Let’s Break The Ice- why are we drinking Mojito’s?
When I become a bartender, a Mojito was the first thing I learnt how to make, so it has special significance for me.
I’m curious about the beginning. Was there a moment in your childhood when you knew you wanted to act?
I guess, yes and no. I always wanted to be a performer. I was always writing little skits for my family to watch as a kid. I moved to a new school when I was about 8 years old and that was the first time I got the chance to perform on stage- I think it was that moment when I knew I loved it and wanted to continue doing it.
I have to ask you about your name Antonio- it’s very exotic. Where does it come from?
So my parents thought “ how can we mess up our Indian children- let’s give them Italian names!” They just wanted something different for me and my father thought it would make me stand out.
You have done very well since you finished school. Are you one of those people that started booking roles straight out of college?
Not necessarily. I do feel lucky but it’s still a graft. It’s a lot of hard work. It’s not as simple as just booking jobs. It doesn’t work that way. I would say it’s taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
How do you keep going when there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears?
It’s interesting because a lot of people ask this question. I always feel that if you are passionate about something, it should be enough for you. I love performing, I love acting, I love being in this industry so much and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.
In your opinion, what makes a good actor?
A good actor is someone that listens. Some of the most incredible actors that I have seen are so present and in the moment. When you watch Leonardo DiCaprio, you know he is completely in that character – he inspires you when you watch him work. A good actor is generous and they give you energy in the scene. I was so lucky to meet Michael Shannon and he said to me “ know your truth man”- if you can find the truth and play it- that makes a good actor.
Congratulations on Tomb Raider– what was it like when you got the call that you had booked a role alongside Alicia Vikander?
It was surreal. I was in the middle of shooting Eaten By Lions and I got a call saying that I needed to go on tape in the next hour- I filmed it during lunch and got a few of the other actors to help me out. Two or three days later, I got a call to say that I got the job. I finished Eaten By Lions on the Wednesday and on the Thursday I was in hair and makeup for Tomb Raider.
Who has given you the best advice in show business so far?
I get loads of great advice. I’m like a sponge, I always ask everyone I’m working with for advice- writers, directors, actors, whoever. On one of my first BBC dramas, I worked with a director called Reece Dinsdale – he said to me “ask for what you need because when the cameras turn on, you need to be there and in that moment. No one is going to be listening to your excuses as to why you didn’t do your best work”- that’s something that has always stuck with me and given me a confidence to ask for what I need. So ask questions.
I had the best time- the best director, the best team- everyone was just great! Jack and I needed to have a brotherly bond that felt very authentic and real. So in order to do that, I did everything for him during the shoot. My character Omar, is Jack’s carer in the film so I was trying to live as truthfully to that as possible- so that when you saw the relationship on screen, it felt real.
You have just finished filming a movie in Spain- can you tell us a little about the film and your character?
It’s called Grenada Nights and it’s about a young man, played by myself who ends up heartbroken and goes to Spain to find himself again. He is very uncultured and hadn’t seen much of the world – it’s very different to Eaten By Lions. It comes out next year.
You were named by Screen Daily as one of their Screen Stars of Tomorrow for 2018- what was that like?
Again, surreal! Especially when I think about those that have gone before me and have been named Screen Stars of Tomorrow – Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne, Emily Blunt, Riz Ahmed – its incredible company to be in. It’s nice because it means that the industry is keeping an eye on you and thinks that you are essentially one to watch.
What is the highlight of your career so far?
I did a film a few years ago called City of Tiny Lights- one of my inspirations as an actor- James Floyd was playing a character and I got to play the younger version of him. The fact that I have watched him in so many films before and then I got to act alongside him was definitely a highlight.
What advice do you have for up and coming actors who are trying to make it in the industry?
The first thing I would say is you need some sort of training-whether it be film school or drama school- you need to find a safe space for you to flex your muscles. The second thing would be- we live in a digital age where you can go out and make your own work- don’t feel like you need to wait for the phone to ring for someone else to give you an opportunity. The third thing I would say is be involved in the industry. Read plays, watch plays, go to the cinema, know what’s on television. Educate yourself on everything because I learnt about the whole world from watching movies as a kid and that was one of the biggest educations for me.
If you could Break The Ice with anyone, past of present, who would it be and why?
The first one would be the King of Rock and Roll- Elvis Presley- I think he is the coolest guy that has ever lived and I don’t know what I would say if I ever had the chance to meet him but I love his music. Recently I watched Bohemian Rhapsody – I was so sad that my generation never got the chance to grow up with Freddy Mercury and so I think I would Break The Ice with Freddy- I think he would be a wild one!
Videography: Cors Media
Photography: Jack Lewis Williams
Talent: Antonio Aakeel
Host: Kendal Olivia Barrett
Location: The Artist Residence, London