LIVE Jâms Thomas Interview with DJ Forrest
This was my first telephone interview and I have to admit that although I was better prepared, no hitches with the voice recorder, I still had a level of nerves. Jâms put me at ease from the off, and the questions began and the laughter followed and I was sad to see the end of the interview and wished I’d had more questions to ask.
One of my first questions had been the pronunciation of Jâms’ Christian name which was answered, and it’s not pronounced James as I originally thought, but more like the music term, which brings us nicely into the first question.
Jâms: In Mr Nice, the role, it’s not allowed to be mentioned in the film itself, for legal reasons. James Morris was the stage/tour manager for Pink Floyd but we weren’t allowed to call them Pink Floyd in the film, for legal reasons. And he was the one who introduced Howard Marks into the idea of smuggling drugs in the back of speaker cabinets, and apparently for a while that’s how Howard Marks got marijuana into America, in pin flight speakers. So in the film there’s some obscure reference and there’s the band in the background and we don’t really know who they are.
In the Reckoning (2011) you played Scott Bradley was your character involved with Ashley Jensen’s character or were they different stories in each episode?
Jâms: No it was done over two episodes. I die in the very first scene, like I did in Torchwood. (laughter), and I have a habit for it. My mother hates it! And then I get to come back in the flashbacks showing why I died. No I didn’t have any scenes with Ashley as such, but it’s my death which triggers off a series of events that pull her in.
You were involved in The Last Hare last time we spoke.
Jâms: Oh god! I still haven’t seen that. It was a short film I did in Aberystwyth. The guy had just graduated from film school. It was a supernatural thriller. It seemed alright. I’ll have to have a look for it. It was filmed in Wales and I played a Yorkshire farmer. Very odd.
The latest thing I did, is Pride. Which is out next week. It’s a film with Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Paddy Constandine. Dominic West is in it and Andrew Scott from Sherlock. It’s quite a good cast. It’s set in South Wales and London during the Miner’s Strike. Gay and Lesbian activists who decide to support the miners in the strike, and it’s about a clash of cultures and how they get on and it’s very very funny. It’s out on 12th September. I went to the premiere, Tuesday, and it was great. Jimmy Somerville played LIVE!
There’s an awful lot of stories that come out from the Miner’s strike
Jâms: Yes, this is a particularly good story and it’s all true as well. And the characters, the people who were in the film were at the premiere and the cast were there to see it. It was a great film.
If you type in Pride movie 2014 on IMDB you’ll find out about it.
How did they set up the scene where you had blood spurting out of your neck?
Jâms: You think of these things as sophisticated! What it was, the two Art Dept., guys had worked out a system of a high pressure hose, taped it up the leg of my trousers, up my back and my neck and taped a broken plastic fork in the top of it, so that it would spray. I think we did it twice but the first one was the one they went for.
The idea was that the first big death on Torchwood would be quite horrific, whether or not they’d be able to get away with it for the rest of the season, it didn’t matter, so long as they got one in for the audience and gore freaks. So that was the idea, to make it an impact death.
There must have been a lot of takes initially, or dry runs of it to be sure it would work?
Jâms: Yeah, they did a dry run of it and I rehearsed with the guy who played the weevil, who was acting in it all day, bless him! I have a photo of him somewhere smoking a fag (cigarette). Yeah so they had to rehearse a dry run and then just go for it. There was the risk of everybody’s costume being splattered in blood.
It’s not the first time you’ve worked alongside Eve Myles is it, as you were also in Belonging together?
Jâms: We were estranged husband and wife and our son was Jake. We had three seasons of that.
That was a cool series, I’ve only just started catching up on all Eve Myles shows and of course watching Belonging I discovered quite a few people who were also in Torchwood.
Jâms: Yeah, the same Welsh cast gets trotted out!
When I was growing up in Wales, a lot of the Welsh character roles were more the minor roles or the village idiot. The Welsh always got a rough deal in roles.
Jâms: Yeah, well it used to be more like that but Russell T Davies who wrote Torchwood in Cardiff, helped change that. And I think when people cast now, they’re wary of the Welsh person being the stupid person. Although, I’m quite happy to play the stupid person, that’s what I am in life.
You’ve been involved in stage plays as well, is this where your acting career began?
Jâms: My acting career began in school. It was very orientated around Drama. I did a couple of TV things when I was a kid, and yeah, stage, you’re immersed more in the work, and the reactions are more immediate. It’s more gratifying in that respect but the money is awful. I do a lot of theatre but there’s not much around at the moment. I tried to do a bit of stand up comedy, a few stand up shows.
Is that in Cardiff area or do you travel with that?
Jâms: It’s in Cardiff. I’m hoping to expand it. I’ve done it over the last few years. I’ve got the opportunity at the moment to broaden it. There’s always a bit of theatre going on. I wouldn’t mind doing some theatre in the New Year.
What was your first acting job?
Jâms: Apart from Nativity plays and stuff, my first professional job which I got paid for would have been a small role in a TV series called ‘Nobody’s Hero’ for ITV when I was 11 or 12. That was my first professional job. My first professional job when I was 17 was ‘District Nurse’.
Who inspired you to become an actor?
Jâms: I think I just fell into it because I was really good at it, apart from drawing. Although I did love role playing as a kid and the Six Million Dollar Man.
I’d probably say that it was the American shows of the ‘70’s with those all American heroes, they were so captivating. If there was any genre I used to play in as a child I’d love to say Steve Austin.
You played a plumber in Stella was that a one off role or is it a recurring role?
Jâms: Well funnily enough I auditioned for Stella the other day for another part, so I don’t know. If they bring me back in I don’t know if this will be as a plumber again or...they’re four series away from that now.
There’s quite a few times where you can have a one off role be it a couple of years ago, and then come back as someone completely different (Doctor Who).
Jâms: There was always a possibility for the character to come back. There were scenes cut, there was meant to be follow up scenes that they left out as the episode was running over so they left them.
What’s the furthest you’ve travelled for an audition or role?
Jâms: I travelled up to Liverpool once! I usually get London. For a job the furthest I’ve travelled is Australia.
If you had an opportunity of a role where you could choose your leading man and/or leading woman, who would they be and would you be the hero or villain of the piece?
Jâms: I’d love to play opposite Johnny Depp. I like actors like that, quirky and that. As far as female actress, I’m really into Jennifer Lawrence at the minute. I’ve just watched ‘Winter’s Bone’, so she’s my favourite at the moment. It would have to be a combination of hero and villain. Somebody who does the wrong thing for the right reason.
When you’ve had periods of resting in between acting roles, what jobs have you taken?
Jâms: Oh god, many things. Packing wooden floors, cleaning the toilets at the BBC, that was bad. I’ve worked in IKEA, I’ve worked in agency work so they take you everywhere, so, Prison Service, not as prison warden but administration. Oh yeah and working in market research, so someone asking you to do a survey, the amount of shopping you do, whatever, it could be me.
(So remember kids, that next time you consider slamming down the phone, you might be talking to Jâms Thomas!!!)
Do you have a website, or a Twitter account where the fans can follow you?
Jâms: I don’t, I’ve been wary of going on Twitter. On Facebook I say stuff I really shouldn’t. I’d spend more time in court than on my phone! (jokes).
Did you ever sort out what caused your glass table to explode?
Jâms: No, that was really weird. I looked up everything from poltergeists to glass in general. I think in general it was being held together by a single bolt and was stressed. Tempered glass can fracture like that. But it still didn’t stop the fact that I was terrified.
The funny thing was I was watching the first episode of Doctor Who which references human internal combustion!!!
Were there any funny moments when doing your scenes in Torchwood – Everything Changes?
Jâms: Oh yeah, I always have a good laugh when I see Eve anyway. She’s very good. It was the first time I’d ever seen John Barrowman and he is very rude and yeah we had a giggle.
Have you been a guest at a convention?
Jâms: I’ve never been a guest. I took my daughter to the Cardiff Con, the last one and Eve was there, and we were chatting away and a few people waiting to meet her, recognised me from the show. I’ve never been an actual guest but being recognised from Torchwood, and people recognise the most obscure of actors, I’m enormously chuffed at that.
Thank you so much for a wonderful interview Jâms.