Starring in the West End production of “The Last Five Years” is rising star of the acting community Jonathan Bailey, most famous for his part as Olly Stevens in the completely addictive TV drama “Broadchurch”. Bailey’s natural talent to command both stage and screen has won him the role as Jamie in the production, written and directed Tony Award-winning Broadway composer Jason Robert Brown. With Bailey acting opposite Samantha Barks, the production (which has previously won a Drama Desk Award for Music and Lyrics) sees their stories told in opposite directions, with each of them moving forwards and backwards out of sync, meeting only fleetingly. Known for his role in”Leonardo”, as well as stage work in “American Psycho”, “Othello” and “South Downs”, Bailey is never one to shy away from the deeper roles and throw himself in at the deep end.
Wonderland spoke to Jonathan Bailey about the differences between theatre and screen, his role in “The Last Five Years” and the importance of constant change.
How does the preparation process for live theatre differ from that of your screen work?
As a group you hovel yourselves up in a community centre somewhere south of the river and exhaust all ideas and anecdotes and jokes until you collectively decide on the best way to tell the story in hand. For screen, you do all of that but by yourself in your bathroom mirror.
What has most excited you about the production? What has made you nervous?
Working with Jason Robert Brown, the writer, composer and now director of The Last Five Years. Not only is he a superb musician (he sings and plays his material better than anyone), he has an inspired and challenging approach to clear story telling and understands these two delicate and complex characters which a zingy clarity which means you cannot fake even one moment of it. He’ll see right through you.
The Last Five Years has quite a different tone to Broadchurch and American Psycho, for example. Do you prefer the light, comedic roles or the serious drama?
I just prefer a constant change. I find falling into a tonal groove with jobs hazes your instincts. So if you can mix it up as much as possible and constantly throw yourself in at the deep end, your mojo should stay sharp and strong.
You wanted to be an actor for a long time, did you have a dream role when you were growing up? Is it the same now?
I’ve always said I want to play Paul Simon in a film about the South African cultural boycott through apartheid (youtube his ’87 Zimbabwe concert – its next level). I’ve literally outgrown that part unfortunately. Unless they could find a 7 ft Art Garfunkel..?
How do you measure success? What is your ultimate career goal?
Success is arriving at a point where you can choose who you spend your time with, both professionally and personally. Achieving a work life balance that brings happiness and security to you and everyone you meet.
“The Last Five Years” is on at St. James Theatre from Friday 28 October to Saturday 26 November.