Stephen Oliver: ‘Directing always comes with a variety of challenges’

‘There are a lot of things on my bucket list. This year I walked on the Great Wall of China, my next goal is to see Mount Everest’

Stephen Oliver: In my 40-year career I am often cast as the baddie or the antagonist and these are roles I love.
Stephen Oliver: In my 40-year career I am often cast as the baddie or the antagonist and these are roles I love.

Trained as a professional actor at The Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Oliver’s 40-year career’s credits include directing ’Allo ‘Allo, The Weir, Equus, Twelve Angry Men, A Clockwork Orange, Marat/Sade, and in Malta, Festen and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. His appearances in Malta as an actor include Noises Off, The Crucible, Black Comedy, She Stoops to Conquer, As You Like It, Game, Robin Hood and Babes in the Wood, Puss in Boots and Alice in Wonderland

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I am a creature of habit, coffee always.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Never give up on a dream.

What do you never leave the house without?

I’m a biker so, always, the crash helmet.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Creative, sensitive and passionate.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Getting into drama school in London. Thousands apply unsuccessfully every year, I was one of the lucky ones.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I have a terrible sweet tooth – but my guiltiest pleasure is eating Butterscotch Angel Delight directly from the bowl it’s made in.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

How to say no.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

A house in the UK.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

How to manage money better, I am a terrible saver.

Who’s your inspiration?

My late father – he was not theatrical at all, but always managed to ensure I kept both feet on the ground and gave me the occasional reality check.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Directing always comes with a variety of challenges – Amadeus was a technically very challenging piece to direct, Marat/Sade even more so.

If you weren’t an actor and director, what would you be doing?

I have always been fascinated by the solving of crime – so probably a forensic scientist. I love flying so a pilot is up there too.

Do you believe in God?

No. I believe in a person’s inner spirit.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Peter Ustinov – such a hugely talented and funny man – a raconteur, comedian, writer and actor – a great combination.

What’s your worst habit?

I am ashamed to say I am a smoker.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I rarely get drunk as I don’t like losing control and if the occasion does arise I usually want to sleep.

Who would you have play you in a film?

In my 40-year career I am often cast as the baddie or the antagonist and these are roles I love, so Hannibal Lecter.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Racism, intolerance, sexism.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

‘Vaughan Williams Variation on a Theme’ by Thomas Tallis.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My late father’s wedding ring, I wear it all the time.

What is your earliest memory?

Singing “Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley” aged about three.

When did you last cry, and why?

A long time ago, when my father passed away.

Who would you most like to meet?

I have always been interested in space exploration, so if he was still with us, Neil Armstrong – I remember sitting up with my father watching the grainy pictures on our black and white TV as he set foot on the moon.

What’s your favourite food?

Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding, although I love seafood as well.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

Although I use social media, I am not into following celebrities or “influencers” – life is too short

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

Having just had a holiday to China, my thirst for knowledge regarding the dynasties was whetted – would love to go back centuries to witness this.

What book are you reading right now?

Sadly, with my hectic lifestyle I rarely get to read anything except for scripts – but the last book I read was ‘In God’s Name’ by David Yallop.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

The power to expose all levels of corruption or intolerance.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

There are a lot of things on my bucket list. This year I walked on the Great Wall of China, my next goal is to see Mount Everest.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

I love film soundtracks, so currently am going through a Hans Zimmer period.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

I hate gyms so never visit them – as for the shower, I have given some of my greatest concerts in one.

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What advice would you give anyone interesting in acting in Malta?

It really depends on what level an actor wants to pursue. There are so many opportunities in Malta both in theatre and television and film. However, if asked, and an actor wants to become a full-time professional actor, my advice would always be to train at a recognised drama school be it in the UK or the USA.

What should we expect from you in the coming months?

In October I will be appearing in Certified Male, a fabulous bitter-sweet musical revue being directed by the Australian writer and then I’m playing Abanazer for MADC in Aladdin at Christmas.

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