Canadian actor and director talks brushing shoulders with Hollywood’s finest

By Jordan Gillen

Like clockwork, at fifteen minutes past seven exactly, Kenton Hall strolled into the Phoenix cinema’s cafe – our agreed meeting place for an interview.

As a multi-talented musician, director, actor and screenwriter who is actively making movies and had roles as an extra in films such as Les Miserables, I was intrigued to hear some of the stories he may have collected on his travels.

It became clear very early that it was not going to happen at the Phoenix this evening, with it being lined with folk queuing to get tickets for the night’s screening of a Royal Shakespeare production.

We made our way to a quiet bar a few minutes walk away, along the way Kenton scoffs at how the Leicester Mercury misquoted him once and we talk about the courses he teaches at the Phoenix, on top of his other ‘jobs’.

A Canadian native, Kenton moved to Leicester when he was 19, originally to pursue his music career but has since become a prominent member of the film scene in the city.

He said: “I’ve always had dual nationality as my parents are English. So when you’re doing that 19-year-old running away to another country thing, it’s much easier if you have a passport for that country.”

Kenton’s band IST bizarrely reached number one in the Russian album charts, but for now, the music is on hold as he prepares to crack the movie industry.

He said: “Film is great because it means I can do all the things I love. I can get involved in scripting, in music, in acting and put all those elements together. Music is still a great passion of mine and one day i will return to it. That’s a threat!”

To describe Kenton as eclectic doesn’t quite do him justice. He’s as opinionated as he is passionate, but it’s so refreshing to see someone get so excited about something he loves.

When it comes to filmmaking, Kenton believes that it isn’t too dissimilar to normal walks of life and that there is no better feeling than that of having your art connecting with an audience.

He said: “We live life through our own perceptions and it’s so rare to make a connection with another person, which is why we make such a big deal out of falling in love. Making that connection with another human being is mysterious and magical.”

His love for film and the theory behind it is wonderful despite his whiskey and coke laden breath. He’s almost like a preacher, passing on his wisdom to anyone willing to listen.

Being the first to admit to his pretentious nature towards forms of art, Kenton says that you have got to be slightly arrogant to believe that anyone wants to hear or see what you have written – but the results can be unique.

He said: “Think about people sitting in the dark, watching something that once mattered enough to you enough to start putting it down on a piece of paper to start with. It’s so strange yet beautiful.”

The summer past saw the debut release of Kenton’s first feature length film, A Dozen Summers, which he wrote, directed and starred in, alongside his twin daughters Hero and Scarlett.

Full of praise for their performances, Kenton was aware of how much pressure is involved in being a film lead, but stated his pride on seeing them warm to the role and how they loved taking part.

Their performances even won them a joint award (it may have been a little awkward explaining it if only one of them got it) for Best Actresses at an independent film festival in Spain.

He said: “Like every parent I wanted them to see that if you’re willing to work hard enough on something then there are benefits. When I told them about the award they were just like ‘oh, cool’. I was like ‘Ok, that’s good, we’re fine, you’re not going down Drew Barrymore lane’.”

Whilst on set for his minor role in Les Miserables, Kenton got to meet and converse with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars including Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman.

It so happened that filming took place in the exact same studio for Skyfall, which was being shot at the same time as Les Mis.

He said: “I turned around one day to the door of the set and Hugh Jackman, in full costume, was talking to Daniel Craig dressed as James Bond. There was a part of me saying ‘look there’s Wolverine talking to James Bond’ and then you’re just like ‘oh well I gotta carry this sack of turnips’.”

Kenton has got a very distinct accent, distinct as in there is no way of guessing where he is from based on it. There is some Canadian in there, with blends of English, Scottish and even some Irish.

He said: “A lot of Canadians have said that the combination of a Canadian accent and the English accent after you’ve lived here for a while, slips into an Irish accent. I’m always putting on an accent now, even when I’m playing the role of a Canadian i’m putting on a Canadian accent.”

When it comes to his thoughts on achieving success, he doesn’t hold back, saying it exactly as it is, whether people want to hear it or not.

He said: “The only people who don’t make it are the ones who just give up and quit.”

Bluntly put and to the point, it’s hard to disagree with that statement. “Well I was due to have a reasonable opinion at some point,” he quips.

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