Most recently, Zak Sutcliffe was cast as Tommy Bradshaw in Hollyoaks, where he was involved in a domestic abuse storyline, and was his first role since the COVID lockdown and he’s also played CY in Emmerdale and filmed for Ali & Ava. Zak joined the cast of 4 O’Clock Club as regular character Evan Lloyd in Series 8 and, while working on the show, he was a guest on CBBC’s Top Class alongside Harry Still and Oakley Orchard from Almost Never and Maddie Murchison from Jamie Johnson. Last year, Zak could be seen in the film Shortcut as Reggie, which has since been released on DVD, and for his first lead role, Zak was cast in the 2015 film Peter and Wendy as Peter Pan. Amongst Zak’s other TV work, he has previously played Aaron in the mini-series Butterfly and Kim Garvey in the Channel 4 drama No Offence. We talked to Zak about filming as Tommy Bradshaw in Hollyoaks, playing Evan Lloyd in 4 O’Clock Club and working on films Shortcut and Peter and Wendy.
How did you find the experience filming for Hollyoaks as Tommy Bradshaw and can you say about the character?
Hollyoaks was my first role since the lockdowns, I already established a good relationship with the director, Tim Hopewell, so that gave me an early sense of confidence and comfort when finally getting back to work. The cast and crew were also very friendly and inviting.
As for my character, Tommy Bradshaw, I tackled the idea and sad reality for many people. Domestic abuse. I come from a loving, supportive family so when exploring this topic my primary emotion towards it was that of overwhelming sadness. The thought of not feeling safe in your own home with your own family was a harsh one. And I hope I did the role justice.
You have also filmed as CY in Emmerdale, what was this like?
On the other hand, my role as CY in Emmerdale heavily contrasted that of Tommy. Instead of invoking heartbreak or sympathy, I felt like I needed to be as disliked as I possibly could. Though I did find CY’s arrogant, opportunistic nature very fun to play with.
What can you tell us about filming for Ali & Ava and how was it on set?
I came home one day to find Ali & Ava was filming right outside my house. I jumped at the opportunity and managed to speak with Clio Barnard, the director.
Thankfully, Clio decided to let me be a part of the project! Getting to work in the same council estate I grew up in, work with the people I grew up with, it was amazing. The project was just so authentic and I respect the cast and crew so much for it.
What was it like booking your role of Evan Lloyd in 4 O’Clock Club and what drew you to the series?
Playing Evan Lloyd in 4 O’Clock Club was great. The mix of acting and music was really special to me. Growing up seeing my brother make music in our home studio always inspired me. Getting to do what I love (acting) while channelling some of my brother’s energy to hit the studio and record music videos, I felt right at home.
I did quickly realise I don’t quite have my brother’s musical talent, originally struggling to even stay on beat, hit the right notes or simply give the song the right energy.
Thankfully Mikis (Michaelides) was always there to guide me and I’m more than happy with how it all came together.
How was it playing Evan and what did you enjoy most about the character?
My favourite thing about playing Evan was watching him grow. He didn’t end the series a perfect person by any means, but thanks to Polly and Mrs. Morgan, Evan was finally in a place where he could learn to express himself, open up to others and do what he thinks is best. Even if he’s got a funny way of showing it.
I love the message I got from Evan’s story, we’re all victim to our circumstances and given the right environment, anybody can thrive.
Do you have any stand-out highlights from being in the cast?
I really loved the cast of 4 O’Clock Club. From dancing on the stairs with Grace (McIntosh), playing the PS4 in the green room with Mischa (Eckersley), all my insightful talks with Lewis (Brindley). There are too many good memories to name them all.
You appeared as a guest on Top Class, how was the experience?
Top Class was a new experience for me. I was really nervous before, during the shoot and even after I’d got back home.
I’ve been a working actor for almost a decade now, but I suppose just putting myself out there instead of a character was an uncomfortable situation to be placed in. Looking back, I see I had nothing to worry about, I enjoyed myself and I’m looking forward to the next opportunity.
In 2020, the film Shortcut was released and has since been released on DVD, can you tell us about playing Reggie?
As for my role as Reggie in Shortcut, I drew a good few comparisons to Evan. Reggie was angry at the world, unsure of his place and really quite lonely. I felt ready for this role. As I knew Reggie, much like Evan, would have to learn to trust and cooperate with those he kept at a distance. Only in Reggie’s case, his life was dependent on it.
How different was it working on this opposed to your previous work and what was it like filming alongside the rest of the cast?
While filming Shortcut, we had a lot of freedom to explore our characters and the terrifying situation they had found themselves in. I feel like this gave me a better understanding of Reggie, my role in the production and gave me the edge I needed for the more demanding scenes.
We as a cast had a strong friendship from the very start, this made it a lot easier to play off one another and land the group dynamics.
I’ve got a lot of love for the cast of Shortcut, with Zanda Emlano being a close friend to this day.
What was Butterfly like to film as Aaron?
I landed my role in Butterfly alongside one of my good friends from college. Having a familiar face on set tends to make the whole experience a lot more comfortable.
The cast and crew were fantastic, I enjoyed the process, the final product, I only wish I could do more.
How was it on set of No Offence?
I like to see my role in No Offence as a wake-up call. I was only fourteen years old at the time, tackling subject matter which no one at that age should have to experience.
The shoot was intense but I was lucky enough to work with a cast that understood what I had to do. Once again, it was really important to me that I did the role justice, but the most crucial thing I learned was the importance of bringing yourself out of that headspace. Giving it your all and leaving it on set.
What are some of your favourite memories from playing Peter Pan in Peter and Wendy?
My favourite moment from Peter and Wendy is also one of the most difficult. I remember being in a water tank in Warner Bros’ studios. In the middle of the tank was a floating platform stacked with hospital beds, we choreographed a demanding fight scene with Stanley Tucci, culminating in me jumping over his head, getting slashed across the chest and falling into the water in my heavy costume. Only later to be saved by a “crocodile” which was just a muscly guy in a wet suit.
How did your acting career come about and is there anything you enjoy most about being an actor?
My acting career all started at secondary school, I was generally unmotivated and unsure as to what I really wanted to do with my life. But at my first drama lesson I was lead to believe I was quite good at it. From there, I found affordable acting classes from my former agent Matt Zina. After my first class with him I landed my first audition, from that first audition I got my first role in a student film named Adventure Quest. Since that day I haven’t stopped.
What are some of your favourite TV shows and films to watch?
I’ve always loved watching movies, going to the cinema. Hellboy (2004) and Predator stand out as some of my all-time favourite movies, although these days I find myself watching a lot more animated movies or anime in my free time. This leads me to voice acting, I have no experience at all but with artists like Keith David and John DiMaggio appearing in so many movies, shows and games I’ve loved throughout the years, I feel the need to at least see if I enjoy it.
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