Interview: Samantha Barks

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Samantha Barks has just embarked on her UK tour and we were luckily enough to catch up with her backstage ahead of her show at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley. We talk Les Mis, advice for young performers and what’s next for her.

TTH: Thank you for chatting with us today. Let’s start by taking it back a little, your debut album came out in 2007 and shortly after you moved from the Isle Of Man to London and became apart of the Andrew Lloyd Webber show, “I’d do anything” How was the whole experience for you at such a young age?

Samantha: It was amazing. You’re a little bit fearless when you’re younger. When I was 17 it was like you’ve got nothing to loose, you’ve never experienced anything like that so it’s like yeah why not. I think I’d probably be quite terrified to do anything like that now because you’re sort of aware of what can go wrong, it’s just scary and you have more to loose. I really enjoyed it. It was just so cool to sing in front of Andrew Lloyd Webber which was an amazing life experience. I never expected to even get past one round, let alone on TV and then make it to the final, that was weird but amazing. I had just moved over from the Isle Of Man so it was a huge life change.

TTH: You then landed the role of Sally Bowles in the UK tour of Cabaret shortly after the show finished, how did it feel to come out of the show and land a part in a touring cast?

Samantha: A dream part like Sally Bowles was just amazing. It was just so cool and so much fun. Our Director Rufus Norris was just so amazing to work with especially for my first job. I felt so lucky to work with him. He’s just a great director who will go off your instincts, he says “go on, do anything” and then he will shape/mould it which is something that he is so good at. You can have that free will to do what you want and then he can go “how about this, lets try that”. It was a very free experience. It made me think and taught me to rely on my own instincts.

TTH: You’ve already had an amazing career taking on a catalogue of different roles but let’s talk Les Mis. You first started as Γ‰ponine in the West End and then gained the role a few years later in the highly acclaimed movie, how did it feel to make that transition and how excited were you to be working alongside huge Hollywood actors such as Hugh Jackman?

Samantha: The transition was mad. When I got the call to come and audition for the film I just thought, it would be cool to sing in front of Tom Hooper but I never ever thought that i’d be recalled and recalled for 15 weeks, let alone ever get the part. There were so many amazing people going up for that part, it was very intimidating.

On my first day, all of the cast were there and it was so nerve wrecking. I was like “gosh, how about ease me in gently” but actually what was amazing about that was that they were all very nervous and I just didn’t expect them to be. You’re all absolutely kiss ass, why would you be nervous? but they all were. A lot of them hadn’t really sung all that much in public before but always loved doing musical theatre. It was actually great to see that. It was inspiring to people who care so passionately who have had the most amazing career but are still so passionate that they are anxious and panicky in the same way that I was.

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TTH: What was the filming process like? Is it more nerve wrecking than performing to a live audience?

Samantha: It’s so impossible to say. It’s so nerve wrecking but in a completely different way. Live on stage, if you fall over or mess up, thats it everyone has seen it but that’s also the thrill of live theatre. On film, especially with this as it’s such a huge film which I had never done before, it’s the same but you can have another go which is cool but you still have to stick to time. They’ve both got their challenges in very different ways

TTH: For someone who started at such a young age, do you have any advice for young performers aspiring to have the same career as you?

Samantha: For me, it’s all about taking every opportunity when you’re younger because this industry is all about making it happen for yourself. It’s about going out there like thats a cool opportunity, why don’t I do it? give it a go. Sometimes you want different things. I wanted to be a pop singer and then I fell in love with musical theatre but all of those different experiences along the way are fine, they’re all great in fact and add to what you eventually end up doing. Wether that’s playing the drums, singing in a choir etc. I had opera lessons for a bit and I’ve just done an opera film so you never know. Take every opportunity. It’s all just another string to your bow.

TTH: Let’s talk about your new self titled album, how exciting was it to get back into the studio and create new music of your own?

Samantha: It was so exciting. When I did my first album, it was for the Isle Of Man which was with an amazing guy called David Holland. With this one, to be on such a large scale, was a completely new experience. It was nice to be in the studio as you can really take your time and decide exactly what vocal choices you want to do. It can be so intimate, quiet and soft so you find different colours in your voice which you may not particularly use on the stage. It was a great process recording with Darren Hastings. It was such a chilled atmosphere which was lovely.

TTH: Do you have a life mantra that you live by? The industry can be so tough, how do you push though that?

My Dad used to say to me “The harder I work, the luckier I get”. I think that’s a really great thing because on one level it’s about hard work and putting in the work. When you do go for every opportunity, other opportunities open up and you go “Wow, I wouldn’t have never thought to do that” so that’s a mantra that always pops into my head.

TTH: Finally, you’re currently on tour but what’s next for you? Is there any roles that you still want to play on the West End or on Broadway?

Samantha: There’s always roles I’d love to play. At the moment, I’ve been focusing on film really since Les Mis, I got to do Amelie in San Fran which was so much fun but I always get that itch to do musical theatre again but I did get to do Chicago at the Hollywood Bowl which was great. When I get a little taste, I’m like “I want to do it, I want to get back into it” but with the music stuff at the moment, it’s my main focus and I’ve loved every second of it.

I did just finish a film in Prague which will be coming out but it’s all about balancing and being active. I want to do everything. I want to do more film, more theatre, singing etc, that’s my goal, just to balance between those now that I’ve had a taste of them all.
Check out Samantha’s current tour dates below and click the picture for information of how to buy your tickets.

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