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It’s a Sin’s Callum Scott Howells: ‘Cabaret’s essentially the most playful factor I’ve finished’ | Cabaret

Actor Callum Scott Howells, 23, grew up within the Rhondda valley and educated on the Royal Welsh Faculty of Song & Drama. After making a song within the adolescence choir Simplest Boys Aloud, his display screen leap forward got here in 2021 taking part in Colin Morris-Jones within the hit drama It’s a Sin, which was Channel 4’s maximum streamed display. He’s taking over as Emcee within the Olivier-winning West Finish manufacturing of Cabaret subsequent month.

You’re recently in rehearsals for Cabaret. How is it going?
I had dress fittings this morning, then went into rehearsals, minced round for slightly and now I’m on my lunchbreak. It’s such a laugh. Probably the most playful factor I’ve ever finished. I watched the movie model when I used to be a kid and liked it but in addition be mindful being moderately scared. You already know, Joel Gray’s Emcee along with his painted face and the entire darkish vibe. Then I rewatched it in lockdown. Now right here I’m.

It’s an overly other function from Colin in It’s a Sin, isn’t it?
I’m thinking about flipping that on its head. I’ve numerous adrenaline this present day. In many ways, the function is there to surprise and meddle with the target market. To lead them to have a great time but in addition subvert their expectancies. It feels weirdly related as of late. Previous on, we had been discussing the Emcee’s parallels with Dominic Cummings, which is essentially the most ridiculous reference level. That’s the object with this play, it provokes all kinds of mad concepts.

Your It’s a Sin colleague Omari Douglas used to be within the Cabaret solid ultimate yr, taking part in Cliff Bradshaw. Did you ask him for recommendation?
We’ve spoken so much – now not such a lot about our roles, extra in regards to the historic backdrop. Between the wars used to be a captivating duration for Germany, with the transition from the Weimar republic to Hitler’s upward thrust to energy. Me and Omari don’t most often discuss such deep issues, accept as true with me. It’s typically simply popular culture and fact TV!

You had been nonetheless at drama faculty while you learn the It’s a Sin scripts. Did they resonate?
Such a lot. I used to be on the finish of my 2d yr when my agent stated: “Russell T Davies is searching for a tender Welsh persona in his new collection.” Once I learn Colin, I actually hooked up with him. Now not simply that he’s Welsh however that he’s queer and in this adventure. I fearful I wasn’t in a position however idea: “I’ve were given to do that.” I gave it some welly and were given the phase.

How apprehensive had been you, strolling directly to the set for the primary time?
It used to be terrifying. I’ve a bright reminiscence of my first day being the scene the place Colin’s within the Two Brewers [a Clapham gay pub], sitting within the nook, shaken up by way of seeing some of these males kissing. I used to be purple within the face from uncooked nerves and didn’t must do any performing. Once I watch it again, I’m like: “Crikey, that’s actual. There’s no pretending, that’s simply me being fucking petrified.”

Neil Patrick Harris’s persona, the tailor Henry, used to be Colin’s mentor within the display. Used to be your dating equivalent off-screen?
Undoubtedly. I discovered such a lot from Neil. Now not simply relating to performing however easy methods to habits myself and set up my time. I don’t assume he’d ever heard a South Wales valleys accessory prior to. He couldn’t recover from the best way I stated “stunning” and made me say it about 8 occasions. He additionally performed Emcee on Broadway, so when Neil used to be over right here filming Physician Who just lately, we had dinner and mentioned the function. It used to be good to nibble on his ear about it. My nerves simply dissipated.

Howells with Neil Patrick Harris in It’s a Sin. {Photograph}: Ben Blackall/Channel 4

What took place to Colin used to be devastating. Used to be it formidable to play his decline?
I used to be very conscious that it used to be according to actual tales, on those who Russell knew, so it had to be portrayed as it should be. Specifically the seizures, dementia and when he loses his dignity in entrance of his mom – I sought after to be sure that used to be instructed honestly and felt visceral. There used to be no room for airs and graces – I simply needed to pass there.

How did it really feel making hundreds of thousands of folks cry?
It used to be unusual. When the display got here out, the arena used to be close down. The primary time that lockdown lifted, I be mindful strolling via Soho and 3 separate folks got here up in fast succession to discuss it. One in all them even referred to as me Colin! Whilst we had been making It’s a Sin, we felt like a circle of relatives and the display belonged to us. But if it aired, it was everybody’s. There’s actual good looks in that. The medium of tv is going directly into folks’s dwelling rooms and it’s magical. Remaining weekend, I noticed an entire gang dressed in “Los angeles!” T-shirts. It’s pretty how it’s entered mainstream tradition.

Didn’t you get a decision from Elton John?
There are particular moments in my existence I’ll by no means put out of your mind. One in all them used to be answering the telephone and a voice pronouncing: “Hello Callum, that is Elton.” I used to be like: “Oh my gosh, what the fuck?” We went over to his space for dinner ultimate Christmas. Having ruddy cottage pie with Elton John and David Furnish. How mad is that?

What’s the legacy of It’s a Sin?
It’s something how folks actually answered to it emotionally. However for me, it’s how it drove an building up in folks getting examined for HIV. Charities just like the Terrence Higgins Consider and the George Space Consider do implausible paintings, yr in, yr out. To be only a small cog in serving to them reach their objectives is an unbelievable feat for any TV display.

What had been your maximum memorable stories within the Simplest Boys Aloud choir?
We entered Britain’s Were given Skill and were given to the overall however misplaced to Pudsey the canine, which is honest sufficient. We additionally sang for Harry and Meghan at Cardiff council, which used to be wild.

Subsequent up, you’re within the Netflix movie The Stunning Recreation. What are you able to let us know?
We shot it in Rome and London ultimate summer time. It’s written by way of Frank Cottrell Boyce and it’s in regards to the Homeless Global Cup, this annual soccer match the place homeless folks constitute their nation. Invoice Nighy performs the crew’s trainer and he’s the don.

Are there different genres you’d like to take a look at?
I’m open to anything else. I really like comedy and political drama. I used to be a large fan of the unique Space of Playing cards. I simply love being a part of robust tales. I say all this, however my profession may come crashing down after Cabaret. For now, strap in and cling on tight!

  • Cabaret is at the Package Kat Membership on the Playhouse theatre, London, till 18 March. Callum Scott Howells will play the Emcee from 3 October to twenty-eight January

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