At the end of 2021, Frank Kauer joined the cast of Hollyoaks as new regular character Mason Chen-Williams alongside his on-screen family, and has been continuing his role throughout the year, with Mason being involved with some important storylines. Other roles for Frank have seen him play Young Sunny in Into the Badlands, Max in Series 2 of Doctor Foster alongside the show’s star Suranne Jones, and he had his professional acting debut as Spotless Sam in Horrid Henry: The Movie. Recently, Frank talked to us about joining the cast of Hollyoaks at the end of last year, playing Mason Chen-Williams in the soap and having his professional acting debut in Horrid Henry: The Movie as Spotless Sam.
Can you tell us about your character Mason Chen-Williams in Hollyoaks and what is he like to play?
Mason is a sweet and fairly innocent boy, naive about a lot of the drama that surrounds his family but also learning to navigate his own dramas himself. At school, you wouldn’t call him one of the popular kids. He’s more someone who tries hard to fit in (but not always successfully so!). I’ve actually found I can relate a fair amount to Mason being Eurasian myself and experiencing the challenges growing up mixed race brought. Playing a 15 year old has been fun too – I’d never thought I’d still be wearing a school uniform at 22 years old!
What’s it like working with your on-screen family and the rest of the cast and how are you finding the experience working on a soap?
Working on a soap has brought very different challenges and experiences compared to other film and TV productions. It’s exciting being able to focus on and study my character over a long period of time and watch his journey evolve. I’ve been able to dive deep into the world of Hollyoaks through having a real say in how to perform certain lines, scenes, and storylines, and working on short and long-term dynamics with on-screen family members. Also, working with loads of amazing actors makes my job easier too.
How has it been seeing the fan response to your character?
It’s surreal! My storyline has recently begun to kick in and I’m getting a lot more time on screen, so all the new comments (and even the odd forum here and there) about my character and watching people discuss the storyline has been really cool to see. Seeing people’s interpretations of what’s happening on the show and where they think it’ll go is always really interesting.
What was it like joining the series at the end of last year and do you have any stand-out highlights from working on the show so far?
It’s been great joining the show with my six other on-screen family members, getting to know both the production and everyone involved as well as the city of Liverpool together. COVID restrictions during filming were in place for the first few months, which certainly made it a different experience on set. Having to stand two metres away from everyone felt particularly odd but we managed to get through it! Early in my time on the show, my character was involved in a minibus crash whilst on a school trip – being on location and filming inside the minibus has definitely been one of the highlights so far.
What are you looking forward to most for continuing in Hollyoaks and developing the role of Mason?
Helping to figure out Mason’s journey is one of my favourite things about working here. Lots of storyline and character ideas are suggested all the time so it’s very exciting to see which ones are explored further… I can’t give away much but let’s just say sweet little Mason will run into trouble at some point!
In 2018, you played Young Sunny in an episode of Into the Badlands, what do you remember most from filming this role?
Though it was a very small role, being a part of such a big production was amazing – travelling to Dublin, filming in an abandoned quarry, seeing gigantic sets filled with lots of actors are all things I remember feeling almost overwhelmed by. One of the most memorable things about filming this role was my costume – being dressed as a young warrior in a fantasy, post-apocalyptic setting is along the lines of a dream role for me, I wish I could’ve been in it for longer.
Can you tell us about the short film A Cry for Sore Eyes and what was it like to be part of?
A Cry for Sore Eyes is a fantastic short directed by a friend from school who wanted me to play the main role. It’s a mini-thriller, made as a project within the BFI Future Films course. Being a student/young person-led film, it had a limited budget and relatively small cast and crew but it was immensely fun to be a part of.
How was it playing Max in Series 2 of Doctor Foster and can you say about your character?
My role as Max in Doctor Foster is one I’ll never forget. Working with Suranne Jones practically inspired me to keep up and pursue a career in acting. I think working on such an acclaimed production with a veteran actor was bit nerve-racking in truth but I feel I managed to hold my own! Max is Doctor Foster’s son’s best friend and she meets with him when things between herself and her son aren’t going smoothly – it was great to play such an odd dynamic between the two characters.
In 2011, you made your professional acting debut as Spotless Sam in Horrid Henry: The Movie, what are some of your favourite memories from being part of the cast?
It was crazy to be a part of! It was a big cast full of very talented actors, both young and old. Us kids were ten to 13 years old so plenty of laughs and carnage going on during filming. Meeting Richard E. Grant and Anjelica Huston were definitely highlights. Also, just being on set of a feature film, and being on the red carpet for the first time in my life was such a mad experience.
Where does your love of acting come from and is it something you always wanted to do?
I fell into the industry when I was ten when casting agents who came to my school picked me for the role of Spotless Sam which kickstarted my career. After I was in Horrid Henry: The Movie, I became a lot more involved in school theatre productions, taking part in all the different competitions to do with drama and poetry. My love for drama really developed over my time at secondary school – a lot of this I owe to my drama teachers and the friends I devised with. My agents helped me throughout my career too, of course, sending me to countless auditions and guiding me through different roles. Drama and acting on stage were things I seriously enjoyed studying and doing – school was where I found a love for physical fringe theatre, and where I could work on my acting, which I then tried to bring to the screen whenever I could.
Do you have any favourite films and TV shows to watch?
I’m big into my martial arts films. As someone who practises martial arts myself, I really enjoy watching Bruce Lee’s classics and Hong Kong martial arts film stars like Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung in action. I also like a lot of Western film and TV which feature martial arts, films like The Matrix I still find exciting even on my millionth viewing!
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I’m quite an active person so aside from acting I really enjoy playing football and practising martial arts as much as I can. I’ve trained in Wing Chun – the same martial arts Bruce Lee first trained in and other actors like Donnie Yen and Robert Downey Jnr. express – since I was 15 and it’s something I want to bring into my acting career at some point if the role allows it. I think seeing more East Asian actors and martial arts practitioners on screen in big Hollywood productions is an amazing thing and something I’d love to contribute to!
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