We are excited to catch up with the talented Tanya Franks. Not only is she an award winning comedy actress, but she is damn good at theatre and is producing her own films! Tanya shares her wish to play Queen Victoria and gives some tips to budding actors. This my lovely readers, is a must read!
Out of all your amazing roles that you have played, which would you say has been your favourite?
I think it has to be Karen in ‘Pulling’ for the BBC and, on stage, Sylv in ‘East’ for Steven Berkoff.
Which have you found the most challenging to play?
Both of the above because they are much tougher than I am and go to much darker places than I would ever dare take myself to.
Congratulations on your win for ‘Pulling’, you were hilarious in that show. You must have had a ball playing her. What would you say she had in common with you as a person?
Karen and I have very very little in common. In fact I can’t even think if we have anything in common, she is definitely the chalk to my cheese.
It all comes from the same place and that is finding the truth in any character. Drama and comedy are so closely linked, if you think how laughter and tears sometimes become totally intertwined. I find it quite difficult to define what I do as an actor to create a character, my attempting to analyse it would take up a lot of page space.
If you could play any role, which would it be?
Queen Victoria, for some reason I have had that ambition since I was a child. Although I have more of the right size forehead for Elizabeth I.
In CBBC’s Hotel Trubble you play a hotel owner, do you feel acting on a children’s show is a different style from an adult show?
Actually I don’t play the owner, I play the owner’s girlfriend who is sent to sort of manage it. This particular children’s comedy show is much more heightened in style than say ‘Pulling’ for example. But essentially creating and executing any character is still about aiming to make them as believable as possible within the context of the mad-style storylines.
The scripts make me laugh, if I’m chuckling then I know it is going to be fun to play the character and be part of those stories.
When you get stopped in the street, do people call you by a characters name and if so which one?
I don’t tend to be called by the character names so much, I usually get “I know you, you’re off the tele aren’t you?”
You are producing and writing your own films, do you have another one in the works?
Yes I am developing my first feature film for which I have a producer and an executive producer. The money has to be raised yet, so we are still probably a year away from shooting.
The style of the film ‘One Day’ that you wrote and produced is quirky and fun, is that the style you like to write?
I guess I like an audience to have to work a little bit. I don’t know if ‘One Day’ achieves that or not, it seems to me that the audience do have to invest in the characters’ journeys though. So that can be fun or it can be drama, and I guess I do tend to go for something of a quirkiness if I can draw it out of the characters.
You are currently playing in ‘Really Old, Like Forty Five’ (love the name by the way) at the Royal NationalTheatre. The play is about aging and what to do with the aging public. Your character runs drug testing, when drug testing may not be needed. How do you feel about bringing this subject to the public’s eye?
Well, there are certainly questions to be asked about whether drugs are created first and foremost for the good of the people, or predominantly for making money. The play is now over which myself and the cast feel sad about because the play certainly invoked conversation in the bar afterwards.
I think young actors would love to know, how did you get into the business and how have you worked so frequently?
I knew from a child that I wanted to act professionally so I started studying the craft as early as I could through reading about my favourite actors, having elocution lessons, joining a local amateur theatre (‘The Bob Hope Theatre’ in South East London) and going to drama school. When I left drama school I started producing my own productions to be in so that I could invite people in the business to come and see me working. At least by writing letters to casting directors etc, I started to get my name out there. It has been a lot of hard work to keep in such regular employment. The first fourteen years of my career were all theatre and I had to do other money jobs to keep the bank balance flowing. Then ten years ago I was able to leave the temp jobs behind when my career moved predominantly into TV with a mixture of some smashing theatre and radio in between. I would like to add more film into the mix now, so there is still plenty more work to do yet.
You are very versatile, having done theatre, TV and film. Do you have a favourite field to work in?
I love working with a camera, I so enjoy the intimacy and weirdly the intrusion of it. And yet the dynamic of being live on stage with an audience calls for a different discipline that I love very much too. Variety is the spice of life and I like that in the mediums and the roles that I play.
What advice would you give to someone who is just coming into the business?
Know your craft, keep honing your skills. Never stop learning from others and yourself. Learn to see the tough times as an opportunity to create and aim for new goals.
Where can we see you next?
CBBC in Hotel Trubble from end of September time. Although it is looking probable that I will also be revisiting a role this summer in a popular show for BBCTV, we just haven’t finalised details yet.
We can’t wait to see more of this talented actresses work! JC