Jack Parr: An Exclusive Interview on His Cinematic Journey

We sat down with Jack Parr in an exclusive interview to discuss his career, past milestones and future projects.

In the ever-evolving tapestry of cinema, few talents shine as brightly as Jack Parr. Known for his compelling performances in “Peaky Blinders,” “Emmerdale,” and “The Abomination,” Parr has carved a niche for himself in the realm of acting with his versatility and depth.

March 2024 heralds a new chapter in his career with the release of “The Last Breath,” where he stars as Noah alongside the late Julian Sands. This gripping narrative, set against the backdrop of a Caribbean scuba diving adventure gone awry, promises to be a thrilling exploration of survival and camaraderie.

But Parr’s journey doesn’t end there. His role in the Apple TV series “Masters of the Air” has already garnered attention, and his upcoming film “Take Cover” is eagerly anticipated. Beyond acting, Jack’s creative spirit thrives in writing, with his short film “The Drop” making waves in the Indie X Film Fest in Los Angeles.

As we sit down with Jack Parr, we delve into the essence of his craft, the challenges and triumphs of his roles, and the creative fire that drives his journey in film and writing. Join us in this intimate conversation with a talent who continues to redefine the boundaries of storytelling and

In Conversation with Jack Parr: An Actor’s Perspective

Can you share the journey that led you to your role in “The Last Breath” and what it was like working on Julian Sands’ final film?

I absolutely loved the journey to The Last Breath, it felt like one of those jobs that just all came together perfectly. Everything just slipped into place. 

I got the audition through and I really resonated with the character and the script and I really enjoyed auditioning for the role. I sent in a tape, and that’s it. Normally, I move on after that,  but I couldn’t stop thinking about this role and I kept reading over the details.  They were looking for scuba divers, I didn’t have any money or a scuba diving qualification so I decided to take some money out of my tax account and pay for a PADI course. I figured, how many actors actually have a PADI course in London that is right for this role, out of those who have, how many probably did their course ten years ago on a family holiday? In my head, the odds were pretty low. I’d decided if it didn’t work, I still have a scuba diving qualification for life.  The original shoot dates were in July, so by August, I knew the role wasn’t mine. Next thing, I got a call from my agent saying I’m on the short, shortlist and the director would like to meet. When I stepped into the audition a girl called Kim I used to work with in a hotel was sitting in the waiting room, turns out she already got the part to play the other lead role in the film and she was reading in for me. So we read together and the director asked if I had ever been scuba diving before and he couldn’t believe I’d just taken my course. I’d literally passed my qualification the weekend before. He asked about three times if I was serious. He said “You got your PADI course just for this audition?, I said, “Yeah, if I don’t get the job I’ll be going Scuba Diving on my next holiday.” It was all coming together. I left the audition on Friday night and I got the call on Monday morning. I had secured my first leading role in a movie!

How do you prepare for diverse roles, such as those in “Peaky Blinders,” “Emmerdale,” and “The Abomination”

I love sinking my teeth into different roles. It’s such a challenge and it keeps you on your toes. You’re always learning new skills, experiencing different worlds and tapping into the psychology of different characters. It’s a fascinating business. 

With roles in projects like The Abomination, for example, I just have to do as much research as possible. I had no idea how to play a monster, I was petrified. It’s obviously the furthest thing you could get from humanising a character. It’s like a newborn baby, this character was brought back to life from the dead, so they would have to learn how to walk and talk again. How does this character interact with other humans, does it feel empathy, love, and sadness, does it think like a human anymore? I had a million questions. I loved it. I always felt like I needed more time. There is never enough prep or research you can do. 

For Take Cover, I wanted to know everything about what it’s like to be a sniper in the military. I watched as many sniper films as I possibly could, read books, watched documentaries, and listened to sniper vets on podcasts. I needed to know exactly how they felt when they pulled that trigger. I also like to learn my lines like theatre, I like to be able to hit play on a line learner app and go through the entire script without stopping. Once I know my lines back to front and I’ve done the research, I feel at ease stepping on set on the first day. I’m always still nervous, but the work I’ve done always comes through. 

Essentially, the more prep I do the more I feel at ease. And at some point, whether it’s on the day or weeks before, you have to make a decision and a choice on how you are going to play the character and you have to roll with it. It was such a breath of fresh air when Robert Pattinson said he had no idea how he was going to play a character until the first day of filming. 

“Masters of the Air” has a unique historical context. How did you approach your role, and what was the experience like working alongside actors like Callum Turner and Barry Keoghan?

I didn’t get to work with those guys, unfortunately. I was on Nate Mann’s team and we had some time working with Rafferty Law. Raff was one of the nicest, most humble guys I’ve ever met. He’s clearly been brought up well and it seems his parents have instilled some core values in him because it really does come across. So, just being on set with all the guys in the crew, and Nate and Raff was a dream. It’s every kid’s dream. You really look around and just go “Wow” this is actually crazy. 

The sets were huge, the cast and crew were huge, everything was huge! And just the thought that we are contributing to the dramatic representation of such enormous historical events and playing real WWII Fighter pilots hit me with huge pride. I felt like I really was part of history. And although I wasn’t a key player in the story I had to do it justice to respect the real Sgt. James (Jim) Mack. He was a waist gunner (on the side of the B17) in Nate Mann’s (Rosie) crew. When you step in those planes you feel and see how little room we had to play with. It was super claustrophobic. The anxiety, hope and exhilaration for survival must have been through the roof. It was a crazy experience I’ll never forget. Those guys would go up for missions on a daily basis and know for sure not everyone is coming back. I think they had a 23% survival rate on each mission. So, 77% of aircraft were shot down every day. 

The set helps you get into character because as far as you can see are WWII vehicles, buildings and equipment. You just feel like you’re really there during wartime. 

Your upcoming film “Take Cover” sounds intriguing. Can you give us a sneak peek into your character and the storyline?

Take Cover was great fun. I’d worked with Scott Adkins’ before on ONE SHOT on Sky Cinema so I was excited to get the call to come back and make this buddy action movie with him. 

I play a brash, loud-mouthed, joker called Ken, who is Sam’s (Scott Adkins) spotter. The spotter watches and assigns targets for the sniper, they also see if the target has been hit or missed and they calculate distance, wind strength and angle to best calculate the accuracy of the sniper shot. 

Our characters head off for their last mission before Sam’s retirement as they get ambushed by an opposing sniper in an all-glass penthouse with no cover. It’s an exhilarating ride and again, trying to tap into what that must have felt like was really hard. We’ll never truly get that feeling unless we’re in that situation. Trying to recreate that as authentically as possible is a tough job. We had lots of fun and we hope it’s an entertaining movie for people. 

As an actor and writer, how do you balance these two passions, and how do they influence each other in your work?

I really owe my sanity to writing. I started writing at the same time as acting and I fell in love with the craft. If I wasn’t a writer I think I’d be going insane when the work for acting wasn’t coming in. It kept me busy and excited and it was something I actually had control over. The quiet periods in my acting career were just as exciting because I knew I had some time to start a new project. 

I also think they favour each other too. If you study directing or filmmaker as an actor you’ll inevitably become a better actor because you’ll understand the details that go into film and what the director needs and wants. And same with writing, once I’d studied screenwriting I understood scripts more. Now getting one scene out of a whole screenplay to audition for and trying to ‘guess’ what was going on I thought about screenwriting techniques to understand what the characters would be going through. That paired with everything I’ve learned as an actor just helped me relax and look at it with a more open mind. 

I’m currently writing the feature film version of The Drop and we have some interest from production companies, distributors and actors. So we’ll see where that goes, fingers are crossed we get to make the movie!

“The Drop” has been selected for the Indie X Film Fest in Los Angeles. What inspired you to write this short film, and what message do you hope to convey through it?

The Drop is doing well at festivals and we are really excited about it, it has 7 wins and 11 nominations so far, and we have a long way to go on its festival run. 

On the surface, this is a typical drug deal gone wrong. Two undercover police are on their way home on a Friday night when they get tipped off and diverted to rendezvous. The entire film takes place in three cars on their journey of this drug deal, we dip into the cars of the drug dealers and the police officers and listen to their conversations. The theme throughout is that we all have dreams and we are all human, no matter what background or where we are born, we all have family, aspirations in life, goals, and dreams. 

Actors are always told to get a normal job or I’ve been asked plenty of times at family parties “How long are you going to stick this out for” and so it’s always a topic I like to write about. Deep down, everybody has a dream. A lot of people will relate to these characters and it’s interesting to show how the lines blur between the protagonist and antagonists throughout the story. By the end, you don’t really know who to root for. 

Throughout your career, you’ve taken on a variety of roles. Is there a particular type of character or genre you find most challenging or rewarding to portray?

I think the most challenging roles are the ones you don’t relate to. If you get a character that’s so far away from your own self it takes a lot more work and prep to try and find solutions and connections to the character. It is exciting and fun taking on characters outside the comfort zone but it’s also risky. You have to be realistic about what you can play authentically. At the start of my career, I wanted to try everything, a trial and error approach. As I get older, I am getting a lot more selective and I’m trying to play to my strengths. There’s no specific genre or character I like to play, it really depends on the story and how it grabs me. I like all genres. It could be a horror, thriller, action or comedy, but if the character and story grip me then I’m interested. 

There’s still so much I want to do. Obviously, our inner child has those dream roles just for fun, like playing a Sheriff. I’d love to do all that haha. The dream roles are like Bond, Star Wars, and Westerns. Who doesn’t want to play a Jedi, a Spy or a Cowboy? I mean come on!

In “The Last Breath,” your character is part of a group facing extreme circumstances. How did you tap into the psychological aspects of this role, and what challenges did you face during filming?

Luckily, I wasn’t a seasoned diver. I did my PADI course, and then we got a week of training in Malta, in that time we did a lot of exercises to prepare us for the role such as cave diving, night dives and shipwreck dives. We also trained to take off our masks and our BCD and swim without oxygen at the bottom of the sea to our buddy around ten metres away, take their emergency regulator, have a few gulps and then swim back and put our masks back on, and all our equipment back on. That was scary. We had to do stunts like that in the film. I say luckily because when we got to the shoot, The tank and the set looked EXACTLY like a shipwreck, it was dark, it was scary, and I didn’t know my way around the set once we went underwater. So, all the emotions were real. I was genuinely scared for my life. Of course, it was super safe, we had a safety diver for each actor with us at all times. And I say luckily, because if I was a seasoned diver, I wouldn’t have had those fears, by the end of the shoot we were all like fish, we’d dive all day every day in that tank for six weeks, we’d logged more dives than some divers who had done this for ten years. 

But doing stunts and scenes, underwater, in the dark and trying to remember the whole scene was already daunting. On land, if I forget a line I’d just take a look at my script. Underwater you have to know your script back to front like theatre. There’s no room for me to forget lines and ask for a line run. It was a challenge.

I prepped for the psychology of the role by watching survival films and documentaries to try and understand the fear of not knowing if we’d make it out. A lot was already done for me with the set and the fear of this new skill. The best documentaries I watched were The Rescue about the Thailand cave dives and The Abyss documentary, the making of Jim Cameron’s The Abyss. We thought we were badass doing all our own stunts, but those guys were nuts. 

The entertainment industry is constantly evolving. Based on your experiences, what changes have you observed, and how do you adapt to them?

This is a really difficult question. There has been so much change and you have to go with the flow. Technically and practically there’s been a huge change with auditions and how we go up for jobs.  Now everything is on tape I can audition for anything in the world. I’m constantly going up for American projects, however, that means more competition. 

Society has changed and there are more stories from diverse backgrounds, there is a push for more funding for under-represented communities from the BFI etc. We are seeing a lot more help. Still not 100% there, but there definitely is a positive shift I think.  

There seems to be a lot more competition because the industry is becoming more accessible, the spotlight is easier to get onto, and there are tonnes of part-time drama schools, workshops and night schools. You don’t necessarily have to go to drama school. There seems to be a lot more in production now with streamers. Gone are the days of Channel 1-5. So, it is very competitive, it’s tough. But it’s also very exciting. The power keeps on shifting. With technology, it’s so much easier to make film now. Back in the day cameras used to be huge and expensive and now there are these little indie films and there are many ways to sell them. Some indie filmmakers are distributing themselves on Amazon etc, they aren’t going down the traditional route. The Creator was filmed on a Sony FX3 which you can buy for around £4000. That movie was an $80m budget movie. For example, I was in a £10k budget movie shot on one of those cameras, and the movie looked great. It’s becoming more accessible. It’s exciting. We don’t have to wait for an agent or a studio to green-light us anymore. We can go and do it. 

Looking ahead, are there any dream projects or roles you aspire to pursue, and what direction do you see your career taking in the next few years?

There are tonnes. I want to do it all haha. I’ve spent my twenties experimenting and taking everything I can get my hands on. I really want to spend my thirties focusing on telling really good stories. I don’t really care about budget. If I got offered a Marvel film I’d obviously do it but I really want to make festival films. I want to make the stuff that Harris Dickinson, George MacKay, and Barry Keoghan are doing. Like Scrapper, Femme, Saltburn, County Lines, The Banshees of Inisherin etc. 

Big-budget blockbusters have taken over cinema recently, they seem to lack heart and I think we are due a shift. Matt Damon was saying the DVD market used to be another big avenue of profit, with almost the same amount of sales as theatrical, so if it didn’t do well at the theatres they’d have another big wave of sales in DVD. Now with the DVD market crashing and streamers booming, execs aren’t taking those risks anymore, there is no DVD market. 

I think people still want to go and see these indie films in cinemas. It’s been proven over and over again. Whale was set in one man’s living room and it was one of the best cinema experiences I’ve ever had. It was literally a $3m budget movie – tiny in comparison to other award-winning films. 

Images: Bjorn Franklin

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