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Interview with Dominic Burgess

Since we last caught up with Dominic a couple of years ago, he’s been a busy man. With some recurring roles on 'The Flash', 'Queen Of The South' and 'Supernatural’ and has just filmed a horror/thriller called 'MA', in Mississippi with Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis and Luke Evans.

He also recently wrote and directed a short film with Alfred Molina and has just started out on the film festival circuit.

We had a chance to get the latest from our man in L.A.:

ALRA: When we last spoke you were just about to film Feud which has since aired on UK TV. Now that we’ve seen it I can imagine how much fun it must have been to work with those actors and in that glamorous styling. Can you tell us a little about that experience?

dominic burgessDominic: Absolutely! Super glamorous styling! I had a toupee and got my 20-year-old hairline back! But really, it was a joyous experience. I’ve played historical characters before on ‘Roots’ and on stage, but this is the first time I’ve played someone where I was able to really research their voice, mannerisms and movement. It was a lot of fun to find that and in some ways a little intimidating.

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane’ is such a cult classic, and Victor Buono still has many fans from that and the 1960’s Batman’ series; so I did really want to honour his essence as much as possible. And I felt like the story that ‘Feud’ told is still relevant today; these two actresses fighting the system, demanding equality and trying to defy ageism.

It was really a blast to work on. Alfred [Molina] and I would discuss the best places to buy British food in L.A., (The King’s Head Shop in Santa Monica for the curious) and we’ve since become good friends.

ALRA: You’ve had some great diversity in your career so far from a historical figure in ‘Roots’, a Hollywood leading man in ‘Feud’ to TV comedies and even a Ram God in ‘The Magicians’. What do you think helps you create such diverse characters?

Dominic: It’s one of my favourite things about acting, playing with voices, physicality, accents and such. I love exploring how different people would move. How do they take a seat? How do they take a drink? What part of their body do they lead from? Where does their voice sit?

ALRA: So, what are your current projects? You mentioned you’re out on the film festival circuit – what does that involve?

Dominic: Yes! I recently wrote and directed my first short, ‘Sam Did It’. Alfred Molina was kind enough to come on board to play himself, and now we’ve just started getting into Festivals. We just had word that we got accepted to the Aspen Shortsfest Festival, which is an Academy Award Qualifying Festival. If you win in your category, your film gets put into the voting shortlist for the Academy Awards, so we’re very excited about that! We’ll release it online probably sometime later this year or early next, but for the curious, here’s a teaser trailer:

I’d love to use it as a tool to find financing on some features that I’d love to get off the ground.

I just wrapped ‘MA’ in Mississippi. It’s a horror/thriller from Blumhouse Pictures starring Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis and Luke Evans… My character is a real joy to play, really out there! I’m just going back and forth a little between L.A. and Dallas for ‘Queen Of The South’ for USA Networks. Next month I film the TV pilot for ‘L.A. Confidential’, playing the role Danny DeVito played in the film version… So if that pilot gets picked up, it will hopefully keep me busy later in the year!

ALRA: You still take classes to keep your skills fresh. Is there one particular area you go back to for training or is it important to have a broad range?

Dominic: I do! I do! I love training and being in class! I always tend to circle on-camera audition classes… I find if I get rusty in that area, audition nerves tend to creep in for me, so audition classes keep me loose and ready. When you practice it so much, it becomes less and less intimidating for me. I think, for me at least, it’s all about balance.

For a while, I was doing a whole lot of Improv Classes, and I started to notice that my resume (CV… Wow… I haven’t said CV for a long time!) became very imbalanced. I was doing a lot of comedy and sitcoms, but I also wanted to be able to do some drama too, so I jumped into classes that re-addressed that. But yes, I think it’s about balance.

I graduated the three-year course from ALRA back in 2004 (fourteen years?!), and since then, in one form or another I’ve been in class at least once a week; cold reading, improv, audition technique, etc… Class is a great place for experimentation and taking risks with characters; I love it.

I was part of a sketch group out here in L.A. with a group of friends from The Groundlings Improv School; each month we’d write and produce a new sketch show, and the money that we made went into renting the theatre for the next month. It was such a great ground for playing with characters and thinking on your feet.

Sometimes I’ll get the itch and find a Shakespeare course or an Alexander Technique class. Right now I’m in three classes a week; an on-camera audition class, an acting masterclass and a writing class, and that keeps me nice and busy and on my toes.

ALRA: Is there any chance that one day you might come back to ALRA to teach?

Dominic: Are you offering me a job?! My mum will be most pleased! I do love teaching, for a while I was teaching Improv classes out here in L.A., but my schedule became a little too erratic; I still love audition coaching though. So, never say never, right?

I don’t know what the future holds; I think L.A. is home for the foreseeable future. I actually have said in the past that if ever I was going to move back to England, I’d take the ALRA postgraduate course to re-acclimatise myself to the UK acting scene. But for now I’m very happy here, and enjoy the variety of roles and places that I get to work in… Also… I’d have to bring my four cats with me… and that seems like a logistical nightmare! Ha!

ALRA: We hope that if you’re ever in the UK long enough, you’ll come in for a visit! Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us and we wish you huge success with your work.

Dominic: Thank you! I absolutely would love to come by for a visit! And any ALRA students interested in the L.A. market or working in the USA should absolutely feel free to reach out!

If you are alumni and would like to share your story or current projects with us, please get in touch at alumni@alra.co.uk.

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