WORDS BY PHIL LIMPRASERTWONG
SEAN TEALE has come a long way since his earlier acting days on the award winning series, SKINS, to now playing one of the leading men on THE GIFTED. In this exclusive interview, the actor opens up about acting, his inspirations and what his ideal dream project would be.
Get to know more about the British actor and find out what we can expect to see in Season 2 of The Gifted!
Who is Sean in a nutshell?
How do you describe yourself without completely ridiculing yourself...? I’m one of the more anglicized Venezuelans you’ll meet - I’m of Hispanic descent but very much born and bred in London. I like to be around people more than anything. Obsessed with sports, travel and the general art of storytelling (in all mediums) although often unsure if I’m capable of it myself. New people, places and experiences are incredibly important – I’m basically begging I don’t end up stuck behind a desk. For my sake and those nearby. Could maybe, potentially, occasionally (realistically) be labelled as energetic, loud, goofy. Ultimately, I just want to help people, enjoy life, be happy and make a positive difference before I go.
What’s your most memorable audition story?
I’ve fortunately not had too many horror shows but my most recent audition process was a bit of a weird one. I was in an odd place having just lost the series I was obsessively working on until a few days before. So going in for The Gifted I was in a more honest (and unemployed) place than before – I didn’t want to do things wrong or waste people’s time and the character didn’t entirely make sense to me. What was being looked for and what was being shown to me didn’t match up. In the final screen test in front of Lauren Shuler Donner, Matt Nix etc I had to voice that. But it came out a little more honest than I thought. Telling my potential bosses that I didn’t know what to do with him as a character and (this slipped out after) that I didn’t think they did either was more honest than I’d intended. Fortunately, it worked - there were in fact some things that didn’t add up, and I played 6/7/8 different versions of this man until we found him in the room. It was scary but liberating. And fun.
For you, what do you think is an actor’s role in the current status quo of the world?
People always talk about whether actors should be political, should be allowed to voice their beliefs on current affairs or just ‘keep their mouths shut and do their job’. But people should have the right to do those things regardless of the industry they’re in or the supposed size of audience their voice has. I think first and foremost actors are there to tell stories. Whether it’s to entertain or enlighten. We can’t forget as performers that we’re in an entertainment business that’s there to make people feel, be it highs or lows. But as a human, we’re also in an amazing position to tell stories of importance. The onus is on all creators, from writers to runners and actors in between, to help tell stories that people can relate to, that represent the misrepresented, that provide other sides to coins that sometimes aren’t shown. Honest stories of humanity can help lengthen short-sightedness, widen narrow-mindedness and in general bring people together more.Whether they address racism, bigotry or persecution of anykind or a plethora of other current issues, we have a chance to shine lights on them, and hopefully show people a good time while doing it.
What is the best part about playing Marcos Diaz in “The Gifted”?
Best part is that he’s a real feeler. As a performer I just want to feel things, and as a character he feels things strongly. He’s not a happy person but being able to often show exactly how he feels and wear it is really fun. It’s a different challenge to playing someone a bit more subdued.
Can you give us a glimpse of what fans can expect from him this season?
Marcos is in for a long and painful ride, but the sad truth is that that’s not a change from his life previously. As the world crumbles around him, his search for Lorna and his baby only makes him more erratic. Not only is he fighting the pain of the mother of his child choosing to leave with his baby, but the bad guys are setting the world on fire and he’s having to put those fires out. It’s a tough existence and he’s only growing more tired of it. It’s just a matter of if, (and if so) when and how he’ll break.
How was it working on Skins? Does your character Nick still haunt you up to this day?
Skins was an absolutely ridiculous experience – in the best way. It didn’t really make total sense then and I still don’t think it does now. I remember Jack O’Connell warning me before we started that there’d never be a job like it – on or off set. He wasn’t wrong. It was hard, fun, wild and scary all at the same time. As for Nick – he’ll always haunt me. More so now that you’ve asked. Also wait a minute.. what? How bad was Nick that you’re asking?!
If you’re going to host a dinner party, who are the top 3 people that you would most like to invite and why?
It’s upsetting to have to choose only 3! This answer probably changes in my mind often, but I’ll go with those that come to mind currently. Elon Musk would admittedly be kind of fascinating to dine with. Hopefully he wouldn’t spend too long tweeting - so we could tap into the ideas and innovations he’s impressively constructed and hear what he’s conjured up for our future. Sir Don McCullin the photojournalist would be another – he’d have some incredible stories to tell. I’ve always been captivated by war journalism and especially his work. The idea of finding yourself in such volatile, dangerous environments purely to shine a light on what is happening there and tell these stories is enthralling– no one has been in more of those situations or done it better than McCullin. I’d like to have an actor in this – and I’d say Emma Thompson. Not only an absolutely incredible performer in multiple ways - I just listened to a podcast she appeared on and seemed to be the loveliest, funniest humans ever. I feel like everyone on earth agrees. There’s my three although so many folks get honourable mentions.
Where do you draw your inspirations from?
Mainly from loved ones, friends and family – starting with my mother. There are too many inspirational people doing things of real importance in the world to mention and I take a great amount from them, but I guess those intimately close to me inspire me the most. Love does that, I guess.
What’s your dream project?
I don’t know many boys that grew up not wanting to be James Bond - as unrealistic as that ‘dream’ may be. Two books I love have recently been adapted – The Sisters Brother’s and World War Z. If I could make my own version of those films, I’d be a very happy bunny. A zombie movie and a western – what’s not to like?
How do you balance your time from your busy schedule?
Shooting and work schedules change a lot, so you often have to keep plans loose. It’s not the easiest but I’ll always find time to socialize, satisfy any artistic cravings or exercise. Atlanta has a lot to offer outdoors so I’ve searched that out a lot lately.
Any advice you can give to any aspiring young actors out there?
I don’t know why anyone is hypothetically seeking my advice but if they were to, I’d mention a few things that I find helped me – acting is obviously important to us. It requires drive and focus and care but if it’s not going as well as you’d hoped don’t let that consume you. It’s important to be hard on yourself to a degree, but don’t beat yourself up too much because I found there’s a law of diminishing returns to that and it becomes damaging and counterproductive. Something that’s always helped when working was not always thinking you know best. It’s of course important to have some self-confidence and belief but being open to advice and ideas and being willing to learn from other people and situations can only help you grow whether you agree with them or not. Closing yourself off to that is just stupid. And obviously, just try to be a good person regardless. It really shouldn’t be difficult and it goes a long way, in this industry and every other.
If you’re a book, what type of book are you and why?
This is a tricky question, but I’d say an Atlas. Few things give me more pleasure than travelling – and living – all over. I’m a bit of a sponge when it comes to new cultures and their living habits. The person I am is the sum of all these places I’ve been and the people I love that live there. Which makes me a pretty weird person, by the way. I’m in Georgia currently and becoming more southern by the day.
If you had the opportunity to help a specific charity, what would it be and why?
This is also hard because we’re facing a lot of different crises. Looking past environmental, animal welfare or legal based charities - Doctors without Borders I’d like to help. They’re all over the world trying to aid to people whose lives are at risk from all sorts of reasons from hurricanes to civil wars – those less fortunate than us. If I could help them, to help people in urgent need of aid and at the same time get to travel? I’d snap your hand off shaking on it.
See Sean as Marcos Diaz aka Eclipse in The Gifted only on FOX!