Wednesday, 09 October 2013 11:44 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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Actor Tom Felton practically grew up in front of a camera!

Felton first appeared in the film Anna and the Kind with Academy Award-winner Jodie Foster, but it was his role as Draco Malfoy in all eight Harry Potter films that made him an international star. Since the Potter series ended, he has portrayed several different types of roles in films like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and The Apparition, and shows no signs of being pigeon holed into one specific type of role. His latest project is a TV series called Full Circle, which premieres on DIRECTV October 9th, and was written and created by director and playwright Neil LaBute (Death at a Funeral). 

The project is quite unique in that each episode takes place at a restaurant and only features two actors at a table talking. Each following episode will include one of the actors from the previous episode, and also introduce a new character. Felton appears in the first and final episodes as Tim Abbott, a British student studying in the U.S. who has had an affair with Bridgette Murphy, the trophy wife (Minka Kelly) of a family friend (Julian McMahon) he has been living with. The first episode features Tim confessing his love to Bridgette, only for her to admit that she has made a mistake and is staying with her husband. 

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Tom Felton about his work on Full Circle. The popular actor discussed his new project, why he wanted to be a part of it, reciting Neil LaBute’s words, why the series is like shooting a play, working with Minka Kelly, the difficulties of creating a full character arc in only two episodes, DirectTV, how television is changing, and finding good roles in his post-Harry Potter career.

Here is what Tom Felton had to say about Full Circle:

IAR: To begin with, Full Circle is a very unusual TV project. Were you sold on doing it once they told you that Neil LaBute created the series?

Tom Felton: I’m glad someone asked that because that’s pretty much how it was. I had said to people for years that I’d love to do some really high quality TV and my agent brought me this and said, "You’re doing it." But as soon as I heard that Neil actually wrote it I was pretty keen. In fact, after reading the first few pages I really kind of got to see the quality of it. You don’t want to be going into something like this where the dialogue is not first class and I think this is about as good as it gets, so that really lends itself well when you’re doing something like this.

When you’re working with a script written by Neil LaBute, do you feel a certain responsibility to say every line exactly as it is on the page?

Felton: Yes and no, definitely with the choice of phrases and possibly the specific words. The nice thing about it is that sometimes you can mix it up. You can say the line at the end of the page at the beginning and hopefully it works magically. When it comes to dialogue I’m used to waiting for the other person to finish their line before starting mine and with Neil’s dialogue it definitely lends itself to a completely different performance. You can almost keep rationing off your lines and be completely vacant of what the other person in saying. Then some times saying hardly anything and you’re just kind of looking at each other. It was definitely very unique. I’ve never seen or read anything like it. I still haven’t seen it so I’m very excited for that. There was a uniqueness that was the allure for me.

The series unfolds almost like a play; did it feel like that way to you when you were filming it?

Felton: Yeah, that was exactly how it was sort of pitched. They said, “You are going to do a play with one other person and we’re going to film it.” That was kind of the premise. I’m not used to seeing stage direction and other characters come in, and it’s very much just two people sitting at a table time talking. So it was a unique challenge.  

In what way was it a challenge?

Felton: Several. The first one specifically was remembering exactly all the dialogue because I had never done anything like that as far as performing that amount of dialogue in one day. It was pretty much the ultimate contrast from filming on Harry Potter where you might be lucky if you got ten seconds done in a day. So suddenly we’re shooting 25 minutes of footage, and there were no real scenes. We start at the beginning and we ran it all the way to the end and we did that like 50 times with multiple cameras shooting. That was the first challenge I think, which was just the sheer intensity of the surroundings. The other part of it was that I didn’t meet Minka (Kelly) until two days before we started shooting. We hadn’t done any rehearsals, we had only done a couple of Skype reads together to try and familiarize ourselves with each other, but with something like this that is so heavily relied on chemistry we just lucked out. We got on very well, we were both on the same page at the same time, and we had a great director. He managed to get the best performance out of both of us. 

Can you talk about working with Minka Kelly and the relationship between Tim and Bridget?

Felton: Bridget and Tim have a unique relationship where they have had an intense relationship for a while. But things have changed and Minka’s character is trying to steady the ship and settle down, much to Tim’s disappointment really. Tim’s this younger guy who’s very loves strong and wears his heart on his sleeve. In one respect very happy that he’s sitting opposite her and in the other respect mortified that he might not be the one to spend his life with her. That’s the first episode and then in the tenth episode he is a slightly more mature and grounded individual I think. But that’s one of the nice things as well, the fact that his character does have a real arc, between episodes one and ten he really grows as a person.

Is it hard to really create a full arc of a character when you are only in two episodes of a series?

Felton: Yeah, again I like the uniqueness of the concept really and it’s kind of cool that Tim’s character is the only one that is in the first and the last episodes. Everyone else is happening episodically one after another. It’s really nice and I think it’s quite a cool thing to be the first face and the last face of the project. Also, to highlight again that he is quite different by the end but I don’t want to reveal what happens. There’s a real shift in his consciousness and I want to say less selfish in some respects, but I’ll let you be the judge. 

It must be nice to bookend the series in that way, right? 

Felton: Oh yeah, definitely. That’s actually one of the things that attracted me to it. I thought that was very cool being the only one that does that. I thought that was a really nice selling point for my character. As you correctly predicted, it didn’t take much arm-twisting to get me to do this project.

The series is on DIRECTV and obviously the way we watch television is different than it used to be with so many new outlets for programming now. What is your opinion of the way TV is changing?

Felton: I’m very excited for that. I think we are on the cusp of something. I feel like the prestige of film over television is long gone. We actors are now cherishing these great roles that we’ve seen from TV in the last couple of years. The likes of Bryan Cranston and Damian Lewis and various other male leads that you may not have thought about in that respect a few years ago are now incredible. I think it’s very exciting. I think the quality of TV has only gone immensely better over the last few years especially from the United States.

Finally, in your post-Harry Potter career has it been difficult for you to find different roles and choose good projects? 

Felton: No, it’s been great. I think people have kind of got the wrong end of the stick there about me having to shake a burden off or anything like that. That’s definitely not the experience I have or I’ve had in the last few years. People almost expect you to be the same character you are in the films. That’s kind of worked to my advantage I think coming into casting directors rooms and expecting me to be a wizard and I’m quite the opposite. So it’s kind of worked in my favor a few times I think. Harry Potter is something that I’m very proud of and I’m always ready to talk about it, but I am willing and hoping to do other stuff. 

Full Circle episode one premieres October 9th on DIRECTV.

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