Share Button

Written by Jessica Jabroux. All photos by Anja King taken at the Dorset Square Hotel in London for Style Quotidien. Jacket by Marc-Antoine Barrois.

Edward Akrout arrives for our photo shoot in the impeccably decorated drawing room of London’s Dorset Square Hotel. The dashing six foot tall actor is quiet and polite, with a charming British accent and wildly unkempt hair. Akrout, who just turned 31 in September, has been busy making a name for himself with roles in high profile projects like The Borgias, The Hollow Crown and the recently released Hollywood Western Dead in Tombstone. He also had a memorable role as a gay fashion assistant alongside Mandy Moore in Swinging with the Finkels. Although he lives in London, Edward was born and raised in France. Before he started his burgeoning career as an actor in film, television and the theater, he studied acting at the Cours Florent in Paris. He then moved to London to study at the prestigious acting school LAMDA, and has remained in Britain ever since.

 Edward’s love of acting came at a very young age when his parents would take him to the theater. “It was amazing because I could see the actors alive in front of me. I remember when the actors left after the show was over, I really wanted to go up on stage and touch all of the props,” he recalls with a laugh. Growing up in the French countryside in a house with a large garden allowed Akrout to enrich his imagination through playacting. “I had a very vivid imagination. I was playing soldiers with my uncle and digging trenches in the garden,” he recalls. “Most of the time I was living in a world of my own creation. I was playing on my own a lot and I really enjoyed it. I was also very marked by the film Braveheart, and my friend Richard had horses, so we would reenact the fight scenes using his horses and wooden swords,” he reminisces. Akrout spent his childhood summers in western Ireland where the wild and untouched landscape allowed his imagination to run free. “Part of my mom’s family is Irish, and when I was a child they lived in a very wild part of Ireland,” he says. “It was a great place for a kid. You could go to the beach and find wild horses, cows and dolphins. There were no rules, no barriers,” he recalls.

When he turned 18, Edward traveled to South America and spent time discovering Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Brazil and Argentina. Thanks to his travels, he now speaks fluent Spanish. Edward finds that these wayfaring experiences have helped him to develop foreign accents for his characters. “You can’t have a convincing accent without understanding the culture,” he explains, “because an accent is part of the way that people express themselves.” Akrout also spent time in Romania, where he became fluent in Romanian and fell in love with the Romanian theater. “The actors there are amazing,” he says. “They lived 50-60 years under Communism, and the censorship really limited their expression. So to bypass the censorship they based the theatrical culture on actions instead of words. It makes them very playful and very connected to their bodies. They have a real joy in their work, because their work meant freedom for a long time,” he explains. “It’s very inspiring.”

Actor Edward Akrout photographed by Anja King at the Dorset Square Hotel in London

Actor Edward Akrout photographed by Anja King at the Dorset Square Hotel in London

I ask him if his experience with the Romanian theater influences how he prepares for his roles. “It all depends,” he replies. “My preparation is not didactic or rigid. Preparation is more about understanding what the character wants, how he is going to achieve it, the background story, what sort of childhood he had. But I tend to discover it instead of deciding on it, by reading the script a lot,” he reveals. “Sometimes you’re so inspired by a part,” he continues “that when you read the script for the first time the character just jumps off the page. Other times it’s a bit more difficult. But when you arrive on set, you are no longer working. Being on set is the reward, because all of the work is done before you arrive. You prepare to such an extent that you are prepared for any eventualities. You have to be very relaxed when you’re on set,” he says.

I ask him if it’s the same process when preparing for a role in the theater. “Well,” he answers, “theater is an actor’s gig, so you’re in charge of everything as an actor. A lot of the show is discovered there and then with the audience. Although everything is prepared and set ahead of time, you’re in charge of the rhythm of the story. You’re in charge of the storytelling on many different levels,” he explains. “Whereas in film, it is very much the director’s gig. The director and the editor decide how the story is going to be told. So you care more about the story of your character. And you have to have a great relationship with the director,” he adds.

The conversation turns to how he selects his roles. “It depends on whether I like the script,” he says simply. “I think more about the story than the character. But I do like to portray characters that are going to challenge me, and that are different from what I’ve already done. I want to challenge myself, but it only works if I’m moved by the story,” he says. Then he adds, “It is also strange how often the scripts can reflect what you are going through in your life.” I ask him if there is any residual connection between himself and his characters when he leaves the set each day. “Maybe more than I realize,” he admits. “It’s usually the people close to you that point out how you might changed ever so slightly,” he explains. “But it’s true that the character stays with you during filming, because you carry on thinking about the role. I played a home invader in Love.Honor.Obey and there were moments when I became tired and grossed out by the thoughts I had in my head,” he confesses. As far as watching his performances on screen, Akrout feels that it is a necessary part of the job. “I think it’s very important to watch yourself, as difficult as it is, because you can learn quite a lot,” he admits. “When I’m watching, I think about things that work and things that don’t work.”

Surprisingly, despite his Gallic roots the dashing Frenchman has yet to have taken on a project in French cinema. “I was very excited about the projects that I was doing in England. I’m very lucky that I can be considered as an English actor, and I have worked very hard to have an English accent. But I recently got an agent in Paris, and I am now thinking about working more in France,” he reveals. “It’s wonderful, because I am in a great position where I can have the best of both worlds, really. And French films are absolutely amazing. The French produce so many good films and they have a very different style and approach. For the rest of my career I would definitely like to live in both worlds artistically.”

Not unlike his early years, today Akrout leads a rather nomadic lifestyle. He travels frequently for his work to places such as Ukraine, Romania, Portugal, and Hungary. I ask him what he does during his precious little free time. “I try to see my family more,” he says, “and my friends.” I learn that he tutors and mentors underprivileged children as a way to give back. The company, called Equilibrium, also subsidizes educational fees for students who cannot afford them. “I’ve been helped a lot in my life and guided by many mentors,” he explains. Does he have other artistic pursuits besides acting? “I’m working on a script right now with another writer. Sometimes I paint. Other times I enjoy simple things, like dinner with a friend or spending time in nature,” he shares.

This year continues to be a busy one for Edward. After palying a sadistic home invader in the film Love.Honor.Obey, which was released this past September, he will next travel to Ukraine to portray a surreal artist during the days of Stalin’s invasion in The Devil’s Harvest. From there he will go to Serbia where he will play a villainous Norman Prince in 11th century England in the film Sword of Vengeance. And 2014 starts off with a bang for this enigmatic actor. In January he will begin filming the drama Thieves in the Night. Shot in Cornwall, Edward will play a distraught man who has recently lost his wife.