What do you get when we say Game of Thrones, Medici, Miss Scarlet and the Duke, and the upcoming Army of the Dead Prequel for Netlfix? Scottish Actor, Stuart Martin. We caught up with the Duke, to Miss Scarlet to talk about some of his biggest roles, that Silas Sharrow body, and what is next for him as we begin to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel for life and Hollywood.
MM: First things first, how are you doing with this intense year we are having? What is helping you get through it?
SM: A lot of Below Deck. I’ve clocked up like a hundred and fifty hours so far. And now I’m really wiping the brain cells out with a bit of Married At First Sight Australia. It’s been a mad year, hasn’t it? Can you believe that’s been a year and we’re still here, with all these restrictions and controls and uncertainty? But the light’s there at the end of the tunnel now. When it all first hit it was a bit of a terrifying time for our industry. As it was for everyone. Everything stopped work-wise. Any jobs I had lined up were just sort of pushed and you didn’t know if they would ever go. The idea that our industry was going to be able to do anything this year seemed a distant vague hope. It just stopped dead. Quite terrifying. As it was for everyone. Stuff slowly got going again but there’s still so much uncertainty, testing everyone in the cast and crew is expensive and not all productions can afford the extra 10/15 percent onto the budget. Now the introduction of hotel quarantines and the ongoing possibility of isolation when you’re doing a job abroad is making it almost impossible to go and do jobs away as it means you won’t see the family for months on end. It’s playing heavily into whether you can do a job or not, and it’s such a shame to have to say no to jobs you really want to do because of that, but that’s what’s happening. But the positives have been really amazing. The chance to have so much lovely time with my wife and my family and to just stop and enjoy time at home has really been amazing. Really really amazing. I feel like we’ve all slowed down a bit. It’s been a bit of a reset. I hope we can keep a bit of that as we come out of this.
MM: You are from Scotland! What was life like growing up there as a kid, what part of being Scottish plays a big part in who you are today?
SM: Agh, I love Scotland. I love being Scottish. You have a real sense of belonging. You carry it with you. There’s such an amazing history and culture there that you can tap into, and I feel never leaves you. I feel very proud to be Scottish. Growing up in Scotland was lovely. I’m from a little seaside town near Glasgow called Ayr. We were 10 minutes walk from the sea. As a kid we were always mucking about down the beach or in the big open spaces of the woods, you’re surrounded by countryside and nature if you want it. It’s a great place to grow up. It’s a slower pace of life than London. It’s quieter. I do love the buzz of London and I miss it just now, but I’m also really craving the country and Scotland more as I get older. In the summer we’d head up to the highlands and go on holiday there for a few weeks. Just a beautiful place in the world to spend any time. I feel that sort of makes you. That time spent fishing and walking and climbing as a kid. I miss Scotland when I haven’t been there for a while. And that feeling of the great, wide-open outdoors where you are surrounded by beautiful mountains and valleys, like you, are in the highlands. I get this urge to just go sometimes. Like now. I hate to say it, but I’ve just bought some roof bars and a roof box for a trip up when we are released. I’m officially turning into my dad. I wear fleeces and shit.
MM: Any specific memory growing up that sparked the acting bug?
SM: Cinema. I loved the cinema. I loved our local Odeon in Ayr. That feeling of getting your ticket on a Saturday afternoon then walking down the dark corridor of this old Art Deco building in need of a bit of TLC. Getting darker and darker leading into the screen. Then the booming sound and the scale of the screen. I just loved it. I was obsessed with it. I also remember being 10 or 11 or something and Trainspotting came on the Tv, it was past my bedtime and my mum and dad wouldn’t let me watch it as they had heard it was filth, so off everyone went to bed. Once the house had gone quiet I snuck into the living room and turned the Tv on really quietly, sitting about 3 and a half inches from the screen with the volume on two, and watched it with my finger on the off button in case my parents came in. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my life, and it’s stuck with me since. Still one of the best and most ingenious films. Danny is a genius and my hero. I was lucky enough to get to work with him years later. I wanted to be Ewan McGregor for about three years after watching that. Being an actor was all I wanted to do as a kid. But I never did anything about it, like going to acting classes or youth theatre or anything. When people would ask me what I wanted to do I’d sort of skirt around it and come up with a load of other jobs I could see myself doing, but none felt quite right. Plumber, army, teacher, set builder, carpenter. None of them quite filled the major problem in life that I get bored easily. Then I remember one evening I was out with my best mate. We lived two streets apart and we would meet at the end of his street and go smoke ciggies after school when we were fifteen and put the world to right. And he said to me ‘give it a go mate, what’s the worst that could happen.‘ I felt like him saying that was the approval I needed to give it a go. If he said it maybe it wasn’t ridiculous. Up to then, it had been laughed off by teachers or parents or anyone I had asked, ‘How do a become an actor?’ I mean, growing up in a town like Ayr in the noughties is a ridiculous question. I totally get it. It’s just not something you do. But you need someone to say, ‘yeah, give it a go’ and I’m so glad he did.
Man of Metropolis – Digital Issue
MM: We are going to cover a lot I promise, but with the Snyder Cut making major waves right now due to the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League upcoming release let’s talk Army of the Dead Prequel and Zack Snyder first!
SM: Yes! I’d love to. He’s another hero of mine. He cast Fucking Superman! And he directed 300! He’s another genius. I was looking back and I think I’ve seen every one of his films since 300 in the cinema and I remember that same feeling it gave me in my feeling watching them. Butterflies in my stomach with excitement. And an aching desire to be in a film like that. I have to pinch myself when I think that I’m in his universe with Army. It’s a total dream.
MM: What was it like to get pitched / audition for the role of Brad Cage in a Zack Snyder Zombie film? Can you walk us through that process a bit?
SM: That was a really really lovely experience. They’re not always like that. The process is often very long, mostly leading to. You not getting the part. But when they happen like this it’s just the dream. I got the script, loved it, sent a tape in thinking I’d never heard back from it, then a few days later got a call from my agent saying they wanted me for the part. Matthias the director, who has become a proper pal, called me and we chatted for an hour. We screamed down the phone at each other we were both so excited. He has amazing energy and passion, I’ve never quite had a call like it. He was just buzzing to get started and buzzing with his team that he’d pulled together. A proper family. We were like two giddy geeky kids chatting about how we were going to be doing a film for Zack F£&king Snyder! Matthias has this unwavering passion and energy and brilliance that didn’t falter from that first call, all the way through shooting in the middle of a lockdown and pandemic, now into post-production. He’s amazing. A brilliant actor and incredible director and a top bloke and dad. And he’s made a really brilliant cool film, I’m excited for people to see it!
MM: When did production start on AOTD and was it impacted at all by COVID-19?
SM: We started out in Prague in September and we filmed right up to a few days before Xmas. Covid completely changed the landscape of filming. Even down to getting home for Christmas. I arrived back 6 days before the birth of my second child but it was all a bit touch and go. All flights were canceled because of the new variant and it was at the time they closed the crossing from France. So we were going to be stuck there. The producers were amazing and they got a plane to fly 7 of us out and back to the Uk. It was all very merry. Through the shoot, we were tested 3 times a week, and we were in a bubble, so really we were isolated in our hotels when not filming. That was tough for the first month as the rest of Prague was out enjoying life, but then the second wave hit, and everyone was locked down and we carried on filming. The producers and Netflix were amazing with how they dealt with Covid. Keeping it out the production with all their safety protocols. At a time when the rate of infection in the Czech Republic went crazy. They did an amazing job and we finished on time with only a few days run over. Personally, filming away with Covid was tough. Normally you fly home every weekend to see the family and they come out and see you but With all the restrictions we couldn’t fly. So you’re stuck there. And the family couldn’t fly out. It was tough. But hopefully, there’s light there at the end of the tunnel of how we get some normality back with our work and travel With our work.
MM: Ok, switching gears to another new project coming up DAMPYR.
SM: Yes! I’m excited about DAMPYR.
MM: Did you grow up reading comic books and what characters were your favorites?
SM: I wasn’t actually a big Comic book fan as a kid, I didn’t really know about them, but I am now. I’m shit the pants excited about seeing Zacks Justice league cut. My sons really loving Batman and the joker and the whole DC world right now so I’m loving reading that with him at night. And being introduced to the DAMPYR novels I was excited to see what they would do with that world. It’s so raw and vivid.
MM: Can you tell us more about the film now that it is in post-production and have you already started filming as Kurjak yet?
SM: We filmed it out in Romania at the end of 2018. God that feels like a lifetime ago now. And they’ve been in post with it since. I think we’ve got an amazing film on our hands just from seeing what we were doing on set, but I haven’t actually seen any of it yet. It’s got a really dark, gritty, real feel to it, but with amazing big action sequences. I think it will be really cool. Once I see some of it I’ll tell you more!
MM: (btw we love the caesar haircut you are rocking in the artwork)
SM: Ha! So 90s isn’t it?
MM: Since this is a comic book-based film did you do anything fitness and diet-related to prepare for it; we imagine you may have trained similarly for AOTD simultaneously?
SM: For DAMPYR I mostly drank whisky and smoked 40 Marlboro’s a day… Kurjak smokes like a chimney so I was puffing about 40 cigs a day on set in scenes. But that was right for him. He’s pretty fucked in the film. And as a geezer. He’s in the middle of a war. He’s lost everything. He’s beaten. So it was perfect. I felt fucked all the time. It was winter in Romania, it was freezing and 70 percent night shoots. And I was doing a 20-hour commute to get home on weekends with not much sleep. We were lucky enough to be doing all the action ourselves so I was achy and full of bruises with cuts all over my hands because I kept cocking my AK47 wrong and it would take chunks out my hands. Which the stunt guys thought was hilarious. I felt very close to him as a character. And that for me is the most important thing. I need to feel the character or no one else is going to. I definitely felt Kurjak, I loved him as a character.
MM: Speaking of training, it is no secret you have been action hero ready. For example, you played Silas Sharrow in Jamestown and we can’t shake this image out of our head. It seems every role an actor plays that requires a physical portrayal calls for adjustments in diet and exercise. How was playing Silas different than Kurjak and Brad Cage?
SM: Ha. Pre this photo I was twelve kilos heavier and loving life of red wine and eating EVERYTHING. We did a few seasons of Jamestown out in Budapest in the summer with an amazing bunch of pals. It was like being in a holiday camp with your best mates. We ate and drank too much and all put on a lot of weight each year. You could see it from the first ep to the last of your look. Then I got the news I was going to be in a loincloth for the whole of season 3 and I thought, shit….
So about 8 weeks before I switched up my diet. Starting doing a lot of cardio and managed to drop twelve kilos or something in time to start filming. I became very boring. But unfortunately, that’s the only way I could do it. Be incredibly strict with myself for those weeks than during filming for 4 months. If rather smashing it for a few months then enjoy the rest of the time off than live like that all the time. What Works for my head. I always love finding the voice for the character. But almost more than that I like to find the physical voice for the character. I can see that in my head more clearly when I first start working on them. That’s always been quite clear to me. How they look, then the rest follows. I really enjoy switching up the physicality to suit them and what their life is. With Silas, he goes from being a farmer to being a hunter-gatherer. He needed to be lighter and leaner and more agile when he goes and joins the Pamunkey. They are out hunting and traveling massive distances daily. With Brad, he’s more of a bruiser. He’s sort of based himself on those 00’s action stars so that was his vibe physically. More muscle. I worked with an amazing trainer Stevie in Prague who had me doing these brutal workouts. He also did all our weapons training on Army and he’s an animal. And with Kurjak he’s a bruiser. Strong but damaged and wounded. He battles on, so for Kurjak I just wanted to feel achy so my gym training reflected that. I love it. I love that challenge of switching it up physically. Setting a goal and seeing if you can reach it. Keeps training interesting and fun. I really love that part of the job.
MM: Let’s talk The Duke! Miss Scarlett and The Duke just released in the states about a month ago. How would you describe the series to someone who doesn’t normally watch PBS?
SM: If you love a shit hot Victorian detective with a good bit of banter and a lot of fun you’ll like Miss Scarlet. She’s London’s first female private detective with a nice splash of Sherlock sort of vibe.
MM: So now that you are awaiting your most recent projects to release, what are you up to currently, any new hobbies to pass the time during lockdown?
SM: Shit, I wish I did. I should really have learned something, shouldn’t I? I haven’t. I’ve done sweet F all in the learning new skills department. I’ve just been enjoying time at home with my babies until I have to go away with work again.
MM: Top 3 movies of all time?
SM: The Incredibles, Rob Roy, The Other Guys.
MM: Most groundbreaking streaming-only series in the last 10 years?
MM: Everyone has been streaming more than ever – have you discovered any new guilty pleasures or old shows you may have missed?
SM: Below deck. All 12 seasons.
Thank god for tech and streamers in this time. We’d be fucked without them and our industry would. No cinema for a year at least. Things are being trialed with home releases and simultaneous releases with cinema and at home, and I think that’s great. Some work and some don’t. They’re adapting. We’re not in the days of 24-inch telly anymore. People have got 40/50 inch incredible picture technology in their front room now. So streamers aren’t going anywhere and the amount of content we are devouring and demanding isn’t going anywhere. I miss the cinema, I can’t wait to get back. But it needs to adapt to survive and be there for us in the future, and I think it will. It will find its place again in this new world. The last year has taught us that.
MM: Let’s talk fashion! How would you describe your personal style?
MM: Go-to outfit or brand for a chic night now?
SM: Simple. I love my Levi’s. And a right nice T. I love a Knitted T-shirt or polo. I really love a nice pair of boots. Nice comfy big boots. Redwings and Grensons. Love em. For a proper night or event a nice suit. Can’t beat it.
MM: Words to live by?
SM: Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. My mum and dad used to tell me that. And, don’t be a prick. They didn’t tell me that but suspect they often wanted to.
Photography: Joseph Sinclair
Styling: Krishan Parmar
Grooming: Katrin Rees
Editor: Seth Travis