Actor Floyd James first flirted with acting when he was a teen. However, he probably cannot tell you exactly why he became an actor. I guess the world owes a debt of gratitude to his father for taking him to see “those incredible Shakespeare productions by the RSC at The Barbican in the 90s,” as he would describe the experience.
James is one of the UK’s most promising rising stars. In 2013, he was selected as a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Breakthrough Brit. He has won legions of fans across the UK and the globe for that matter. According to published reports, he has been named “a star-in-the-making” and a talent “reminiscent of Robert De Niro.”
He has appeared in numerous films and on television starring in roles as diverse from his excellent portrayal of rocker Freddie Mercury in The Best Possible Taste to his breakout role in the independent favorite My Brother the Devil, for which he has won several awards.
In My Brother the Devil Floyd stars as Rashid, a young man from a traditional Arab family who runs with a gang that rules the streets of Hackney. Rashid’s younger brother, Mo, idolizes his handsome, charismatic older brother and dreams of following in his footsteps, but Rashid envisions a different life for Mo and insists that he stay away from gang life and stick to his studies. Headed on a collision course of conflicting desires, each young man is forced to face himself and confront the brother he thought he knew.
PRIDEINDEX (PI): Tell your American fans why you became an actor? When did you first know that you wanted to be an actor?
FLOYD JAMES (FJ): As far back as I can remember, I never wanted to be an actor. So I am still unsure as to exactly how this all happened. I think it may have been filling up some free time at school when I was 17 by playing Romeo (very badly) in Romeo and Juliet, which was terrifying but strangely fun. Also, I think my dad taking me to see many of those incredible Shakespeare productions by the RSC at The Barbican in the 90s was the start of a subconscious alteration in my secret ambitions. I guess the terse answer is: theatre and Shakespeare.
PI: Name your acting influences or mentors.
FJ: The list is probably endless. A few that come to mind today are Jacques Audiard, Marlon Brando, Daniel Day-Lewis, Meryll Streep, Mark Rylance, Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers. Mentors are my close family and loved ones.
PI: I’ve read somewhere that you described the script for My Brother the Devil as “the best script you read” at that time in your career. Why did you say that?
FJ: I was paid to say that…just kidding! It genuinely was. Unfortunately, I am an honest man (an advantage and an Achilles heel in my line of work) and I feel that Sally wrote an almost perfect screenplay. I am very fortunate to be involved in this very important, beautiful film. It’s about time someone made a great film about a young Arab alpha-male exploring his sexuality, for a new generation.
PI: How did you identify with your character Rashid from My Brother the Devil?
FJ: It was initially very difficult to get under the character’s skin as he is so different to me in terms of life experiences and perspective. I eventually identified with him by doing heaps of research by practically living with the real guys that the film’s characters are inspired by. I found his heart and soul by soaking up this exotic new world I had discovered. I realized that Rashid and I share one important characteristic: isolation. I have always been made to feel left-field of mainstream society, which as a youngster that bothered me, but as I mature it irks me less. That is the exact journey of Rashid in the film.
PI: If you were approached to appear in a sequel to My Brother the Devil in the lead role as Rashid, would you do it?
PI: While looking over your resume, I noticed that you played Freddie Mercury in the British television movie The Best Possible Taste. What was that experience like? How do you prepare for that role?
FJ: It was a great experience just to portray such a hero of mine, and of course an icon of individuality. I was fortunate to spend an afternoon with Lee Middleton, who knew Freddie well, so that was fascinating and essential for research. But I wanted more time to prepare. Even though the response to my portrayal of him was very positive, seven days to prep to play him, is simply not enough. I would love to play him again someday, with more time to truly become Freddie.
PI: What do you like to do when you’re not working on a project?
FJ: Spend time drifting in space and time, seeing where the tide of life takes me. That answer was pretentious, but true. (Smiles)
PI: What advice would you offer to an aspiring actor?
FJ: I am reluctant to give advice as I am still so young in my career, but I will mention what a veteran theatre actor once said to me in a tiny regional theatre on a cold Monday evening. He whispered to me, “’Benjamin Franklin said, ‘’The art of acting consists of keeping people from coughing.” I went to say my response to him and the veteran actor coughed, then grinned, and then he went onstage.
PI: What projects are you working on next?
FJ: I’m doing my first lead in an American film, which is shooting in Belgrade soon. I’ll be doing another movie with Sally El Hosaini (who wrote/directed My Brother the Devil), and I am attached to two other films, but I am hoping to do some theatre again soon. I miss treading the boards, it’s where I started.
Click here to the trailer for My Brother the Devil.