Ricky Whittle on how he traded Hollyoaks for Hollywood
We love Ricky Whittle.
After all, this is someone who’s successfully traded Hollyoaks for Hollywood, who swapped Dream Team for a dream role on American Gods, the smash hit on Amazon Prime Video which has just been green-lit for a third season. Huzzah!
We sat down with Oldham-born Ricky for a candid chat, now that the second season of American Gods has proved such a success.
BALANCE will call it now: we predict this is all just the start from Ricky. Whether it’s the Fast & Furious franchise or something else, expect the pride of Lancashire to keep soaring.
SEASON 2 FEELS PARTICULARLY PRESCIENT, RICKY
Creator Neil Gaiman was way ahead of his time and has said that he would have given up all the accolades, rewards and financial benefits for this story just to remain a fantasy. But, unfortunately, we live in times where we are the most politically relevant and current TV show out there. Let’s swing it into a positive, though, and use this great platform to educate the world and raise awareness about these important themes; our show is able to shine a light on themes such as immigration, race, homophobia and more, and raise awareness. We can educate on religion, faith and belief, and shine a light on each individual one’s beauty.
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THE SHOW IS THAT I HAVE TO PUT MY PHONE DOWN – IT’S CHALLENGING IN THE MOST WONDERFUL WAY
The fantastic thing about this show is that the more you read the book, the more you see and the more you watch the show the more you see because we’ve scattered Easter eggs throughout. But you’re not going to know until the show is five years down the line! So when you read the books, Neil Gaiman gives you everything you need to know in the first chapter, but you won’t understand that until you’ve read the whole book. You then read the book again and all of a sudden you’re listening to the dialogue, you’re watching things and searching for things that you didn’t know to look for… You can keep watching and you’ll see or hear something new every time.
HOW DID YOU GO FROM HOLLYOAKS TO HOLLYWOOD?
There are two schools of thought. One is that I know where I’m going to be, not what I want to be, or where I want to be, but where I’m going to be. That’s in movies, in Hollywood, living my dream and so I’ve always had that inner belief that’s been given to me by my parents. I never wanted for love or support; they always wanted me to be bigger and better and they always told me about “Whittle standards”: to always represent yourself well and to give everything because the next person will take your job if you’re not prepared to work for it and no one will outwork you. The second is that it comes down to who wants it more. If there’s two of you, I might not be the most talented, best looking or tallest, but I’m definitely more hungry than you and so, while people are at parties and events, I’m at the gym, with my vocal coach, with my accent coach, I’m learning new skills, riding horses, learning languages. It’s all about hard work meets a little bit of luck. It’s just patience.
DO YOU THINK YOU MANIFESTED THAT THEN?
I believe in manifestation. It was just all in my head. I always said I was going to have a Lamborghini before I was 30 and, lo and behold, I was driving round in a Lamborghini Gallardo when I was in Hollyoaks. I always said I was going to live in America and now I do. I said I would be in the movies and now I’m shooting movies. I believe if you believe in something hard enough and are prepared to put the work in, step away from your comfort zone and are prepared to fail then it will happen. In the back of my mind I knew I wasn’t going to because I wasn’t going to allow that to happen because I was willing to work my ass off. You get it done, because if you don’t then someone else will. There’s always that fear that someone is looking over your shoulder and is willing to take your position so it’s hard to make it, but even harder to stay there so you can’t afford to not put the effort in. I’m just a good hard-working Northern lad.
WHAT’S NEXT THEN?
A franchise. There are several that I want to be a part of and have been obsessed with since I was a kid, and that would be superheroes, James Bond, the Fast & Furious movies. I have American Gods which is an incredible, deep, complex, layered, dramatic role. I want to have some fun. I want to run around with a gun, I want to get the girl, I want to do my stunts and have a little fun with something and entertain the masses. My goal was to come to America and do movies. I’m fortunate that I’ve got an incredible show that’s going to run for years, but it also allows me six months or so to fit in feature films.