This time we are lucky enough to get to meet yet another very busy Background Support Artist/Singer by the name of Wayne Devlin.
Hi Wayne, thank you so much for taking time out from your busy life to allow us to get to know who the tall man we often see in the background really is. Where are you from originally?
Hello, I was born in Urmston in the Trafford area of Manchester, in the North West of England.
Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood? Did you always have a leaning towards acting?
I always had an ambition to be an actor but I also have a love of singing, which was nurtured by my Father, Patrick, who taught and encouraged me to sing from an early age, (particularly jazz/swing/rat pack songs) using breathing exercises as a game to make it fun as I was learning. He also taught me to appreciate good diction and phrasing and used artists like Sinatra and Bennett as examples. I remember my first ever acting and singing role was at a school play, aged about 10 when I was chosen to sing ‘Leaning on a Lamp Post’! I remember the feeling of fear turning into excitement and then the thrill of actually performing, followed by the applause. I loved it and I wanted more.
"Leaning on a Lamp Post" - George Formby. Crikey, that one was a hit long before you were even born! It was before I was born - and I am older than dirt! So where did this early love of performing lead you?
Years later I decided to see something of the world and I set off and travelled around Europe, singing from bar to bar to fund my travels. It was a brilliant training ground for mastering my craft as a singer but it also gave me many experiences and taught me a lot about life, which is a great tool for any actor.
Have you had any formal training in drama?
I have always had a strong fascination for ‘method acting’. To get inside a character, to not just pretend to be a character but to actually be that character, to be totally believable. To live that character moment to moment. I became passionate about learning more about this method of acting and after taking a method acting course in London, I then travelled to New York and furthered my studies on method acting there. To help fund my travels, I was singing in bars and clubs in New York and it was there I was spotted and invited to perform in Las Vegas, I accepted and ended up singing at the Flamingo Casino and the Golden Nugget Casino. I had an amazing experience in Vegas and met some really talented people. Again gaining a life lesson that money cannot buy. I think I must be the only person to have visited Vegas and not gambled!
Ha! Well my son went to Vegas to gamble, and got married there! But that's another story, and definitely could be classified as gambling! :-)
I certainly didn't do that there, following my travels, I settled back in Trafford where I met, fell in love with and married my beautiful wife, Val and subsequently adopted my two sons. I am very much a family man and spend all my free time with my wife and sons (and not forgetting my two dogs!). My family unit means the world to me and they give me new experiences all the time. Being a husband and a father is amazing and I wouldn’t change this for the world. Some people believe that an actor’s life is better suited to the single man. I totally disagree; being happily married gives you someone to share your hopes and your dreams, your ups and your downs with.
That's great, I hope we are going to see your family in your gallery below. So did you continue your singing career in Manchester after that?
I got bookings around the Greater Manchester area, doing my ‘Rat Pack’ performances, including a residency at the Trafford Centre where I performed every one to two months. Through doing this I gained the nick-name locally of ‘Trafford’s Frank Sinatra’. During this period I also acted in a couple of student films and gained a role on a National Geographic docu-film named ‘Critical Situation – Hell on High Waters’. (a Darlow Smithson production) I gained this role because I looked exactly like the man the film was based on.
Would you believe I found a copy of this online, and grabbed a screen shot of you getting pretty wet. It was a fascinating documentary about the Australian Sydney - Hobart Race, I watched the whole thing - scary stuff. How is it filmed? Do you really have to go out and sail in rough seas?
First of all I spent 5 days on the North East Coast. I was put up in a lovely hotel and taken each day to a massive building that contained a huge water tank with a wave machine in it to make it as rough water as possible. In the middle of the tank was a replica boat to the actual boat the film was based on, The Kingura. Each day we acted out scenes of being thrown from the boat and saving each other's lives while the crew blasted us with jets of water.
Then on the fifth day they took us out onto the sea where they filmed us on board a boat with the natural back drop of the sea! The man who was sailing the boat sailed against the waves and deliberately made it as uncomfortable as possible to get the desired effect of being in a very rough storm. It was very hard work for my first time so I guess I really did start in the deep end!
It sounds awful, I think it would be enough for me to opt for a different profession, but not you?
No, this was my first taste of being on the set of a professional shoot and I loved it but quickly realised the difference between stage and screen. I needed to learn all the terminology on set and learn the set etiquette. So I put a plan into action and my first step was to gain employment with a ‘crew’ which I soon did and I then started working behind the scenes on both stage and screen, making the sets, building stages, rigging up lights and sound. I learned what happens before an actor even walks onto a set. This was invaluable experience for me and stood me in good stead for my next step - getting on the right side of the camera!
Oh wow! So you really learned the business from the ground up. Where did that lead you?
I had been singing in the evenings as well as working with the crew during the day and the singing money helped fund more acting classes. I attended the Method Studio Manchester (unfortunately now shut down) which was brilliant for me and my love of method acting and I also took acting for camera courses at every opportunity. They are brilliant for not only learning new techniques but also for meeting people within the industry. I spoke to everyone I met and enquired who they thought was the best agency for getting me work as a Supporting Artist (Extra). I didn’t want just any agency, I wanted the best around and the one that could make one of my life time dreams and ambitions come true and get me on Coronation Street! The same name kept popping up as the best to be on the books of and that was ‘Nemesis Casting’. So, in the best decision I have made professionally so far, I applied and was thrilled to learn I had been accepted onto their books.
Ah yes, we have spoken to a few others from that agency, and they all speak very highly of it. So what did they find you first?
My first role was in a Magnet Kitchen advert. It was being filmed locally and was good fun. I never knew what happened to the advert, I’ve never seen it but that got me off and running.
I found it! Unfortunately, they chopped a lot out, but I did manage to grab one of you in the background from it. What came after that?
Next was Hollyoaks. I was a patient in a hospital. I must have done well because I was asked back again the following week but this time I was upgraded from a patient to a doctor! I then had a rally of being a doctor for a few months. It was great for me to learn all the terminology needed and the etiquette of being an SA, I also used my time on set to watch the cast, to learn what I could from them and take what I could use for my own skill set. I really enjoyed my experience and got some really good feedback to my agent.
Sounds like you were almost typecast as a doctor then.
No, next came a role on Shameless. I was to play Jamie Maguire’s security man and I was to remove some prostitutes from a festival. It was another great experience of working with a different team of cast and crew, and very different from my doctor role! It was great fun to film and the long hours flew by as I watched and learned and took my direction for my background scenes. Again I got some good feed back and made a couple of good friends.
I am sure you made a very good security man, being 6 ft 2 in, plus you have a bit of a semi-pro boxing background don't you?
Yes I do, also earlier this year heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury asked me to sing his ring entrance song, live from the ring, when he was set to fight David Haye at the Manchester arena in front of a 21,000 audience and live around the world on Sky TV. Disappointingly the fight has now been called off due to an injury to David Haye in his training. But if a replacement is found in time I will still be doing this performance on February 8th 2014. So if it happens, look out for me!
So, of course we all want to know about Coronation Street, tell us about that.
Yes, finally the call I had been waiting for. I was to be in the background in the Rovers on Coronation Street!
The first thing I noticed about working on Coronation Street was that it was like one big happy family, from the runners to the director. Everyone has their own specific job to do and they do it like a finely oiled machine.
To sit and have a pint for the first time in The Rovers with Stella, Carl and Gloria behind the bar was very strange. I have grown up with Coronation Street, it’s a national institution! So after a lifetime of seeing the famous Rovers with all its comings and goings on, it was a very surreal experience to sit there awaiting direction.
I quickly composed myself and got into my zone, so to speak. The scene went well and a few days later I was informed by my agent that I had been asked for again. This time I was to have a meal in the Bistro. Nick Tilsley (Ben Price) was to take my order. We had a good chat between takes, like myself he seemed very family orientated and I was genuinely impressed with what a gentleman he was.
My next visit to the Bistro had David Platt (Jack P Shepherd) serving me. He is quite a character and when he came to take my order on the second take he joked about what I had ordered and recommended something completely different off the menu that was totally inappropriate for a main meal or for any meal for that matter. They used that take and it looked brilliant and very natural. Which I am sure was his intention. He is a great actor and a really likeable person.
I have to ask, what was it he suggested you order?
I remember he was asking me ideas for fancy dress as he had an up coming photo shoot where he had to be several different 'baddies' from movies. I suggested a Bond villain. He then made joke after joke that I don't recall. With regards to the menus I don't recall exactly what he suggested I order but I do remember I had to fight laughing during the take!
On that same day I was also asked if I could simply walk past the window of the Rovers to make it look a bit busier. Roy and Hayley were stood next to me and they joked about my walk past the window. Roy insisted I walk with a 'regional' walk! So we had some fun doing different styles of walking much to Roy and Hayley's amusement! They were happy with my final Mancunian walk! Whatever that was! Haha
I seem to have spotted you more often in the Bistro, I guess you must look a little more upmarket than the Rovers riff raff.
Ha ha, I did appear again in the Bistro with Leanne serving me, and like her co stars she was totally professional but had a laugh and joke between takes with crew, SAs and co-stars. I’ve had many other visits to Coronation Street and always thoroughly enjoyed both my learning experience and the experience of being on the set of such a great, long running soap. On all my visits to the Street I have met many people and become very good friends with many of the cast and crew. One cast member in particular, Dev Alahan (Jimmi Harkishin) has become a very good friend of mine and he comes to most of my singing performances.
So what is next for Wayne Devlin? Do you plan to continue with SA work?
Well, after working as crew on the sets behind the cameras, then working as an SA on camera, the next natural progression is to move up to an acting agency and get myself out there auditioning for full speaking roles, and that is exactly what I have done. One of the main reasons I chose Nemesis Casting for an agent was not only because they are regarded as the best in the North West if not the whole of the UK, but they are part of an umbrella company that has not only a background agency but a modelling agency and a very highly respected acting agency called Urban Talent. I was invited to move up and I did just that. So although I will no longer be doing background work, I will hopefully be getting bigger and better parts to play on camera. I am getting out there to auditions for various acting roles. So this is now the level I want to be at, and I can now finally and proudly call myself an actor!
Makes perfect sense to me, and I think I speak for everyone when I wish you the very best of luck in your future career.
Oh yes, and I should tell you I am currently in the process of organising a Christmas show ‘A Christmas Evening with Wayne Devlin – ‘Trafford’s Frank Sinatra’. This will be a Rat Pack style Christmas performance and tickets are on sale now! Some of my friends that I have made during my SA days will be in attendance and of course my good friend Jimmi Harkishin has already confirmed his attendance. If you are in the North West of England and fancy getting in the Christmas spirit, have a look at my website for details on how to get your tickets!
I only wish I could, unfortunately I can't be there until next summer, but if others reading this would like to go, Wayne's website address is http://www.waynedevlin.com/
Thank you so much for speaking with us Wayne, it has been great talking to you.
So onwards and upwards I go. Working hard and learning every day. Please do keep a look out for me - you never know where I might pop up next!
Absolutely! We expect to see you in the Bistro again, but this time complaining about the food, or possibly in the Rovers as their new potman, as Steve is about as much use to them as a chocolate teapot!