Read our exclusive interview with up-and-coming British actor-musician Alexander Newton, who is making his feature film acting debut in the upcoming thriller ‘Justice/Vengeance.’ In the movie, which is set for a Spring 2012 release, Newton plays the younger version of the late Roy Scheider’s character, Joseph. He is the only survivor of his family’s massacre by members of the Nazi SS during World War II. During flashbacks, the story of Joseph’s escape and his teenage love for a heroic Polish girl, portrayed by ‘The Tudors’ star Sarah Bolger, is revealed.
Newton, who was dubbed the “next Robert Pattinson” by Vogue UK, discusses with us, among other things, what his reaction was when he found out he won Best Young Actor at the Boston Film Festival. He also spoke about what it was like working with his father, Joshua, who wrote, directed and produced ‘Justice/Vengeance.’
ShockYa (SY): In ‘Justice/Vengeance,’ you portray the younger version of the main character, Joseph. What was it about the script and the character that attracted you to the role?
Alexander Newton (AN): (laughs) I was convinced to take on the role because my dad was directing the movie. The opportunity to work with him was great. I had been on set with him a lot in the past. I fell in love with the idea of being an actor at a very, very young age.
Obviously, the fact that Roy Scheider played the role was a great thing. He was an incredible actor, and taught me a lot. I felt very confident with the role, well, actually, doing the role. I was on set, and realized this character is a Holocaust survivor. It became difficult in the sense that it was very, very emotional for me.
SY: Speaking of Roy, did he offer you any acting advice while you were on the set?
AN: He did. One of the things that Roy would say was acting is like a child-like belief in the make-believe. Being with Roy on set was easy. He was very calm and composed in his acting methods.
SY: How did you prepare for the role of Joseph? How did you get into his mindset?
AN: I did a lot of research, I studied the Holocaust a lot. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors, so I spoke with them. I went to see Auschwitz. I spent a lot of time in Poland, and tried to imagine it the way it was.
SY: Speaking of your father as well, he wrote, directed, and produced ‘Justice/Vengeance.’ What was it like working with him on the film?
AN: It was great working with Dad. He’s such an inspiration to me. He’s taught me so much, and he’s such a fantastic director, writer and artist, really. My entire life, he’s inspired me to do art, and be good at what I do. So it was good working with him.
I’ve always wanted to direct a film. I guess this is the opportunity for me to do it, the first of many.
SY: Did the fact that your father is a filmmaker influence your decisions to break into the entertainment business?
AN: Yeah, yeah, it definitely did. Dad and Mom used to work together when I was really young. They cast me in a television series they were doing, as a presenter. So since I was two or three years old, I’ve been in front of the camera, working with them. So that’s pretty fun.
Ever since then, I’ve kept it up. I’ve been in plays and writing treatments. I was doing plays at the age of 10. So it really inspired me to dive into entertainment.
SY: How has appearing in plays and writing treatments compared and contrasted to appearing in ‘Justice/Vengeance?’
AN: Well, with ‘Justice/Vengeance,’ we had a full crew, and it was a really big thing. I guess scale-wise, that’s the biggest thing I had worked on at that point. Being in front of the cameras is fun, and is something I love doing.
In terms of writing, it’s actually very different, in terms of being on set. Being on set is where something comes from the script. I guess writing it is a bit different.
SY: Do you prefer acting in movies and plays over writing, or vice versa?
AN: It really depends on the project. When I get parts, I look at them on an individual basis. I guess it really does depend on what the message is for the project, like what it means to me.
SY: You won the ‘Best Young Actor’ award at the Boston Film Festival for your performance as Joseph. What is the feeling like, knowing that you were honored for your first film?
AN: I was kind of shocked. I was really shocked. Up until that point, I was hoping for some sign that I was doing a good job. When your dad says you did a good job, you just think, he’s just saying that type of thing. Pretty much everyone on that film was telling me what I great job I did. I guess it took me until Boston until it really started to sink in. It gave me a lot of confidence. It’s wonderful for people to be congratulated for the good work that they’ve done. It was wonderful for me.
SY: Nylon Magazine listed you as one of their ‘55 Faces of the Future’ list in their Young Hollywood issue. Did you have the same reaction when you heard you were included on the list?
AN: Yeah, I kind of did. That was such a fun experience. To be included in such a great thing, amongst such great people, makes me very grateful and thankful. It’s good, and I’m thankful for the career. (laughs)
SY: Besides acting, you’re also producing your electro-pop album. Your first single, ‘Lost in Forever,’ accompanies the end credits to ‘Justice/Vengeance.’ What inspired you to release your own album-were you always a fan of music?
AN: I’m still working on the album, and we’re holding off on the release until the movie’s out. In terms of my inspiration for music, going back to the first thing I ever did in movies, working with my mom and dad when I was three-years-old, they paid me with a musical toy. (laughs) So it was from that moment onwards, I was destined to do both things. I had a toy piano, and over time, I started playing instruments and writing. Now I’m juggling both of them. So it’s pretty cool.
SY: Do you have any future acting or music projects lined up that you can discuss? Are you interested in working with your father again on another movie?
AN: Yeah, I am working with Dad on another movie this year, and another movie next year, as well. In between that, I’m writing my own stuff right now. I’m doing music, vocals. That’s kind of where I am right now.
But I’ve had offers to do TV shows. But signing up for a TV show is a huge commitment, and I’m very, very busy at the moment. (laughs) Every single day, my day is full of work. But it’s all very good.
Written by: Karen Benardello