Philip Shaun McGuinness to produce his next drama

Philip Shaun McGuinness is a 29 year old actor and director from Liverpool. Philip graduated three times from Edge Hill University in 2012, 2014 and 2017 with: 1st Class Drama Degree, an ‘Outstanding’ grade in his PGCE and a ‘Distinction’ in MA Education. Philip believes passionately in striving for excellence.

Philip has appeared in a wide variety of roles from Theatre to Film; Philip is currently touring the UK playing Rodney in an Only Fools and Horses Theatre Show and has recently landed roles in upcoming Film ‘Being Keegan’ alongside Stephen Graham; played Michael Corleone in the ‘Today I Settle All Family Business’ scene from The Godfather film alongside Gianni Russo (Carlo) from the original and also a small role in Disney’s The Evermoor Chronicles (Series 2).

Philip has a good range of commercial experience working with Mario Ballotelli (Puma), you can currently see Philip on Sky Golf on American Golf Commercial. Previous commercials include The Betfred Academy commercials online alongside Stuart Pearce and flew to Germany to film a commercial for Lufthansa in 2016.

Philip’s ultimate ambition is to one day play The Doctor in BBC One’s ‘Doctor Who’ and believes that it is his destiny to achieve this.

Philip has been fortunate enough to have fantastic experiences at the St Helens Theatre Royal playing The Scarecrow and Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, Captain Hook in Peter Pan and Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. Other roles include Spirits of The Stone (Liverpool Everyman), O’Brien’s Dream (Liverpool Unity Theatre) and the Camden Navigator in the London Roundhouse.

To keep up to date with Philip’s work please visit: www.philipshaunmcguinness.co.uk        Follow Philip on Facebook and Youtube (Philip Shaun McGuinness)   or Twitter @Phil_McGuinness.

Philip McGuinness
Philip McGuinness (John Clark Photography – http://www.johnclarkphotography.com)

London Prestige Exclusive Interview with Actor and Director Philip Shaun McGuinness

London Prestige: Tell us a little about yourself, growing up and your passions.

Philip S. McGuinness: Hi, my name is Philip S. McGuinness, I am a 29 year old actor based in Liverpool.

I was quite a reserved boy growing up. I preferred sitting in my room and writing and drawing Batman and Power Rangers stories. I think this is where my first link to acting sprung. As the Caped Crusader Storyteller of Gotham City! I adore art and have found myself returning to some of artistic creation throughout the years.

Being a reserved boy, I found being in larger groups somewhat intimidating. It is the stereotypical story of a boy discovering drama that changed their life. I vividly remember sitting in a year 8 English class when my teacher (Miss Noble) decided to use drama to bring to life a car journey. As a group full of boys our car evidently crashed and we all met a violent and grisly end. Miss Noble wanted us to explore how we would be feeling and use this to enhance creative writing. I remember the moment clearly, I sat in the back of the car (two sets of traditional plastic chairs – we were highly imaginative!) whilst the two most confident lads did all of the talking and something in me just opened up. I thought to myself “I can do that!”. I was always engrossed in ITV dramas whilst growing up and I think that I had somehow learned something from wonderful actors such as John Thaw and Robbie Coltraine. Something in that moment changed. My confidence grew. After the lesson my teacher told me about the school play they were doing ‘Bugsy Malone’ and that I should audition. A couple of days later I plucked up the courage and auditioned and landed the role of ‘Knuckles’ and that was it. I became much more outgoing and how I approached life changed; I began to take my chances, or at least give it my utmost!

It was watching Christopher Eccleston in ‘Let Him Have It’ that really solidified the dream for me. During a drama lesson I just became enthralled in his performance. Subconsciously maybe it was because I looked a little bit like him; big ears, an offbeat nose a general slightly unusual look and northern! I followed his work wherever I could. He was the person that made me think of Acting as a job.

After that I joined a drama group and Acting pretty much became my sole focus, I veered many times but every ‘normal’ job I approached felt inhibiting to me, as if I went back to being that boy in Year eight at the back of the class.

Miss Gill, my Drama teacher at school was a huge part in my love of acting. From Year 8 to Year 11 she inspired, encouraged and supported me to immerse myself in drama. If I wouldn’t have had her as my first drama teacher, I am not sure that I would have found my love of Acting.

London Prestige: What are you currently working on?

Philip S. McGuinness: I have recently filmed a commercial for ‘American Golf’ that will air during the Masters Golf tournament on Sky Sports. This has allowed me to pursue a bit of a passion project of my own.

I am writing an audio drama that I am going to produce, voice and release online. For many years I have been hooked on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, particularly the journey on Demeter.

London Prestige: What made you take this role?

Philip S. McGuinness: One of the things I love most is creating my own work. I have tremendously high expectations of myself and so I try to accomplish these things by learning new skills. Over the last few years this has been photography (check out my Instagram @philipmcguinnessphotography – shameless plug) or using iMovie. I have recently upgraded my recording equipment so that I could develop my voiceover skills.

I am naturally a physical performer and sometimes I can neglect my vocal skills. Writing and producing a story based within such a well loved novel and narrating it myself is a big challenge and quite daunting. This is why I must do it!

Being trapped aboard a floating prison for days on end with a stalking vampire has interested me greatly. So I decided to do something about it. I wrote a first draft and I am now working on the second and I hope to release it for Halloween 2018. 

Philip McGuinness
Philip McGuinness (John Clark Photography – http://www.johnclarkphotography.com)

London Prestige: What journey does your character go on in the course of the monologues?

Philip S. McGuinness: I have decided to do something a little different within this section of the story. I don’t want to jinx it just yet, if you come back to me in a few months I may be able to tell you more!  

London Prestige: What is the most challenging role you have played and why?  

Philip S. McGuinness: Rodney – Only Fools and Horses

It was approximately three years ago. My agent called to ask if I would be interested in auditioning for a comedy dining experience that would be touring. I would be playing ‘Rodney’ from ‘Only Fools and Horses’.

Firstly Only Fools and Horses was a big part of my life growing up as a child. It was always on TV and something that I had loved from an early age. Imitating something that was well loved was incredibly intimidating. I was terrified of it. I had an audition via Skype as I was the last one to be cast (being 6ft 4” certainly helped!).

I remember being cast and my mum telling my cousin in a local pub. He immediately pronounced to the whole family (and anyone else in the pub who would listen) that I was going to be ‘Rodders’ and that he was booking tickets for everyone. I have never been so nervous. Playing the role was intimidating enough, never mind having your ‘Only Fools and Horses’ adoring cousin booking tickets for the whole family!

Secondly – touring. I had never toured a production before. Being away from home for a couple of weeks at a time seemed daunting. The first show was down south then straight to Heathrow to catch a plane to Belfast the next morning. The first show came and people turned up dressed as the characters, we all took a deep breath and thankfully they really enjoyed the performance. The cast were incredibly welcoming. They became like a real life Trotter family, especially John who plays Delboy, as we are together most of the time.

I feared being away from home and with a group of people who would make me feel uncomfortable however this experience relieved all of my stress. It made me realise that in any walk of life courage is a key part in success.

The bit that I always tell everyone is that during my teens an Only Fools and Horses magazine and DVD collection was released. My mum started buying me the collection for my birthday, spending hundreds of pounds on them. I never got round to reading or watching them all but I promised her that one day it would come in handy. Years later it finally did. I like to think that’s destiny but maybe that’s just me! 

London Prestige: And the most fun one?

Philip S. McGuinness: Spirits of the Stone – Liverpool Everyman Theatre

This was my first experience where I mixed with a professional director and writer. It was a community production based in my home town of Kirkby. It revolved around the history of Kirkby being a Viking settlement and the discovery of a mystical stone and the spirits it can cunjure.

It was an ensemble piece, everyone bonded so well and it was a real moment of me feeling like an Actor. Performing at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre will be an experience that I will never forget, it is a beautiful, intimate and historic performing space. Knowing that the likes of Pete Postlethwaite, Nicholas Lyndhurst (another sign!), Julie Walters and Mathew Kelly was inspiring and I felt as though this was the start of my apprenticeship by being on that stage. It was a moment of pure elation and that’s why it always sticks in my mind.

I played the lead called ‘Johnny’ during the first half as a young man and later on in the play a youth called ‘Deke’. It was tremendously hard work. I was training to be a Nurse at the time, I was on placement at 7.30am and rehearsing until 10am. This is where I learnt that discipline is everything.

Philip McGuinness
Philip McGuinness (John Clark Photography – http://www.johnclarkphotography.com)

London Prestige: Describe your biggest accomplishment to date?

Philip S. McGuinness: I have always been interested in Directing and producing my own work. It’s what I feel most passionate about. I try to produce work that is close to my heart.

I created a short film with my partner Emily in 2014 called ‘Silent Night’. I am not sure if I had noticed an increase in the amount of people who were homeless in Liverpool or if it was because I was growing as a person so paid greater attention to people around me, however it really affected me. I spoke to one man on the street who said that he was a carer for his mum and after she died he lost the council flat that they were staying in, so ended up homeless. It made me realise that this could happen to anyone and how often we can stereotype people in all walks of life.

I storyboarded some general ideas of what I wanted to do to try to change this prejudice. I wanted to demonstrate how a person who ends up homeless may be feeling. We are all human. This is what I wanted to see before I saw a ‘homeless man’.

My partner Emily was incredible. I bought a camera a couple of months before and I taught her the basics and we went out and shot it that night. She is so practical and has a real eye for an image.

We made the film and released it online. I was amazed as we had nigh on 3000 views and I received a lot of messages to say how the film had affected people and maybe changed some of their opinions. The following year I wanted to re-release it to try and have some impact for the people who needed it most. Along with some incredible people the film raised £500 for the Whitechapel Centre in Liverpool and it hopefully made a small difference to somebody’s Christmas that year.

London Prestige: What training / education do you have? How has your training prepared you for you acting career?

Philip S. McGuinness: I originally began training as a Nurse but I didn’t really like blood (I know!). I had just completed work on ‘Spirits of the Stone’ at the Liverpool Everyman, I was on a huge high and the very next morning I was in a hospital ward at 7.30am. I spent five minutes looking out of the window over the city and realized that although Nursing is a truly wonderful career choice, for me, I would feel unfulfilled. It wasn’t what I was meant to be doing with my life.

I went home to my mum and told her I wanted to change to a Drama Degree and as always she was ever supportive. The Director of Spirits of the Stone helped me apply late for a BA Drama Degree at Edge Hill University. I went on to gain a First Class BA Honours Drama Degree, an ‘outstanding’ grade in a PGCE and a Distinction in MA Education.

The Drama Degree was incredibly challenging for me. I was extremely self conscious, yet to other people I looked the most confident in the class. I felt exposed but determined to keep developing.

The Drama Degree taught me the importance of self reflection, seeing my habits before they develop. Trying new ways of doing things. It also taught me about myself. I am who I am.

The Education Degrees that I then undertook taught me more about being a leader. The responsibility of facilitating experiences for other people. That in order to do this successfully you must learn to live with pressure and channel it into a positive way.

The PGCE emphasized time management and planning ahead, something I am not always particularly great at. I am very much a person who deals with what’s in front of them as it comes.   

Philip McGuinness
Philip McGuinness (John Clark Photography – http://www.johnclarkphotography.com)

London Prestige: Is there any academy or professional in the field that you enjoyed working with that you would like to recommend in your city?

Philip S. McGuinness: I recently attended a workshop with Inspire Studios in Manchester. They organized a workshop with Andrea Lynham of Priscilla John Casting Associates. I enjoyed the opportunity to network with a range of other actors and a new casting director.

Inspire have created a lot of opportunities for actors to meet with casting directors in workshops in the north-west and I think it deserves a lot of credit for giving north-west actors the opportunity without having the expense of travelling down south. 

London Prestige: Who is your favorite director to work with and why?

Philip S. McGuinness: I have a range of directors that I particularly enjoy working with for different reasons.

I enjoy working with Chantelle Nolan at St Helens Theatre Royal as I feel that she always trusts me to work on my character and bring my version of that character to the table.

Stephanie Zari who directed ‘Being Keegan’ has been a huge influence on me in terms of how she works with her cast. She adopted an actor centric approach when making the films. An actor’s director. Stephanie encouraged her actors to make strong choices and support them through the performance with constructive and clear notes whilst organizing a number of other production members to get the shots she was looking for. She inspired everyone around her with her positive “can-do” attitude and treated everyone with respect and great care.

London Prestige: Have you ever considered branching out into directing or screenwriting?

Philip S. McGuinness: I adore directing and screenwriting. Whilst at University I created a society called ‘Edge of Your Seat Productions’ where performers of all disciplines could come together to create work. I produced and directed ‘Our Day Out’ as our first production and then a re-imagining of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ for our second production.

I really enjoyed being back stage. It was a huge undertaking and we spent almost 12 months of our lives eating and breathing each production. Bringing together and motivating a team was a skill I had to learn quickly and was an incredibly challenging but rewarding one at times. It taught me as much about me, as it did about performance. 

London Prestige: Where have you played a lead role? What was the character about?  

Philip S. McGuinness: I played the lead of ‘Daniel’ in the biblical tale of ‘Daniel’ with Director Natasia Hodge. It was quite a challenging role for me as I had not read the biblical tale previously and I was always used to playing strong, outgoing character roles. The more I read about the story the more I began to realise this character had similarities to myself.

We devised the play ourselves as a group of three actors, a director and a writer; who would form the play after observing our devising work.

I tried a variety of things with the character and realized the best way I could serve the story was to play it as close to myself as possible, to draw upon experiences in my life the connected to Daniel’s. It was quite exposing however marked a turn for me as an actor whereby I began to think about my strengths and areas for development as an Actor.

London Prestige: Do you have any theatrical experience? What plays have you performed?  

Philip S. McGuinness: A large amount of my experience is theatrical. I grew up being on stage in amateur dramatic shows in my teenage years. Being on stage in front of hundreds of people in the Liverpool Everyman was strangely comforting. Being in front of a camera felt suddenly naked, as if there were nowhere to hide.

I have performed in a range of Liverpool theatres, toured Ruhr in Germany with a series of happenings; toured the UK with the ‘Delboy and Rodney’ show everywhere from The Belfast Opera House Studio to The Curve Theatre in Leicester and played Captain Hook, Gaston and The Tin Man in a variety of Pantomimes at St Helens Theatre Royal. 

London Prestige: If you weren’t acting what would you be doing? 

Philip S. McGuinness: I grew up wanting to be a train driver. A bit like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory I was obsessed with trains. I live 250 yards from a train station so I think growing up, I set my sights on this quite early. I think I would be working as a train driver on Merseyrail and hopefully getting discounted train travel for friends and family! 

London Prestige: What have you seen lately that’s inspired you? 

Philip S. McGuinness: I recently watched ‘Jim and Andy’ the documentary based upon the experiences Jim Carrey had playing Andy Kaufman. That was a real insight into a genius, I felt. I have long been an admirer of Jim Carrey/ I think he is an incredibly skilled performer who has great range. As he has got older I think he has started to delve into a greater understanding of life, that I cannot yet understand. Seeing his work from a documentary stand point and then listening to what he has to say about life was fascinating for me. I think he is searching for something greater than himself and I think in the end, we all are. 

London Prestige: What television shows or show would you love most to be on? 

Philip S. McGuinness: My ultimate ambition is to play ‘The Doctor’ in ‘Doctor Who’. Having seen Christopher Eccleston play the 9th Doctor in 2005 I rushed straight into college to tell my friends that one day I play that role. Having met previous showrunners Russell T. Davies, Steven Moffat and Christopher Eccleston I feel that this is a sign of destiny for me.

The Doctor, to me, represents a universal language of hope and kindness that people from all walks of life can connect with. As an Actor it represents a huge challenge. Within the confines of time and space The Doctor is a black page waiting to paint your interpretation of the character upon.

 London Prestige: What’s your goal for this year? 

Philip S. McGuinness: It is my 30th birthday this year. This has always represented a big moment in my career. I said to myself that I wanted have my “big break” by 30 (whatever a big break means). Now I am nearing 30 I want to set myself a physical target of being the fittest I have been, both for myself personally and for work, so that I can tackle anything that comes my way.

One of my targets for this year is continue to develop my screen acting work. I adore film. I would relish the opportunity to be in an ITV drama, where my love of acting stemmed from. I would also really like to appear in an episode of Endevour, alongside fellow Liverpudlian actor Shaun Evans when it returns for Series 6. 

London Prestige: What is your advice for aspiring actors?

Philip S. McGuinness: The best piece of advice that I would give aspiring actors is to do what makes you happy. If it’s acting – do it! Find any way that you can to do it. Find a local theatre company or amateur dramatic society. If you have a little more experience and you want to further your career join acting groups on Facebook, for example. These are fantastic places to look for opportunities. Find classes, invest in yourself. Go to networking events, follow casting directors work on twitter and vimeo/youtube. Support other artists work. It’s good to spread positivity and in return you may receive support for your own work.

You are your own product and are responsible for yourself, that’s all you are responsible for in the acting world.

One of the best pieces of advice that I received from a tutor at University was to always be the first one to volunteer. If others are feeling intimidated and you are willing to get up and have a go they may gain confidence from you too. Secondly you are challenging yourself. Thirdly it sticks in other people’s minds that you are someone who is willing to have a go. The worst that can ever happen is that it doesn’t go the way you planned first time. If you fall over get up and have another go.

Ultimately everything comes down to being happy. The more I grow the more I realise that happiness is the most important part of life. Find a way to be happy, even on a rainy day.

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4 Comments

  1. Well done Shaun your mum must be so proud of you my mum and dad lived facing you in Delaware Cresent your truly an insperation to others.

    Like

    1. Well done Philip your mum must be so proud of you my mum and dad lived facing you in Delaware Cresent your truly an insperation to others.

      Like

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