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Interview: Tom Brooke on Working with Olivia Colman and Sam Mendes in ‘Empire of Light’

Oscar winner Sam Mendes returns with his latest film, Empire of Light, an ode to an age of cinema where going to the movies was a transporting experience, with the potential to be just as powerful and memorable as the movie shown on screen. Among the film’s cast is Tom Brooke, who portrays Neil, a kindhearted and committee employee of the Empire cinema.

Awards Radar had the chance to speak Brooke about the chance to be a part of this film, and about what he remembers about going to the movies as a kid:

“My earliest memories are watching movies on a tiny telly in my parents’ house that we’d recorded from the telly on Betamax. Do you remember Betamax? Pre-VHS. I remember we had Star Wars on Betamax and I was just glued to the screen. It’s always great to go to the movies, and there were certainly some that were big movies for me. Dad took me to see Batman, the first Batman. That was huge.”

He also discussed the chance to work with Colman – again:

“Well, I had climbed into her bedroom on The Crown, so we were acquainted already. It’s tricky, you catch yourself watching her in a scene where you’re supposed to be acting, do you know what I mean? You’re like, bloody hell, that’s good. And then you go, oh, it’s me? Oh shit. That kind of thing. She really takes your breath away. There was a really nice moment as well when I was having a really tough day, and sometimes you just have them, don’t you? Any walk of life, any job. It was getting closer and closer to my close-up, and I was like, oh god. And she noticed. She didn’t say anything, but I knew that she had noticed. Just before we rolled, she said, let’s play a little game. We played this little game that is really silly, I can’t remember what it’s called, you put your hands out and count. I was terrible at it. But we played it, and then did the scene, did the close-up, and it was all fine. I feel like that’s not something that always happens.  

Listen to the full conversation below.

Empire of Light is now playing in theaters.

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Written by Abe Friedtanzer

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