV programmes?
State of Play, Spooks, Friends, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, The West Wing, Six Feet Under, Desperate Housewives, Dr. Who.

Favourite holiday destinations?
New York

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?
1) enough food and drink for the next 100 years (I can count that as one item, right?) 2) my iPhone (yes, I'm one of Those people) and 3) a masseur.

What are your future plans?
There are "things" in the pipeline that I can't talk about at the moment (how very mysterious-sounding).

Looking for the best seats...