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Interview with Alexander Arnold – Bitter Wheat at the Garrick Theatre

Alexander Arnold (Roberto) Bitter Wheat by Helen Maybanks.
Alexander Arnold (Roberto) Bitter Wheat by Helen Maybanks.

Alexander Arnold is a British actor who recently played Luke in the TV BAFTA nominated and RTS award-winning TV Drama series Save Me written by Lennie James for Sky Atlantic. Alexander is currently starring in David Mamet’s new play Bitter Wheat, currently at the Garrick Theatre in London until 14th September 2019.

The cast of Bitter Wheat includes John Malkovich as Barney Fein, Doon Mackichan as Sondra, Ioanna Kimbrook as Yung Kim Li, Alexander Arnold as Roberto, Teddy Kempner as Doctor Wald, Matthew Pidgeon as The Writer and Zephryn Taitte as Charles Arthur Brown.

Hollywood is a hell hole.

Everything in Hollywood is for sale except the awards, which are for rent.
Bitter Wheat is a play about a depraved Hollywood mogul.

It rips the pashmina off the suppurating wound which is show business, and leaves us better human beings, and fitter to once more confront the horror of life.

Our hero, Barney Fein, is a bloated monster – a studio head, who like his predecessor, the minotaur, devours the young he has lured into his cave.

This summer will also see Alexander starring in a lead role alongside Lily James and Himish Patel in Danny Boyle’s Yesterday written by Richard Curtis for Working Title for Universal Studios. Later this year he will also star in Outpost opposite Caleb Landry Jones and Orlando Bloom.

Alexander is well known for his role as Rich Hardbeck in the much-loved TV Drama series Skins. He also played a key character suspected of murder in ITV drama A Mother’s Son and could simultaneously be seen in Northern crime series Vera as well as the BBC’s mystery thriller What Remains. He made his feature debut in Kristen Levring’s The Salvation opposite Eva Green and Mads Mikkelsen.

Other notable Film and Television credits include: Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool; My Cousin Rachel; BBC’s Poldark and Capital.

Interview with Alexander Arnold
Q: What can you tell us about Bitter Wheat?
Alexander: Bitter Wheat explores the power dynamics in Hollywood and is a story that follows pseudo-liberal film producer Barney Fein and his ‘fall from grace’. Personally, I think it’s a great display of the hypocrisy that runs rife in Hollywood and deals with it in a satirical way.

Q: You play the part of Roberto – can you tell us a bit about him and his story?
Alexander: Roberto is from Belize where his uncle is a film critic and that is how he’s found himself an internship inside Barney Fein’s office. Roberto is new to this environment and finds himself trying his best to keep up with the pace of things. However, he rarely gets it right.

Q: How is it working with John Malkovich and David Mamet?
Alexander: I’ve spent my time over rehearsals soaking in as much as I can from both of them. It’s incredible how calm John seems to be all of the time. He goes on stage every night and just lets things go. There’s such spontaneity there. David is so meticulous and measures every beat. Finding the speed and rhythm to his dialogue has been so enjoyable. I feel very blessed to be in both their orbit.

Q: Why should everyone get along to see Bitter Wheat?
Alexander: It’s funny and it’s dark. The play might not be for everyone but I hope people don’t form an opinion of it before even seeing it. Barney Fein, a slobbering and forgetful creature, is a character our time. If you enjoy Mamet’s sharp dialogue and the magnetic energy that John Malkovich delivers, it’s a great night out at the theatre.


Q: On screen this summer, you are in Danny Boyle’s Yesterday written by Richard Curtis. What is at the heart of Yesterday?
Alexander: I had such fun filming on Yesterday! The film celebrates The Beatles’ music in a world where everyone has forgotten them. I think the film speaks to everyone who has ever felt like a fraud in their chosen profession but is also about how maybe ‘love is all you need’. I feel so privileged to be a part of such a heart-warming British summer movie.

Q: Can you tell us about your character Gavin?
Alexander: Gavin is a lover of music and perhaps a bit of an idealist who really wears his heart on his sleeve. When he discovers Jack (Himesh Patel) and his music it’s like a huge awakening within him. He owns a tiny recording studio right next to a railway and helps Jack ascend to greater heights.

Q: What was filming like?
Alexander: Working with both Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis on this project really was one of those ‘pinch yourself’ moments. I grew up watching their films and am in awe of their achievements to British cinema. Danny is such a focused and highly energetic director and Richard brings out these wonderful characters in the script. I also really enjoyed working with Himesh Patel and Lily James. There’s a great scene where we begin recording all of Jack’s songs, I dance around a lot in that and it was a lot of fun!

Q: What makes ‘Yesterday’ a must-see film this Summer?
Alexander: Yesterday has all the necessities of a feel-good summer movie and hopefully it’s a film that brings people together even in times as divided as these! Who doesn’t love listening to The Beatles!

Q: Later this year you will star in Outpost opposite Caleb Landry Jones and Orlando Bloom. Can you tell us about this and what to expect from the film and your character?
Alexander: Not sure how much I can say at this point, but The Outpost is based on Jake Tapper’s book of the same name and details the true story of events that unfolded at Outpost Keating in 2009 and what was later to be known as The Battle Of Kamdesh. The project was something completely different from anything I have worked on before. I play Spec. Chris Griffin who was one of the many young Americans who were stationed there at the time.

Q: Finally, Screen or Stage – what do you like best about each of them?
Alexander: I suppose I should say stage seeing as this is a theatre publication! The answer is that I really don’t know. I try to take away a unique experience from each job and build upon my own process as an actor. I just want to keep learning and growing. Each medium has its pros and cons in a way. I immensely enjoy the live experience of a theatre though, however, there can be something quite intimate on working on a film set too.

Bitter Wheat
Until Saturday 14 September 2019
PERFORMANCE TIMES: Monday – Saturday, 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday, 2.30pm.
RUNNING TIME: 1hr 50mins including interval one interval
PLEASE NOTE: A £1.25 restoration levy (collected on behalf of the theatre) appears as part of the ticket cost.
Garrick Theatre, 2 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0HH.


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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