Kristian Phillips on playing Of Mice and Men's Lennie

Kristian Phillips on playing Of Mice and Men's Lennie

24 February 2016

Interview: 'George and Lennie find wealth in their friendship. Sticking together is so important!' Kristian speaks to us about his characters' relationship with George, the challenges of playing Lennie, and what he's learnt from working on the production. 

Kristian Phillips alongside William Rodell who plays George in Of Mice and Men

Kristian Phillips alongside William Rodell who plays George in Of Mice and Men

Tell us about your character Lennie, what are the challenges of playing him?

Lennie is a fantastic yet complex character to play. As soon as I found out I got the job my urge was to diagnose him in a very 20th century way. Of course way back when, people weren't diagnosed. Roxana Silbert — our Director — and I had deep discussion about playing Lennie moment to moment rather than building a huge back story. The other challenge is that he is so open, so as an actor you have to find that vulnerability every night. 

 

The relationship between George and Lennie is integral to the play. Can you tell us a bit about the relationship between the characters?

Myself and Will who play Lennie and George have created a great chemistry on stage and off. Lennie is so dependent on George in the play. We worked extensively with Lucy Cullingford — our Movement Director — to create a real physical brotherly relationship. We knew that our relationship was integral to the play. We live together while we are on tour and had a flat together during rehearsal. It really is a bromance! 

 

What’s the most interesting thing you learned from working on the production?

I think the history of the play is very interesting. The play is set during the devastating poverty of 1920s America. Poverty can affect people in such detrimental ways. It can also bring out great humanity between people. George and Lennie find wealth in their friendship. Sticking together is so important!
Like the way we are fighting for our NHS, it makes me so proud of our people and communities.

 

Of Mice and Men attracts a lot of students and young audiences, what has the response been so far? 

It's been brilliant so far. I have a huge respect for school audiences because they are so honest. I was also introduced to Of Mice and Men in school and I know not everyone loves reading so it's important to me that our production packs a punch and keeps you listening.

 

Any anecdotes from the rehearsal room?

Our rehearsal room joker, Jonah is always onto something and cracking gags. He makes me laugh like I did in school before I got told off my teachers. Dudley has a few fantastic anecdotes which I'm sure he'll tell you.  

 

Of Mice and Men premieres at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, where it runs from 4 to 13 February 2016. It then tours to Cheltenham, Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Darlington, Blackpool, Cambridge, Brighton, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Oxford and Leicester where it concludes on 28 May.