From Ballet To Writing To Guerrilla Style Stunts: A Conversation With NEVER LET GO’s Angela Dixon
Angela Dixon is an award-winning actor best known for her leading role in Howard Ford’s action thriller ‘Never Let Go‘ where she wowed audiences and critics alike with her “Oscar-worthy” “Powerhouse” performance of a single mother battling against the odds to rescue her kidnapped child.
She won Best Actress for Never Let Go and her role as the victim of domestic violence in Marc Zammit’s “Homeless Ashes”. Other recent leading roles include the head of a deportation unit in Tom Paton’s Sci-fi thriller “Black Site”, the speedway mom in Howard Ford’s “Adventure Boyz” and a teacher in “Missing A Note” a deeply moving film about dementia with Ian McElhinny and Elaine Paige and ‘Eve Groves’ another important film about lobular breast cancer both with Fact Not Fiction Films.
In the past year she has played Ms. Summers, the head teacher in ‘Our Kid’ with Ricky Tomlinson, Leanne Best, Connor McIntyre, John McArdle, and Louis Emerick: the medical examiner Dr. Mills involved in a multiple murder investigation in ‘Bogieville’ both directed by Sean Cronin and a six part TV series with Casper Van Diem and Jennifer Wenger directed by Tom Paton playing a quantum scientist who’s experiments cause universal disruption.
Angela is a visceral, intelligent, truthful actress who invests everything she has into her work. In ‘Never Let Go‘ she did all her own stunts and fight scenes in Guerrilla filming conditions. Her belief is that kindness is a strength and thrives when collaborating creatively.
In our EXCLUSIVE interview, Angela tells The Fan Carpet‘s Marc Jason Ali about her start in the industry, working with Howard J. Ford, her love of writing and doing her own stunts for NEVER LET GO…
If we go back to the beginning, was there a defining moment for you to get into the Entertainment Industry?
As a child, I spent a lot of time alone in the countryside and in my own head. I used to love singing, writing poems and thinking about the world – I was a young philosopher.
Probably the defining moment was when I was about 11 years old. I was performing ballet for the first time in a theatre and it felt very much like coming home. The combination of excitement and fear made me feel alive. I loved the camaraderie, the smell of the of the space and the world of make believe. In that moment I guess my love of storytelling, philosophy and danger converged.
What was it that made you want to be part of Never Let Go?
How could one refuse such a role as Lisa Brennan. A strong complex female character in an action thriller where you’re leading the film? Sadly parts like that are few and far between so you have to grab them when they are there.
What was it about NEVER LET GO that made you want to be a part of it with such a prolific director in the independent space in Howard Ford, and what can you tell us about the story and Lisa without giving away spoilers?
I met Howard on a yacht in Cannes when I gatecrashed the pinewood studio party. We instantly connected and realised that we had a similar sense of heart and soul as people and in our work. We share a love of adventure and we discovered we had both taken some risks with our lives, and had lived to tell the tale.
I think that’s what prompted Howard to think of me when he was writing Never Let Go. He knew that not only was I physically strong and fit, I was also mentally robust which was essential for the actor playing Lisa. Not just to play the role but also to be able to handle the guerrilla style filming.
We were actually being chased by the police in real time at one point and there were a number of issues and challenges during the shoot that many people would have struggled with. Fortunately, I seem to thrive in those kind of circumstances.
At its core Never Let Go is about a woman who is lost. Through the trauma of her daughter’s abduction and the fight to get her back, she finds herself. I’ll leave the rest to the audience to discover.
What does it mean for me to be a storyteller?
We are hardwired as human beings to tell stories. Storytelling is a great way to connect with each other, to make sense of this complex, wonderful and sometimes extremely painful world that we live in. It’s an opportunity to draw attention to topics and areas of concern in a way that truly engages. Storytelling can be life changing. It’s the lifeblood of being human. So for me, it’s a huge privilege to be involved in that.
You have an eclectic range of credits from TV to Short Films to Feature Film, are there any genres that you haven’t done yet that you’d like to?
I often get cast in drama and thrillers which is great because I love the complexity and the depth of character. I would also love to do some more comedy. I played the American President in Andrew Cartmel’s fantastic political satire ‘Under the Eagle’. I thoroughly enjoyed bringing her to life and hearing the audience laugh at her. I love making people laugh, it’s a huge tonic – we need to laugh more.
Who inspires you within the industry?
There are many inspirational people in the industry who I admire. Martin Scorsese, Ken Loach, Jonathan Glazer, Taika Waititi, Clint Eastward, Andrey Zvyagintsev are a few. I like work that evokes emotion and / or breaks the rules.
And if I think about British actors, I love Jodie Cromer and Stephen Graham they were brilliant in Help and Jodie’s performance in Prima Facie was breathtaking. I would love to have the opportunity to stretch and use my craft to that extent, hopefully that’s next.
Do I have a wish list of who I want to work with?
I certainly have a Wish List in terms of the kind of work I want to be doing. As well as feature films, I would love to play a great role in a top TV show like Big Little Lies, Silo, The Diplomat, Stranger Things, Hand Maiden’s Tale, Dead to Me, Homeland, I could go on – I have a long list …
Circling back to NEVER LET GO, I’m looking forward to seeing it again on LEGEND this weekend, after I saw the amazing film THE LEDGE from Howard, do you have any memorable moments from filming that you’ll take with you for the rest of your career?
Thank you. There are many memorable moments from Never Let Go it’s hard to choose really. Watching Howard Ford miraculously create something beautiful out of thin air is unforgettable. As much as I am a serial preparer I also love spontaneity. There were times when Howard would just grab the camera and we would go out onto the back streets of Morocco and shoot something – we got some real magic shooting that way.
The most powerful personal memory that remains with me was a moment on location towards the end the film. Time happened in slow motion, I was totally in the flow and everything felt right. The Sun was shining on my face and I knew that I was in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing. I experienced it as a sign for me to continue on this path.
Is there a book that you would like to be part of that hasn’t been written into a film yet?
There isn’t a specific story or book yet, but I would love to be part of bringing to life under-reported extraordinary women in history. The women that I wasn’t told about when I was growing up. Let’s bring them out of the shadows and celebrate them.
You’re in BOGIEVILE too with our friend Ayvianna, how has that been to work on and you’re re teaming with Sean Cronin on Our Kid, what can you tell us about that?
I have been very fortunate to work with Sean Cronin on these two very different projects. Our Kid is a gritty social drama written by and staring the rising star that is Daniel P. Lewis [watch out for him – he’s going to be big!] and Bogieville is a unnerving Vampire movie penned by Henry P. Gravelled. I have also been working with Tom Paton again this year on a very exciting project that I can’t say much about but I think it will blow people’s minds.
Fandoms are a big part of the industry, who or what are you a fan of?
I am a big fan of David Harbour I couldn’t get enough of watching him in Stranger Things. I just thought he was mesmerising. I adore Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman. I am a big fan of people who strive to be their best and are kind. I respect and appreciate people that I can see really graft from any walk of life or profession. Those qualities create fandom in me.
Are there any other aspects of the Film Industry that you would like to pursue?
I co-wrote all my scenes in The Lockdown Hauntings and have started writing a female driven action thriller that explores the concept of overcoming fear. Watch this space!
What is the future of cinema?
My hope is that cinema can survive because I don’t think you can replace the shared experience of being in a darkened room watching a film together. I went to three premiers at the Cannes film festival this year and each time the atmosphere was febrile. Martin Scorsese had a 7 minute standing ovation after ‘The Killers of the Flower Moon’ and was clearly moved – I was there, I felt it, streaming can’t replicate that. It would be a huge shame if we no longer have cinemas. I believe they will have to adapt and I’m not sure how that would look, but I hope it survives.
Where can we find you online to keep up with everything you’re doing?
It’s very easy to find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram I am @AngelaDixonAct The ‘Act’ isn’t about being an actor. It’s actually a note to myself to to do something, to take action, whatever it may be. It’s very easy to become stagnant, it’s easy to play it safe, so it’s my note to self to do something and be brave.
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