Ricky Whittle Talks "Austenland", His Playlist, Music, and so Much More
Fri, 27 Jul 2012 08:19:06
Count Ricky Whittle amongst the top British exports recently. You might know him from VH1's Single Ladies, but he's about to make a big splash with the forthcoming Austenland. Whittle stars alongside Keri Russell and Jennifer Coolidge in this hilarious comedy about a Jane Austen-themed resort. You read that right. His muscular physique, undeniable presence, and sharp wit all come handy. However, Whittle's a multi-faceted actor who can do it all—from the funny stuff to the dramatic stuff and everything between. Plus, he's a huge music fan...
ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino spoke to Ricky Whittle in this exclusive interview about his playlist, how music impacts acting, Austenland, and so much more.
Do you listen to music to prepare for roles? Is there a rhythm to acting?
There can be. It all depends on the character and star of the show. Obviously, each show is different. I came off of a romantic comedy called Austenland. Comedy has its own rhythm. It's like, "Build, build, build, punchline". With drama, you push people one way, and you slap them in the face with a little bit of emotion or you flip it around. TV is no different. There has to be a rhythm. It's got to keep your attention. All TV and film do benefit from music.
Who's usually on your playlist?
I listen to absolutely everything whether it be R&B, country, rock, pop, or hip hop. I've been working out recently and listening to some feel-good music like Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes. I've been listening to "Look at Me Know" with Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, and Busta Rhymes altogether. That track is killer! I've also been listening to "Monster" with Nicki Minaj and Kanye West. I go running up Runyon Canyon, and the only way I'm getting up there is if I've got some tracks that push me the extra mile. I love classical music too. I drive a black, blacked-out SUV with black rims. You see this black guy in the car with his Ray Bans on. Then, as soon as he rolls down the window, he's got Tchaikovsky or Bach music. House is a little repetitive for me.
What artists do you come back to?
It changes all the time. I go through periods where I'll play a track to death. I'll put one track on repeat until I don't like it anymore [Laughs]. At the moment, because it's summertime, I've been listening to a lot of Damien Rice. He's so relaxing. In our industry, life can be so hectic. You're working crazy hours, and you never know where you are. Sometimes, you need to break away and have that little bit of escape. He gives that to me.
In Austenland, what resonated with you about Captain George East?
He's hilarious! He hits a little too close to home [Laughs]. The premise of the movie is a Jane Austen-themed resort, which Keri Russell goes to along with Jennifer Coolidge. The staff are all male actors who are basically hired to romance the women in old regency attire and speak in old English like in the Pride and Prejudice days. George is a former soap opera star who's obsessed with his body and is a ladies man. Even though it's not me, there were a lot of similarities. I work out and like to keep in shape. I've done a bit of soap in my time, and I definitely like the ladies. I thought, "Wow, this is perfect!" [Laughs] I tried to make him endearing. I gave him a childlike quality where he's very vain, but he's not aware of it. He's obsessed with his body but in a curious manner. He'll be checking out his bicep and trying to get a look at it because he's genuinely excited he has a new muscle. He's a very funny character. I did some of my best acting in the movie. It wasn't because of my craft, it was because I was trying to keep a straight face opposite Jennifer Coolidge. That woman is a comedy genius! It was my first step into comedy, and I learned a lot. Hopefully, I can talk that on to following projects.
It sounds hilarious.
It was crazy! Jerusha Hess really is an actor's director. She'd approach us and say, "You know your lines. You know the direction of the script and what's meant to happen. Go and play!" She worked with improvisation. She'd tell us, "Go too far, and then we'll bring it down." It was nice to have that freedom and trust from a director.
What do you dig about Single Ladies?
What doesn't appeal to me about that show? It's about beautiful single ladies [Laughs]. It's an addictive watch. There's some fantastic writing and some of the funniest lines I've heard in my life. A lot of the stories are very much real. It was a pleasure to be a part of that. It's a great family down in Atlanta—the dirty south. I call it "The Friendly South". I don't know if I could do another series down there because I'd end up fat and married. The women are all lovely and the food is so amazing. It spells trouble for me [Laughs].
Are you loving the USA?
I still marvel at this orange thing you've got in the sky. I've read about it in the news and I've seen it on TV. I think you call it, "The sun". [Laughs] It's wonderful. My only problem in the morning is what color shorts do I wear? It's a fantastic place to be as an actor because there are so many great shows out here. When I was on Single Ladies, I loved getting up and going to work every day. You have to love what you do, and the rest will fall into place.
Have you seen Ricky Whittle yet?