Comfort food and a dinner date with Neil Watkins
The performer pushed all sorts of personal and public boundaries with his last Fringe show. Now he’s back with its antithesis, and he wants to throw one hell of a party
“I feel like it’s a better place for me to be, for now,” he says of music versus acting. “It’s more expressive, it feels better.” Does he think acting is damaging? “For me I think it is. I’ve sat in on castings . . . it’s not that acting is damaging, the business is damaging. The music business is damaging, too, but if you can find a way to paddle your own canoe, it’s the best thing ever.
“I’m not saying go out there by yourself; do it with like-minded people. When you’re auditioning for stuff and what’s being considered more is your profile than your talent or suitability to the part, then I think there’s a problem. It happens a lot . . . for example, I’ve been given parts that are ‘oh, there’s a gay character, we’d like to see you for it’ – [I’ve just] had enough of that.”
Watkins says actors can’t have compassion for characters unless they have compassion for themselves, that only balanced human beings can give a performance that has a good vibe. The competition of acting confuses you, Watkins says, in the same way it confused him, aged 19, going to drama school in London with dreams of winning Oscars.
“The drama school I went to seemed to breed James Bonds. So there’s a lot of pressure to be James Bond when you’re an actor . . . Pierce Brosnan went to my school, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender, they’re alpha males, Russell Brand. I’m not. And that’s grand. But for years you end up comparing yourself constantly. So the idea of competition at all is unhealthy because it’s a stance where you’re constantly comparing and despairing and it’s like, right, maybe you should wake up and read what’s happening.
“So be yourself. Stop acting. You’re not James Bond, you’re from Artane, deal with it. You’re soft, you’re sensitive, you’ve a lovely voice, get up there and sing and shut up.”
Dinner and a Show is at the the Old Whiskey Distillery on Mill Street, Dublin 8 until Friday. Fringefest.com