Actor Nathan Stewart-Jarrett plays Curtis in E4's brilliant comedy-drama Misfits, which follows a group of superhero ASBO teens. He talks to IdeasTap about his big break, gruelling auditions and finding his stage voice...
If I had to name my big break it would probably be when I was chosen to do Wig Out at the Royal Court. Although I had done three years of theatre beforehand, including the History Boys on the West End, being picked for a lead at the Royal Court was a huge, huge deal for me.
Wig Out was all about the hyper-glamorous world of New York’s competitive drag queens and the stage was made into a catwalk, so it was all very outlandish and wild. The director Dominic Cooke was amazing to work with. He was so clean and so clear. He really let us find things, hone things and nail things down ourselves; as an actor, that is very freeing. The show got a great reception, so it was like a party every night – not that we were partying – but every night after the show we would all go downstairs to the bar and it was like, “Wow this is amazing”.
A part came up in Channel 4’s Misfits not long after. I always thought your audition for drama school was meant to be the hardest you would ever do, but Misfits trumped that. I had to get through four auditions and five meetings before I got the part. The fourth audition was the worst. They placed around 20 of us in a house in Fitzrovia and we all had to work in groups so they could see the dynamics between us. We started in the morning and as the day wore on people were plucked out one by one and sent home. It was quite brutal.
Doing Misfits has been priceless in terms of the experience that comes with working month after month in front of a camera. When you’re doing lots of small parts, you always remain quite nervous and you have to try and make your mark in every scene. But now I have got used to the notion of just doing it and that, I hope, means I can just get better and better. I have also started to get recognised in the street, which is quite weird, so I try to keep my life as simple as possible and I never tell anyone where I live.
Although my family would probably say I have wanted to be an actor forever, I do seem to remember wanting to be a lawyer. But that was quite short-lived because I got into the Brit School when I was just 13. It was a great place for gaining confidence, but it was only when I went to the Central School of Speech and Drama that I really learned the tools of acting. They taught us the process of developing characters and the art of transformation. They showed us how to psychologically and emotionally prepare for a part and they really helped with vocals too. In the first year my voice didn’t come anywhere near to filling a theatre. Now it can. I was very self-conscious before I went there; it was something I really needed.
Nathan Stewart-Jarrett was talking to Lena Corner.
The second series of Misfits is currently airing on E4 every Thursday at 10pm. The DVD is out in December. Image courtesy of E4/Pete Dadds.
Interested in acting? Check out our video interviews with actors Rebecca Hall and Ethan Hawke.