Nigel Harman is starring as ruthless salesman Ricky Roma in David Mamet’s award winning play Glengarry Glen Ross, which is touring the UK from February. The Olivier award-winning actor is best known for his role in EastEnders as Dennis Rickman, and has starred in theatre productions including Guys and Dolls, A Chorus of Disapproval, I Can't Sing and Shrek. Following a critically acclaimed West End run, Glengarry Glen Ross will embark on its first ever major nationwide tour from 14 February 2019 opening at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking. It will then visit Birmingham, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Glasgow, Richmond, Brighton and Cardiff. We caught up with Nigel to discuss his iconic role in this savagely entertaining masterpiece.
Glengarry Glen Ross is a cult classic - have you always been a fan?
I’ve been a fan of Glengarry Glen Ross ever since I came across it as a play. When the movie came out in the 1990s that confirmed how much I loved it. I’m really thrilled to be starring in Glengarry Glen Ross and every day I realise what a fantastic play it is.
Why were you drawn to star in Glengarry Glen Ross?
I was drawn to the challenge of it on some level, as well as the Americana aspect. It’s so funny and so fast paced and you get to say f**k a lot!
You’ve starred in EastEnders as well as stage shows including Shrek: The Musical and Guys and Dolls; do you prefer performing live on stage or in front of cameras?
I like the live theatre environment; every night is unique and anything can happen. I think it’s brilliant that you and the audience are connected in the same room. But I also like the subtlety that comes with sitting in front of the camera, so I love them both! If I were forced to pick, I would probably choose the theatre.
Ricky Roma is an iconic character – how do you get into character and is he like any other characters you’ve played in the past?
I’ve played fast talking New York guys before, I’ve played foolhardy cool characters and very dark characters, but I’ve never played someone who is as morally dubious as Ricky Roma in terms of the lies that come out of his mouth! Sometimes I do a whole page of dialogue and then I realise “Oh my God – all of that was a lie!” You get wrapped up in his web of lies. He spins great webs and he makes everyone feel special and then you realise that it’s an act – so yes, he’s an exciting character to play.
How does Ricky’s dress sense compare to yours?
Ricky goes to work and puts on his suit in order to impress his clients. He dresses depending on who he’s trying to sell to. I think he uses clothes as a weapon whereas I just use clothes to get to work! I ride my motorbike to work so most of the time I look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards! Ricky is reasonably sharp, although he’s not as sharp as he’d like to be because he doesn’t have as much money as he would like.
Describe your style in three words.
Outdated, laid-back and creased!
What in particular about the play do you admire the most?
The writing is exceptional; I know everyone says it about this play and David Mamet. It’s so detailed and at the same time it manages to be hilarious yet harrowing to watch – it is a modern day masterpiece.
What do you love best about being on tour?
I’m a big believer in bringing plays to people’s hometowns, rather than asking them to come to London. Travelling to London is very expensive and tickets are very expensive. Hopefully touring around the UK will make the evening more affordable for everyone, which will encourage more people to go to the theatre. It’s our privilege to come to you, rather than expecting you to come to us, so I love that. I also get to spend a week exploring different cities.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career?
Winning an Olivier Award would be right up there. I also loved being part of Downton Abbey and I look fondly back on my time in EastEnders too.
What are your top tips for aspiring actors?
Involve yourself in life, go out and meet people and spend time with real people – don’t just spend time with actors. Learn as many diverse things as you can and not just acting, and stay true to yourself – don’t try to act like other people, interpret things as you instinctively want to.
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