ACTOR Guillermo Uria arrives on Close-up Culture to tell us about his journey and how he went from working in a Mexican fast-food restaurant to starring in his first feature film.
Q: What spurred your decision to leave Spain and move to England?
A: IN 2015, when I was 22 years old, I finished studying media in Spain and I wanted to move to another country in order to leave my comfort zone. One of my best friends was living in Portsmouth so I decided to move there and try to gey a Master’s degree in Film and TV at the University of Portsmouth.
In those years, I acquired experience behind the camera but I already knew acting was my real passion. Although until that moment I wasn’t feeling confident enough to start my acting career as my English wasn’t great at that time.
Then, an old friend from my school in Spain contacted me via Facebook when he saw a photo of me saying that I wanted to start an acting career in London. He said to me: “I want to be an actor as well, let’s go together to London and make it. There is only one life man!” This friend of mine had just finished his studies as an engineer but realised that it wasn’t his real ambition. His name is Oier Sola, and we have been living here together since then.
Q: Can you tell us about those early months of your move to London and trying to acclimatise?
A: THE beginnings here in London weren’t great. Both of us started working in a Mexican restaurant as waiters and not only it was a tough job but also our English wasn’t getting much better as most of the staff were from South America or Spain. It was frustrating because we had to spend many hours working there and we didn’t have enough time nor energy to pursue our goals. Those kind of jobs make you believe that you don’t deserve anything better if you stay there too much time.
When we left that job, we started working as extras on feature films, which was also quite hard but it was there we met other starting actors who helped us by suggesting acting courses and websites. After that, we started doing many different acting courses such as screen acting, improv, sessions on Meisner technique and accent softening.
Q: Do you have any fun stories from this period?
A: YES, that’s the best part of being an actor – everyday is a new fun story.
I remember our first acting class here in London. It was a mess. We saw an offer on an acting website that there were giving improvisation classes for free. When we went there the teacher was like 80 years old and he was a bit set in his ways as well. He used to say: “These Spaniards only know how to play football.” He always mad at us because he couldn’t understand our English. I remember once he came to me and said really close to my ear: “Repeat; she sells sea shells by the sea shore.” I repeated it pronouncing the sound /s/ and /sh/ exactly in the same way and he started yelling like he wanted to kill me or something.
Another funny thing happened to me in one of my first projects. When I auditioned for it, I did really badly but somehow still got the part. So I wasn’t expecting a very professional production. And I was right, it was a nightmare! The main actress was also the producer and the cameraman was her husband. In the short film I had to kiss her in about four different scenes and in every take we shoot she kept saying that it wasn’t good enough, that I had to kiss her with “more passion”. After the last one we did, she said we had to repeat it again and her husband said angrily: “I think that one was passionate enough.” Now I laugh about that but in that moment it wasn’t comfortable at all.
Q: Was there a specific moment or moments when you could see things starting to come together for you?
A: YES, I think one turning point was when I was in an acting group with really talented people. Practising challenging scenes with actors that have been developing their craft for many years and showcasing them in front of many people was really scary at the moment, but it was there where I started to take it really seriously. Since then, I have invested much more time in every role and audition I get. The results are noticeable not only in the quality of the acting, but also in the amount of offers I now receive.
Q: What motivated you through this time? Did you have any influential or inspiring figures?
A: YES, of course. You always need to have motivation from wherever you can find it. I normally watch interviews with my favourite actors such as Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, Daniel Day-Lewis and many others. I also obtain my motivation from athletes, skateboarders, boxers and many people that I meet in my daily life. It is crazy how every person can inspire you even if they don’t realise it.
Q: What do you love about acting and what type of roles excite you?
A: I like the freedom of it. When you are acting, you normally have to do things that in real life you tend to avoid, or things that are not well accepted by society. The roles that attract me the most are the ones that are a real challenge because you have to build everything from scratch and immerse yourself fully in it in order to create something interesting and truthful. Roles involving mental or physical disabilities or those in which you have to create a specific ability in a certain area of study or sport, for example.
Q: Can you talk about your favourite acting role you’ve had so far?
A: THERE was a really interesting one set in a fictional future. I played a person who hires his body to disabled or elderly people so that they can use it to do things that they wouldn’t be able to do because of their age or disability. I had to do a really emotional scene with a phenomenal actor, who was about 60 years old, and it was a great experience.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
A: NOW I am in the process of various auditions for different projects and castings for commercials.
My first feature film will be released in October. We shot in Athens a couple of months ago and I play a Russian guy who falls in love with the lead actress. Also, a couple of short films I have done are going to be released soon, including the futuristic one I mentioned before.
Q: What do you hope the future holds for you?
A: I hope to keep learning everyday so that I can be prepared for any big opportunity that arises. I believe in dedication and patience. Knowing that about two years ago I wasn’t even able to say a line confidently, I am really impressed of everything I have achieved so far.
I visualise myself working with my friend Oier in a future, both of us with plenty of acting experience to create an acting school in Bilbao, the place where we used to live in Spain. When I was deciding what degree I was going to study I chose media because there wasn’t any acting degree at the University. That’s why I would like to create a school of acting in Bilbao, in order to encourage young people to study drama and give this subject the importance that it deserves.