Hi Stuart, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us.
Hello, it's my pleasure.
What brought you to Coronation Street?
Well, I certainly wasn't always a Background Artist. I used to be an IT Sales Manager and Estate Agent, until I was made redundant nearly five years ago. This happened shortly after my wife left me and ran off with my best friend, leaving me a single dad with two children, now age five and six. This made me take stock of my life, and I decided it was time to do something I wanted to do! Many years ago, I had a small part in the first series of Silent Witness, so decided to follow the ‘dream’ and give TV & film a shot!
So to this end, I had my head shots done, by a friend (for free!) and emailed anyone with the word ‘Casting’ in their company name and the rest is history!
Oh my goodness! Were you living in Manchester at the time?
I was born down South near Watford, but moved to Warrington, Lancs. eleven years ago.
Was Coronation Street your first job in your new career?
No, my first ever job came through my Dad who spent twelve years and thirty three episodes in Midsomer Murders! His agent was looking for ‘Long haired beardies!’ Which was exactly me at that time, I applied and got my first big gig on the set of ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’
Is your Dad a Background Artist too then?
Yes, my Dad started in Midsomer Murders as background (along with my Mother, they are both heavily involved in Amateur Dramatics), but over time he was 'promoted' to a regular scene of crime officer, so got plenty of exposure, normally just after the adverts!
While working on 'Snow White and the Huntsman', I was contacted by a Manchester agent who wanted somebody with a more unusual characterful look! I definitely fitted the bill. Next thing I knew I was serving late night burgers out of a Hollyoaks burger van!
What was your first Coronation Street appearance?
I made my first Coronation appearance as a reporter during Carla’s rape trial in the beginning of 2012, directed by the wonderful Noreen Kershaw. I actually made it into 'Inside Soap' magazine for that one! Five days and five episodes later I was hooked!
Ah yes, the infamous Frank Foster trial. He got off, but thankfully didn't get away with it, and was taught in no uncertain terms that it doesn't pay to lie to your mother! LOL!!
So you have been there ever since?
Yes, as well as doing other things. Since then I have trodden the cobbles on many occasions, most recently spending three and a half happy months as a fellow inmate of Peter Barlow and Jim MacDonald, I was also involved in one of the lovely Anne Kirkbride's last ever scenes!
I see you no longer have the long hair and beard, why did you decide to make the change?
After four years of being the go-to tramp, prisoner, thug and general loony of the northwest, I decided it was time to lose the long shoulder length flowing locks and the beard and re integrate with society! It was the hardest decision and biggest shock, but it appears to have worked!
I must admit, I find it a big improvement. Not half as scary anyway! LOL!! But the work is still coming in without it? What else have you done?
Yes it is. As well as my time on Coronation Street I have appeared in six major feature films including Maleficent (When I was called 'HOT' by Angelina Jolie!) Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor 2, Snow White and the Huntsman & Les Miserables. Along with appearing in over forty TV series and lots of TV commercials including The Village, Peaky Blinders, Doctors, Hollyoaks, WPC56, Prisoners Wives, Shameless (oh some interesting stories there!), Emmerdale, Mount Pleasant, The Game, Midsomer Murders, Hollyoaks Later, Citizen Khan, By Any Means, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Death Comes to Pemberley, Cilla, Cucumber, Foyles War, Young Dracula (Childrens' BBC), Britains Darkest Taboos, Puppy Love, Ordinary Lies etc etc etc . . .. . . . .
Oh my goodness - that is a lot of well known productions. I have to ask, can you share what you mean about interesting stories at Shameless?
I think not - a little too risqué for this publication!
Oh, OK then, but can you elaborate on your encounter with Angelina Jolie?
I met Angelina Jolie on the set of Disney's Maleficent at Pinewood Studios. Myself and two other guys had just come out of the rehearsal studio (we were choreographing a scene). As she drove past on her golf buggy, she looked at me and shouted over 'WOW! You look really HOT!' Unfortunately it wasn't related to my fabulous looks, or that I resembled Brad, but more to do with the fact that it was about 35 degrees, I was in a full suit of armour and was sweating like you wouldn't believe!
Ha ha! Well, at least she noticed you, and who knows, maybe dripping wet metal is her thing!
I see the Manchester Guardian did a write up on you being in Maleficent. It can be read HERE
Did you always want to go into show business? Did you start out in drama school?
I don't have any theatrical training (apart from drama at school), I have always been a little out going, confident, I can take direction very easily and a lot of people will say that I am just a drama queen! I always had a far more creative mind, more artistic than academic. I always used to perform in the school plays, musicals etc.
You mentioned you have two children. Do they watch for you on screen? If they grow up wanting to go into the same business, would you encourage it?
My children love the fact that their Dad is on telly and on at the cinema, as long as I'm not too scary! Josh once hid behind the sofa shouting 'I don't like scary Daddy!' after seeing me in a Hollyoaks episode. They have both already asked if they are allowed to be on television with Daddy and I would definitely encourage them to do it. We haven't all actually worked together yet, although we have been put forward for a few 'family' roles.
Which do you prefer, television or film work? What is the best and worst thing about each?
Film work tends to be better paid, and there can be more 'juicy' parts but the really early starts can be tricky, plus there are a lot of date changes and cancellations at very short notice, so it's not always ideal especially if you are booked for a role down South. TV work is a lot of fun and you are always bumping into old friends on set. I do love a good period/costume drama. Think I just like getting dressed up ha ha! You never know who or what you are going to be from one day to the next!
Have you met most of the Corrie cast? Who do you get along with the best?
I have worked with a fair few, but have spent most time with Chris Gascoyne (Peter Barlow) during the prison scenes. He was always friendly, and joined in with the conversations and banter with his fellow inmates.
I have a feeling there are more than one or two people reading this right now who are dead jealous of you - they would give a lot to be locked up with Chris Gascoyne! LOL!!
Stuart, what do you like to do when you are not in front of the camera?
As I said before, I have two young children, so they keep me very busy. I also have my own little furniture business, upcycling and restoring old and unloved furniture.
We would love to see some of the pieces you have done.
Sure, I will add a few photos to my gallery.
Thank you, and thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, it's been a blast!
You're very welcome.