Continuing our series of interviews with the director, writer and lead actor of The Beat Beneath My Feet, here is our interview with Nicholas Galitzine, who plays Tom.
To kick things off Nick, what first attracted you to this part? Why this as your first feature role?
It was actually my first audition! It’s funny though, because I think, starting out, people have to do roles they really don’t like… And as soon as I got this and I started reading the script I immediately fell in love with it because I’m a music lover as well and obviously that’s a crucial part of the film. But the character itself, Tom Heath, I found really, really interesting. He’s not a typical clichéd nerd, he has so many more dimensions to him than that. I really felt I could do him justice in a way.
So were you a bit of a Tom in high school with your acting or your music? Or both?
Acting started for me only about two months; maybe even less time before I did my audition, I was really very new to acting. It was mainly because a lot of my mates are actors and they said “come along and try for this piece at the Edinburgh fringe” and that’s how it started. Music I had been doing slightly before that. I wouldn’t really say I was a Tom in high school, I think. There’s a lot of bits of Tom which I see in myself. He’s quite a joker in a way which is quite funny because people might not associate that with a typical nerd.
And of course your role has a heavily musical side where you were actually performing in the film. Did you find it a challenge combining the music and the acting?
Yes, that is probably one of the things I found most challenging, especially when you’re so new to the whole thing. I had never done anything like this before, only a bit of theatre. Because obviously if you’re a musician you perform the songs how you as a person would perform them. You might be an extremely confident performer but that’s not the part at the end of the day. And you really have to get inside the character’s head and how he would approach a song as well. I think the music arc of the character and the music really reflects that. The beginning is a very different style of music to the end.
So what kind of music do you like listening to?
I have such an eclectic music taste, I listen to pretty much everything. One of my favourite bands at the moment are alt-j. I think they’re really, really cool. Myself I play lots of Folk Rock I love the more traditional artists like Dylan… So… God, just everything! I love rap as well, all sorts of music.
Of course it’s always good for a performer to have a broad spectrum of interest!
Yeah because I think you can draw inspiration from all different types of music. Even if you play a specific type of it, it comes together in the performance.
So to go back to the film, what was it like working with John?
It was John’s first feature film as well so we were both kind of newbies to this business. I think he has a really special creative vision which I don’t think any other director could have brought on board. He has particularly worked with animation in the past and he has done some really, really cool stuff like Coldplay’s video, Radiohead… It’s very stylized and it might not be for everyone but for the real film lovers it’s something completely unique. And he’s so easy going on set and you really wouldn’t know it was his first time. The way he communicates with the actors and tells them what he wants, he really helps you get inside the mind-set. A lot of the actors, Verity Pinter who plays Felix for example, it was her first time and in fact everyone could tell you that no matter how nervous they were once they were on set, everything was fine. It really helps you just do the job well.
I remember you mentioning this in the Q&A at Raindance too; you were saying it was a really family-like atmosphere on set.
Oh my God yes. I have just finished working on something that was a slightly bigger budget project but nowhere near the same kind of feel. I don’t know if there’s a different kind of vibe in British Indie films or maybe it was just down to the people who were there. Everyone seemed to be looking out for each other and it felt like there was more of an empathy between people.
So you see yourself working on more independent projects in the future?
I would love to. I love challenging myself and so far this has been a bit of a rollercoaster for me. Everything has its challenges. I think this film has the potential, even though it’s an indie, to go way beyond… I think it has so many of the right components. I mean I’d love to do blockbusters, don’t get me wrong… But I think Indie films are becoming a really big deal in England at the moment.
And what was it like working with Luke Perry? I just heard that you had a bit of a mentor-student relationship going on off camera as well as on camera!
Yeah, this guy, he has been in the industry since before I was born actually! But he is so extremely knowledgeable and if you’re doing your first film and you literally have no idea, like, you don’t know what a mark is or something… He is, I think, instrumental in my progression as an actor throughout the movie. He really, really helped me out with some things and he knows so much about the industry and I feel quite blessed I had the chance to work with such a big actor on my debut.
It must have helped with your role as well, having that same mentor relationship off camera that you have on camera.
I think it definitely helps the whole process. There have been tons of films made where, you wouldn’t know it, but off camera the actors don’t get on. I think when you have that chemistry it works better on camera and it doesn’t feel forced, it’s more raw.
Music or acting if you had to pick one?
Oh I couldn’t! I mean I have been doing music for longer but I’m primarily an actor and haven’t quite launched my music career yet. They give me completely different feelings to be honest. Being able to play and be someone else on a day to day basis is one of the coolest jobs in the world.
But when I really want to express myself sometimes I just go and chill in my room and jam. At the end of the day I honestly couldn’t pick.
Just to finish off, any future projects? Anything you’re thinking of or working on right now?
At the moment I have just finished shooting my second feature film. Essentially it’s just keeping auditioning and learning. I’d love to do bigger stuff as well as more indies. Any role in which something about the character really motivates me, I like to play really intellectually stimulating characters at the end of the day.