Andrew Shim is an 22 year old actor who came over to Nottingham as a youngster with his family from Miami, USA. He spent a year honing his trade at the Nottingham acting hive that is the Central Drama workshop, before he got his first big break, landing the title role in Shane Meadows second film, the Nottingham classic that is A Room For Romeo Brass.
Since then, he’s acted alongside the likes of Robert Carlyle, Kathy Burke and Rhys Ifans in Once Upon A Time in the Midlands and is currently filming the new Meadows Film This Is England, a drama about a skinhead gang based loosely on Shane’s youth. We caught up with Andrew to find out more…
You’re not originally from Nottingham.
No. I’m originally from Miami. I moved over to Nottingham when I was about 6.
Do you have many memories from being out there?
I can remember what our house was like out there and stuff
Tell us about the Central Drama workshop. How did it help you to train to become an actor?
As I’ve got older I seem to enjoy acting more. It if wasn’t for people like Ian Smith, however, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I started in there when I was 14. When I joined the workshop I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be an actor, but my sister was in there and my Grandma wanted me to go in there, so I did. To be honest I was on the verge of leaving and then this audition came up for a new Nottingham-based film with a director called Shane Meadows. I went for audition and got called back again and again and then I got the part.
How did you feel when you knew you were going to play Romeo Brass?
It was a bit of a shock at the time, because I still wasn’t sure if I could act. It was just before my fifteenth birthday and I was looking around at all these other kids and seriously giving it some thought as to whether it was what I wanted to do. Then I got the part and really enjoyed it and came back to the workshop straight after. Because I’d seen a good side of acting I decided that I’d give it a chance…
Did you realise that it would be quite such a big success at the time? Everybody in Notts loves that film…
I didn’t even think about it to be honest. It was only two months after I’d got the part that I got told it was going to be released at the cinema. I thought it was going to be a channel three film or something. I got to go to quite a lot of films festivals on the back of it though like Edinburgh and Toronto.
You’ve struck up a good working relationship with Shane Meadows…
Yeah. After we did Romeo Brass we became good mates and I’d go and visit him on weekends and stuff. I had a part in Dead Mans Shoes, which was quite a big role when we were filming, but it eventually got cut out of the final picture except for being in the crowd at the funeral scene. We also did Once Upon a Time in the Midlands.
That must have been a good experience, working with people like Robert Carlyle, Kathy Burke and Rhys Ifans…
It was a brilliant experience working with them. All three of them are cracking people and I definitely learned a lot from them. When I first heard I knew a bit about them, but not all that much. I’m terrible with names anyway. I’d seen Kathy Burke before and I’d seen Robert Carlyle in The Full Monty, but it was only when I met them that I realised they are actually quite big stars.
What was it like working with Paddy Considine (particularly when he was so raw in his first role)?
Paddy is brilliant! He’s a proper good laugh and a tremendous actor. I’ve met up with him quite a few times and seen him progress into Hollywood and stuff, but he’s just the same guy really and no different to how he was back then.
Tell us about this new film you’re shooting with Mr Meadows?
It’s called This is England. I can’t say all that much, but it’s set in 1980-83 around a skinhead gang. I play one of the members of the gang along with Stephen Graham, who played Tommy in Snatch and Vicky McClure who was my co-star in Romeo Brass (and is now my girlfriend) is also part of the gang as well. Frank Arthur, who played my dad in romeo brass. I can’t rave about the script enough, but I don’t know how much more I can say.
Who are your favourite actors? Is there anyone that has really inspired you?
If I had to choose a Hollywood star, I’d say that I do like Denzel Washington. Everything that he’s done has been outstanding, he makes even crap films good, just by being strong. It’s actors in British films that I really look up to though. I know about the budgets and I know what sort of person it takes to be able to pull a good script off. Before I worked with him, I saw Stephen Graham in Snatch and the scene where he was with the gypsies and started crying was one of the best bits of the film. He’s going to be great in This Is England.
What have you got coming up over the next year?
I’m going to try and get an agent. Even now I haven’t got one. I was young when I did Romeo Brass and I probably haven’t pushed my acting as much as I could do. It’s only now that I’m older that I want to take it a lot more seriously.
I did a cartoon in Canada for a month in Montreol called Fungus The Bogeyman. I got that part through the Central Workshop and did the motion capture and the voice. I did the voice of a character called Grot. I think Martin Clunes is also doing one of the voices.
So what do you do when you’re not acting?
For the past year I’ve worked for an IT software company. They made me redundant in July, which was almost perfect timing for this part to come in. Other than that, I buy and sell sports cars. I’m a bit of an Arthur Daley… you can make a good living out of it. I’ve had about fourteen Suburu’s in my time and I’ve just sold an Evo six, so anything that goes fast.
If you could buy any car tomorrow what would it be?
Lambogini Murphy allarga Roadster. It’s £199,000, which is a bit out of my price range at the moment, but maybe one day if I do alright out of acting. It would have to be in black.
What advice would you give to young actors in Nottingham?
I hate these sort of questions. I’d say don’t take it too seriously and if it’s meant to happen it will. Acting is a horrible career. You can be the biggest thing one year and then for the next few you don’t work at all. I know quite a few people that this has happened to. Just take it in your stride. Most of all enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing then you shouldn’t be there in the first place. Have a laugh, you only live once.
Have you ever starred in anything with your sister Shauna? Have you ever played as brother and sister?
We were in a play called Can You Keep a Secret for the Central Workshop at the Playhouse, but that’s about it, no-ones ever cast us both together.
What are your favourite places in Nottingham?
I’m not a creature of habit, so I go to quite a few different places in town from the Lizard Lounge to Market Bar to Brownes and back again. I just follow my mates around really.
Anything else you want to say to LeftLion readers?
If people ever recognise me out of Romeo Brass and want to come up and chat then I want them to know that I don’t ever get sick of it. It’s not about being big-headed, but it’s hard to believe that you can make something that people really do love that much and I’ll always have time for people who want to come up and say hello.