Q&A: Nicholas Burns

Nicholas Burns is still probably best known as Nathan Barley the ‘self-facilitating media node’ in the Chris Morris/Charlie Brooker-penned Channel 4 series of the same name.

He has also appeared in ITV’s Benidorm, has guested on the Mighty Boosh show and The IT Crowd and can currently be seen in ITV2’s new super hero themed sitcom No Heroics as The Hotness.
His previous stage work includes The Madness of George Dubya and he has just taken over the role of Tom in Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig where he stars opposite Kevin Bishop, Ella Smith, and, from October 13th, Kelly Brook.

Were you familiar with Neil La Bute’s plays before taking this role?

Yes, I had read his play Bash before and was familiar with his film work, particularly In The Company of Men and Nurse Betty.

Are you apprehensive about stepping into a role that’s already been played by Robert Webb (who, of course, is Peep Show‘s Jeremy and one half of Mitchell and Webb)?

I tried not to let that faze me. One has to approach each role from a completely fresh perspective and bring one’s own interpretation to it. It doesn’t matter who has played it in the past before.

Does working on stage present different challenges to working on screen? Which do you prefer?

They are different in terms of technique but the character work and research required remains the same whichever medium you are working in. I love doing both in entirely different ways.

Nathan Barley is a fairly iconic character. Did you enjoy playing him and are there plans for any future episodes of the show?

I loved playing Nathan, being given the licence to play such a colossal prat was brilliant fun and the cast and entire team were amazing to work with. I doubt there will be any future episodes, but who knows? I’d love to play him going through a mid-life crisis!

Do you see yourself as primarily a comic actor? Would you like to sink your teeth into a dramatic role if the right one came along?

I am an actor and I enjoy doing any role comic or dramatic. As long as the part is fun, challenging and exciting, I’m up for it.

And what next? Any future plans you’d like to share with us?

Fat Pig for the next few months then it’s off to Spain to start Benidorm, series three, which takes me through to the middle of next year. Thereafter, who knows!

Fat Pig is at the Comedy Theatre, London, until 22 November 2008

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