For his first regular role, Connor Calland was playing Jordan Price in Hollyoaks having joined the cast at the end of 2019 as Sid Sumner’s cousin, and during his time in the show, he was nominated for Best Newcomer at the 2020 Inside Soap Awards before his character was killed off over the Christmas period. Connor had his first screen role in an episode of Doctor Who and he will be seen in two upcoming film releases – Kingsman: The Great and Last Night in Soho – and, recently, he’s been filming for the second series of BBC iPlayer comedy drama Flatmates. Talking with Connor, he tells us about his time as Jordan Price in Hollyoaks, being nominated for Best Newcomer at the Inside Soap Awards and training at Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.
Can you say what it was like booking your first regular role as Jordan Price in Hollyoaks and what do you remember from your first day on set?
When I first booked the job, I was so excited, my agent rang me to tell me the good news and I didn’t quite know what to do or say! I remember finding out mid-week and that weekend having to go to the studios to meet everyone for a readthrough of the 2019 NYE episode. I was nervous to meet everyone but as soon as I did, people were so friendly, and everyone introduced themselves and made me feel so welcome. My first day on set was a blast, working with Billy Price, who played my cousin Sid, throwing stones at some cans (he had some impeccable aim!). The director Dirk and the crew explained how they worked and I felt I fitted in straight away.
What was Jordan like to play and how was it developing the character over the year?
I had so much fun playing Jordan, he developed so much from the initial character meeting when I first started on the show. He turned into a more 3D and somewhat loveable character. Even though he is who he is and does what he does, being able to also try and make him loveable to the other characters in the show, like Leela and Peri and also to the audience, it was a big challenge and I think with some character development I was able to accomplish this (I HOPE!).
Your character was killed at the end of last year, how was it filming your final scenes and what do you miss most about being in the show?
Yeah, sad times! It was a weird feeling; I knew I was leaving the show for some time and had to keep this secret. So, when the day finally came, I think because I hadn’t talked about it to anyone really, it didn’t feel like a last day. I was on set as if it was any other day… then at the end of the night shoot, some production staff came down and the cast and crew on set that day came over and gave some gifts and said some lovely words and I think it only really hit as I was getting in my car to leave that, that was the last time I’d be on that set and in those studios! I think what I miss most about being in the show is the constant work, as an actor finding consistent or long-term work is so difficult in itself. So, being able to work every day and with such fun and talented people, you really miss it once you’ve left.
What was it like seeing the response from viewers from your character’s exit?
It was such an overwhelming response!! I wasn’t expecting so much from the show’s fans. I’m aware of Hollyoaks’ huge fan base, but I was just inundated with messages and comments on my farewell post via Instagram. I thought I’d just receive hate messages because I’d known I was leaving for so long and none of them knew! But the response was so positive and I’m forever grateful for their support throughout the show and even now afterwards.
Can you tell us how you felt being nominated for Best Newcomer at the 2020 Inside Soap Awards?
Now this was just absurd?! I was so thrown when I went on my social media one day and saw that myself and two other of my cast mates, Andrea and Callum, had been nominated! I honestly didn’t know what had happened and how to respond. I felt so privileged to have been nominated and so thankful to whoever voted for me! Although I didn’t win, the fact that my work had been recognised it made me feel so grateful to be doing what I do. A huge well done to Mollie (Gallagher) who won, we both went to the same college so I’m happy it’s a friend who had won the award!
What do you feel you learnt from your time on set?
My time on Hollyoaks taught me so much. How to handle consistent text, working in a fast-paced environment and above all else, how to have fun on set. I think sometimes it’s so important to have fun when working, especially in the environment we are in. It keeps the acting and creativity fresh and not stuck and it also allows for such a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere that gets the best work done.
You’ve filmed for Kingsman: The Great Game and Last Night in Soho, both of which are set for release this year, what were these like to do?
Yes, these were both actually filmed before I even started on Hollyoaks, Kingsman right at the start of 2019 and Last Night in Soho shortly after. So, it feels forever ago. These are my two film credits and being able to work alongside huge HUGE directors. Edgar Wright creating several of my favourite films, it was such a blessing to be able to be on set with him and talk to him and see how he works through his scripts and work ethic. And to be on such a high budget set of Kingsman with Matthew Vaughn really put into perspective the idea of doing a job effectively.
How was it playing Leo in We Hunt Together and can you say more about your character?
Playing Leo was such a contrast to what I had done previously, and I was required to do that bit more than the last couple of jobs I’d done. It was just before I started on Hollyoaks as well which was another contrasting character. Carl Tibbetts the director, really gave me time in this character and helped me understand the techniques of being on set. And I mean, who can complain about working with the beautiful and talented Eve Myles and Babou Ceesay.
What was it like working on episodes of Doctors and Doctor Who?
Doctor Who was my first screen job and I am forever grateful to the wonderful Andy Pryor for casting me in this role, which kickstarted my career to what it is now. Wayne Yip was so calming as I was on my first ever set alongside Charlotte Ritchie and a huge crew! My nerves were through the roof and after I’d filmed my sixty seconds of screen time, everyone was so lovely to give me a round of applause, it really, really made me feel I was in the right job. Doctors was my first full and developed character on screen and in such a respectable and long-lasting, fast-paced show. My character Jay was the first vulnerable character I got to play and give a lot of layers to him. Ella, who I acted alongside of, was super talented and was such a great partner to act with and bounce ideas off!
How did you first get into acting and is it something you always wanted to do?
I started acting when I was younger around the end of primary school/high school. It was something my parents got me to do so I could make friends and socialise. My mum knew I was more creatively inclined as I drew a lot and was just an annoying loud kid at home! So, I started acting classes at a local school called A Will And A Way ran by Will Travis and Susan McCardle. They gave me the foundation that I have built up from there. I did classes there for nearly ten years! It started as a hobby to meet new people but from day one I knew it was something I wanted to take more seriously. I think my family thought I would have gone in veterinary work or zoology as I am such a big animal lover, but I don’t think I have the academic brain for that, I’d just be petting all the animals…
Was there anything that encouraged you to train at Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and what was it like to attend?
A teacher from my college at Pendleton Richard was such a big influence on me going to drama school. He always supported me and still does to this day, he brought ex-students of his who went to drama schools to come and talk with us during the audition period I was in for drama school. I remember I was struggling to afford the fee for the school and Richard told me to at least audition to one! And I chose Royal Welsh as its reputation and the actors it produced were impeccable! I honestly can’t speak highly enough of my personal time at the college! I learned so much, I felt like a sponge, just soaking up every bit of information and technique I could! I was lucky to sign with my agent at the end of the three years and did some fantastic shows and work with some brilliant and genius directors!
You’ve recorded for radio shows Torchwood and Doctor Who, how did you find the experience of working on these?
Speaking of brilliant directors on the previous question, one of which Scott Handcock who came to RWCMD to teach a block of radio to us, he gave me my first professional acting credit with Big Finish! Scott has been such a huge mentor for me in my career to date and being able to work on such big titles like Torchwood and Doctor Who just reminds me how lucky I am to be doing the thing that I love. And anyone whose worked for Big Finish, I’ll say one thing… the food!!!
What are some of your favourite TV shows and films to watch?
Well, I am one of the guilty people who re-watch what I feel are timeless classics! Step Brothers, Shaun of the Dead, What We do in the Shadows, The Hangover, The Office, The Inbetweeners, Friday Night Dinner, Parks and Rec, Phoenix Nights, Brassic, Only Fools and Horses… The list goes on… anything comedy! But I’ve just finished binging It’s A Sin and OMG!? Incredible show, I urge everyone to watch it! Russell T Davies, take a bow!
Are you able to tell us what is next for your career?
I’ve been lucky to do some filming over in Belfast just before Christmas for a show called Flatmates, I had such a blast on this show and worked with some great people! I’m hoping 2021 brings more filming even with the pandemic! I feel confident with the development of the vaccines and cannot wait for normality and work to creep back into my life!
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