Close-up: An Interview With Josh Cruddas

Josh Cruddas plays one of the assassins on the hunt to kill Mads Mikkelsen’s Duncan Vizla in the Netflix thriller Polar.

Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge caught up with Josh to chat about Polar, working with Mads Mikkelsen, composing music for films, and much more.

Q: We love ‘Polar’, tell us what it was like working on the project.

A: Thanks for watching! I had an absolute blast (literally) working on this amusement park of a movie. There were a lot of long days and nights in the cold (par for the course for a movie called Polar) but I was pinching myself every second of it and it’s not lost on me that however long I worked, our incredible crew was working harder and for longer!

Q: You play Alexei, a member of the A-Team tasked with finding and killing Duncan Vizla (Mads Mikkelsen). How much fun did you have been part of this team of assassins?

A: So much fun! All of us have remained close since filming and I’m very fortunate that the creative team cast such amazing actors and people as the A-Team. We had a great time and bonded very quickly.

Q: I recently got to speak to María Thelma Smáradóttir about working closely with Mads on ‘Arctic’. What was it like seeing this great actor in action?

A: Oh cool! I got to meet Joe (Penna, director of Arctic) at our premiere and we had a laugh about Mads releasing two winter-themed, one-named movies within a week of each other!

Mads is fantastic. He’s one of the most chill, grounded and unpretentious actors I’ve ever met, and there’s a reason why everyone loves him! He also has this incredible magnetism onscreen that he achieves by doing almost nothing, which as an actor is amazing to witness.

Q: I hear you had a lot of fun during the shoot with karaoke and pool. Can you share any other fun stories?

A: Well, one night while the cast was hanging out, I offered to drive Robert (Maillet, who played Karl) to the next destination. I forgot, of course, that my car at the time was a Volkswagen, and he’s a former WWE wrestler (known as Kurrgan) and a wee bit taller than I am.

Needless to say, we drove most of the way with the top of Robert’s head poking out of the sunroof. In the middle of winter. We (or at least I) were laughing pretty hard. Thankfully it wasn’t snowing.

Q: Director Jonas Åkerlund has an interesting background working on music videos, including Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ and Lady Gaga’s ‘Paparazzi’. How does he operate as a director?

A: Those videos are one of the reasons I was most excited to work on this film with Jonas.

He brought such a distinct and confident visual style to the film, as well as a half-the-time very cheeky and half-the-time over-the-top sense of humour. He’s a very experienced and laid-back guy too, which helped put my anxious mind at ease whenever I was convinced I was the worst actor on planet earth.

Q: It was interesting to learn about your work as a music composer for film. How does composing stimulate you creatively compared to acting?

A: I think they use similar parts of my brain and my soul! They both serve to tell a story and to use emotion and our common humanity. They both are stressful in their own ways, as, in acting, you’re often judged on who you are and how you look, and with composing, a lot of the scrutiny is instead on your work.

josh cruddas
Josh Cruddas working on ‘10000 Miles’ – Photo by Andrew Coll

Q: Can you tell us about working on the Taiwanese film ‘10000 Miles’? How did that opportunity first arise?

A: 10000 Miles is something I’m really proud of. It is a giant sports drama/love story with big themes and a big heart.

I’d worked with its director, a lovely and talented man named Simon Hung, since he was in his last year of film school and I was just starting out. My friend Sarah Ann Chisholm gave me my first job writing music for media, and he gave me my first movie assignment years later, for Lionsgate’s Battle For Skyark. 10000 Miles was a couple of years later and it was a whirlwind experience. We ended up doing three different versions/edits of the film for 3 different territories, so that meant a lot of gymnastics close to a lot of big deadlines.

But I’m so proud of how the movie turned out (I cried the first time I saw it completed, as well as often when I was writing the music!) and how the music ended up too. I was somehow honoured with the best score by a Canadian under 35 by the SOCAN Foundation for that score too, so that was a huge honour. Simon and I are hopefully working together again real soon.

Q: You have an impressive track record of taking on productions with impactful messages and helping out with charitable causes in your free time. What do you love about using your profession to give back to young people?

A: That’s very kind of you to say. One of the reasons I started acting was to use theatre to try to do something meaningful.

I’ve been very lucky to work with a company called Sheatre which does just that, and I teach acting and singing to kids up here in Canada which I consider to be just as rewarding and important as any of the other work I do. Especially when I walk into the room to begin a class and am immediately asked by a 9-year-old if I’ve considered using a nose mask because it would help a LOT with all my pores. They keep my feet on the ground.

But seriously, I remember how much performing impacted my life for the better as a child and teen, and the people who inspired me. If I can bring even a fraction of that joy to the young folks I teach, I’m happy. I also grew up in a family where doing things for others was built-in to our DNA. My sisters and parents the most incredibly selfless people I know, and so anything I do is just following in their footsteps.

Q: Can you tell us about any other upcoming project you have?

A: I’ve got a few things on the docket, but sadly can’t say much about them or I’ll never work again! I was very lucky to take on an iconic literary character earlier in the year and I’m about to work with one of my favourite actors from Game Of Thrones in another project.

I’m also gonna be playing a vampire in a film for a very talented Canadian named Glen Matthews in the summer. That role will take advantage of my snowglobe complexion and off-season-beach hairline!

Q: What do you hope 2019 holds for you?

A: Happiness and health for everyone. For the world, hopefully, 2019 and beyond holds some sanity in politics and policy, and we put smart and compassionate people in charge via our upcoming elections. The world is warming and social media is convincing racists and mens-rights-activists (casual and otherwise) that their xenophobic and fearful falsehoods are relevant again, so we all have a lot of work to do.

Instead of following me on social media, feel free to check out marchforourlives.com, womensmarch.com, and open your eyes and ears to the Indigenous peoples and cultures in your area.

Title photo by Tina Picard

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