By Iman Sadri
April 6, 2020
Oliver Boon is a rising star in the acting world. He is Half-Persian, Half-British, and All -Talent. Oliver is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and has starred in a wide range of theatrical performances. He is in the midst of producing the play, ‘The Tale of Headless Mike’ for this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. Oliver is working on a one person show about growing up half-English and half Persian called Half-English Breakfast. We interviewed Oliver Boon recently to get caught up with this up and coming talent.
IS : Please describe your early life, upbringing and education ?
Oliver Boon : I was born in the UK but grew up in the Netherlands. I went to an international school and was surrounded by a variety of different backgrounds. I went from being an incredibly talkative, confident child, to a reserved, self-conscious teen. It was only after I graduated high school that I was able to return to my happy self that my family knew from my childhood. After high school, I spent a year at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire before I took a year off to save up for my big move to America where I have gone on to graduate from the historical acting program at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
IS : What were some of the early influences that led you to want to become an actor?
Oliver Boon : My favorite book as a child was Treasure Island. I loved Long John Silver. I thought it was so interesting how likeable I found him despite being a villain. He would be an absolute dream role some day. I used to be a very shy kid and like a lot of kids, drama classes at school really allowed me to come out of my shell. I see myself more as an entertainer than an actor. I love making people feel happy and good about themselves and performing gives me that opportunity. I chase that ‘fix’ every chance I can get.
IS : Who were some of your favorite actors growing up ? And why ?
Oliver Boon : When I was younger, I always wanted to be Willy Wonka but once I found out it was actually an actor, I realized I wanted to be Gene Wilder. I remember watching an interview where Gene Wilder said he didn’t see himself as a funny person and I think that comes from how he took all of his characters so seriously. From The Producers to Young Frankenstein.
“I see myself more as an entertainer than an actor.” – Oliver Boon
IS : What are some of your favorite films of all time ? And why ? What impact did they have on you ?
Oliver Boon : Rear Window has been my go-to movie for a number of years now. The moment when the villain looks back into the binoculars is my favorite moment in film history. Growing up in a country with a completely different culture can be a very alienating thing, and no movie captures loneliness better than Lost In Translation.
IS : Please describe some of the theatrical projects you’ve been a part of. Highlights from each.
Oliver Boon : Doctor Doolittle– I was an Animal Protection worker and got to work closely alongside the puppets. This production sparked my desire to work and create puppets of my own.
The Crucible– A truly powerful play to be a part of. The impactful message in this play, how gossip and hearsay can destroy lives, is so relevant to this day.
Neil Simon’s Fools and Arthur Miller’s All My Sons – When I was at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, I was double cast as an 80-year-old Yiddish magistrate and an 8-year-old American boy. Now that’s what I call range! It’s a lot of fun getting to explore to completely opposite characters and incorporating parts of yourself into both of them.
I recently played Bob Stein, a chauvinistic Jewish New Yorker in Miss Reardon Drinks a Little. I really enjoyed getting to fill the stage and be so outspoken. It was very freeing for me and when my character eventually got his comeuppance, the audience applauded and I felt that made me feel I did my job!
IS : What is the key to memorization of lines as an actor ?
Oliver Boon : You should always speak your lines aloud. Just reading isn’t enough, repetition creates muscle memory. Another useful tip is to be doing an active exercise whilst memorizing. It could be anything from Ironing, making a bed, cooking. I personally, like to go bouldering, and recite my lines while climbing.
IS : If you could play a biopic of a historical figure – who would you play and why ?
Oliver Boon : For quite some time I’ve been intrigued by the writer behind ‘The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger. When I see photos, I feel there is somewhat of a resemblance between us. There was a film called Rebel in the Rye with Nicholas Hoult which unfortunately wasn’t received so well. I would love to portray Sal Mineo who tragically passed away well before his time. His ability to convey innocence and loneliness in his roles struck a chord with me. I wish more people knew about him because he was a brilliant actor. He acted alongside James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and Paul Newman in Exodus.
IS : What is your day to day schedule now ? What projects are you involved in ? Looking to get involved in ?
Oliver Boon : I am currently a Company member at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Hollywood. We are putting on a production of Midsummers Night’s Dream where I play one of the young lovers, Lysander. The production is applying a modern twist with a Steampunk/post-apocalyptic theme. I am also part of a group called Momus Films where we create opportunities for ourselves are in pre-production for our 6th film in 8 months. In my spare time I write a Blog (Theatre meets Critic) where I sum up the productions, I watch with a log-line e.g. Kramer vs Kramer meets 500 Days of Summer. I have also started a series called ‘Critic meets…’ where I interview various actors and professionals in the industry.
IS : If you could work with any actors / actresses in film – who would you want to collaborate with and why ?
Oliver Boon: I have always wanted to play creatures and Andy Serkis is the master of motion capture performance. Gollum in Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and the recent Planet of the Apes movies. I would love to collaborate one day with him and his company The Imaginarium. Samuel L Jackson can take so many different men and make them his own. I have an immense respect for him and he has been in so many of my favorite movies, I’d take any opportunity to work with him. Just his voice alone is one of the most recognizable in pop-culture.
IS : If you could work with any director / producer – who would you work with and why ?
Oliver Boon : I get strange looks when I answer this, but Sophia Coppola is my all-time favorite director. Some of my favorite movies are Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette. She is the master of depicting loneliness and though many of her films feature female Leads, her work has always resonated a lot with me. I would also love to work with Ana Lily Amirpour. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night was incredible, and I really enjoyed The Bad Batch. I feel Ana can become the next Tarantino in creating blockbusters that maintain an artistic vision.
“Some of my favorite movies are Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette.” – Oliver Boon
IS : Imagine you’re 100 years old and reading your Wikipedia profile – what other career and life milestones would you want to see on there ?
Oliver Boon : I would love to have written and starred in a successful independent film that can inspire young actors to go down the same rabbit hole that is the entertainment industry like I did! In my hometown of Marlow, Buckinghamshire, there is an old town hall building in the centre that I have always dreamt about turning into a theatre. Before that, I would love to set up my own theatre company that specializes in Dark Comedy and Puppetry.
IS : What are your plans for the future?
Oliver Boon : I am in the midst of producing my first ever play, ‘The Tale of Headless Mike’ for this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. The play is based on the true story of a headless chicken that survived 18 months without a head and toured the country as a national amusement. Alongside writing and producing, I will be playing one of the supporting roles!
During the current Self-Isolation, I have also been working on a one person show about growing up half-English and half Persian. It’s called Half-English Breakfast and will focus on cultural identity and the struggles of a raising a multi-cultural kid. It comes a lot from my own experiences growing up with Persian and English parents. I will be recording it in the upcoming weeks.
Follow Oliver Boon on social media @OeBoon
Iman Sadri is the founder of @LASmileMagazine and @ThePersianObserver