The Truth About Acting interviews new British actor Paul Khanna who has recently become a Death Eater in the upcoming final two part Harry Potter film, The Deathly Hallows.
The Truth About Acting (TTAA) Hi Paul, can you tell us a little bit about how you got cast for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?
Paul Khanna (PK) Absolutely. Sometime last year, I wrote to about 200 British casting directors and agents. And when I say wrote, I mean wrote by hand! Two of them replied, my agent, and Fiona Weir, the lady in charge of casting 5 of the 8 Harry Potter films.
TTAA Wow, talk about getting the right reply! Did you expect or predict any of the responses?
PK Not at all, because in this business, the only thing you can predict, is that nothing can be predicted! I was in shock when I got the call.
TTAA I bet. So did you get cast immediately or did you audition?
PK Cast immediately? You’re joking! I was called into an audition, although audition doesn’t seem the right word. When I got there, I was asked to talk about an acting job or memory of something pleasant, then do the same again, only becoming a bit more sinister. I know it sounds easy, but I was prepared to do a regular audition, you know, read lines! I never realised how something so simple would throw me.
TTAA You must have done well though, you’re in the films!
PK Well actually, I felt I did pretty bad. A few days past, and I thought to myself, “that was the worst audition I ever did!”. And that was it, I decided to take destiny into my own hands, and record my own audition clip. I recorded it in my bedroom with my table lamp, burnt it onto DVD, and took it to Fiona’s office. I was so nervous that I could only bring myself to dropping it through the letter box, rather than take it inside. Afterwards I panicked because I’d only put it in a flimsy envelope.
TTAA A brave move indeed.
PK Maybe, but I felt that I had everything to gain and nothing to lose. Look what happened to Robert Pattinson after Harry Potter! Friends of mine, and even some industry people I knew advised me to not send anything. And that was before they saw what I recorded!
(TTAA Ed: If you haven’t seen the clip, here it is:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EA0OuAxzJM )
TTAA We’ve seen the clip, and it is very intense! How similar was that performance to the original at your first audition?
PK Totally different! As I said, lots of people thought it was crazy. I thought they were crazy in missing the point. Still, I had no idea what it would lead to.
TTAA And how did you find out about getting chosen?
PK Well after auditioning on March the 19th, 2009, I finally got the call from my agent on the 4th of August! That was the toughest 5 months of my life! Sometimes my agent would get a call, asking if I was available, but reminding them I was only on a shortlist at the time. Eventually though, I got it confirmed!
TTAA Must have felt good!
PK It sounds like a cliche, but words can’t describe how I felt. If I had to pick one, it would actually be, relieved.
TTAA Interesting choice?
PK Appropriate choice! It’s getting through the door of a place you’ve been waiting outside for so long, that you were beginning to wonder if anyone lived there!
TTAA Well put! So have you started filming, or met anyone we might know?
PK I start filming on Thursday the 20th for various dates up until around the end of Feb 2010. And yes, I’ve met David Yates, the director.
TTAA What was that like?
PK Simply amazing. I was on my way home from the studio after a costume fitting, when the driver got a call to take me back. It turned out that after someone mentioned to David that I’d been at the studios, and gone home, he had asked to get me back. I was pretty nervous.
TTAA I bet. How was it then?
PK Much easier than I thought, because he (David Yates) is such a warm guy. I was introduced to him, and he shook my hand and said, “I loved your tape, it was brilliant”. I wondered what he meant. When he confirmed that he meant the one I shot in my bedroom, I could hardly believe it. I muttered something about it being over the top. David shook his head and said, “It’s the only reason you’re here.” It really hit home.
TTAA Result! What a great story.
PK Yeah, and I think it’s something everyone can benefit from. The phrase, ‘I never thought it could happen to me’ is often used to talk about something bad happening. I know now that it can describe the opposite.
Paul’s Internet Movie Database profile can be found here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1802200/