Interview with Jon Campling
His trademark (as stated by IMDb) is his beard, however I found that it was in his ability to perfectly mimic an Australian accent and be able to accurately recall stories spanning longer than 30 years ago. Jon Campling, the train stopping Death Eater from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, has since expanded his filmography, introduced to the realm of Final Fantasy as King Regis. His striking appearance is sure to be seen on screen again in the near future.
Your role as a Death Eater would be classified as one of your more established roles. How did you stumble across that opportunity? “I just had the right agent at the right time. I had also changed my entire appearance. I was 43 when I was cast for the role, and prior to that time I had short hair and no beard. I considered changing back after tossing up whether my new look was getting me better work or not. When they were casting for the role of The Deathly Hallows, the casting agents were seeking striking looking actors, either being tall bald guys or evil guys with long hair and beards, so thank god I didn’t change.”
“When I sat down with the agent, I realized she was as far from the cattle market an agent could be… a cup of tea, a comfy chair, all that jazz. She proceeded in asking me to tell her a story from a time I had to play an evil character”.
“Luckily for me, I had played a character on a low budget TV series that never really went anywhere, fairly sure it was an English version of buffy. It was this sci-fi fantasy series that brought historical people back to life. I played a cannibal who was sent to Australia, who then killed and ate the other prisoners. Nice link to your Australian heritage there”.
“After that meeting, she rang me back and told me that I was definitely going to be a death eater, but had to work out which one. David Yates (director) decided to cast me as the train stopping death eater, which in my opinion was the best one, as the others just got lost in the film”.
“Overall, it was a 15 day shoot, both scenes from both films were shot within that time. They didn’t film The Deathly Hallows in two parts, it all just happened at once”.
That second scene was cut from the film though wasn’t it?
“They spotted a plot hole in the film where Griphook appears to die in the bank after the dragon destroys it, and then for no reason we see him later in the film laying on the floor in Malfoy Manor. They spotted that plot hole and decided to bring me back to film a scene fixing two of the problems that had been found, but that scene was never used due to time constraints. Either they made the film that was already very long in duration even longer, or, just leave that plot hole”.
“Though my scene was cut from the film, I had to turn it around and pose it as a strength. It’s interesting because that scene is now a deleted scene, which you can find on the DVD”.
"It’s the same concept with Sean Bean voicing my character in Final Fantasy, it’s not ideal, but I will forever have a connection with Sean Bean. Perhaps I am Sean Bean’s face, instead of Sean Bean being my voice”.
When it was announced that Sean Bean was going to be the voice of King Regis, did you immediately thing Regis was going to die?
“As soon as it was announced that Sean Bean was going to voice King Regis, the forum just exploded with “King Regis is going to die” and “King Regis death confirmed”. I tend to think that was the response they were aiming for”.
You have heard the theory behind Sean Bean though haven’t you? The reason he dies in every film or TV series is because it’s the universes way of punishing him for having a name that should rhyme, but doesn’t…
It is probably appropriate that at this point in the interview, Campling acknowledged David Prowse (Darth Vader from the original trilogy) as he strolled past. This acknowledgement was a simple “Good Morning, My Dark Lord”. Perhaps even on and off screen, Campling enjoys his relationships with Dark Lords…
If you had the opportunity to be more present in the Potter films, would you have taken it?
“Oh yes definitely. By the time I was cast, the franchise was huge and every actor wanted to be a part of it. At the end of the day, the beauty of those films is that they actually gave new actors a chance. For me, I only consider myself a celebrity in a room full of Potter fans, Final Fantasy fans, or in fact fans of that Specsavers ad I was in…”
Back to your role in Final Fantasy, what was the acting process behind that?
Pure motion capture. Everything is pretend, but it’s the trickery that makes it so complex. It’s the same concept with film. With motion capture, you’re just wearing really strange suits in a huge empty space. Didn’t really feel like film to be honest, more like a stage production”.
Would you prefer that compared traditional forms of filming? “I loved it. I’m a bit of a geek in that sense, surrounded by so much high tech. Most of the characters in Final Fantasy had to be acted by three people. The actor who the characters appearance was based off, the motion capture actor, and then the voice actor. Regis on the other hand was only two, as I did everything aside from the voice”.
Technically, you would have studied at Hogwarts before you turned evil. What would your patronus have been?
“It’s funny, I’ve been asked this question a few times, but I can never seem to answer it”.
I’m assuming it would have to be something really elaborate, like a phoenix…
“Phoenix is actually an interesting one. In the 1980’s, kids used to buy these radios, what you would now consider a trucker radio. Back then; it was the early stages of social networking. You would meet other people through these radios. On these radios you had to have an alias, a fake name. And mine was The Phoenix. I wanted something that was cool, and mysterious; I wanted to reinvent myself through the used of these radios. Before you said Phoenix I had no idea, but now my entire past has just flashed before me… Alright, let’s say Phoenix”.
Instagram: @jon_campling Twitter: @joncampling www.joncampling.com