Having filmed for a couple of episodes of the first series of After Life, Ethan Lawrence will be starring as James in Series 2, releasing on Netflix on April 24th with Ricky Gervais. Making his major screen debut in 2012, Ethan played Joe Poulter across all three series of Bad Education, and in 2015, he was seen in the role of Fraser in Friday Download: The Movie. Among Ethan’s other screen work, he has filmed for How to Talk to Girls at Parties, Flat TV alongside Tom Rosenthal and Naz Osmanoglu and Modern Horror Stories for Comedy Central. Recently chatting with us, we found out from Ethan about starring in the upcoming series of After Life, filming for How to Talk to Girls at Parties and working on Bad Education as Joe Poulter.
You’re in the upcoming series of After Life 2 as James alongside Ricky Gervais, what is this show like to work on?
It’s honestly buck wild. Working on sets normally, you get used to long hours and extended periods of downtime, but After Life was the complete opposite, a constant whirlwind of activity with new lines and jokes being written on the fly as we explored the scenes but also a chase to finish early so we could all get home and prepare for the next day. It’s unlike any other job I’ve done.
What can you tell us about James?
James is far more fleshed out this series as opposed to the last (where he was known simply as Recorder Kid). We start to see more of his personality and interests as well as his inner turmoil, as near every character in the show has. To say more would be to give stuff away and it deserves to be seen with as fresh eyes as possible!
Having previously filmed for the first series, how was it returning to the set for the second?
It was a world of difference. On the first series I was in first thing in the morning and home by lunch, whereas I spent nearly four weeks on set this time around. Fortunately, the atmosphere was just as warm and welcoming as a regular as it was for a part-timer!
Who do you think the show will appeal to?
Anyone who has experienced grief, understands sadness and struggles with the weight of the world but who also understands the value of laughter and community. Which I think basically describes everyone on a fundamental level. So the short answer is “every single person in the world”!
Was there anything that drew you to the script and what’s it like seeing viewers’ response to the show?
The script question is difficult to answer; my role in the first series was so small and that was the only scene I saw on paper. Even from that, I could tell it was funny, but it would have been impossible to predict the overwhelmingly positive feedback the show has received near enough universally. It’s a honour to have been part of something that seems to have touched people so deeply.
Is there anything you can say about your upcoming role in The Liar?
Not really! Development on it seems to have stalled and while we’re hoping we can get the wheels turning again, it seems we’re a bit stuck in the mud at the minute!
Your first TV role was as Joe Poulter in Bad Education across all three series, as well as the film, how was it being involved with the show and what are some of your favourite memories of being in the cast?
It was certainly a learning experience. Not that I had any training in acting for camera, but I feel comfortable saying that nothing can prepare you for the experience of a professional TV or film set quite like being on a professional TV or film set. I had to learn on the job and learn fast and I was fortunate that my first job was a fun and ultimately successful one. In terms of memories, any of the big stupid stunts we did, be it the fire stunt from the film or jumping off a diving platform in Series 2, are moments I throughly enjoyed and am proud I attempted.
What was Fraser like to portray in Friday Download: The Movie and what was it like on location?
Fraser was an interesting one because I usually end up playing the role of the straight man to another actor’s wild comedy choices, so to be the mad one with the slapstick stunts and quippy dialogue was fun to do. We shot on location in Wales and I ended up falling in love with the place. It moves at such a different pace to shoots in London and the peacefulness of it does bleed through into the work style. It was a really great shoot to be on.
Can you tell us about filming for How To Talk To Girls At Parties?
Oh gosh, what CAN’T I tell you?! At a fundamental level it was a dream come true: making a film backed with American money, a stellar cast and a script I believed to be one of the best I’ve ever read. I look back on that mad five weeks so fondly. It was pure filmmaking where every single day was different. Exhilarating.
Can you say more about Modern Horror Stories?
This was my first experience with sketch comedy and I ended up getting a real taste for it. The show itself is about satirising elements of millennial culture which was a good fit for my style of acting and voice. I enjoyed the more guerrilla style of filming since the budget was limited. Every experience you have as an actor is important in learning how to adapt to the needs of the job.
What was it like being in the cast of Flat TV with Tom Rosenthal and Naz Osmanoglu?
This was another fun job that was radically different to anything I had done before. I was once again playing the straight man, but I was playing off of material that was far more off the wall than some of the more grounded stuff I had done before. It was a pleasure to come into work each day and see what outfit Tom or Naz would be wearing this time!
How did you get into acting?
I fell backwards into it entirely by chance. I had always enjoyed acting as a teen and was pursuing a degree in drama and creative writing when Bad Education came knocking and they decided to take a chance on a complete unknown. That was eight years ago and I count my lucky stars every day that I’m allowed to do my dream job.
What comedy shows do you enjoy watching?
I actually don’t watch many sitcoms which makes me an outlier in the comedy community I think (I’m more of a cooking show fanatic). But I’ve recently enjoyed Intelligence with Nick Mohammed and David Schwimmer, and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, both of which made me laugh like a drain.
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