Brett Whittingham is definitely an actor to watch out for in 2020! He recently won the best actor award at the 2019 Cause Film Festival where he played a man who’s trying to cope with the loss of a child – and we were all in awe of his performance. StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Brett to talk about his career and here’s what went down:
How were you actually ‘discovered’? A chance encounter on the street? Audition?
Well if we’re talking about the role for the short film, Dan Walls, the writer/director is one of my oldest and best mates and we’ve worked together many times before. If we’re talking bigger picture, I’m not sure I’ve been “discovered”… I’m more the acting equivalency of a deep Amazonian tribe.
What do you like most about acting?
It sounds totally cliché but the ability to move people or make them think. It also allows you to express emotions that aren’t necessarily suitable in a regular workplace.
Can you please tell us the name of the short film you won an award from and about your role?
The name of the short film is “Last Seen Alive”, where I play a man who is trying to cope with the loss of a child and finds a grief soul-mate in the form of an empathetic gas station attendant played by Neelam Choudhary.
What sort of person is going to love this character?
Not sure that loving this character is the right question. I think they’ll empathise with him, but given his motivations are unclear it’s probably hard to “love” the character. I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoilers to those who haven’t seen it.
How is this character like you? Different?
He’s gone through loss but I think that’s a commonality for many of us. We’re probably more different in the fact that this guy is going through something I could not even fathom.
What’s the biggest challenge to taking on this role?
Not being a dad, it’s impossible to imagine this level of grief. Again without giving anything away, it’s was more about balancing that grief with the sense of resoluteness this character possesses. The main challenge was doing the role justice. Our writer/director Dan, had written the story as part of an outlet from his own experience with a family member. When you’re dealing with something created from such raw emotion, you really want to do it justice.
Besides yourself, what actor would you like to see tackle this character?
Oh damn! That’s a hard question. If they did an American version, I’d go with Timothy Olyphant (Dan our director knows why).
Besides yourself, which actor is going to blow people away?
I guess we are talking about this film, in which case Neelam is amazing. She bought a truth to her role that made it very easy to deliver on the emotion needed. Not to take anything away from the other actor in the film, Ron Kofler, who I’ve worked with before and is always wonderful, including in this.
If you could play any other character in the short film, who would it be?
(laughs) It’s a three-hander and given I’m not a female of Indian descent or the right age to get away with playing my character’s dad, I probably couldn’t switch roles.
What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?
I did a stage tour with the late Ann Phelan. Given we lost her recently, I’m privileged I got the chance to work with her. But there have been many other highlights, such as performing in the Green Room Award-winning production of The Laramie Project with some of my closest mates.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
Another difficult question. There are a lot of interesting actors out there but if we’re talking generally, some of the most interesting people I’ve met have not been actors and are in vocations like teaching or emergency services. I met a woman recently who had lived in several European countries, spoke at least three languages and had recently come back from 3 years teaching in some of the poorest parts of Africa. I never asked her age but my guess would have been 30 tops. I think the most interesting people are the ones that inspire you to make more of your own life either out of inspiration or shame.
What sort of marketing do you do to make your image and brand more appealing to the audience?
I’m bad at this. My brand updates are a new headshot every two to three years! lol
How active are you on social media?
I take a look at Facebook a few times a week and my Instagram is full of pictures of my dogs, but I guess I’d be classified as a fairly passive user. I’m prolific if on holiday, mainly with the goal of making friends jealous.
What is your favourite social media platform?
Instagram. Facebook carries too many ads and is far too curated these days, and Twitter I find amusing but totally toxic. Oh actually, it would be YouTube if you count that.
I’m guessing you’ve been in the entertainment industry for a few years now, what has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned.
I’ve been acting in various capacities for over 25 years and I think the one takeaway is never taking yourself too seriously and never overthink!…Oh and make your own work, even if it’s only for passion projects!
Working in an industry whose only emphasis is on the outside characteristics of a person, how have you stayed grounded?
Via a well-tuned relative lack of success! LOL
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
I work on many of my own passion projects these days. 9 to 5 job gets pretty busy. I do an on-again-off-again series called “Project Management – A Comedy Web series” on YouTube with a wonderfully gorgeous creative woman by the name of Olivia Hogan. Currently, I’m working on a couple of animated projects which I’m hoping to get up on YouTube early next year.
The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:
1. Last good movie I’ve seen – Very late to the game but just recently watched “The Darkest Hour” with Gary Oldman.
2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Dogs. They think the world of you always! One of my favourite quotes is “please help me to be the person my dog thinks I am.”
3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Be in a Star Wars franchised film or TV show!
4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” Move to Canada or the US for more opportunities at roles.
5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? Hmmm… good question. Probably my need to please. Although it means I’m probably not as forceful as I need to be in this industry, it means I do have a lot of good friends.