Former policeman and athlete Mark Holden is now a rising star in Hollywood.
Mark’s acting career is now moving almost as fast as he did – as a former international athlete for Great Britain and Canada. He has already appeared in many significant film and television projects such as the popular ‘Deep State’ series, ‘The Infiltrator’ (2016) and many others. Theatre-wise he played Bill Devaney in ‘The Bodyguard’ at London’s Dominion Theatre in the West End, before taking it to the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, Canada. At the moment he is filming a couple of episodes for season 2 of ‘Riviera’ (Sky Atlantic). In the interview, he tells us more about his film and TV projects and explains how acting changed his eclectic and busy life for the better.
Mark, can you tell us about your early days in acting?
Back in the late 60’s/early 70’s, my mother took me to watch several movies, like The Jungle Book, The Aristocats (Disney animated films), James Bond films, Fiddler on the Roof and also live amateur theatre, such as Oklahoma and other popular musicals. I do remember one Christmas around 1969, we were at my grandmother’s house, when West Side Story came on the television. This memory has always stayed with me and is one of my favourite films to date. My mother and I didn’t have a television, so whenever I was at my grandmother’s house, I used to watch lots of films, The Wizard of Oz, Chitty Bang, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, Elvis Presley films, One Million Years BC with Raquel Welch and others. All this gave me an appetite for acting so when I was around 11 years old, I joined a local amateur dramatic company, where I performed in musicals and pantomimes. I also gained some stage-hand experience at a larger more recognised amateur theatre company. Then from my late teens my sporting career took over my time, until I returned to the theatre in 1991 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where I started taking acting workshops and courses, and performed in semi-professional plays and musicals, whilst also working as a police officer in the Edmonton Police Service. In 1992 I auditioned for the late Robin Phillips, who was the Director General at the Edmonton Citadel (Edmonton’s leading theatre). From this audition, I was cast in Peter Shaffer’s The Royal Hunt of the Sun, as Villac Umu (High Priest of the Inca Empire). My professional career really started to take off at this point and I became an apprentice member of Canada Actors Equity Association.
Where do you think is the best place to be as an actor and why?
This is hard for me to answer really because I never attended a drama school, so starting my professional career in Edmonton (which is an amazing theatre town) was a great start. In 1996, I left the police and moved to Vancouver and honed my skills in front of the camera for television and film, I gained a lot of experience there working with some great actors and directors. So that continued to expand my skill-set as an actor. I then made the decision to move back to London, England, which was fortuitous, because my career was then taken up a couple of levels, and I was also able to gain experience in a second career as a close protection operative, working in the UK, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, in between my acting projects. This gave me an exceptionally unique experience as an actor, with all the different people I worked with and many interesting security challenges and venues. So I have had a few different best places to be an actor in, at different times in my life. I am in the best place for me right now, but who knows…
What are your best projects to date?
Theatre-wise, playing Bill Devaney in The Bodyguard at the Dominion Theatre in London’s West End (July 2016 – January 2017) and then taking it to the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, Canada (February 2017 – May 2017). Back in Vancouver I enjoyed working as a guest star on an episode of Stargate-SG1: Dead Man Switch, as Korra. The Stickup was a fun film, working closely with James Spader and The Infiltrator, working with the legendary Bryan Cranston and John Leguizamo. I guess one of my most memorable films has to be “Captain Phillips”, starring Tom Hanks, where we filmed in Malta for 7 weeks back in 2012. Most recently I enjoyed filming as a regular on Fox Networks Group, new television series, Deep State, as John Lynn, a CIA handler.
How did acting change your life?
Acting has given me so many life experiences: stepping temporarily into someone else’s shoes and headspace, dealing with their turmoil, life events, fantasies etc. I’ve met and am still meeting wonderful people in the business, some who are good friends to this day. I’ve travelled to places, and countries that I may not have gotten to, had I not been an actor. I feel fortunate to be able to call this my job.
Do you have any interesting film or TV projects coming up?
I’m currently filming a couple of episodes for season 2 of ‘Riviera’ (Sky Atlantic). I’ve been down to Nice, South of France, a couple of times recently, and am off again in a few weeks to complete my filming. I will also start filming a few episodes of ‘The Feed’ (Amazon) in the next few weeks in Manchester, I play Stewart Freeman, the father of one of the series leads, Nina Toussaint-White. I am also due to start filming on another project sometime in the next few months (NDA signed). Then I have two short films that will be premiering in the next 8 weeks. SATORI, directed by Adam Batchelor and produced through Hasraf Dulull’s very successful production company HaZ Films, where I play Warren Rogers, commander of a spacecraft – plus MORNINGWOOD, directed by the very talented Rikki Beadle-Blair MBE, where I play Brigadier Russell Watson, whose daughter is in a relationship that has a slight twist.
Photo credit. © Fox Network’s Group