Taylor James is the cast behind the character, Samson, of the movie of the same title by Pureflix, due to release this February. Taylor is a man who believes in hard work, moral/ethical strength, and the beauty of the arts. He has studied under and worked with the greats in the world of British theatre, and has had an interesting transition into film. Taking the time to talk with TBAP and to share his unique perspective with the world, Taylor opens the door to let us in on his personal journey into the entertainment industry and the principles that drive him as a person. Take a look!
Miranda ~ Hello Taylor! It’s a delight to have you visit TBAP today. Could you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Taylor: I am a man on a mission!!! I work extremely hard day in day out to continually upgrade my mental, physical, and spiritual operating system, in hope to be the best possible version of myself. I constantly glean insight, information, and experience off the leaders and the greats before us, whilst also securing and surrounding myself with modern day pioneers who have challenged the boundaries and perceptions of the norm, in order to make the world a slightly better place. Through Art and the love of Storytelling, I set my ship sailing towards the idea of perfection. The various comments of Art, be it, Music, Poetry, Acting, Directing, Producing, Writing in the mediums of Theatre, TV and Film…I seek to inspire others whilst on my journey and strive to maintain a strict moral and ethical compass throughout. I have spent 15 years in London’s West End working as a theatre actor. It has been the perfect training ground for me, working with classical text through to modern day comedy, with incredible producers, playwrights, directors, and actors. Before transitioning into Film with my latest project, Samson, my last year’s work was with The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, working with Sir Ken himself, Sir Derrick Jacobi, and Dame Judi Dench in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Romeo and Juliet.
Miranda ~ When did you first decide to go into film/entertainment? What events particularly led to your first contract as an actor?
Taylor: I decided to go into entertainment following the suggestion from my mother after I had been struggling with the academic side of my childhood dream to be a Pilot. I had never sought after the entertainment world before. However, as it gave the creative side of my soul a chance to blossom, I realized quickly it was the right path…although many years ahead would now need to be devoted to the art and perfection of Storytelling.
Miranda ~ Samson, the movie, will be out this February. What, about the story, inspired you to accept the role of Samson, the lead character, seeing the bitter-sweet end of the character in the Bible? What was your experience on set like?
Taylor: To this day, I still will openly say my experience on the project of Samson has been the greatest chapter in my life. I have never connected with material so devotedly before, nor with certain personalities. My relationship with the Director, Bruce Macdonald, has been the birth of me as an adult and leader within the entertainment industry. His belief in me allowed the “opening of the tap,” and after many years of my learning and listening from the greats, as I observed in the background, Bruce gave me a canvas in which I could paint my ideas, my stories, my skills, and my talent. To him I shall be eternally grateful.
The connection with Samson, as a character, and his story, is something that dates back to a vision I had many years before. I knew that in order to play iconic roles in my life time, I needed to have a physical, mental, spiritual and emotional strength that would handle and understand them. The preparation for Samson started long before I knew our paths would cross. So, when they did, I was ready. I knew I could bring something to the role that no other person could. It was imperative to me, that I make Samson not just a man of physical strength who could perform the great feats he is so well known, for but also to illustrate a man that people could have empathy with/for, and forge an emotional connection that made him human, vulnerable, and also relatable. That emotional arch—that journey and understanding of why he was reluctant— ultimately allowed me to show this famously flawed hero in a different light. I feel in the film, Bruce, the creative team and myself, show the audience what it is to be trapped by fear, what it is to be reluctant, and what it is to give into your destiny, and in Samson’s case, find redemption and succeed.
Miranda ~ Being British, and working in the American industry, presents a unique platform that produces a diverse range of opportunities. What’s that like? Also, in what way would you say both industries are different?
Taylor: I am grateful for the additional opportunities that come in abundance working overseas. The entrainment industry is such a mecca here in the USA and the wealth of talent, the number of people’s pursuit for the art of storytelling and the possibilities to reach huge audiences is phenomenal. They way in which they are different, is supply and demand. That basis drives a higher work rate…for that, I am grateful.
Miranda ~ Who are the people who’ve inspired you in your work and in life as a whole? How so?
Taylor: Poets, Playwrights, Directors, Actors, Parents, Friends, Agents. In all people around the world, I can find inspiration—the way in which someone sweeps a floor to the way someone fights for equality. The special people are all around us should we choose to open our eyes and look. For reasons my vocabulary of words will never be enough to express my gratitude to those who have inspired or supported me, I shall just say a few instrumental names—My mother, Brother and Best Friends: Max Ehrmann, Kevin Huvane, Michael Grandage, Kenneth Branagh, Bruce Macdonald, Jamie lloyd, Phyllida Lloyd, Judi Crammer, Anne McNulty. I remember each and every moment their kind nature blessed my life…to them and countless others, Thank you.
Miranda ~ Why do you act?
Taylor: To evoke emotions in others. To inspire people, to remind people, to highlight how we are all united by journeys, lessons, messages and experiences.
Miranda ~ What do you believe good storytelling, especially on screen, can do for the world?
Taylor: It can shape, it can challenge, it can redefine limits and possibilities, it can break boundaries, it can create relationships, it can spark imagination, it can birth dreams, it can create nightmares, it can show worlds known to many and show worlds never explored. The screen is limitless, like art should be. It transports us as audiences to places where our soul can be lifted or broken. It is a medium I have only scraped the surface of, yet one I am fascinated by and with.
Miranda ~ What do you hope the people who watch you on Samson will get out of watching the character, and also the movie as a whole?
Taylor: I hope the audiences experiences are unique to each person watching. I hope something within the story, be it an image, a message, a sentence or a sound, strikes a chord within, that evokes an emotion that will stay, resonate, and connect with each individual person. I hope the message of reluctance, redemption and God’s willingness to forgive, leaves a lasting impression. I hope it provokes conversation. I hope it shapes people’s lives.
Miranda ~ What are you most grateful for, right now and generally?
Taylor: I am grateful for my inner strength and the value of hard work. I am grateful for the support of loved ones. I am grateful for art and how it provokes emotion within me and others. I am grateful for my awareness that life is precious and must be fulfilled to its highest. I am grateful for life.
Miranda ~ What advice would you offer an actor who hopes to go international as you have, as opposed to staying local in their country?
Taylor: Read the poem by Charles Bukowski titled “Roll the Dice.” It starts with “If you’re going to try…go all the way.” Surround yourself with things that inspire you, watch things that motivate you, listen to things that remind you of WHY you do what you do, whatever that thing is. If someone hopes or dreams of something, if someone wants or believes in something, throughout every waking and sleeping moment…it will happen. My advice? “Go all the way.”
This is That (The Fun Qs!)
Coffee or Tea? Coffee. Always.
Gym or Outdoor? GYM
Sneakers or Boots? Boots
Running or Walking? If not for injury, running.
Cereal or Fruit? Fruit
Books or Music? BOTH
TV or Magazine? Magazine
Summer or Spring? Spring
Rain or Snow? Snow
Blazer or Leather Jacket? Leather Jacket
Thank you, Taylor, for stopping by today! Pleasure.
About Taylor James
Taylor James’ many film and television credits include BLITZ for Lionsgate; MAMMA MIA for Universal; CHRISTMAS EVE for Unstuck; and JUSTICE LEAGUE for Warner Bros. His television credits include Material Girl and Hotel Babylon for BBC; Sirens and Red Dwarf for Channel 4; and Howard’s Happy Place, for Idris Elba and SKY 1. Now he plays the iconic title role in PURE FLIX’s biblical epic, SAMSON.
Taylor launched his acting career on London’s West End as an original cast member in the U.K. production of the musical Footloose, playing the iconic character of Willard Hewitt. Roles followed in international hits such as Guys and Dolls on stage and Mamma Mia, both on stage and film.
Taylor’s love for storytelling led him to work with classical texts such as The Duchess of Malfi at The Old Vic theatre and modern adaptations of period stories such as Danton’s Death at the National Theatre, PIAF for the Donmar Warehouse and the Broadway hit The Little Dog Laughed.
More recently, Taylor spent a season with the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company performing in both stage and film productions of The Winter’s Tale, starring Dame Judi Dench and Sir Kenneth Branagh; and Romeo and Juliet, in the role of Prince Escalus, with Lily James and Richard Madden.