PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: One Man, Two Guvnors and U.K. "Office" Star Oliver Chris
By Matthew Blank
August 14, 2012
British stage and screen actor Oliver Chris, who plays the priggish Stanley Stubbers in Broadway's acclaimed One Man, Two Guvnors, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Chris' Playbill bio reads, "Oliver has played a selection of arrogant misogynists, some enthusiastic idiots and a donkey. Television: the original U.K. version of 'The Office,' other stuff you've probably never heard of and something called 'Green Wing' that you should buy on DVD. Oliver is currently quite into the idea of becoming a massive movie star. He has also just won an award for doing acting. It's made of plastic."
More specifically, his U.K. screen work includes "Green Wing," "Tripping Over," "According to Bex," "Nathan Barley," "The IT Crowd" and "Rescue Me." He played temp "Ricky Howard" in Series One of the original U.K. "The Office."
Stage credits include Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew at the Wilton's Music Hall, Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac at the Royal Exchange Theatre, the West End debut of Lisa Kron's Well and A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Rose Theatre opposite Judi Dench.
Full given name:
Where you were born/where you were raised:
Tunbridge Wells. It's a little commuter town about an hour outside London that pretends to be pretty.
What your parents did/do for a living:
My mum is a London Guide. My dad is studying for a PhD in Climate Science (so he says).
Something you're REALLY bad at:
Stopping drinking martinis
First Broadway/West End show you ever saw:
When I was 6 my parents took me to see Peter Hall's production of Animal Farm at the National Theatre. To this day I can't look at a pig without worrying it’s going to move into my house, kill my cat and start doing business with my neighbours.
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be?
I would have liked to see Olivier do something.
Did you have any particular mentors or inspirations as a young actor?
Current show you have been recommending to friends:
Matilda The Musical. When it comes to Broadway it's gonna blow your hearts apart.
Favorite showtunes of all time:
I saw Cats as a kid. A lot.
Some favorite musicals:
Actually, I like the songs but I don't really get on with most musicals. The format generally confuses me.
Some favorite modern plays:
The Pillow Man, Copenhagen, The Woolworth Farce, Clybourne Park.
There's also a play called One Man, Two Guvnors, which I hear is pretty good.
Stage or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with:
I would like to have been in "Casablanca" with those incredible people. I would also have liked to play Jane Fonda’s trousers in "On Golden Pond."
You personal acting idols:
Bill Murray amongst many others.
MAC or PC?
Most played song on your iPod:
Ha, Ha, Ha. It's actually the adagio of Shostakovitch's Piano Concerto no. 2. (aren’t I highbrow). Right behind that though is "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton.
Last book you read:
I just finished "The Great Gatsby." Unbelievable.
Must-see TV show(s):
All the usuals: "The West Wing," "The Wire," "The Sopranos"... anything that starts with "The"
Last good movie you saw:
I watched "The Cabin In The Woods," which I really enjoyed for a high-concept, super-natural, gore fest.
Some films you consider classics:
Performer you would drop everything to go see:
The best performances are always the ones you aren’t expecting from the people you've never heard of.
Pop culture guilty pleasure:
'80s power ballads. I feel no guilt.
Three favorite cities:
London, New York, not Wolverhampton
First CD/Tape/LP you owned:
First Tape was "Rum, Sodomy and the Lash" by The Pogues. I left it in an ex-girlfriend's car quite recently, which is another reason not to like her.
First CD was Don McLean, "American Pie."
First stage kiss:
I honestly can't remember. I bet it was brilliant though.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:
When I realized that you could actually get paid for shouting.
Favorite liquid refreshment:
Dirty Martinis, Gin Martinis, Manhattans, Red Wine, White Wine, Stella Artois. In that order.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups:
I like to shout at my dresser. Usually something like, "Where's my f**king socks!?" or "Get out!”
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:
I once attacked Gael Garcia Bernal's face with a pair of pliers. He was... not happy.
Worst costume ever:
The McDonalds uniform I wore for the 3 hideous days I worked there.
Worst job you ever had:
I have been fired from most of the bars and pubs in Leicester Square. And a McDonalds.
How did you research for this performance?
I lived undercover as a minor aristocrat for six years then murdered my girlfriend's brother. It was interesting.
Most challenging role you have played onstage:
Algernon Moncrieff in The Importance Of Being Earnest. It's an annoying and impossible part.
Some favorite screen or commercial roles:
I quite like being able to say I was in "The Office." Also, having Judi Dench cradle my head and recite some of Shakespeare's most beautiful poetry for six weeks was pretty cool too.
If you could trade roles with anyone in your show for a week, who would it be and why?
James Corden. Because I want to be a STAR!!
What has been the biggest difference performing the show in NYC, compared to the UK?
There is a depressing lack of ethnic diversity in the audiences of both.
Leading man role you've been dying to play:
All of them.
Leading lady role you wish you could play:
I'd make a beautiful Rumpleteaser.
Career you would want if not a performer:
I wanted to be a fighter pilot for a while, but I'm too tall, too stupid and I don't like flying. So it was a bit of a non-starter.