“Don’t People Please” 5 Insider Tips With Actor Tommy Bastow
I had the pleasure to interview actor Tommy Bastow. Tommy is perhaps best known for playing the character ‘Dave the Laugh’ in Paramount Pictures’ iconic cult film Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging and who is soon to be seen in ABC’s The Crossing, alongside Rick Gomez. The Crossing follows desperate refugees from a war-torn country who start showing up to seek asylum in an American town — the shocking truth that the country these people are from is actually America and the war they are fleeing is 250 years in the future, starts to devastate the local community. Tommy plays the lead role of Marshall. The show will air on 2nd April 2018 and is one of ABC’s prime flagship dramas for 2018.
What is your “backstory”?
My backstory eh? I would say it’s pretty conventional. Two brothers, a sister, couple of cats. I grew up in Epsom, and went to the BRIT school in Croydon. After a short spell of touring with my band I went to the drama centre to pursue acting.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your acting/directing/performing career?
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I failed my driving test 4 times! Operating heavy machinery has never been my strong point. So, a few years ago when I booked Harley and the Davidsons (a fantastic show for the discovery channel) I decided I should learn how to ride. I failed my CBT test, which any biker will tell you is the worst thing you can do. It’s like a cop losing his gun. Luckily, when I got to set we got to ride these amazing early model Harley Davidson replicas around all day, so I soon picked it up.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’ve just finished filming ‘The Crossing’ which is a new show coming out on ABC in April. The show was a blast to work on and has the potential to be something really special. I can’t go into too much detail because the show is full of surprises.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
As I write this, the winter Olympics are on and it has made me think of a very funny and inspiring story about a Japanese Olympian called Shiso Kanakuri. This guy took 54 years to finish a marathon. It was the first year Japan were asked to compete in the Olympics and at the time Japan, though being very skilled martial artists, had not yet been exposed to or trained in Olympic sports. Shiso turned up to the event with hardly any practice (I believe he ran around every station they stopped at on the trans-Siberian railway) and, most astonishingly, competed in Tabi’s. Needless to say, he could not complete the race but, 54 years later, he crossed the finishing line. I think its admirable that, regardless of the shame he must have felt, he continued to work hard and compete in many more events throughout his life, and eventually came back to settle the score in Stockholm at the age of 75!
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in Hollywood?
Try your best to understand who you are and how you relate to the world. I think it’s really important to be honest about, and even celebrate, your weaknesses. It’s what makes you human. Trying to be the ‘tough guy’ or the ‘cool chick’ can come across as superficial, and people usually see straight through it.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
The honest answer to that is that I have not done enough. I have focused all my energies on getting to where I need to be. Once I am at that place, I can begin to help more effectively. I admire all creatives who use their influence to help those less fortunate, and inspire people to make positive changes in their lives.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Don’t people please — Countless times I’ve gone into an audition room, a classroom or even a social situation and done my best to try and be what other people want me to be. Once you do this, you give away your power. You’ve got to accept that not everyone is going to like you.
- Keep inspired — Understand what it is to be an artist. Go to museums, the theatre and watch movies that give you a different perspective on the world. I wish I could go back and have taken an interest in these things sooner. Sure, I watched a lot of movies but I never went to the theatre, I wore it like a badge of honour. Now I’ve come to realise there is something really special that happens on stage and if you can engage with it, it is unbelievably rewarding.
- Have something else — I’ve always been grateful to have other things to focus on. If your life becomes acting and only acting your world will begin to crumble when the work doesn’t come in. Learn a language, an instrument, decoupage even. It doesn’t matter what!
- Stay healthy — Eat well, and try to do something active every day. Sure, have the odd day of indulgence but don’t make bad habits. I’ve had a fair few of them in my time.
- Be brave enough to get it wrong. When you audition or rehearse, it’s better to take a chance, get it completely wrong, make a fool of yourself and then learn from it than to play it safe. Playing it safe and being in your comfort zone will kill your creativity. Bowie said it better than me — — — —
“if you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
There are countless people whose brains I’d like to pick and many more who I’d like to thank for their inspiring work. But I wouldn’t want to take up their time, they’ve got a lot more important things to do!