Quadrophenia, Doctor Who & "Family Reunion" -- EXCLUSIVE Interview With Trevor Laird

Trevor Laird has been in films like the epic rock musical Quadrophenia, Babylon, and even had two different tenures on UK TV's Doctor Who.  Most recently, he appears in David Kitchen's short film, "Family Reunion" as the patriarch of a family about to implode due to ugly secrets. 

Laird was kind enough to respond to an e-mail interview recently and chatted about his early days and how he gets inside the headspace of each of the varied characters he has played in his career.

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FCSFR: You've appeared in so many films and TV shows over the past 35 years.  How did you get your start acting?  Who would you name as inspirations?

TREVOR LAIRD:  I went to the Anna Scher children's theatre as a teenager,a wonderful teacher who ran a workshop for kids.  Many actors, mostly working class, started there.

The one actor that inspired me as a kid was Marlon Brando.  I liked Bill Cosby in I Spy.

FCSFR:  You appeared as the drug dealer Ferdy in the 1979 The Who inspired film, Quadrophenia.  What was that like?  You must have been in your early twenties at the time -- was it intimidating walking on that set?

LAIRD: I was 20 years old, 21 towards the end of Quadrophenia.  My close friend Phil Daniels (also Anna Scher's) played the lead and there were other Anna Scher actors in the cast so it was like a big party with friends.  We were too young to be intimidated by anything.

FCSFR: Many would consider 1980's Babylon to be your first major role, and probably the first film to seriously address the radicalism and far reaching effects of reggae.  How did you come to be involved with Babylon?

LAIRD: During the making of Quadrophenia, I met Martin Stelman who had been hired to do additional dialogue.  He told me about another script he had.  After Quad had come out I was in the position to be part of starting a theatre company, "Black Theatre Co-Op".  We were doing a play when Martin came to see it [and] said they had the money for Babylon.  It's a film I really like.

FCSFR: Appearing in not one but two incarnations of science fantasy TV spectacular Doctor Who is no small feat, either.  How did you manage to get the more recent role of Clive Jones? 

LAIRD:  The casting director had cast me in something else and invited me in to meet for the new assistant's father in Doctor Who.  Clive Jones was supposed to be in just one episode but after [that] they decided to bring him back.

FCSFR:  How did you meet David Kitchen

LAIRD: I think Karen Bryson, who I've known since she was at school, suggested me for the role of her father.  Clint, who I also knew, thought it might be a good idea.  David, who knows my work, called my agent, sent me the script and I said I'd do it.

FCSFR:  You bring a lot of legitimacy to "Family Reunion" with your rock solid performance of the
father, who is blissfully ignorant of the trouble besetting his family.  How do you go about preparing for a performance?  Do you do character backgrounds or anything like that?

LAIRD:  I read the script twice, then the third time I read it very slowly, asking the question, "Why?"  At every point, I wonder why my character does or says something that makes me ask that question.  I then study or read anything that might help me answer the "Why"'s.  

A well written part has a kind of rhythm to it, I try to locate that.  This guy [the role of Dad in "Family Reunion"], I was lucky with also.  I've been wondering recently what it must be like: your kids are grown up, your partner gone, all your friends are going -- what have I got but my kids?  

We came a long way.  It must have been worth it.

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Thank you to Trevor Laird for taking the time to answer our questions!  

Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!