Denholm Spurr is a busy actor who we’ve seen in many LGBT productions including the film The Grass is Always Grindr and this month he is appearing in new play No Sweat at The Pleasance Theatre.
Where are you from originally?
And where do you live now?
Croydon, as it happens.
Can you tell us about your character in the new play No Sweat?
My character Tristan is a young, fresh out of university gay man who has just come out to his friends and family. His family doesn’t react well to the news and he finds himself sleeping with guys off Grindr and in sex saunas for a place to stay. He’s a curious guy with a big heart and an open mind; you wouldn’t think he was homeless to look at him or speak to him.
Have you ever been homeless?
The character I play is actually loosely based on my own story. I came out in 2012 and my relationship with my family broke down. Job prospects that side of the financial crisis weren’t amazing — especially for actors — and I ended up staying in gay saunas and relying on the beds of strangers for somewhere to sleep, often at a “price”. I sought help from government and charity organisations but unfortunately they were oversubscribed and underfunded and I just fell through the gaps. I was homeless for three years until I decided to start escorting on a regular basis which helped me break the cycle. It’s now 2020 and I find it difficult to connect with that period of my life as it feels so alien, but what I went through wasn’t unique it’s all too common.
I was one of the lucky ones who was able to emerge from that period with only a few permanent scratches. I do what I can to support the LGBTQ+ homeless community by speaking out about my story wherever I can. I’m hugely honoured that Vicky Moran (the writer of No Sweat) has taken my story and made it into a play; hopefully it will go some way to lifting the lid on this serious issue affecting our community.
What was the last film you watched?
In the cinema? Joker. Best Batman film ever?
Last theatre play or musical you saw?
Happily Ever Poofter! It’s a one-man Disney musical parody about the world’s first Disney Prince (I happen to be the director…).
What is your guilty pleasure and why?
Devouring a whole pot of Haagen Dazs ice-cream… or sharing one… if I have to…
What is your favourite book of all time?
Saying Harry Potter always feels so uncultured! But fuck it: Prisoner of Azkaban if pushed to choose one!
What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?
I feel so lucky that I’ve had so many! Being nominated for an Offie playing Mercutio in Secret Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet was pretty awesome, as was playing the lead in the 50th anniversary production of Ken Loach’s Cathy Come Home at the Barbican. The Grass Is Always Grindr movie premiere last year might pip them to the post though.
Can you pick four people, alive or dead you’d invite to a dinner party?
Lawrence Olivier, Rosa Parks, Mariah Carey and Marcus Tullius Cicero.
What’s the best party you’ve ever been to?
I mean… isn’t every party you go to the best one at the time?
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Fail. Fail Again. Fail Better.
Who is your LGBT+ hero and why?
I’m literally so honoured to work and mingle with so many amazing LGBT+ heroes all the time. People like Jason Jones, Divina de Campo, the whole team of The Grass Is Always Grindr, Ian McKellen, David Stuart, Greg Owen, David Robson, Rich Watkins, Ash Kotak, Patrick Strudwick… the list is endless and I’m constantly inspired by them all.
Who are the most entertaining people you follow on social media and why?
My friend Christopher Goddard is an emerging stand-up comic. You should follow him @christ_god_comedy
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
Self-expectation and judgement is a complete waste of time.
Denholm is appearing as Tristan in No Sweat at the Pleasance Theatre, N7. Tickets from pleasance.co.uk