Most recently, Rishi Kuppa played Little Kip in A Boy Called Christmas, a film based on the book by Matt Haig, where he worked alongside a cast including Henry Lawfull, Toby Jones and Sally Hawkins, and he attended the film’s premiere at the Natural History Museum. Previously, Rishi played Gaurav in the BBC mini-series The North Water and Tootles in the feature film Come Away, and he also has voiceover experience. Talking with Rishi, he spoke about filming as Little Kip in A Boy Called Christmas, working on mini-series The North Water and playing Tootles in Come Away.
You were most recently seen on screen in the 2021 Christmas film release of A Boy Called Christmas, can you tell us about the film and what was it like on set?
The film is about a young boy, Nikolas who goes on an adventure to find the fabled town of ‘Elfhelm’ to bring magic and hope back to his town. Most of my part was shot in Barrandov Studios in Prague, where the absolutely stunning ‘Elfhelm’ and the snowy forest were created. All of which was shot in sweltering summer and yet it all looked amazing!
What was Little Kip like to play and was there anything that drew you to the project?
Little Kip is a shy little boy who is scared but also very kind and empathetic. Having read Matt Haig’s (one of my favourite writers) book, I knew Little Kip’s character was central to the story and will be a challenge for a usually cheery boy like me to play such complex grown up emotions. Director Gil (Kenan) was amazing and so patient with me and, most importantly, wrote the best line ever for me – ‘I am not going to make a big speech’!
How was it working alongside the rest of the cast, which included Henry Lawfull, Toby Jones and Maggie Smith?
I didn’t get a chance to meet Maggie Smith, but had heard so much about her. Toby Jones, Sally Hawkins, Henry, Zoe (Colletti) and Indica (Watson) were all amazing and I learned so much from them. In Henry, I found a wonderful friend and co-actor.
How did you find the experience attending the premiere and what was it like seeing the completed film for the first time?
It was amazing to be reunited with the cast and crew after what felt like ages and watch the completed movie together with them all. It was surreal to watch the premiere and myself on the screen under the blue whale in the Natural History Museum and I felt so very proud of myself.
Can you tell us about your character Gaurav in TV series The North Water?
Gaurav is a young Indian boy in colonial India, who helps the main character, Patrick Sumner (Jack O’Connell), when he gets injured, and gets killed while helping him. This traumatises Patrick who keeps getting visions of Gaurav through the series. Although I didn’t get to watch The North Water (due to PG), it was amazing to watch Jack so closely and his passion for acting had an enormous impact on me.
What was it like working on a BBC series and how different was it to film than a movie?
I didn’t find massive differences between a BBC TV series and a film. On both sets, cast and crew were amazing. But the movie had other children, so obviously it was more fun.
You played Tootles in Come Away, what did you enjoy most about filming this project?
Come Away was my first time facing the camera. It’s a beautiful story where Alice (in Wonderland) and Peter Pan are brother and sister and how they transition from dream and reality. I play one of the lost boys, Tootles in the dream world and also a street thief in the real world. I most enjoyed the locations and working with other children.
How was it meeting the cast for the first time and being one of the Lost Boys?
The cast were really nice, especially the lost boys, who I spent most of my time with. I was six and the youngest on the set at the time of filming, so everyone looked after me and I made friends with the other lost boys.
What are voiceovers like to do and do you have a favourite aspect of working on them?
Having watched so many animation programmes on TV, I never realised (or even thought of) how hard it is to do voiceovers. It requires consistency in speaking tone (imagine, Peppa Pig speaking in a different tone!), stamina, ability to follow instructions and a lot of concentration. I find it fascinating to see animated characters coming alive with my voice.
Had you always wanted an acting career and how did you start?
I have always (even now) wanted to be a cricketer and dream to play for England when I am grown up. When I was four, I did a CBeebies advert with my best friend and I really enjoyed it. I never thought acting would be for me but having had the amazing opportunities to meet and act with extremely talented actors, I have now started loving it. Also, I think it’s much more difficult than it seems on the screen as you have to work with so many teams to make it look great.
Do you have any favourite TV shows and films to watch and how do you like to spend your free time?
It keeps changing but Saturday Mash-Up and Danger Mouse are my current favourite shows. I am a mad cricket and football fan, so I spend my free time either catching up on games I missed or previewing upcoming ones. I also write for my school cricket magazine. I am a bookworm and currently doing a lot of cricket training! I love adventure sports and am an avid skier.
What are you hoping 2022 brings for your career?
I am hoping I can do a character that is more like me: sporty, cheery and funny this year! Also, a full-length character like Mowgli in The Jungle book or Kevin in Home Alone would be awesome. The Lion King is my all-time favourite movie and I would love to play Simba’s character for a voiceover. Lastly, I am really hoping for a place at my county cricket selections.
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