The TS Eliot Exchange, 24 Hour Plays, Kevin Spacey: The Class; you can hardly swing a cat in Old Vic New Voices without smacking in to the talented form of Calum Callaghan. Currently starring in Belongings at Trafalgar Studios, the actor spoke to IdeasTap about auditions, Misfits and performing with Take That…
Do you have any advice for auditions?
I always get really nervous in auditions. The Belongings audition wasn’t like any recall I’d ever done before; they had three girls in mind for the part of Deb, and had got it down to two boys. So, me and the other lad had to go in one by one with all three of the girls. I basically got three recalls.
How do you deal with that sense of competition when you know you’re going up against someone like that?
In that case, the other guy was a bit older and stockier than me. I thought, well they’ll either go for one or the other. It’s weird because you kind of feel very powerless. I always prepare – I make sure I’m off-book so I can really have a play about in auditions – but at the same time there’s not that much you can do. If you go in there and straight away you’ve not got the look they were going for, or if you don’t have the right chemistry with the other actors, then you can’t really do anything about that.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s hard. I don’t think you ever get used to dealing with rejection. It’s a gutting feeling when you feel that you have an instant connection with a script, get down to the last few recalls and miss out. Just before Belongings I had two recalls to play the new character in Misfits. I really wanted to do that, so it was tough not to get it.
How did you get into acting?
When I was about seven I was looked after by a lady who used to chaperone at Sylvia Young, so she popped me into a few dancing lessons while she was waiting for her daughter. One day there was a dancing audition and that led to my first professional gig.
It’s a bit crazy, but it was touring with Take That. On two of their tours they had a mini Take That, who did part of the show with them. I was the mini Mark Owen.
It was mental. It was such a huge thing but I was tiny. Looking back, I can’t believe I was part of it, but then I was just doing what I was told.
After that I did a couple of musicals and did my first play when I was about 16.
So, if you were playing to arena crowds at eight, I assume you’ve never suffered from nerves?
You think I’d get used to it, but I’m still just as nervous. I get terrified about walking out in front of 100 people. But I use that – it gives me the energy I need to get through it. That buzz is the whole reason I’m doing it.
Is there any organisation you would recommend to people entering your industry?
The support I got from Old Vic New Voices has just been incredible. Before I did 24 Hour Plays I was losing my confidence – I’d been doing this for a long time. But it really helped me turn that around. It’s incredible to be able to go and talk to them and ask their advice about things – they’re like a second family.
Belongings is showing at the Trafalgar Studios until Saturday 9 July. For more information, visit the website. Calum will also be starring in Saved by Edward Bond at The Lyric, Hammersmith in October.