Actor Paul Thornley talks about his new role in musical, The Three Musketeers, and gives students advice on how to break into the world of show business.

Interview: Musketeer, Paul Thornley

Apparently the only way Paul Thornley can make his 3-year-old daughter watch his brand new musical is to supply her with a bottomless bag of sweets, but he promises us that we won’t need a sugar rush to enjoy The Three Musketeers at Kingston’s Rose Theatre.

“There’s a bit of fighting, a bit of love, some great singing, just imagine a sixteenth-century Il Divo” he says.

The actor, who has a rather questionable Movember tash going on, has had a varied showbiz career from radio to theatre, but is best known for his TV appearances in Poirot, The Bill and Midsomer Murders, as well as voiceovers for Channel Four’s docu-soap, The Family.

It is this variation that Paul says has helped him succeed in the entertainment industry: “Having as many strings to your bow I think it is the easiest way to forge out a career. You wouldn’t be able to survive just doing things like this.” He says.

Paul’s latest project, The Three Musketeers, has West End buzz and depending on a successful run at The Rose, Paul hopes to head to the bright lights of London’s theatre district with the production.

“It would be lovely [to go to the West End] but sometimes these things don’t work out, they may get the Jonas Brothers or something, but you hope.”

Playing a musketeer is a boyhood dream come true for Paul, although his character, Athos, is probably not the shining knight he had once imagined. Athos is a broken man, scared by a disastrous love affair which he tries to numb with copious amounts of alcohol. He battles memories as much as he does his enemies.

A battle is the way many aspiring actors view a career in show business. In this respect Paul’s best advice is to get professional training: “Drama school may not make you a better actor but certainly prepares you for auditions and castings. You learn the technical aspect at drama school and you make contacts and work generates work.”

He also suggests finding paid work to fund an acting career: “If you have other forms of income, for me it’s voiceovers, it means you don’t have to take the first job that comes along and you can afford to make choices and educated choices, rather than doing jobs that you don’t want to do in order to survive.”

Paul attended drama school via private sponsorship. He admits he was “lucky” to receive this funding and sympathises with the position of students at the prospect of a rise in tuition fees.  He makes the point that there have been many great actors who have never received any formal training and have succeeded, but admits a degree is useful for something to fall back on if your ‘big break’ never comes.

“There are people who get disillusioned about acting; it can happen quite easily if you don’t get the opportunities. You do need few breaks along the way and for people to go out on a limb and take a punt on you. So I wouldn’t want to deter anyone from going to university.”

With any great luck the Jonas Brothers will be fully booked for the foreseeable future, and this musketeer will get another ‘break along the way’ to perform in London’s glittering West End.   

To book tickets contact the box office on 0871 230 1552 or buy online. Tickets cost from £8 for pit cushion seating.  

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