PopHorror was very lucky to have the opportunity to interview the multi-talented writer/actor/director Neil Jackson. He has been in films such as Alexander, Quantum of Solace, Push, and Nocturnal Animals, and has starred in TV shows such as Blade: The Series, Sleepy Hollow, and Absentia. He has also written and directed several feature length and short films. Most recently he appeared in the new movie A.I. Tales. We got the chance to ask him about his roles so far, his adventures in directing, and what he has coming up next.
PopHorror: How did you first get into acting?
Neil Jackson: After studying Sports Science in university for my undergraduate and Masters degrees, I realized that I wanted to act, and I enrolled in a part time, 2 year acting course called the Armstrong Arts Academy in London, run by the brilliant Michael Armstrong. Upon completion in the course, I toured the UK with a production of Strindberg’s Miss Julie and got to perform the lead role on the West End stage. From there, I got an agent and start working.
PopHorror: That’s amazing! You make it sound almost easy. What was one of your first major roles?
Neil Jackson: My first major role was in Oliver Stone’s film, Alexander. That was such a gift of a role and production to be a part of. It lead me to getting an agent and manager in the US and moving to Los Angeles.
PopHorror: You have had an incredibly diverse career as an actor. What was working on the Sleepy Hollow TV series like?
Neil Jackson: I loved that show. The creators made a very brave choice in taking their main villain, the iconic Headless Horseman, and giving him a head and voice in the guise of Abraham Van Brunt. Then what they did was make that character sympathetic to audiences who instantly became conflicted. They loved to hate the Headless Horseman, but felt sympathy for Abraham. That was an amazing thing as an actor to play.
PopHorror: You also had a lead role in the new Amazon Prime original series, Absentia, which I must admit I’m a huge fan of! What was it like shooting that show?
Neil Jackson: Thank you! That was amazing to film. We shot for 3 months in Bulgaria, and it was a hectic and wonderful experience. We block-shot all ten episodes together like a feature film. That means we would shoot all the scenes in one location across the entire season at one time before moving on to the next location. So on any given day, we would be shooting, say, in the kitchen and doing scenes from episodes 1, 3, 6, 7 and 10. It means we all had to be incredibly prepared and understand the story and our characters more than I have ever needed to before. It was an exhilarating challenge.
PopHorror: That sounds like quite an experience! I just recently watched A.I. Tales, where you play a role in the short film, Seed. What was that like? what are your feelings about the end of the movie?
Neil Jackson: What Nelson Lee brilliantly did with Seed was to tell a very large and complex story in a very small and personal way. Though the overarching message is one about over-population and societal meltdown, while the heart of the story is about a man craving intimacy with his loved ones and facing personal regret. It’s a beautiful story that I am incredibly proud to be a part of.
PopHorror: I think you put that beautifully. It was a very moving film. I noticed that you have several writing credits to your name! What inspired you to start screenwriting?
Neil Jackson: I have been writing since before I started acting. Storytelling has always been a large part of who I am. I have released a couple of albums as a musician, and I have 2 feature scripts of mine produced as well as a few short films. I love the power of stories and the magic of them and, whether it be as an actor, a writer, a director or a musician. I love that process, and am grateful that I get to call storytelling my job.
PopHorror: What was directing like for you?
Neil Jackson: Directing was the next logical step for me. Writing scripts and seeing them come to life under the creative eye of other people has been amazing, but I cannot write without seeing the project myself, so taking my writing to completion through directing has been amazing. My first short film, Off Ramp, won several awards at international film festivals and is now available on Amazon Prime, which I am very excited about. My second short film, Perfect Pair, will be released towards the end of this year after it completes its festival life.
PopHorror: Do you plan on directing more films in the future?
Neil Jackson: Absolutely! I have two feature films of mine in development now with different producers, and I will direct both of them.
PopHorror: What projects do you have coming up in the near future?
Neil Jackson: Welcome To Marwen, an amazing feature film directed by the incomparable Robert Zemeckis, will be in theaters Dec 21st. Getting to work on that film and be directed by Bob was a dream come true. And I am also about to start filming the second season of Absentia.
We at PopHorror are grateful for the chance to chat with the talented Neil Jackson, and we are eager to see what else he has in store in the future. Thank you, Neil, for being gracious enough to take the time to talk to us!