10 October 2016

Interview with Danny Horn - Sunny Afternoon Week

Hello and welcome to the first day of Sunny Afternoon Week! Today I've got a wonderful interview lined up for you - with none other than the West End's very own Ray Davies: Danny Horn! I first came across Danny in that bizarre Doctor Who Christmas special that had the sharks and Katherine Jenkins and Dumbledore - you know the one I mean? Obviously, I then saw Sunny Afternoon and did that awful thing of "Oh... He's... I recognise him... What's he been in?".

So without further ado, here he is talking about everything from positive thinking to Polaroid cameras!

Em: As a child, who did you aspire to be like, and do you still aspire to be like them now?

Danny: The first person to have a profound effect on me wasn't an actor but a musician - Bob Dylan. I was a restless teenager, feeling a bit lost and confused about my identity and then when I discovered the music of Dylan suddenly the world made more sense to me. He's the reason I taught myself the guitar and started writing songs. And even now, about 15 years later, it's very rare that a day goes by without listening to some Bob!

Em: If you could play any character, regardless of age, race, gender, etc, who would it be?

Danny: Tough question. Purely thinking about things I could never do, I'd like to play Blanche Debois in A Streetcar Named Desire. It's one of my favourite plays and one of the greatest written characters in the history of theatre (in my opinion). She's so damaged and complicated yet so delicate, fragile... So if there's ever an all male production of that, then put me forward!

Em: What’s your favourite role you’ve ever played?

Danny: Hmm, I've had a few really interesting parts but I think it'll have to be the one I'm playing now - Ray Davies in Sunny afternoon. As well as getting to play one of my life long heroes, I also get to play almost every emotion a human can experience. Anger, despair, jubilation, fear, love, hatred... It's an amazing challenge and a deeply complicated and fascinating part. I'm extremely lucky to be the actor chosen to play it, night in and night out.

Em: What’s it like being in a show that is based on real people and events?

Danny: It's very strange and also very humbling. To tell a man's story whilst that same man can sit in the audience and watch is quite nerve wracking, and also fills me with a great sense of responsibility, to make sure I tell his tale respectably and correctly, without shying away from the darker areas of his personality. But to be honest, it's unhealthy to think to much about it. I sometimes like to pretend that Ray Davies is a fictional character, written just for this show. It eases the pressure a little.

Em: If you were stuck on a desert island with a book, a song and an actor/actress, what would they be?

Danny: Great question! I could change my mind about this all day... The book would be a notebook so I can write and draw and keep my mind creative (can I have a pen too?). The song would be Desolation Row by Bob Dylan because it's strange, fascinating and beautiful (and also 10 minutes long!). And an actress or actor would be... My girlfriend, for she is also an actress!

Em: What is your favourite quote from Sunny Afternoon?

Danny: Ooh, I change my mind about this one a lot too. Perhaps, at the end, when talking about the song Waterloo Sunset - 'If you're not crying, you're probably deaf. Stick that on the poster!'.

Em: What 3 items in your dressing room could you not live without?

Danny: My guitar, my Polaroid camera and a banana for the interval. These are the essentials!

Em: What is your favourite thing about performing in the West End?

Danny: There are so many things. It's amazing to be able to tell a great story and play amazing music to hundreds of people every night. At the beginning of the night everyone is a stranger, not knowing what's to come and by the end of the night everyone is together, up on their feet singing and dancing along. That's a sort of magic and that's what I love the most about working in the west end.

Em: What’s been your biggest challenge in getting to where you are today?

Danny: Remaining positive and proactive. Acting is a very hard profession to break into, there's an awful lot of rejection and many people will tell you that it's a foolish career move and that you should get a 'proper job'. The challenge is to keep on believing in yourself, even when no one else will. That belief and persistence is as important as talent.

Em: Have you got anything to say to people who use phones in theatre?

Danny: Ha! Yes, I have actually. When you think you're doing a quick, subtle text message that no one will notice, you're wrong. From the stage I will suddenly see your silly face illuminated in blue light in a sea of darkness. It's incredibly distracting and insulting for both actors and your fellow audience members. I will stare at you from the stage until you stop.

Em: What book or film would you like to see made into a West End show?

Danny: I've always wanted to play Holden Caufield from 'Catcher in the Rye'. If there's a stage adaptation of that, then I would love to audition. I'd probably be a bit too old though...

Em: What is your LEAST favourite thing about performing in the West End?

Danny: Sometimes it's a nightmare getting home as you have to battle through all the tourist hotspots and commuters. That's really the only thing I can think of, because it's great.

Em: What are your plans and ambitions for the future?

Danny: To keep playing interesting parts both on stage and onscreen, and also to do more with my own music which is equally important to me. It'll be nice to have more time to do that when Sunny Afternoon closes.

Em: What advice would you give to someone like me who wants to be in theatre when they’re older?

Danny: To watch great films, watch great theatre, read great books and practise, and challenge yourself. And also, most importantly, don't give up, even in your darkest hours.

Em: Is there anything else you’d like to say to my readers?

Danny: Hello readers! Come and see Sunny Afternoon at the Harold Pinter theatre before we close on October 29th. And I hope you're all having a nice day!

If you've enjoyed this interview, you can follow Danny on Twitter @DHornetto, as well as myself @ohmymusicals, where you can keep up to date with Sunny Afternoon week and all that's to follow!

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