Interview with Chris Clarkson
I’m a bit of a workaholic. I have never liked sitting still for too long (although the irony of this sentence will be revealed later). I’ve always wanted to be an actor but I don’t hail from a particularly theatrical family. Both my parents are teachers and did excessive work after hours so I think I had the ethic drummed into me from an early age. However, my workaholism (probably not a real word but I’m sure you get my drift) is strictly performance related.
In a nutshell, my career has spanned most forms of acting. From West End (Blood Brothers) to pantos (all the usual ones, being a Prince in my younger days but now playing the comic), from Shakespeare (Macbeth, Taming of the Shrew) to fringe musicals (Cabaret, Soul Traders), from soaps (Emmerdale, Corrie, Hollyoaks etc) to TV dramas (Touch of Frost, The Royal Today, The Chase) to specialist telly bits (Crimewatch, My Parents Are Aliens) and adverts (Gillette, Ronseal, DFS, DHL) I pimp myself out to anyone who’ll pay me a wage. I even spent a few months working as a guest presenter on The One Show. I’m lucky to have had a varied career but by no means am I one of those annoyingly talented actors who just goes from job to job.
After graduating from Bretton Hall in 2002 I was fortunate enough to get 2 telly jobs and a short theatre gig in swift succession. Come the autumn, though, I got my first taste of resting. I’d like to point out that I have never been resting, just unemployed. I’m not lah-de-dah enough to tell white lies about my lack of work. That autumn I realised very quickly that temp work in offices/call centres/warehouses was not what I’m built for.
After a chat with my agent (and mentor) she told me about what she calls ‘An Actors Toolbox’. In a nutshell she reckoned if a casting director required a singer that an actor should reach into their ‘toolbox’ and pull out singing. If the casting director wanted a juggler, the actor could rummage around and pull out juggling. In essence, the more saleable skills you have as an actor the more work you will get. I liked the theory so I set about learning extra skills.
My non-acting career then took off. No sooner had I learnt to stilt walk than I was picking up gigs at weekends. One day of stilt walking earned me as much cash as a week of temping plus it kept my weekdays free for auditioning etc. I quickly added to my ‘toolbox’ by learning fire breathing, skins work, acrobatics, poi, magic, presenting and living statues to name but a few. When I’m not acting nowadays I have a second career to fall back on. OK, it isn’t ever going to earn me a load of money but it is a hell of a lot more fun than sitting in a windowless cell and cold calling annoyed members of the public!
These days between acting jobs I mostly just do magic and presenting work. However, back in 2009 I represented Great Britain at the World Living Statues Championships in Holland (oh yes, such an event does exist) where I was voted The World’s Most Popular Living Statue! Funny where your life can take you (particularly when you don’t like sitting still).
Chris’ website is www.chris-clarkson.com and he is also on Twitter (@MrChrisClarkson. This summer he is touring with The Rude Mechanicals in their outdoor commedia production of Gentle Harry’s Farm.
Updated 11th October 2014