London-born Alexander Lincoln is perhaps best-known for the role of Jamie Tate on ‘Emmerdale’, which he played from 2019 to 2021.
Now having exited the long-running soap, Lincoln’s next role sees him playing gay rugby player Mark in Matt Carter’s ‘In From The Side’. The film will be screening as part of BFI Flare Festival in London later this month and both of its screenings have already sold out.
I caught up with Alexander to find out more about the film, discuss his transition from ‘Emmerdale’ and to talk about his upcoming projects…
What’s ‘In From The Side’ all about?
‘In From The Side’ is a LGBTIQ+ film set in a rugby clubs, a hypermasculine setting. It’s about this character, Mark, who is new to the game and is in the B team squad. It’s about him getting embroiled in a tumultuous affair with one of the A team players Warren. It’s following the fallout of that; them keeping secrets and keeping everything really, really quiet because they’re both in relationships themselves. It all culminates on New Year’s Eve and all comes out. It’s about them dealing with the fallout of that.
What attracted you to the role of Mark and why did you want to play him?
I’m always looking for characters that have that human element and are vulnerable in their own way. For Mark, there’s so much complexity and there’s so much to unpack with him. Aside from him having a moral compass and being a good person, like we all justify ourselves to be, I think all of us can relate to the aspects of following our human urges, whether that’s lust or love or whatever, and throwing caution to the wind and exploring that with no regard for how other people may react to what’s going on. You’re self-centred in it, and you only think about your own feelings towards it. What interested me about Mark was him toeing that line between being a morally good person, but he’s in the midst of this really morally corrupt situation.
Did you have to do any rugby training to get prepared for the role?
I used to play years ago. I stopped when I was 18 because I kept getting a broken nose. In fact, I thought it was really good because I was really lanky, and then I got to the age of 15/16 and everyone caught up with me. It turns out I wasn’t very good (laughs) so I stopped playing pretty quickly after that. (For the film) we had a few training sessions and kicked the ball around a little bit. It was great fun. We shot through the whole of, I think it was January in February, and lo and behold it was a really, really beautiful day and the script wanted a really horrible, windy, rainy day. The entire shoot up until that point had been that. We got to the set that day, and it was a lovely day so they had to get water cannons and sprinklers. Then the weather change halfway through and it was the most dismally grey, rainy, horrible, windy day ever. It was cold and miserable but it was still fun… but it really, really awful at times.
I was terrified playing rugby as a kid. I was the most timid player you’d come across and was worried I’d get injured…
Yeah, precisely. I was the same. Before I was 16 and before everyone got bigger than me, I was really up for it and really enjoyed the physicality of it. Then I broke my ankle and my nose a couple of times, and I just got really scared of it. Thankfully I didn’t actually have to do any proper contact in the film, which was good because otherwise that might have ended up quite bad for insurance purposes.
The film has two sold-out screenings coming up at the BFI Flare Festival later this month. How does that feel?
Honestly, it’s incredible. There’s been a few people who’ve followed the journey from the Kickstarter campaign and they’ve got in contact over the last three years to ask what’s happening with it. Everyone’s been really excited about it coming out. To have both screenings sold out in it, in minutes, is just incredible. To be a part of the festival, I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m sure that everyone involved is just so elated that it’s happening. It’s such an amazing festival. It’s really, really awesome.
As you mentioned, the film has had a long road to the big screen, with the pandemic landing right in the middle. Does it feel good to be finally getting it out there?
Oh, absolutely. I’m sure there are many other (projects) that have been put on hold because of COVID and we’ve all struggled through the last however long it’s been – 10 years is it? (laughs) – and it’s just incredible to have all of Matt Carter’s work, who wrote, directed and shot it and did the soundtrack, (out there). He took on a huge workload. I’ve seen little clips of it but I haven’t seen the full film yet. I’m really excited for people to see it. I think it’s going to be a real hit.
I’ve only seen the clip in the nightclub that’s been released so far…
I’ve seen that as well! The most I’ve seen was when we did the ADR session, which was a year and a half ago. I saw little bits from that. The thing for a lot of actors, and myself, is that I hate watching myself back. I always immediately hate it. You focus on little things you’re doing like mannerisms and stuff like that, but I really, really liked it. Again, I only saw little clips but I’m really excited to see how it all goes together.
Prior to this film you were in ‘Emmerdale’ for a couple of years, a show that is very much part of the fabric of the television landscape in this country. Actors who have done soap work can find it hard to move on to other projects as there’s a stigma attached. What was that transition like for you?
(Soap work) is regular and in acting you never get regular work generally. Going from the high intensity 10 to 11 hour days every day of the week to doing a project for a month, maybe less… your downtime is a lot longer in between. For me, it’s been finding hobbies in the meantime because you can become so anxious about the next thing. I found myself not focusing on the downtime and enjoying that time, and just sitting with it and experiencing life as it is. The main thing for me has been that, it’s been going from a really high intensity workload to work which is more sporadic, and then with the downtime getting back into character for other things. It’s fairly difficult. The reason I got into acting originally was to play different roles, to play different characters, and to get into different scripts. I’m sort of relearning why I loved it in the first place in an odd way.
There’s nothing like acting in a soap because as an actor you get to live with a character for a longer time than you would in any other project. You must get itchy feet though when it comes to wanting to stretch yourself and try something new. It’s an interesting situation to be in…
You said it before, soap actors do get a really bad rap but it is one of the most intense jobs I think you can do with acting. It is 10/11 hours a day. I shot 19 scenes one day, which is insane. I did this thing recently for the BBC and they would shoot maybe two or three scenes a day, so comparatively, you’re like, ‘oh my god, that’s amazing!’. You’d be in every scene of the 19 scenes as well so every evening you’re going home and you’re learning lines and you’re anxious about the next day because you haven’t really had a chance to fully get into it. But in the same brushstroke, you know the character inside out because you’ve been playing it for so long. There’s ups and downs to all of it.
What do you have coming up beyond this film?
The next thing I can tell you about is the BBC thing, which I just mentioned. It’s based on a novel by Dolly Alderton and it’s called ‘Everything I Know About Love’. It’s by the BBC and Working Title, and it’s a six-part comedy miniseries. We saw a little teaser at the wrap party before Christmas. Comedy is always subjective, isn’t it? But honestly, it was hilarious, and I cannot wait for everyone to see it. It’s gonna be really awesome.
Comedy is probably one of the hardest things at the moment because society is so precious about seemingly everything. It’s hard to make jokes out of anything. How was your experience in comedy?
Thankfully, the script was written so wonderfully that I didn’t have to almost try at all. All the points and the notes that you would make in comedy writing, it’s there for you. You quite easily slot yourself in it and China Moo-Young who was the the first director, and Julia Ford, who took us on the second part, they’re both incredible directors. They allowed us to play with it a bit more and it wasn’t as set as say soaps are. Sometimes soaps are very much here’s the lines and have to say it as (written), especially because it’s before the watershed and they have points they need to make and hit with the script. It’s a challenge. I’ve not done any comedy before. I’s exciting to see it all come out.
It sounds like you’ve got a really exciting and busy year coming up…
Yeah, hopefully fingers crossed. I’m starting on a project next week, which is an action-thriller. That’s going to be really, really fun. It’s got loads of guns and stuff like that, and that’s something that I’ve not really done much of before. I get to play a posh snobby wanker I suppose, so typecast again. What can I do? (laughs) I think unfortunately the Surrey trope seems to come out quite a lot. The producer for this next project read the script and he said, ‘there’s a character who’s just a complete arse the whole way through, and I thought of you immediately’. And I thought, ‘that’s fantastic!’ (laughs) Amazing. Lovely how I’ve cultivated that view of myself (laughs).
‘In From The Side’ had two screenings as part of the BFI Flare Festival in London on 25th and 26th March 2022. The film will be released in UK cinemas on 16th September 2022 via Verve Pictures. Watch the trailer: