Sean Teale (‘Skins’) interview

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This week’s episode of Skins sees Nick realise that everything he thought he wanted – the approval of his father and the rugby success – is crushing him. CultBox caught up with actor Sean Teale to find out more…

> Order the Series 5 DVD on Amazon.

How would you describe Nick?

“The episode coming up is actually a very big turning point for the character. It really shatters all these preconceptions of what people think he is. It takes some really nasty situations to do it, but he changes dramatically, but before the episode, what you get is the typical alpha male, rugby jock. What he’s become at the end of the episode is very much left in the air.

“Things get very much worse before they get better. It’s ten steps back for every two steps forward. He’s actually very kind-hearted and we haven’t really seen that yet, it just always comes off as cringe. Nick’s not as socially adept as he’d like to think he is – he’s just with the wrong person and that’s just hard to bear.”

Did you base your portrayal of Nick on anyone you know in real life?

“Playing rugby for the past seven years, you meet those alpha males on other teams and going out. And if you stick around long enough, you start to notice their vulnerabilities and they’re not all that, there’s always something behind it. To me, Nick seems like a very relatable person.”

What was impressionist Alistair McGowan like to work with as Nick’s coach?

“He is amazing; he was fantastic actually. I cannot say one bad word about him. I’d met him before, but when I was much younger – we had family friends in common, so that was an initial talking point. But the five or six days that he was on set were such a laugh.

“We spent a lot of time talking about the scenes and going over our lines, which was such a great help, but it was so fun at the same time. He was massively down to earth, I really enjoyed it.”

Nick has had sex scenes with three different girls so far and we’re only on Episode 5. Did filming these scenes become less weird as you did more of them?

“Actually, it went the other way round. To an extent, I have no problem doing it with the cast, that’s what we’re there to do, that’s just the way it goes. But with the guest actress who’s in Episode 5, that was awkward. It wasn’t that it was unprofessional, there weren’t any issues between me and her – it was purely the fact that I had literally just met her!

“She was really great, but the bit where she starts crying mid-sex… that’s seriously, seriously difficult to endure when that’s on top of you! I’m not sure if it ended up being cut from the episode actually. She was very good, so it was really weird, it made me genuinely want to run out of the house, which is what Nick does!”

What sort of reaction have you had from people so far, particularly after Nick slept with Liv in Episode 3?

“People have been nice to me actually; they’ve been really kind and said they like Nick. I assume the majority don’t! Nick’s one of those guys at school that actually no one likes him, but he just sort of imposes himself on everyone.

“The thing with Liv is not going to do him any favours! The problem is, you start to realise that he’s meant to be with Liv. He’s got this sort of idealistic relationship with Mini. There’s this really awkward scene in Episode 5 where he’s trying to make it work, but it just crumbles, it’s just not working.”

What was the casting process like for you and Sebastian De Souza, who plays Matty?

“I think he does really look like he could be my brother, yeah! We all kept very tight-lipped about it, but we were very surprised that nobody really worked it out before. What happened was, I auditioned for Rider with Dan Black, who’s a very good friend of mine, and we both went up for this part. We were all jumping between characters and it got to the final two weeks and I was potentially going up for Matty.

“In the end, I had 30 seconds left and they just let me have a go at the role of Nick. So I got Nick and Dan got the part of Nick’s best friend, Rider. But I was then really worried about them having to find a Matty who looked liked me! It could have gone either way; they could’ve then found their perfect Matty and needed to recast Nick with somebody who looked like me. Luckily Matty didn’t feature much in Episode 2 and Episode 3, so they had more time to cast him. Me and Seb are like brothers now.”

The rugby scenes look pretty intense and exhausting; I assume that was all you?

“I actually ripped soft tissue in my shoulder filming the last rugby stuff we did, it was a night shoot at like 11 o’clock. It was tiring but I love playing rugby and we had a lot of fun on those days. It was a rush, I really enjoyed it. Oh, and yes, it was all me!”

What was it like smashing up the house?

“That was fun but I actually had a bad day that day. It was the last day of filming my episode and I got really very into it. It was a very mentally challenging scene; very draining. They let me get me in the right mood and get in the right place to do it, so I was very worked up and ended up in a bit of a state actually. When you’re smashing stuff up and you’ve got yourself in a place where you’re crying your eyes out… I was very much Nick in that moment.”

Can you give us any hints about what the rest of Series 5 holds for Nick?

“Expect a lot more messiness! Without sounding pretentious or cringey, Nick doesn’t know who he is or what he’s doing. He tried to be his brother and ended up running out a house after sleeping with a mother. Expect a lot more messiness and a lot more shabby attempts at trying to find himself.

“And expect the group to come together actually, Nick finally wins them round. He starts to do things for them, looks out for them out of the kindness of his heart. He was tried to before, but it would always come across badly and he’d sound like a dick. Now he just tries to be nice and doesn’t even care if the gang notice it or thank him for it. There’s a lot more integration with the group.”

Does the series end on a cliffhanger ending?

“I felt it’s a really satisfying ending, but there’s so much left in the air and so much left unanswered! But it’s not one of those endings that’s really annoying. People start getting paired up that you would not expect to be paired up due to the circumstances that happen in Episode 8.”

Skins has had some amazing guest stars over the years. If you could pick anyone to share a scene with yourself in the show, who would you choose?

“We were talking about how we’d love to have Frankie Boyle as Mini’s dad. We thought that’d be really funny.”

We’ve not seen Nick’s mum yet – who would you like to play her?

“I mentioned Patsy Kensit, I think she’s gorgeous, that’s be great! You know, obviously you’d like Jessica Alba to play your 40-year-old mother or, I mean, I wouldn’t object if Salma Hayek joined for a few days!”

Have you got anything else coming up apart from filming Series 6 of Skins?

“I’m going up for some stuff and it’s looking relatively positive. It’s all just waiting for call-backs, but it’s great.”

What other UK shows would you like to appear in?

“I can’t say Misfits, because they’re the enemy! I’m only joking. Shameless would be a fun one I think. I would love to be on Entourage; it’s a wicked show. Mark Wahlberg is a very talented producer and Jeremy Piven plays such a brilliant part in that.”

Skins is currently airing at 10pm on Thursdays on E4.