INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
STORY BY KATINA GOULAKOS
Julian Morris has gained quite the fan base after stealing and breaking countless viewers hearts as we watched him on the show Pretty Little Liars. He sat down with Imagista to talk to us about how he got into acting, who inspires him and what he would be doing if he wasn’t a big time actor!
Imagista: How did you get into acting in the first place?
Julian: I was quite the shy kid and I was not great at sports as much as I wanted to be. I began going to this after school drama club and I just loved it, I had found a home for myself, a tribe if you’d like. I was around creative people and we all enjoyed what we were doing. We never looked at scripts, it was all improv, it was lead by this really incredible teacher and I loved it. During that time, however, I never really saw acting as a career, I mean how can you when you are so young. The casting department from the Raw Shakespeare Company came along and I auditioned for a part and I got it. For three seasons I played various different young roles in their productions. It really was a brilliant nurturing ground and an incredible experience. It was a lot of fun just being around some of my favorite and some of the best actors that I have ever worked with.
Imagista: How old were you when you first started the improv classes?
Julian: This was when I was twelve. She was an incredible teacher, she had this, I don’t want to even call it acting school because it was so much more than that. She had been teaching for decades, she was this very energetic, eccentric, very clever, Irish Jewish woman. She would have a class of sixty and there was like a four year wait to get into her class which costed nothing. You would go after school and she had the every day class, but if she thought that acting was really for you, you were invited to a different class. That class was to her, the students that she really saw potential in and I got into that. We never looked at scripts and we would come into class and look at the board and there would always be a word of the day. This word was always a word that she could create a discussion around it was about the learning experience and being with people you wouldn’t normally know and of course it was about the improv also. I would go twice a week and for about six hours a week I would improvise. When I left, when I was about seventeen.
Imagista: How was it transferring from improv to suddenly having a bunch of lines? Was that easy for you?
Julian: I love improv, I think it is really a wonderful tool for an actor. I think it can sometimes be overused and it needs a director to sort of control it. So to transition to scripted dialogue it’s easy, the lines are there, you know what you are saying. The improv dialogue is the emotion and the emotion has to be truthful and truthful to the character. With improvisation you are forced to have immediacy to it because you are forced to listen, you are completely in the power of your partner and need to respond with truthful immediacy. It forces you to have that truthful reaction which is something you take with you to scripted jobs. I am a firm believer that acting is reacting, thats the same whether its an improv scene or scripted dialogue. It is always about finding that moment, that one truthful moment, and with improv, you need to make yourself available in a way that you can’t if you have a script to fall back on. When it’s good, you are able to find that sweet spot of effortlessness, and I guess with a great musician or a great athlete it is kind of the same thing.
Imagista: Are there any particular actors or directors you admire?
Julian: In terms of actors I love what Jason Clarke and Oscar Isaac are doing. Those are two actors that I really, really am admiring. I am admiring their choices they are making in their careers and the choices they make as actors, I think they are smashing. I got the chance to meet Jason and he’s wonderful. In terms of directors, oh gosh there are so many directors I admire.
Imagista: Who would be your dream director to work with, actually your top three?!
Julian: (I couldn’t hear the name), for years and years I have admired him and working with him would be a dream. Same goes for Ang Lee, and I have one more choice so I need to make it a good one. It’s directors that drive me, that’s primarily how I make my choices, more so than scripts or anything else, is the direction, so there are so many more than three I would like to work with. Yann Demange is outstanding, so is, Micheal Roskam did an incredible job in Bullhead, there are just so many of them, the list could go on and on.
Imagista: If you weren’t an actor, what would you do?
Julian: I always thought about working in a kitchen. I love cooking but it is more about the energy and the heat of being in a kitchen that I am drawn to, I do not know why but I would love to give that a go. I adore it.
Imagista: Who outside the acting industry do you admire?
Julian: One of my idols is Christian Hitchens, he is so brutally honest and courageous in his thought and his action, he is brilliant.
Imagista: When you are not involved in a project, what do you do in your free time, that is if you have free time?
Julian: I do have free time. I am lucky that I have a really good group of friends, and I love to spend time with them. I love spirits, the drinkable kind, I am really into cognac right now. I try to travel as much as I can, if I could, I do enjoy that. I love people, part of why I act is because I love being around people.