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‘Life would be a misery were it not for the arts’: Ex Eastenders actor James Alexandrou on directing his first feature film

PUBLISHED: 08:35 15 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:35 15 June 2017

James Alexandrou. Photo; Emma Bartholomew

James Alexandrou. Photo; Emma Bartholomew

Emma Bartholomew

Emma Bartholomew meets ex-EastEnders actor James Alexandrou to find out why he’s so passionate about the feature film he made on a budget in 12 days, which stars his fiancee and makes its premiere at Rich Mix tomorrow night.

James Alexandrou. Photo; Emma Bartholomew James Alexandrou. Photo; Emma Bartholomew

James Alexandrou was keen to meet up face to face rather than speak on the phone about his first ever feature film, which premieres at the East End Film Festival tomorrow (Fri).

The 32-year-old actor-turned-director, who spent a decade of his youth playing Martin Fowler in EastEnders, realised as he was waiting for me in Shoreditch Grind he’d come full circle, having written most of the script in there.

By his own admission, at that time he would have been “feeling kind of scared and depressed, probably”.

Called The Show, it’s about a famous soap opera actress – played by his fiancée Celine Abrahams – who decides to tread the boards in search of artistic fulfilment.

James, who lives in Shoreditch, wrote it as a result of his own experience deciding he wanted to leave EastEnders 10 years ago.

He has fuzzy recollection of how he was written out of the script, but says it was “probably a Friday night dramatic scene”.

“I think me and Sonia left in a cab with our baby having reconciled. You either leave in a black cab or a coffin.

“The root of the film was knowing kind of what I wanted to do, but also not knowing what I wanted to do. Part of me was obsessed with work and trying to prove myself in that ‘angry young man’ kind of way, and the other side was a bit lazy and wanting to put on the costumes and flounce around on stage and get applause.

“Those two sides of me became the main characters in the film and it was a way for me to work out some s*** in my psyche I suppose.”

But the death of two people he loved made him reevaluate his life, and made him disheartened about acting. It felt “ridiculous” to “put on costumes and run around stage and do silly voices”.

“But I realised that’s only one way to look at it. If you can do it authentically you can lend meaning to anything you do. I learned that theatre and film and all that is essential to everyone.

“Without the arts what are we doing? What a miserable life that would be.”

The film premieres at Rich Mix at 6.30pm.

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