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Daniel Brocklebank A Doll’s House interview

We catch up with Daniel to talk about his brand new play.

Daniel Brocklebank
Credit: Paul Schnaars

Award-winning actor Daniel Brocklebank has enjoyed roles in movies such as Shakespeare In Love and The Hole, has been a regular on Emmerdale and taken on a variety of theatrical roles.

Last time we caught up with Daniel he was telling us all about the DVD release of his controversial movie Release. Now he is starring as Dr Rank in a new production of A Doll’s House directed by Chris Honer for The Lowry in Salford Quays.

We spoke to Daniel to find out more about the production, discuss his approach to getting into character and to find out he’s got coming up in the rest of 2011.

How are you today?

I’m a little tired, but well thank you. I’ve been over doing it in the gym for the past few weeks. I think I’ll tone it down a little… My new northern personal trainer has really kept me on my toes.

You’re currently starring in ‘A Doll’s House’ at The Lowry in Manchester. Tell us about the play.

It’s a wonderful play. One of my very favourites. Ibsen (the writer) was considered scandalous in his day. Something I’ve always admired him for, and his work is simply brilliant. A Dolls House follows the Helmer family over christmas, a fraught time for most people, however the comings and goings in this house are more that fraught for the main character of Nora as she has a big secret that is on the brink of being discovered. I was so excited to be cast. I stupidly thought, when I studied it at drama school that I would never be old enough to play any of these characters, yet here I am.

You play the character of Dr Rank. Tell us a bit about him.

Dr Rank is a family friend of the Helmers. His absolute infatuation with Nora is what keeps him alive and his daily visits to the house give him a reason to exist. He is dieing from a rather nasty illness and his love for the Helmer family replace the love he would have had for his own if he’d ever been blessed with one. He is quite opinionated (so very unlike me of course) and has a real dislike for another character in the play whom he fears will take his place once he has gone. I’m having a lot of fun playing him. Although I’ve had to grow a rather unsightly beard for the role. Its both unattractive and itchy and surprisingly grey!

What have you been doing to get under the skin of the character?

As always endless research into the period (1870’s), the characters disease (congenital Syphilis) and the play itself. A lot of things are discovered during the rehearsal process also. This helps us to bring something new to the piece. As it was written and performed first in 1879 there have been many productions over the years. Bizarrely the first ever performance of A Dolls House was performed exactly 100 years to the day of my birth! December 21st 1879!

How did you get involved in the production?

I was invited to audition by our director, and artistic director of the Library Theatre Company, Chris Honer. I was then offered the role a week or so later.

What’s it been like working with Chris Honer?

Chris is a wonderful director and has made me feel very trusted as a performer. Some directors will literally tell you where to stand, where to look & how to say your lines. This can make you feel like a bit of a puppet but Chris allows us to try our own ideas as well and pointing and guiding us in the right direction if we’re off the mark. He’s been an absolute joy to work with.

You’ve been in movies, on television and on stage. Which is your favourite form of acting and why?

I know it sounds like a cliché but I love all three for different reasons. On stage you get an instant reaction from the audience, and the buzz of it somehow being different every night. Also you are playing out the entire story from beginning to end every night and constantly discover new things in it. There’s nothing in the world like the feeling of stepping out in front of a live audience. Such an adrenaline rush! Filming is a very different process, often shot out of sequence and is a much slower process, sometimes only filming 5 minutes of usable film a day. I love filming. I love seeing the finished product and get a very similar buzz to that of a first night in the theatre. However once you’ve finished shooting you don’t really have any control over how the finished product will look. Which takes they decide to use etc, if you try something on stage and you think it doesn’t work, you can always change it for the next performance. My absolute passion lies in film making though with out a doubt.

Do you have any more theatre work lined up in the near future?

Not as far as I know, but that’s the exciting thing about my job, you just never know what you’ll be up to next.

Last time we spoke to you ‘Release’ was about to be released on DVD. What’s the reaction to the movie been like?

The movie has had some really interesting responses. It has not been to everyone’s taste but I kind of already knew that that would be the case. Those that have loved it have really loved it and those that didn’t have had just as strong a reaction the other way. It’s great to make movies that get people hot and bothered in one way or another. I’m proud of my role in the film and have had some wonderful comments from people all over the world on Twitter (@dan_brocklebank) and in letters sent to me. It has touched a lot of people.

What else do you have planned for 2011?

Well A Dolls House runs until March 12th and I’m also preparing for the release of my next movie. A horror film calledLittle Deaths that is starting to do the rounds in all the film festivals now. I was due to start shooting a new movie in April but we have literally last week had to push that back to September due to some unforeseen complications. I’m just starting to look at scripts to fill its place.

Also I’m getting married on the 6th of August so I’m preparing myself for the big day, which I have to admit I’m nervous about. It all feels very grown up. So far 2011 has been a pretty hectic year!

‘A Doll’s House’ is showing at The Lowry in Salford Quays until March 12th 2011.

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