‘I must have that sort of face’ - Harold Hill actor on his evil roles
18:00 01 June 2014
Some people just have that evil look about them, though it’s not necessarily a bad trait for an actor.
Just ask Chris Taylor, who is currently in rehearsals for this year’s Queen’s Theatre community play, Paper Planes, where he will play a German commandant in charge of a Prisoner of War camp.
The challenging role should come more naturally to 33-year-old Chris than it would for most, as he has a built up something of a reputation for playing villains throughout his long stage career.
“A small part of me likes to be the good guy,” he said. “But 98 per cent is saying ‘give me the villain, I want to destroy lives’!
He has previously played a deadly swordsman and a Havering councillor with a fondness for burning down theatres, but it all started by chance 14 years ago.
After acting in productions in the mid-1990s while studying at Bower Park School in Havering Road, Romford, Chris was visiting the Billet Lane theatre to pick up a brochure in 2000 when he saw lots of people waiting in the foyer.
“At school you couldn’t get me out of drama club if you attached a string to me and tied it to a car,” said the father of one. “I wanted to join a drama school when I left but finances got in the way.
“When I went into Queen’s that day, I asked the box office staff what was going on. They told me it was auditioning and I thought “do I take a chance’? And I did.”
The production, Broadway and Beyond, was part of the millenium festival and celebrated 50 years of musical theatre, including songs from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Godspell and Westside Story.
Following a career-defining show at the London Palladium in 2002, Chris got his first evil role in 2004, in the Queen’s community play.
“The show was called Path of the Brave - I was meant to play a good guy who helped take people to the new world. Someone didn’t turn up to the audition and I stood in as the villain. By the end of the day they offered me the role.
“He was a murderer. I had to stop anyone who got in my way - I killed a small kid. I loved every minute - didn’t shave for a few weeks. It grew on me.”
In 2006 he starred in Off to Oz, about a couple who emigrate to Australia after winning £2m on the lotery.
“I thought there was no way they could have a villain in that story,” he said. “Then I was given the role of a toyboy/ con-man salesman - scaring people into buying motors not fit for the road.”
After a four-year hiatus, the Tesco worker returned to tread the boards in 2010, this time as a “good guy.”
Although he enjoyed the experience, he would return to his role as an evil genius in 2012, in Lighting Up the Lane.
“The story was based on the old Queen’s Theatre burning down because people didn’t want it. I thought I would be the hero - I got given the councillor, the evil man who burned the theatre down. The part of my son was played by Alex Donald who is now a councillor!”
He is now in rehearsals for Paper Planes, which starts its four-day run on July 30.
“In this year’s I get to torcher someone,” said Chris. “I must have that sort of face.”
Tickets can be purchased for Paper Plans at queens-theatre.co.uk/shows/514/paper-planes.