Ed Speleers

Edward (Ed) Speleers was born in Chichester, UK, on 21 December 1987. His first real brush with fame came as he portrayed the title role in the sci-fi fantasy Eragon. Darren Rea caught up with Speleers as Eragon was due for release on DVD...

Darren Rea : If someone had told you a couple of years ago that you would be the star of a Hollywood movie how would you have reacted?

Ed Speleers: I wouldn't have expected it to happen, but it did. It hasn't quite worked out as Hollywood stardom.

I was about ten years old when I first did something fairly serious. I was playing Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. and it was just one of those things I really enjoyed - the idea of being something completely different, pretending to be somebody else and just messing around on stage, you know. At ten years old it's all about jumping around and having a laugh and that's what it was.

And then I tried to continue that ethos until I was about 16 or 17 and I thought: "Alright, I really, really want to do this as a professional and do it to the best of my ability." And I'm determined to keep going with it and that's what I'm going to do.

I actually got the role of Eragon while I was at school. I was told there was going to be an audition for a fantasy film. I knew of the book - people at my school had read it - it was a popular book amongst the guys at my school. I half went to the auditions on a whim, and half thinking it was a good way to get into the industry, and about ten days later I got a phone call from my dad saying that I'd got the part. It all happened very quickly.

DR: How did you find the filming process? Where there elements that you found easier than other?

ES: I don't know what I'd class as easy, because I don't think any of it was easy. I'd say things were more enjoyable than others. Galloping around on a horse, hurling a sword at someone's face, was quite good fun, but talking to something that isn't there, in a really emotional way, really isn't that much fun. You can make it fun, but it's a real challenge.

I think the biggest thing for me was working with those actors. I was very lucky to have that kind of cast, and to work closely with them was my biggest moment, I think.

They all gave different advice for different things. Some would give me advice about how to be an actor and how to react on stage and how to react on camera and compose yourself and have your own ideas, but some people would give me advice about what to do afterwards. They'd tell me what I'd have to do during the publicity and what I had to do to publicise myself after the film came out and what I had to do as my next choice.

So each cast member seemed to cover a different side - what we were doing at the moment, how to do the publicity trail and how to make that next step. It was interesting. There was a broad range in the class of actors, and from all different genres.

DR: How did you find the blue screen work, in particular the dragon riding scenes?

ES: I think that was good fun, but again doing it twelve hours a day, for two month... you can't feel your arse afterwards. Your arse and your hips are gone after a while and your knees are f*cked. But, yeah, it's definitely good fun. The physical side was something that I enjoy anyway. You've got to think about the safety aspect, but not that much really. You can get through that. It's definitely I side I enjoy.

I did a lot of boxing, sword fighting, gym work, horse riding, archery and acting classes as part of my training. They got me doing as many activities as they could in the pre-production stages. I tried to keep it up during filming too, because it gave me something to do. Even though I'm not a keen gym fan, going down the gym was a very good way of releasing whatever is getting caught up in your mind about the film, home, or what you did last night.

Since filming I have continued the sword fighting. I was given a samurai sword for my eighteenth birthday - a hand made one from a village in Japan. I'm going to try and get my head back round that and start reading up more about the samurais and how they were used. I do find it an interesting art form really, the sword. I dabble and I'll be trying to get more into that, I think.

DR: Did you get to travel much with the filming?

ES: We did some of it in Eastern Europe - Hungary, Slovakia, which was great. I don't think at seventeen you naturally think you want to go to Eastern Europe - because it's so close you don't think to go there. I had great fun there - I'd go back to Budapest very quickly.

We also spent six weeks in Vancouver - that was awesome. Mind blowing scenery, people and good looking girls. We went to Pinewood for two months too, so I travelled around a little bit and got to see a cross section of areas.

I'd been at boarding school since I was seven, so I was used to being away. Although, I'd never been away from home for four months at a time.

There was a great family unit there, so there was always someone to phone up and say: "I'm feeling a bit down. Let's go and have a drink, or have a wander around Budapest." There was always somebody you could call upon to be a good mate.

That was the good thing about the atmosphere for me. I had some really close friendships with actors, producers, costume people, hair people... everybody basically. I had a good relationship with different departments.

DR: You and your old friend Rob Curran wrote your own script, called Retribution when you were at school. Now that you've had a taste of Hollywood acting, which would you rather do - act or write? Or is there something else you'd rather do?

ES: Yes, I'd certainly love to get involved with some writing on the production side. That's where I'd like to go, because obviously you can make a sh*t load of cash. I don't know whether I'd have to do a screen writing course, but I'd like to pursue that a bit more, even if it's just so that I have that ability to write something down and churn something out. I think I'd enjoy that. It would keep my brain working as well.

DR: A lot of kids will grow up on this movie and probably look back on it with fondness in later life. What movies do you fondly remember from your childhood? And what do you think makes for a classic kid's movie?

ES: The Goonies. The Goonies was my favourite kid's film. That and Pete and the Dragon. I did like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when I was younger as well, but The Goonies was the best.

I think the magic and splendour of kid's films is important. Even though The Goonies is based in the modern world, it's still very much an escapist fantasy where you escape to a totally different world or idea. I think, certainly with Eragon and other fantasy movies, it is the idea of seeing magical creatures, imaginary names and funny looking costumes, huge battles and great scenery. I think all that is very eye opening - especially if you are a nine year old and you see all these big colours and big movements, it really catches your eye.

I wouldn't say I'm a huge fantasy fan - I wouldn't say that was my big thing - but I can see why certainly young children would like Eragon. And I think the good thing about it, despite what it's been knocked for, is it will definitely be one of those films, if we continue with the trilogy, that will grow with the audience. The second book is a much more mature read than the first one. They go on quite a different journey and Eragon changes quite a lot and becomes much more of a warrior figure and becomes more a dragon rider than a young boy, which is something I'd find quite exciting to take on.

DR: Is there a dream role you'd like to play?

ES: Historically I'd like to play Alexander the Great one day and put that film to rights.

General characters... I don't think you can decide. You can't say I want to play a heroine addict or a basketball player. Whatever is on the page at the time and attracts the writers and the producers to you - and whatever the connection is, is what makes it right.

I don't know if there's a specific character, or even a specific genre. I'd like to do some action, I'd like to do some thrillers, some romance, some more fantasy, some comedy, some theatre...

At eighteen, which I am, I can afford to get in as many different things as possible. I've nothing to lose yet. I think it will be very healthy training to do as many things as possible. So that's the plan at the moment.

DR: How have you found your new-found fame? Have you had many kids recognise you?

ES: No, not one. I enjoy the fact that I don't have to worry about being out and being recognised. That's good. It's been quite an easy ride so far.

DR: What are you working on at the moment? Where can you fans expect to see you next?

ES: There are projects I'm in talks with people about. I've read a lot of scripts recently and had a lot of positive auditions, but nothing set in stone. So we're just waiting at the moment.

DR: Thank you for your time.

With thanks to Rachel Baglin and James Field at Substance

Eragon is available to buy and rent on DVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment from 16 April 2007.

Click here to buy the single DVD edition for £12.89 (RRP: £22.99)
Click here to buy the double DVD edition for £13.98 (RRP: £24.99)

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