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Joe Newton - Born to entertain

PUBLISHED: 19:37 11 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:53 20 February 2013

Sir Michael Caine presenting Joe with the best actor award in the junior category

Sir Michael Caine presenting Joe with the best actor award in the junior category

Having won the best young actor award at the Leatherhead Drama Festival for the second year in succession, it can't be too long before Joe Newton's dreams of the stage and screen become a reality. Matthew Williams spoke to the talented 16-year-old...

Pictures by Andy Newbold

Did you find it intimidating to perform in front of Sir Michael Caine at the final of the Leatherhead Drama Festival?
Both times before performing in front of Sir Michael Caine, I was incredibly nervous. But as soon as the performance began, I found that it didn't matter who was in the audience. I just treated them as I would any other audience and performed to the best of my ability.

Did you get to have a chat with him, and did he give you any advice?
Fortunately, while I was receiving my awards I was able to speak to him very briefly, but was so nervous that all I could really say was, "Thank you very much!" I didn't receive any advice directly from him, but a few weeks after the performance, his office sent me a video in which he discusses acting in film for which I was extremely grateful.

You've won the best young actor award two years in a row now. Where do you see yourself in the future, Hollywood or the West End maybe?
One place where I can - without question - not imagine myself, is in a musical in the West End or anywhere else got that matter (if you have ever heard me sing or seen me attempt to dance, you would understand). In any other sort of play, then yes, but ideally, I would like to become a screen actor and act in films and television. I've only had the opportunity to do stage acting so far.

Have you won any other awards before?
No (do swimming badges count?)

As well as your own personal achievements at the festival, your school, Therfield in Leatherhead, has won the junior section two years in a row - what is the secret to their success?
Hard work and perseverance from everybody involved is the key to Therfield's success, and of course the production and direction skills of Mrs Hudson, Therfield's head of drama. To get our performances to the standard fit for a festival, we have to put in a huge amount of work. Graham began in our GCSE drama classes and we spent two months rehearsing a play similar to the final product. Then actors from other GCSE classes joined us and the new company rehearsed after school and on three Sundays. We have now been invited to the British All Winners' Festival in Wales and are hoping to do well there. As for winning next year, we will all be doing our best again.

Have you always wanted to act and what, or who, inspired you onto the stage?
Yes, I have always wanted to act and the real reason that I started to act was my desire to entertain people.

What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a play?
As the witch in Hansel and Gretel, I was always lethal with my walking stick, as many of the cast members know, and on numerous occasions I had to thrash the ground with my weapon. During our first performance of Grimm Tales at last year's Leatherhead Festival, I was so engrossed in my role that at one point when I struck the floor with the stick there was an ear-splitting crack. The stick snapped almost in two. Fortunately for me, I was about to die anyway, so there was no worry about it collapsing underneath me as I leant on it.

Do you enjoy studying as much as performing?
I would say that I am very studious and find studying to be almost as important as acting. I would not consider myself to be the class clown, but I can't refrain from making the odd humorous comment or two.

Besides acting what other hobbies do you get pleasure from in your spare time?
I enjoy playing the guitar and composing music. I also make stop-motion animation films using a webcam and do all of the voices for the characters and compose some of the music myself.

Where do you live, and what are your favourite things about the area?
I live in Epsom and my favourite thing about the area is the cinema. Also, it is handy for getting up to London to see plays and concerts.

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