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An interview with actor Anthony Welsh

13 October 2017 Katie Da Cunha Lewin

Londoner Anthony Welsh is having quite a busy time of late. He has ran the gamut of roles, appearing in films such as My Brother the Devil and Sand Castle, as well as the BBC’s successful comedy Fleabag. He talks to London Calling about his upcoming role in film Journeyman by acclaimed actor/director Paddy Considine.

London Calling: Thanks for speaking to us today! Could you tell us a bit about your role in Journeyman?
 
Anthony Welsh: I play Andre Bright, a young up-and-coming superstar in the boxing world of Journeyman. In order to get the championship belt he needs to fight Matthew Burton played by Paddy Considine. Paddy’s character Matty is towards the end of his career, he’s a solid fighter and he’s coming up against a brash, trash-talking young man. Without giving too much away about the film, their clash results in Matty’s character suffering from a brain injury so you follow that journey in the film.
 
LC: Did you have to undertake a lot of training?
 
AW: Yea, I joined the film a few weeks before we shot and so I had a few weeks of training in the Ingle gym up in Sheffield where we were filming.  The nutritionist Greg had us on a very strict diet, a lot of water intake which is the hardest thing actually.  One day I had to drink 8 litres in 8 hours.  It sounds crazy and it was a hard day! I tell one of the boys at the gym ‘I drank eight litres yesterday’ and he said ‘I did ten yesterday!’ How do you drink that much in a day?! But it was a privilege to step into these guys’ shoes and do what they do every day, I was doing it for a month or six weeks, and they do it all the time.
 
LC: You’ve worked in a production that’s involved boxing before, Sucker Punch, a production at the Royal Court in summer 2010.  Did that make you more interested in the role?
 
AW: That’s where I first learnt how to box, or at least look like I could box; I don’t like being punched in the face very much. Paddy found out that I did that play and saw some footage of me boxing, and that helped me get the role.


Anthony Welsh and Paddy Considine in Journeyman (c) Sal_Gigjunkie
 
LC: Were you into boxing before you starred in the play?
 
AW: I was, but as more of a casual fan. I’d watch the big fights with Tyson or Bruno, or with Hollifield back in the day, and I’d seen a couple of Mohammed Ali’s famous fights. I was never an avid fan but doing Sucker Punch and then doing Journeyman, gave me a lot of appreciation for what they do. If you haven’t done it you don’t realise how much effort it takes and how fit you have to be in order to do it. It’s amazing.
 
LC: What attracts you to specific roles?
 
AW: I guess what I look for in roles is that has to be fun and exciting and scare me in some regard. I remember getting Journeyman, and I was excited by the prospect of doing it but I got really scared. I thought is that normal? I spoke to my agent, spoke to some friends and they agreed that it wouldn’t be normal if you weren’t a bit scared. If I’m scared it probably means it going to be worthwhile. I’ll learn something and it will probably make me a better person and a better actor.
 
LC: You’ve worked with Paddy Considine before in 2016’s The Girl with all the Gifts as an actor and now in Journeyman as an actor/director. What’s he like to work with?
 
AW: I’ve been a fan of his, like a lot of people, for a long time. I had a supporting role in that film but most of the reason I did that is because I’d be working with Paddy.  On that set we got to talking about boxing; I didn’t know he was such an avid fan. His stories are always so touching and heartfelt. So I jumped at the opportunity to work with him.
 
LC: As a Londoner, would you mind sharing some of your favourite London spots with us?
 
AW: Ah but if I share them, then more people will go! Most of my favourite things to do are to go out and eat with friends; I’m vegan so I like to go to Mildred’s. Me and my boys like to meet up in Busaba for drinks. Otherwise, I’m a bit of a hermit. I like to stay in and play chess or backgammon and do origami. I’m also learning the guitar.
 
LC: Is there anything on your cultural radar in the next few months?
 
AW: I really want to go see Kendrick Lamar - it just got announced - but I’m working so I can’t see it! I’ve seen him before, so I’m not too gutted. I went to Soul of a Nation at the Tate Modern and I really enjoyed that. I’m looking forward to seeing the Basquiat exhibition at the Barbican. He’s been a real big cultural influence, especially in hip hop which I listen to, but I’ve never seen his work live so really looking forward to that.

Journeyman premieres as part of the London Film Festival and is released nationwide February 16th 2018.
 
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