James Phelps: Harry Potter to Woody Allen

Caro Meets Comedy Interview Musicals Interview Theatre Interview

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The not-actually-red-headed James Phelps – known for playing ginger haired Weasley twin Fred in the Harry Potter films – this week takes to the stage in Islington to perform in a rather intriguing sounding show called ‘The Boy Who Was Woody Allen’. Given the premise, we were, unsurprisingly, very interested in finding out more…

CM: ‘The Boy Who Was Woody Allen’ – it’s quite a title! Can you tell us briefly what it’s all about?
JP: Yes, it is a funky title. In a short, I play a guy called John O’Leary who decides when he leaves school he wants to become Woody Allen. However, after some success, he learns that everything he knows about his ‘source of inspiration’ isn’t exactly true.

CM: How would you categorise the show? Is it a comedy? It sounds quite surreal.
JP: Very much a comedy. Best way would be quirky-musical-comedy.

CM: How did you get involved with the project? Who else is involved?
JP: I have always wanted to do theatre, and a few weeks ago I was sent the script and asked if I would be interested. I loved the script and met with Adam Morley (director) and Geoff Morrow (Writer) and we hit it off right away. Three weeks later and it’s nearly opening night.

CM: Are you a fan of Woody Allen? If so, which is your favourite film of his?
JP: I’m a huge Woody Allen fan, I really like ‘Annie Hall’, but I think ‘Bananas’ is my favourite.

CM: Did you watch any Woody Allen films to ‘research the role’?
JP: I have watched a few yes; ‘Annie Hall’, ‘Manhattan’, ‘Zelig’, ‘Bananas’, ‘Stardust Memories’… Not the worst homework I’ve ever had.

CM: You’ve worked on lots of films in recent years. Which is better, film-ing or theatre-ing?
JP: This is actually my first theatre gig! But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It is very different to filming; if you mess up filming, you cut and retake… however, on stage if you mess up then you have to get on with it… I’m praying that doesn’t happen though.

CM: Can you tell us an amusing Harry Potter anecdote? Or a dull one, we’re not fussy.
JP: We were in Orlando for the opening of the Wizarding World of HP at universal studios, and one evening Oliver (my brother) and Rupert Grint and I went out and ended up in a place called Rising Star (very cool karaoke place). We ended up doing a song and then found out the audience was full of Harry Potter fan-site people… perhaps unsurprisingly, we seemed to go down pretty well…!

CM: The show is set for a short run at Pleasance London. Are there any plans for further runs or a tour?
JP: That’s what is exciting and unpredictable about doing the first trial run of a show. It’s like seeing a band for the first time before they go big. If it goes down as well as we hope then I think we will tour with it, yes.

James appears in ‘The Boy Who Was Woody Allen’ at Pleasance Islington from 6-9 Feb. See the venue website for info and tickets

LINKS: theboywhowaswoody.com | www.pleasance.co.uk/islington | twitter.com/James_Phelps

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Posted: Monday February 4 2013