Eight questions with Paul Hunter
As Wise Children enters its final week, we caught up with Paul Hunter to find out more about life as a performer in Emma Rice’s brand new company.
What made you want to become an actor?
I was inspired by an English teacher to perform in a school production of Androcles and the Lion by George Bernard Shaw. I loved it. My mother was a dinner lady and my father was an electrician so I’d never really considered it as a career before, but suddenly the path seemed to open up as an option. I then went against all sound advice and didn’t train in anything else. I thought that if I was sensible and gave myself something to fall back on, I’d fall back on it. So I just gave acting my all.
What was the journey that lead you to Wise Children?
I auditioned for Mike Shepherd for Kneehigh in 1988 for The Riot at the National Theatre. I didn’t get the job that time, but later met Mike and Emma in the NT bar, got chatting and convinced them to see me again. I was then cast in The Red Shoes, opening in Cornwall. I’d never been further south than Plymouth so it was quite a leap. That’s how I met Emma and we’ve worked together many times since.
Who do you play in Wise Children? Can you tell us a bit about them?
- One of the stagehands (affectionately referred to as ‘dads’) who keep everything on track
- The comedian Gorgeous George
- Then the Older Melchior Hazard
What is your favourite scene and why?
To watch from the wings it’s the scene where Lady Atalanta watches the girls perform in the panto. It’s very affecting.
And to play it’s the self-obsessed Melchior announcing at his daughters’ 21st birthday party that he is leaving their mother and marrying Prinking Minx.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I always run the Gorgeous George scene on stage at 7pm.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career?
I was in The Play What I Wrote at Wyndhams alongside Roger Moore, and I had an incredible moment where I had to wrestle my childhood James Bond on stage. I was so excited that afterwards I rang a friend from a payphone outside the theatre to tell him to get down there and watch the show.
Do you have any advice for aspiring actors?
If you feel you need to do it – and I use the word ‘need’ deliberately – then don’t give yourself any other backup option. It has to feel like a need to be strong enough to carry you through the tough times – and there will be tough times.
Finally, how would you describe Wise Children in three words?