Thursday, 2 February 2012

Laurence of Bearwood

Laurence Saunders is definitely one of my Bearwood All-Stars. Actor, singer, guitarist, comedian - he's a man of many talents and an all round lovely guy. Welovebearwood interrupted him in the middle of his busy filming schedule to find out what he's up to and to get his lowdown on life in Bearwood. Ladies and Gentlemen may I introduce to you.....fellow Bearwoodian Laurence Saunders

How long have you lived in Bearwood for? What do you like about living in Bearwood?

I’ve been kicking around the Bearwood area or thereabouts since 1995, when I first moved here with my mates. It wasn’t a conscious decision. As with many things in life I just stumbled into it, like a blindfold Norman Wisdom walking backwards through a room full of crockery.

I think that unless you live somewhere like the beautiful coastline of south and west Wales, up a mountain in the Scottish Highlands, on the edge of a lake in Cumbria, or deep in the countryside of Shropshire or Staffordshire, then the main thing that a place has going for it is the people, its community. There’s a great sense of community in Bearwood and that’s what I like the most. We’re also lucky to have Warley Woods and Lightwoods Park. And you can walk into the city if you’re that way inclined. It’s a long walk, mind.

What changes have you seen in Bearwood since you have lived here? Do you think Bearwood is attracting more creative people like your good self and if so why?

Over recent years, the sense of community has led to exciting things – Warley Woods Community Trust and the development of the Woods, the Crafty Muthas and the Bearwood Tapestry, Bearwood Shuffle, Bearwood on Ice, the Friends of Lightwoods Park, this blog, loads of other stuff…

I’m not sure whether or not Bearwood is attracting more creative people now – perhaps it is, perhaps people are making themselves more visible. Historically, Smethwick and the Black Country were once at the heart of the Industrial Revolution and so the people here have been making stuff for a long time. In terms of why people come here, once I would have said because of house prices… maybe it’s because people see it as a nice place to live.

What do you see as the future of Bearwood? What changes would you like to see?

I’d like to see a revival of the High Street but that’s tough going given the current climate. It’d be nice to be able to walk the pavements and parkland without getting dog shit on my trainers, too. Overall, though, the future seems positive for Bearwood given what its inhabitants are up to – although if I could see into the future, I’d win the Lottery every week.

You are a man of many talents - guitarist in Boomshadow, stand-up, TV & film actor - what do you enjoy most and why?

I love music. Boomshadow doesn’t play together enough: all four of us are parents – we must be the only rock ‘n’ roll band with childcare issues. I think that’s pretty punk rock though, having kids. Being an actor is my job and I’m lucky enough to love that, too. Stand up comedy can give you a greater level of freedom, which is fun. In fact, I’m on the bill at the Public in West Brom on Friday 3rd Feb, as part of their regional comedy showcase. There’s a great line up of acts, and me, if anyone fancies popping along.

It looks like PULP was a fun film to make - do you have any anecdotes you could share with us?

PULP was fun to make, and it’s already attracting some attention – it was shortlisted for the Discovery Award at the London Comedy Film Festival. SFX magazine did a nice feature on the film, too, complete with a trailer (don’t watch at work or in front of kids as there’s a bit of swearing) which you can see here:

Anecdote wise, all I can think of is that my kids were most impressed with the fact that we filmed in the studio where they record the voices for ROARY THE RACING CAR.

Do you find it easier playing a particular type of character? If so what and why?

I don’t know really. I tend to focus on the next project I’m working on, and I like to play a range of characters. That said, at the moment I seem to be in a run of playing nasty pieces of work. For instance, I was Trevor Waterhouse, Mrs. Tembe’s nasty neighbour in DOCTORS, the BBC daytime drama, for a couple of months over the summer, in a storyline that centred upon racism. It was a pretty challenging thing for a broadcaster to tackle in the afternoon and all power to the Beeb for doing so. It’s always interesting to try and find the vulnerability, and the humanity, even in the nastiest of people.

Which direction do you see your career going? Is there anything particular you would like to do?

I’m happy doing a range of things. Career wise, it’s been a little bit like THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, you know, digging my way out of prison with a teaspoon. Things are going really well at the moment, though. WOUNDED, a feature in which I play a former soldier invalided out of Afghanistan, has just won the Best Film at the Marbella International Film Festival (here’s the trailer – again probably not one for the children:

I’ve just found out that DEADTIME, a rock ‘n’ roll horror/slasher movie, is getting a cinema and DVD release in April/May, which is exciting.

I play the lead singer in a band holed up in a recording studio when the killing starts – the trailer is not for the squeamish. Or children. Can you see a theme developing? Here it is:

Hopefully, N.F.A., a feature about homelessness by Birmingham based writer/director Steve Rainbow, which stars Patrick Baladi (THE OFFICE, BODIES) will do likewise and hit cinema screens soon, too. LAND GOLD WOMEN, which has won a stack of awards including the National Film Award of India for Best English Language Film, has recently had a theatrical release in India. Oh, and the firm family favourite, FRANKIE BOYLE’S TRAMADOL NIGHTS, is out now on DVD. My place in Hell is assured.

I also like to do stuff that has meaning beyond just being a film or a piece of theatre. HANDLE WITH CARE, which won the Royal Television Society Best Short Film Award, was principally devised by young people in foster care, and was based on their experiences, and shaped by the writer/director team of Matt Cooke and Vince Lund. It was fantastic to work on. You know the drill with the trailer:

I’ve just finished filming a really exciting feature, THE QUIET ONE, which is like a 21st Century Urban Western. Written by the Birmingham based writer/director Jon Pegg and featuring a wealth of Midlands talent (both in front of and behind the camera – including former Super Middleweight World Champion Richie Woodhall) it’s definitely one to watch out for. I’m just starting on THE SEASONING HOUSE, a psychological horror film set in the Balkans, starring Sean Pertwee. Basically, I like to do whatever’s next!

What are your influences? Who's your favourite band/actor/director etc?

Tough one. Blimey. The list is endless… whatever I’m listening to or watching at the moment, I guess. Which is not much of an answer!

Who is your Bearwood All-star? What, who or where makes you smile in Bearwood?

I’d have to say my beautiful wife and our gorgeous kids, really. How soppy is that? They make me smile, anyway.

Finally, what's the secret behind Lightwoods Fish & chippy ' orange chips'?

It’s something to do with Boson Higgs, the God Particle, isn’t it? Or are they a potato based tribute to David Dickinson?

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