Elliot Knight plays Officer Brady in TV show American Gothic and we got the chance to speak with him, read as we speak about his love of music, involvement with various charities and his writing.
How are you?
Very well, thank you. The weather is great and Pokémon is finally real. Let’s do this.
You’ve played quite a few different roles, which has been the hardest and why?
I’ve really enjoyed the challenges of playing a Boston cop on American Gothic. Of the projects I’ve worked on so far it’s definitely the furthest removed from my own personal experience and energy and so has required the largest adjustments. Also my character is 6 years older than I was at the time of filming whereas I’ve normally played my own age.
As mentioned, you play Officer Brady in the new summer drama American Gothic, it seems like quite an intense role to play, is it tough on set? Is there a lot of pressure?
I love my job and this role and we all have a lot of fun on set so most of the time you don’t feel intense pressure. We care about the work so there is always a sense of effort and responsibility but it’s also important and beneficial to be relaxed and able to enjoy your work. The scripts are new to us each time we are about to begin shooting them and so this season has been full of surprises each couple of weeks as we learn more about the story and our characters. Working on network television there is always an element of pressure to deliver what it needed in a relatively short space of time, which is true for all the departments, actors included. There is a huge amount of trust between us all that allows us to focus on what we have to do and know that everything else will be taken care of. It’s one of the wonderful things about working with such a great crew and cast.
Since you were younger you have been doing music based projects, is music something you’d like to progress more in or would you rather just stick with acting?
Something I have heard before is that it can be great to keep a passion of yours for yourself free of any financial or professional ties or commitments. I have always loved and been involved with music. I grew up learning to play the violin and would teach myself to write songs on piano or guitar. It was a huge part of the end of my time at secondary school. At this stage it’s not something I feel the need to add the pressure of needing to “make a living” to – I like that it’s something I enjoy and can do for myself whenever I want. That said, if there was an opportunity to be involved with music in a professional capacity as an actor I would definitely be keen.
I read that you are quite a keen writer, is writing your own shows etc. something you want to start doing?
It’s actually something I have started doing while filming Gothic. My imagination has always been hyper-active and I love creating stories and characters. I started writing a few books as a kid and had a passion early on to be the youngest ever published author. I would write comics too, of my own heroes and I’m currently developing a project inspired by some of my favourite shows and ideas when I was young. It was just for fun then and without a real knowledge or intention of putting anything out there. Now, the more that I get to work with different and talented writers as an actor, the more I’m beginning to understand the processes and infrastructure of how to write for different mediums and then bring them about into actuality. I have had a few talks and ideas so the next few months should prove to be exciting and productive.
You have quite an involvement with PETA, Stonewall and The Big Life Foundation, can you tell me a bit more about what these all do and how you’re involved?
Compassionate humanity is something I believe is very important for us to enjoy a happy and healthy co-existence on this planet, and all these causes support that theme. I’ve always been fascinated by animals and have had pets throughout my life and am a big supporter of encouraging animal welfare and well-being. PETA obviously covers this ground and The Big Life Foundation is an initiative started by wild-life photographer and a friend of mine Nick Brandt, who set out to protect animals from poachers and other human threats to their health and existence. I’m also a huge supporter of human equality, freedom to be and freedom to love and Stonewall represents that cause brilliantly.
I donate to all of these causes and I’m hoping to make some more personal and manual efforts to contribute in the very near future. It’s great to do something for someone else and it’s something you realise especially in a field of work that can sometimes build to feel quite self-serving. Hopefully I can do more to contribute and bring attention and support to these great causes and their pioneers.
Who would you most like to work with?
To be honest I am happy to work with anyone and everyone I get the opportunity to. All experiences are experience gained and every one holds a new lesson and perspective. I’m fortunate enough to say that I have had some wonderful experiences so far and gotten to work with a fantastic array of people throughout the industry and each has taught me new things about both what I do and who I want to be. Essentially, right now I’m discovering that the answer is ‘myself’ and there is no better way to accomplish that than getting to meet and work with as many different kinds of people as you can. To me, each is as valuable as the next.
When auditioning for a role how do you prepare yourself?
It’s clearly a necessity to know your lines and have an understanding of the script, but I personally tend to avoid getting to bogged down with line-learning. I tend to ‘feel’ characters out more than think them into existence as I find it ends up being a lot more of a real and organic result than if I try to manufacture something purely intellectually. I prefer to spend most of my time focusing on who the person is off the page rather than on and that gives me a deeper understanding of how to be them in the scene or just in life. The real gift of being an actor is getting to explore and discover human nature. It’s fascinating. So accordingly I find it compelling to wonder to the point of inspiring belief in myself of who a character is and what they do and how they are. After all, this is an industry that thrives off the creative. Imagination is key.
Are there any kinds of roles you haven’t done that you’d like to?
So far I have covered ground in Fantasy/Adventure, Drama and Action, all of which I love and hope I continue to be involved with. As for covering new ground, that leaves Indie, Comedy and Horror of the major genres. I’d be excited to work on a project in any of these categories, as again they will entail their own unique challenges and rewards. Maybe I’ll end up doing a comedy because I’m pretty goofy most of the time, and I’m scared of enough things to be stuck in a horror and forced to scream a lot. So we shall see what the universe has in store.
What is next for you?
I’m about to complete filming on American Gothic and then I’m hoping to work on developing a couple of my own ideas and take on my next project.
Photo- Jessica Castro