Acting wasn’t Sheffield Crucible actor’s first goal

Jake Fairbrother in Twelfth Night at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
Jake Fairbrother in Twelfth Night at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
Share this article
Have your say

Actor Jake Fairbrother is appearing in Twelfth Night at the Crucible but as a youngster he had a different goal – to be a professional footballer.

Both his parents, Victoria Fairbrother and Rising Damp and Death in Paradise star Don Warrington, are actors, so he grew up around the theatre.

He said: “I was desperate to try and find my own path in life. It felt like everyone’s parents did theatre. To me it was normal to see them on TV or stage.

“My biggest passion, more than acting, was football and I wanted to be a professional footballer.

“I played for England Schools but more and more I realised there were other things I wanted to do, so that passion became slightly diluted. You have to be single-minded.”

As a youngster he played for teams in Tottenham and Fulham and had club trials for Wrexham.

When he hadn’t signed up for a club by the age of 18 Jake decided to go to Loughborough University to study management sciences and business studies.

He also played semi-professional football at the time for Ilkeston Town, which helped to pay his way through university.

Jake said: “I realised I wanted to experience life a bit and didn’t want to put all my eggs in one basket.”

So after leaving university he worked in property and sales for a while before realising he was being drawn back to the theatre.

Jake won a place at the Guildhall School of Drama in London when he was 26.

After drama school, Jake’s first job was with the theatre company Cheek by Jowl, where he was in Macbeth on a tour of eight countries. He understudied the lead role but never got to perform it.

He admitted: “I’d love to play Macbeth. It’s one of my favourite Shakespeare plays.”

Then he landed the role of Fortinbras in Hamlet at the National Theatre in London under acclaimed director Nicholas Hytner. Another actor’s child, Roy Kinnear’s son Rory Kinnear, took the title role.

Jake has also performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company, so he has had a lot of experience of the Bard in a short career.

He said: “Shakespeare plays are timeless. It’s important to retell those stories.

“I guess the challenge is to try to make them original, slightly different and fresh in that way.”

Director Jonathan Munby’s fresh touch was to set the play just after World War One.

Jake said: “We’re trying to create that world of what it would have been like to return after a war and how fragmented life would have become.”

He plays Duke Orsino, a powerful nobleman who gets caught up in a crazy rollercoaster ride of love and mistaken identities that begin when twins Viola and Sebastian find themselves shipwrecked in Illyria, where the duke lives.

Jake said: “Orsino is someone who has a military background and is used to ordered life who becomes romantic, sensual and lovesick.”

In the comedy neither twin knows the other has survived and Viola disguises herself as a boy, Cesario, and goes to work for Orsino.

Cesario has to plead his boss’s love for the countess Olivia, who is in mourning and has sworn off men. To complicate matters, Viola is falling in love with the count herself.

Then Olivia falls for Cesario and mistakes Sebastian for him when he turns up in town.

Of course, love will conquer all, but not before everyone has been caught up in a web of confusion.

Twelfth Night is at the Crucible until October 18. Tickets: from the theatre box office, online at or by calling 0114 2496000.