Owen Teale, is a Welsh actor with an incredible body of work in theatre, TV and films. He is probably most well-known for his role as Ser Alliser Thorne in Game of Thrones and most recently in the TV drama The Line of Duty as the bent copper Phillip Osbourne. Now Owen is hitting our screens playing the real life Brian Vokes in Euros Lyn’s true story film Dream Horse.
We managed to get a few minutes with Owen and here’s how the conversation went:
Fatima Patel: Hello Owen. How are you?
Owen Teale: I am very well Fatima, how are you?
Enjoying the lovely weather in sunny Yorkshire. Looking forward to this heat wave.
Aren’t we just, I’ve been in Edinburgh and I came over night in the sleeper train, so I am in London at the moment, and it’s getting warm.
Talking about weather and scenery in Dream Horse, we get to see the stunning location of Wales, which is going to be seen by the world and you yourself are from that side of the world.
Yes, it’s hugely important to me, because it’s been marginalised in popular culture in this country, and we haven’t seen much of that world in a positive aspect. You’ve seen documentaries about unemployment when the mines closed and people feeling sorry. This doesn’t patronise those people this is the film about a group of people who do happen to come from there. They are inspired by Jan and they go for it. They go for something crazy and say well if we don’t have a go, we will never know. And they do it. And it works out. It brings back a sense of community, it brings hope, it brings a sense of identity. That we are the group who did this. We got a horse, and the horse personifies this. He is a fighter even though on paper he hasn’t got the genes. He won’t lose, he doesn’t know how to lose
I can’t think of anything better than this to come back to the cinema of a simple inspiring, heart-warming, honest film like this. I am so proud to be part of it.
What attracted you to the script, because it’s not a brand-new story, but a true story and very heartening? What attracted you to play Brian Vokes?
It was a whole package of things. I thought the writing was beautiful and not over sentimentalised and on the
other hand it’s not a documentary, it’s got a real life. It’s the relationship I was fascinated by. At first Brian and Jan and then I watched the documentary – what an extraordinary character, he is to encounter. With his no teeth and tattoos everywhere. He kind of lost his physical enjoyments, he has arthritis, he is a bit low and depressed, whereas she is fighting on but loves him. He then agrees to this mad scheme using up their money that they saved for a holiday and his act of love in that. What it does is that (and this is what really attracted me), through that journey however crazy that idea, even if it would never work he started to care – he had passion for something. They had a shared collective goal and then it spread to the community and brings the community together, which had been split up by unemployment, therefore lack of money to socialise. It’s hard times and this is a story of hope. It’s not about portraying the man and marginalised people. You’re portraying them just as real people. And what she does is so extraordinary and inspires them to come together and that is a beautiful message.
At the beginning of the film, you get this sense of a very strong female character who is obviously leading the film, but I liked your character. Your character takes on some journey. Brian is introduced watching TV and oblivious to what his wife is saying to him in the background and then that scene where Brian is snoring in bed and she is awake dreaming that she wants to do something and be something, so you’re seen as very laid back, but as the film progresses your character starts to become a little more active and starts taking the lead and that’s quite incredible to see. What would you say has been the main highlight for you in the film?
I think it’s that, we’re talking about the same thing. It’s the fact that what happens to him. It ain’t over till it’s over. He has perhaps started to accept that he is on the downward trend and this story gets him off his arse and out there doing something. Out of that he rejuvenates as a man and he becomes forceful in the right kind of way. For example, when they are all arguing and he forcefully stops it, that’s not the man you see at the beginning. He wouldn’t have raised his voice and told people to just shut it and listen. It was a wonderful challenge for me, and I hope I have done people proud.
If you were able to give a message about the film and probably the current climate, what would you like to say?
There’s strength in community. The horse is a personification of the community. It takes a leader to start it, but once it’s started, we can all benefit. If you can get over your ego and join in to a collective venture, never mind what it is, it could be cleaning up the local park. If you do something that improves the life of the children in your community to getting them to do a play together or singing together. In Wales we have a word hwyl and that means collective spirit. It’s to look beyond your ego.
Dream Horse is out in UK cinemas from 4 June.