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Interviews review

Amy Bailey interview

added: 28 Jun 2011 // release date: 28 Jun 2011
certificate: // director:
studio: Highgate // film length
reviewer: Claudia A

Amy-Bailey-interview Printable version
Amy Bailey is a multi-talented actress who recently starred alongside Tim Frost in the London fringe production of Woody Allen’s ‘Play It Again, Sam’ – though she’s equally at home in a Tim Burton movie.

Film-News Claudia A. asked Amy what brought her from Texas (of all places) to London in pursuit of her career.

Film-News:
Amy, you're from Texas originally. After having moved to New York to dance with a ballet company there, you then moved to London to dance with ballet companies here. Why did you choose London?

Amy Bailey:
Growing up as an artsy-fartsy kid in South Texas, all I wanted to do as a young teen was move away! Living in NYC was fantastic, but when I was invited to go to London I jumped at the chance. London has such a rich ballet history, and the opportunity to work with the greats, like Dame Alicia Markova, was thrilling. The style is also very different from American ballet, so it was exciting to broaden my horizons artistically.

FN:
Are you still active in ballet?

AB:
No, I decided to hang up the pointe shoes for good two years ago. It was strange to "retire" so early, but having been professional from 16, I was ready to move on. Classical ballet is not something I can ever do as a hobby - I'd judge myself too harshly. But I enjoy being a patron now and ballet dancers, to me, will always remain the hardest working and most exquisite artists.

FN:
You recently starred as the female lead 'Linda Christie' in the fringe production of 'Play It Again, Sam'. What attracted you to the part, how did you prepare for the part and were you actually familiar with the play/movie beforehand?

AB:
Before the audition, I watched the film, but wasn't able to get my hands on a copy of the original play. John Plews, our director, held the audition as a "cold read", which means you don't prepare anything beforehand, you just go in and sight-read from the script. That is quite tricky with Woody Allen material as it has such a quick, punchy pace. But I think John was mostly looking for people who had the right tone, and also for chemistry between the actors. Tim Frost (who was cast as the lead, Allen Felix) and I both remember having some lovely, organic moments together even at the first audition. I was attracted to the role of Linda Christie because I felt she was more than just a clingy insecure neurotic, haha! I've tried to make her loveable and sympathetic, and hoped that the audience would understand and forgive her flaws.

FN:
You have worked with some big-name movie directors like Tim Burton (for 'Alice In Wonderland') in the relatively small supporting role as'Hatteress'. What is more exciting to you - to have small parts in big feature films directed by big-shot directors, or to have leading parts in low-budget theater plays (or films)?

AB:
Hmmm, good question! Well, artistically, of course, it is much more fulfilling to have a lead part where you are able to explore a complex character. But being on big-budget sets has given me the opportunity to watch actors like Johnny Depp, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Judi Dench close-up as they go through this process. Both experiences are wonderful and valuable, and I feel equally privileged to have had them. Having said all that, my goal is leading parts in all arenas, be they fringe plays or Hollywood blockbusters.

FN:
In 2009, you performed under Baz Luhrmann's direction alongside Beyonce and Hugh Jackman for the '81st Oscars'. What was the reason for your involvement?

AB:
As I said, I hung up my dancing shoes a couple of years ago. But there are a couple of people for whom I will slip them back on, like Rob Marshall who directed me in NINE, and Rob Ashford who choreographed the Baz Luhrmann Oscars number. I was involved basically, because I was in LA at the time, and Rob (Ashford) wanted certain people for the project...and I was lucky to be one of those. Plus, I think Baz is brilliant, so it was a little dream fulfilled to work with him.

FN:
Performing alongside Beyonce and Hugh Jackman must have been both thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time...

AB:
It was delightful! They are the most humble, personal, and down-to-earth people. Beyonce and Hugh both come from a legacy of hard work and dedication; neither one of them fell into fame and fortune without deserving it. They mucked in like everyone else for the long rehearsals. And (despite the crazy security outside the studios), it felt quite normal to have them around everyday. It was only when we transferred to the giant Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, and there were lots of other people involved, that I saw the strange effects of fame. Beyonce especially clammed up a little bit, but it was a protective thing. So many people were pawing for her attention - it was exhausting to watch.

FN:
You also were an understudy (for the part of 'Ulla') in the UK-touring production of 'The Producers' and you regularly perform with various comedy impro troupes here in London. Is comedy a genre you're particularly like or think you have natural talent for?

AB:
Performing with The Producers was definitely a career highlight, and I was fortunate to work alongside excellent comedians like Peter Kay, Joe Pasquale, and Reece Shearsmith. In 2009, I started studying and performing with the famed "Groundlings Theater" in LA, and that's when I sort of discovered my own funny bone. I performed and competed all over the LA comedy circuit for '09 and '10, and then in 2011, I began training with David Shore here in London. I'm now addicted to comedy improvisation - it is one of the great joys in my life. Every actor should do it. It's one of the scariest and most exhilarating experiences to step out onstage and not have a clue what will come out of your mouth. It's about trusting your "grey area" and really listening to fellow scene partners. I use impro skills in every audition or job I do.

FN:
What are your future plans - can you see yourself staying here in the UK or do you contemplate returning to the US one day?

AB:
Well, life is fluid and ever-changing, and I like it that way. Presently, I base myself in the U.K., but one of the best things about being an actor is the constant variety in our careers. I can rarely plan where I will be in a month's time. Currently, I'm in the audition process for a film shooting in Bucharest, and a TV series shooting in Prague, so I should find out in the next couple of weeks where I will be spending my summer. Hopefully, I'll be able to squeeze in some time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to perform with several comedy impro and sketch troupes. The U.S. is always there for me, but I quite like Will Shakespeare's, "All the world's a stage" theory.

FN:
Many thanks for your time Amy, and best wishes for the world's stage.

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