Q & A
TOM CANTON talks about the challenge of bringing Oscar Wilde’s ‘Dorian Gray’ to the stage
Tell us about yourself first of all.I’m 22 years old. I’m from Kent. My old man is a Dubliner who left Ireland looking for work in the 1980s. He met my mother in England and settled there, but I have lots of relatives in this country. I’m not from a theatrical family, but acting is what I’ve always wanted to do.
Your only IMDB credit is a film called Shitkicker. Tell us about Shitkicker. . . and feel free to reference the title as often as you like.Well, as you said, it was called Shitkicker. It was made by one of the directors from my college. It did well. It was shortlisted for best short at the London Short Film Festival. But I was only in one scene.
Shitkicker aside, you haven’t really done a whole lot else.I graduated from Rada, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, about five weeks ago. So Dorian is my first paid job, yes.
How did you get the part?There were three auditions in London. Each was about an hour long. It was the first audition I’d ever gone for, so it was all a bit of a train ride for me. I’d managed to read the book and fortunately I got the part. I’m very excited.
Playing Dorian Gray, do you feel under incredible pressure to be handsome?Oh, I don’t know.
Virtually every other character is in love with this guy. You can’t just walk in and start tripping over on your own shoelaces!Yes, I see what you mean. I’ll try not to bump into the furniture.
I mean, don’t listen to me, a bumbling Dorian Gray could be a funny for all I know . . .Eternally young but constantly tripping on his own shoelaces . . . I’m intrigued! To be honest, if the other characters have to love me, that’s their job, not mine. It’s a great cast. My job is to understand Dorian and not to play him like a pantomime villain. I have to understand what has happened in his life to make him behave this way.
Doesn’t he behave that way because he knows he’ll get away with it?He does. But then the novel asks the question, wouldn’t we all do these things if we could get away with them? Is morality something society has invented? Or do the soul and the conscience really exist? The other interesting question Wilde asks is: if sin could be represented physically, what would it look like?