Julian Seager is a British actor who is a regular face in UK TV shows. He is best known for his roles as ‘the muscle’ in various genre movies and has played a henchman in features such as THOR: THE DARK WORLD, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, MALIFICENT, THE MUPPETS and THE WORLD’S END. We caught up with him at the recent SF BALL to discuss his work...
STARBURST: How would you describe your career so far?
Julian Seager: Unorthodox, which describes me quite well also. I started as a film extra because of the book World War Z. I’m a big fan of Max Brooks, and I’m big book and film geek. I was chatting with a friend about the novel, and I said, “It would make a great TV series” and he said “No, I think they’re making it into a movie, it’s got Brad Pitt as a lead.” I was all, “There isn’t a lead”, so I Googled it and discovered that not only were they making a movie, but there was an open audition next day about two hours away from where I live! I thought, “How random is that” and we did a road-trip.
The audition was just about how you looked and if you measured up, no actual acting. We forgot about it and a couple of weeks later, my mate Baz phoned me up and told me that he’d just been confirmed. I was really happy for him but also really gutted because I hadn’t heard anything. So I spent the next couple of hours watching my phone. I got the call and I got the job. A few weeks after that I ended up on an ice ship with Brad Pitt in World War Z. It was a very random thing, but awesome. I loved it and I thought if they can have me on screen with Brad Pitt, obviously I look okay; I’m going to have a go at doing it again. So I asked around on set, took a couple of contact numbers for agencies and managed to get a small part in Skyfall and Snow White and the Huntsman as an extra.
Where did you go from there?
I was told categorically by experts that you cannot go from being an extra to an actor. I liked that, because it was a challenge. I thought I’d have a go. Because it was a bit of midlife crisis thing, home told me I had a year to get a speaking role or I had to get a proper job. I was good with that - it gave me a deadline. I got my first speaking role in a movie; I had two words in The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box. I got to work with Lena Headey and Sam Neil. It was going to be five words, they cut it to two, but I didn’t care because it was finally a speaking role and I could keep going.
I’ve had humble beginnings, but I’ve worked really hard at what I do. I loved what I do. I started in 2011, and I totted up what I’ve done and I’ve had 90 different roles so far. I really wanted to put myself out there, because I’m not approaching this industry in an orthodox style. I’m in my 40s, I haven’t been to drama school and everything I’ve learned has been on set or through improv classes. The biggest lessons have been watching these masters at work. It took me a couple of years just to work out what all the people did on a film set.
What have been your highlights so far?
All of it. Because I’m such a geek, getting the call for Thor: The Dark World was amazing; I am a Marvel fan and have been since I was kid. Same with Guardians of the Galaxy, just being there was amazing. Same with The World’s End, I’m a big Edgar Wright fan and I’m glad I got in there before the Cornetto Trilogy ended. Especially as I had to do a dance audition because they wanted the blanks to move a certain way!
I think the most challenging thing I had to deal with was an audition I got a while ago. It was for a very big Disney role. There were thousands of dancers at the audition, all stretching and looking lithe, youthful and amazing. I thought, “I may be in trouble here.” They went in and did their thing, and they all came out look exhausted saying, “That was so hard.” I was dreading it. The audition lasted a full hour and a half, and must have looked like a drunk dad at a wedding!
When I am on set, I adopt a mind-set, so I embrace things that are harder or randomly different. I look at it logistically, but the word challenge doesn’t enter my head.
What is your favourite Marvel character?
Deathlok. I don’t know what that says about me as a person. I really like the darker side of Marvel. If you asked me as a child, I would have said Spider-Man. When I discovered Deathlok, it was quite shocking; he’s a cyborg assassin. I also like Iron Fist. I would love to do another Marvel project.
What is your dream project?
Something zombie related. I’m a big fan. I’ve even got my own zombie survival plan, which is a little sad, but there you go. People are scared of zombies, that sea of flesh. You’re screwed no matter what happens. I’m also a big Game of Thrones fan; I hope it goes on long enough that they give me a shout; I’ve auditioned a couple of times already.
If you could meet the sixteen-year-old-version of yourself, what would you say?
I wouldn’t say anything, because I wouldn’t want to change a thing. I’d just nod and stroke my beard.
Julian Seager can be found on twitter @JulianSeager