Hustle star Adam’s bullish Crucible role

Adam James as Tony and Eleanor Matsuura as Isobel in Bull, Crucible Studio Feb 6-23
Adam James as Tony and Eleanor Matsuura as Isobel in Bull, Crucible Studio Feb 6-23
Have your say

WORKING at the Crucible Studio has been a bit of a drama school reunion for Band of Brothers and Hustle actor Adam James.

Sheffield Theatres artistic director Daniel Evans was in the year above him at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and Adam was in the same year as Sheffield actor Dominic West, who has just finished a run as Professor Henry Higgins in the smash hit version of My Fair Lady at the Crucible. He and Dominic are also neighbours in west London.

Adam has happy memories of working in Sheffield before. “Last time I was here was an eternity ago, in Original Sin with Andrew Scott in 2002.

“When I heard Daniel had taken over I was so thrilled. I remember him well in drama school. He was so lovely.”

Adam said he was asked to appear in The Village Bike in the Crucible Studio but was on Broadway in a farce called Don’t Dress for Dinner, appearing with Hollywood actress Jennifer Tilly. He has a green card, which allows him to work in the States, and has also appeared off Broadway in The Pride with Ben Whishaw, who is Q in the James Bond film Skyfall.

Adam said that people recognise him more these days for his roles in Hustle and Extras than the acclaimed World War Two mini series Band of Brothers, shown in 2001.

He said he really enjoyed working on the popular BBC drama series Hustle and was pleased that his character was brought back for the show’s final episode.

He played Ricky Gervais character’s new agent in Extras and said he had an unnerving introduction to the star: “It was the very first day of filming the Christmas special on location in Slough. We were in this business park that was doubling as my office. It happened to be on the flight path of Heathrow and planes kept going over and we had scenes with quite a lot of dialogue so we had to keep stopping.

“Ricky likes to shoot scenes really quickly and his mild irritation grew to full-blown rage by lunchtime. He wanted to be off by 10.

“I was a bit starstruck and took it that he thought I was doing something wrong. I went back to my trailer half expecting him to knock on the door and come and tell me it’s not working out.

“Then there was a knock on the trailer door. It was Ricky, saying ‘can I come in, please?’ We stood there for 20 seconds with him shifting from foot to foot and looking at me. Then he said, ‘I just want to apologise for my behaviour’.

“The rest of the shoot fortunately was great but he slightly over-compensated by apologising too much! It was hilarious.”

Adam is also a big fan of Mike Bartlett, the exciting young playwright who wrote Bull. Adam appeared in his first play, My Child, at the Royal Court Theatre in London and Bartlett wrote a role for him in 13 last year.

He says: “I love his writing. He’s honed and efficient, it’s just so precise and accurate. I think he’s brilliant at such a young age. He’s had seven or eight plays which have been such a complete success and now he’s moving into TV with The Town.”

Adam says that Bull is a play with many layers: the title refers to bullying, bull in the American sense of talking rubbish (to put it politely) and bullfighting. The set will look like a cross between an office and a bull ring and the front two rows of the audience will be standing up, to create an exciting atmosphere.

He said that the audience has to work out who’s the bully in the office setting for the play and who’s being bullied. “The audience don’t know whether it’s a game or whether it’s reality or not. We present the audience with questions – do you recognise this in your workplace? Is bullying happening at all? Is this what we deem acceptable? What’s allowed?’’.

Adam says that the play holds a mirror up to society. He gives the example of talent shows like The X Factor, where hopefuls are told that the judges are just being honest and the tough feedback is for their own good. However, that may also be bullying in the name of audience entertainment. Bull is at the Crucible Studio from next Wednesday (February 6) to February 23.