Matthew Raymond – © Ruth Crafer
Matthew Raymond is all-round actor who has worked in theatre, film and television and who is not afraid to explore genres and styles. His modesty reflects the desire to learn in an increasingly competitive, tough and complex entertainment industry. He understands the acting profession as a job that requires effort, responsibility, preparation, and sacrifice. Born and raised in Cardiff, Matthew has appeared in numerous stage productions, including performances at Shakespeare’s Globe which were filmed for nation wide cinema release and aired on Sky Arts. Most recently Matthew appeared in the BBC’s War & Peace directed by Tom Harper. He also produced and played a title role in the short film Stu (Stuart) & Ollie, which has recently received a nomination for Best Comedy at the London Short Film Festival 2016. Matthew is a spontaneous, funny and thoughtful man whose opinions are the result of deep meditation. He is passionate about his work and his family. He feels a huge capacity to deliver and commitment, as well as large doses of excitement with each new objective proposed. Matthew lives with intensity on and off the stage, and he appreciates the grandeur of the smallest things.
How did you begin acting?
As a youngster if I wasn’t a thundercat, I was a cowboy if I wasn’t a cowboy, I was a soldier, if I wasn’t a soldier I was an astronaut, if I wasn’t an astronaut I was James Bond, etc etc etc. So I guess really I started acting way back then, given my imagination and sense of play. Then a local theatre group were doing Oliver and wanted local boys to play the workhouse boys. My mum suggested it, I really didn’t think it was cool, but was talked into it. After the first night I was bitten by the performing bug. Being a part of something that seemed so huge at that age, making friends, looking up to the older people playing the big roles, hearing the applause… I decided that was what I wanted to do. I think I may have said to my mum, “Next year I want to play the Artful Dodger”.
Which actor would you like to be?
At that point I wanted to be Steven Coleman!….(the lad who played Artful Dodger in that production. I’ve no idea what Steven does now, I hope still act because he was great). But now I just want to be me. I don’t want to copy or replicate anyone I just want to keep growing and developing myself and my craft. So if it’s ok could I change the question to who inspires me? And wow, there’s so many, I see performances weekly that inspire me, whether it’s theatre or tv and film. So, off the top of my head, I’ve always enjoyed – Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Jimmy Stewart, Will Smith – haha, people laugh at me for that one given some of his movies, but he’s been a force in the industry for so long and is a huge inspiration as a man. I love Mark Rylance, everything he touches on stage is gold. I saw him in previews for Jerusalem and then at the end of the run and it was just as fresh, alive & raw, energetic….I could go on and on. Also what a joy to see him on screen and win an oscar. Amazing. I saw Ben Miles in Wolf Hall and had goosebumps, an inspirational performance…..another one of those spell binding performances was Denise Gough in People, Places Things….literally speechless on my journey home. I love to catch those performances because they keep driving you to be better and you fall in love with acting over and over again. Oh and Rory Kinnear, standard.
“I don't want to copy or replicate anyone
I just want to keep growing and developing myself and my craft.”
Matthew Raymond – © Ruth Crafer
What type of psychological, physical, and emotional
preparation do you do before a performance?
I feel like my preparation changes from job to job. I find different specific needs for each job and sometimes that preparation may even change within a run. Whatever I feel I need on that given day. I know generally, that for me personally I need to clear my mind, focus on what I’m about to do and make sure I feel warm physically and vocally. That sounds a bit ‘actory’ haha, some people can just turn up with a coffee and a cigarette and I envy them, but I have to spent a bit more time switching on. Some physical exercise and stretching usually gets me warm and wakes my brain up, then a good vocal warm up and I’m feeling good.
“I feel like my preparation changes from job to job. I find different specific needs for each job and sometimes that preparation may even change within a run. Whatever I feel I need on that given day.”
In terms of psychological prep I guess whether I’m filming or on stage, I tend to think about the moment that has happened before we start and then the first beats, actions or intentions I need to hit to get the scene up and running, trust the work and rehearsal that has come before and try to be free and play the truth moment to moment.
Which director would you like to work with? And which character would you like to play?
Again I’ve got a few. I recently watched Polly Findlay’s production of “As You Like It”, it was stunning and magical, I loved all her other work too, so she is at the front of my mind at the moment. I would also love to work with Jeremy Herrin again. Simply because thinking about some of my comments earlier and two of those stand out performances I mentioned, were in his productions. I don’t think thats coincidence, he gets actors, he gets theatre and makes everything come together so brilliantly. He directed me in “Tempest” and it was a great experience, I’d love to go on another journey with him. In terms of TV & film I’d have to again go with a director I’ve already worked with – Tom Harper. “War and Peace” was epic, the pressure on him to direct that single handedly must have been immense, yet on set he appeared so calm, focused and at ease. Always approachable, always looking at every detail in even closer detail and then any opportunity to be outside of the box. Again another director who knows how to work with actors – give them freedom, give them safety and security and know where to push and pull to get the performance he needs. And, much like Jeremy, a friendly and unassuming man. Sounds daft, but it makes a difference in an industry rife with arrogance and intellectual bullies.
And which character? Haha, um, Bond or Batman I guess. Seriously though there’s so many wonderful characters out there for men, I’m lucky. Any character can be fun and interesting.
Is there any scene or role that you would never interpret due to personal morals, principles, or taboos?
I haven’t come across any as yet. It’s a tough question because obviously I most certainly do have strong morals and principles and don’t agree with certain things but I suppose it’s about how those things are portrayed in a production and what the message is. For example I hate the thought of men beating up women, but if a role required it to serve the story, then it becomes an important role.
What is your favourite line from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and why?
Easy. “Graves at my command have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ‘em forth by my so potent art.” in fact the whole speech that this line is from, starting “Ye Elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves” One day during rehearsals and quite early on in the process, I had come in early for a call and Jeremy Herrin was rehearsing this speech with Roger Allam, I was lucky I caught it and they didn’t mind me staying in the room to observe. They spoke about it a little and then Roger Allam said he’d ‘give it a go’, I should say at this point to any actors who ‘mark things’ and ‘save their performance’ take note, he went at it 110%, it was electric and I had goosebumps. Then during the run one of my final cues of the play I would be sat alone backstage as he delivered this speech, a truly wonderful memory.
“The Tempest”, Shakespeare’s Globe (c) Marc Brenner
Matthew Raymond played Boatswain/Adrian in “The Tempest”
As you know, recently there have been protests concerning the Oscars and the BAFTAs saying that the film industry is not diverse enough and it has also often been claimed that the showbiz industry is sexist and chauvinistic. What’s your opinion on this?
The industry on the whole needs more diversity. Definitely. Last year Selma was incredible and it was mind boggling why it didn’t receive a bus load of nominations. Lack of diversity is frustrating because it causes heightened tension and resentment where its not always warranted. I recently read negative comments about a play at the National Theatre that had cast an all white cast. Personally, I was disappointed by those comments as they took something away from the actors cast who deserve to be there working as much as anyone else no matter what ethnicity they are. Is it wrong or a crime for there to be an all white cast? Of course not. The same way it’s not a crime for there to be an all black cast or an all Chinese cast. We need this! I think if our plays and productions were a diverse mixture of people all the time, just to keep everyone happy it would get boring. Why not have some range; if productions end up with an ethnically mixed cast, or an all white, or all black, or all female, or all male, so what? it shouldn’t matter and surely that would only make for a diverse range of productions and an interesting season or repertoire of productions.
“The industry on the whole needs more diversity.
Lack of diversity is frustrating because it causes heightened tension
and resentment where it's not always warranted"
The problem is at the moment that initial diversity isn’t happening anywhere near enough. Diversity for women, ethnic actors, also disabled actors is clearly not being represented fully or fairly across the whole industry. So people understandably jump on anything and everything where diversity isn’t apparent. Ultimately we should be casting the right actor for the role regardless of ethnicity or gender and not ticking boxes to be politically correct. I respect the production at the National Theatre for being brave enough to cast who it wanted. And like Chris Rock said in his brilliant introduction speech at the oscars, not everything is racist and not everything is sexist.
“The industry is a very powerful vehicle
and if our industry gets it right it could in turn possibly help to create
a more diverse and accepting society globally.”
We need balance, where everyone can support each other and feel they have a fair chance. I hope it’s found, the industry is a very powerful vehicle and if our industry gets it right it could in turn possibly help to create a more diverse and accepting society globally.
“Diversity for women, ethnic actors, also disabled actors
is clearly not being represented fully or fairly across the whole industry.”
Matthew Raymond as Nevitsky, in “War and Peace”
Two of your most recent jobs have been on the BBC series “War & Peace” and also on the short film ” Stu (Stuart) & Ollie”, which has recently received a nomination for Best Comedy at the London Short Film Festival 2016. Tell us a bit about what these two projects meant to you personally and professionally.
“War and Peace” was incredible for me both personally and professionally. I had recently gotten married before being cast in “War and Peace” and was battling a little with how long to keep trying to get a foothold in the industry. Although my wife was supportive and encouraging, I was feeling concerned about future family plans and felt I needed more job security and a ‘proper job’. So yeah, “War and Peace” came along at the perfect time for me, even though it was only a small role it gave me the belief and confidence that I still could make something of acting. As a professional it was priceless to work with Director Tom Harper and to be surrounded by such a talented cast.
“Stu and Ollie” was so much fun to do! Personally this project meant so much because it went from being a conversation in a pub, to a fully realised production, to a best comedy nomination. I felt such pride, along with the whole team actually, that we did it. So many conversations start with ‘hey we should……..’ and don’t become anything more, which is fine, not everything has to come to life, but this ‘should’ became a ‘did’ and that makes me so happy.
"Stay sharp; go to classes, work on speeches, read plays, see plays.
Stay proactive; write letters, go to post show discussions, read reviews.
And most important stay happy and enjoy the journey,
keep the balance between life and chasing your dreams."
Is it difficult to get a place in the world of acting? Do you think that little attention is paid to less well-known actors?
It is incredibly difficult and challenging, but I don’t think this is because little attention is paid to less well known actors. It is more to do with the sheer volume of how many of us there are trying to do it. Now more than ever it is such an accessible industry that operates at lightening speed. Yet I honestly believe that casting directors and directors are constantly looking for new talent to work with and opportunities will present themselves. It can be hard to remain positive and feel like you are constantly being overlooked, resentment creeps in, I know, I’ve felt it. But it’s important to remember that you knew it was going to be tough when you signed up and never forget the things you love about it. Stay sharp; go to classes, work on speeches, read plays, see plays. Stay proactive; write letters, go to post show discussions, read reviews. And most important stay happy and enjoy the journey, keep the balance between life and chasing your dreams.
"My family and close friends absolutely give me that balance.
Oh and theres one more thing that makes me happy…..
my little 3 month old baby girl Olivia! love love love! "
Besides Walter Walters, what makes you really happy?