THE GAGE EFFECT

Ryan Gage has brought his enviable talents from across the pond, gearing up for his starring role as Alfrid in The Hobbit: The Battle of  The Five Armies. The London native can also be seen in the second season of BBC America’s The Musketeers and in the upcoming feature, A Hundred Street.

HYDROGEN MAGAZINE: I hear you were that kid channeling Michael Jackson in the living room. I want to hear more…

RYAN GAGE: I was a huge Michael Jackson fan as a kid. My brothers introduced me to ‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Thriller’. I had them on vinyl, and I was always struck by way he be became different people in his songs. I noticed the psychological beats expressed in dance and song and from there, I got involved in drama and pursued till I was 19.

HM: You took that performance bug into improv classes and then on to Drama Centre London which has churned out the likes of Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy and Colin Firth. Not bad company. Tell me about that part of your professional start.

RG: It was really intense and we had incredibly long days, from 8am till 10 at night. It was unusual, because we used the Stella Adler method approach but also applied traditional training like Shakespeare. It was intense, fun and a very wholistic experience.

HM: Let’s talk about The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies. What were your first thoughts on Alfrid, the character you play, who is chief political councilor and general dogs body for the Master of Laketown (Stephen Fry).

RG: I thought he’d be great fun to play. I saw him as quick in temper and ferrety, like a used car salesman – keen, and sort of calculated. The costume itself, weighs you down, so I made him slower, tired, with the physicality of his back getting twisted over time.

HM: What went into bringing Alfrid to life?

RG: The character was very clear off the page. There was something overtly comic about his relationship with the Master (Stephen Fry). They were clownish together, but there was also some dark thinking going on behind Alfrid’s eyes, perhaps some jealous ambition. As far as approach, you exaggerate in your own psyche and I tried to strike the right balance between the twinkle in Alfrid’s eye, that tongue in cheek nature, and the darker elements as well.

HM: You are part of one of the most popular franchises out there, with fans having a vested interest in each character. Any pressure on your part to live up to that fan base?

RG: I didn’t think about it at all when we were making the film. For me, it was all about the character and enjoying the experience of filming. Once we got on red carpets in Los Angeles and Berlin, it was great to meet the fans. They had a great sense of fun, and were uninhibited. I found it infusing to meet them.

HM: You are also back for season 2 of BBC America’s The Musketeers. For those who might not have caught season 1, you play Louis XIII, King of France. Tell us about the show and about your character.

RG: The series is based on ‘The Three Musketeers’ by Alexandre Dumas. It’s a fantastic retelling of new stories each week with the best elements of the characters and all the swash buckling. I play Louis XIII, who is a reluctant king, thrust into a position he is not necessarily suited for. It’s a very political environment with everyone vying for power. Louis is surrounded by manipulators and his own moral compass gets skewed as he gains power but ultimately he is a good man.

The series is a cross between Merlin and Game of Thrones and it was great filming season 2 which is a bit darker and richer and is integrated better into the overarching plot and my character is definitely put through it this season.

HM: You get gritty in your upcoming feature A Hundred Street where you play a drug dealer, Vincent, trapped in a violent world he doesn’t know he wants out of. Tell me about Vincent and what makes him tick.

RG: Vincent is trapped in a violent world he subconsciously wants to leave. He is jealous of people who have gotten out of it, and used it as a stepping stone for more a sustainable life but he lacks the foresight.

It was a great contrast to get away to film this while I was playing Louis XIII. I also cheekily got away to film, Scottish Mussel, where I play a jeweler and got to do my Glaswegian accent!

HM: The holidays are around the corner. Will you be heading to London? Where you do like to escape to when you get a chance to get away?

RG: I don’t really need to get away. London is home to me and I love it. It’s nice to go to the countryside. Prague was great, where we filmed Musketeers. And New Zealand, where we filmed The Hobbit has some of the most beautiful scenery. I’d love to spend more time there.

HM: What’s the long game?

RG: I’m in no hurry. I keep learning as an actor which is the key to growing. There are many roles I’d like to try – more romantic, intellectual…there’s lots of acting ambition in me. It is difficult to look at filmmakers and not think, “I’d like to try that,” but I’ve got some years of acting left in me.



‘THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES’ IS IN THEATERS ON DECEMBER 17.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY FAYE THOMAS

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