George MacKay Interview – Saoirse Ronan, Berlin Film Festival & European Shooting Stars 2014

Every year the Berlin Film Festival not only showcases the greatest filmmakers of our time, but also celebrates new and fresh talent. At this year’s Shooting Stars event, young actors from all around the world gathered to share their current projects, each giving a glimpse of a promising career in the film industry.

From Norway to Sweden, Serbia to Poland, Germany to Italy, many countries were represented. From the UK, 21-year-old actor George MacKay travelled to Berlin to talk about his work and aspirations. “It’s a real honour to be involved in the Shooting Stars. It’s really exciting and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to meet all these other wonderful actors as well as new casting directors. I think it’s a really great concept promoting talent across the countries.” While George has already worked on films with well-known actors such as Clive Owen and Minnie Driver from a young age, he’s ambitious to continue moving forward and make a name for himself in the industry.

George’s next two films are due for release later this year. Bypass, directed by Duane Hopkins, follows a young boy (MacKay) who goes off the rails and co-stars Donald Sumpter (Game Of Thrones). Set in 1984, Pride tells the story of gay rights activists who supported the miners’ strike in Wales. “They bond over a fight and there’s a purpose in their struggle. It’s about how that connects people and brings them together, makes them transcend social barriers,” George tells us. The film also stars Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton.

Recent stage work includes The Cement Garden, a play adapted from Ian McEwan’s novel. It’s a gruesome tale about children trying to live on their own after their parents have died, and shows them hiding their struggle from the world in order to stay together and avoid being separated in foster care. The novel was adapted into a film starring Charlotte Gainsbourg in 1993 and now the dark tale has taken to the stage in London, directed by David Aula. As part of the Vault Festival, the play ends on 8 March. George stars as Jack, the second oldest of the siblings. “He’s the narrator in the sense that he’s retelling the story and explaining what happens to the older version of his younger brother. So it’s kind of complex and kind of mad, but it’s wonderful.”

On whether he prefers film or theatre work, the young actor wasn’t sure: “The main difference is that with a play you’ve got the whole thing ahead, you go from the beginning to the end every time. Which is brilliant, because you really have an understanding of the story and the characters changing as it happens. Therefore with film you can plot it a little bit more. It’s difficult to choose one, I’d have to have more experience before I chose one that I preferred.” In addition, George is well aware that good quality TV series are continuing to become more and more important: “They’re taking over in a way.” And being a regular on one of these shows is definitely something he wouldn’t rule out.

Watch a clip of George MacKay chatting to Flicks And The City about working with well-known actors vs an up-and-coming cast, and how it was working with Saoirse Ronan on How I Live Now: