Interview with American Idiot’s Aaron Sidwell

Cast of American Idiot, The Arts Theatre

To celebrate the show’s huge success I spoke to Aaron Sidwell, current leading man in Green Day’s American Idiot, the Tony Award-winning musical, prior to its closure in London to find out how life as front man Johnny has been.

How’s the show going?

Really good…only a few more weeks to go now. It’s at that stage where we’re winding down and nearing the end but it’s still a very lovely show and a lot of fun.

Can you relate to your character Johnny in any way?

Yes absolutely. I grew up on this music so musically there’s a definite relation, and I think as a character I can understand the frustration he feels.

Where did your interest in theatre start?

At a very young age. My family are very theatre-based people, both as admirers of it and as people that work in it, so I began going to the theatre at a very young age and realised I had a love for the stage by six or seven. I’ve done a lot of TV but I feel more at home on a stage than I do in front of a camera, it’s a different kind of world. Being on a stage is a bit more in touch with where I came from.

Cast of American Idiot, Green Day Musical, The Arts Theatre, London, England

Compared to other shows you’ve done, what’s been the biggest challenge with American Idiot?

It’s been a physical challenge, it’s taken its toll on my body and it’s much more of a mental strain. It is very mentally draining to do and that’s been more of a challenge. I’ve felt it’s been very difficult on my sanity to a certain extent!

How do you prepare for a role like Johnny, as there are a lot of intense scenes particularly with drug use?

With a lot of research. I find watching the real thing does help and I did a lot of research on documentaries about heroin users and about drug users in general, their personality traits and everything that goes with it, then watching someone actually taking heroin and what it does to their body immediately and how they react. Also watching other actors doing it. I’ve watched Trainspotting and there’s a lot of stuff like Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad that I saw and brought to Johnny. So it’s a real mixed bag.

What is it about being on stage that you love?

I think it’s more a comfortability. I feel stage challenges me more and I think a lot of the writing that you get on stage challenges me more as an actor than TV and film does. I feel that in TV and film you have more licence to method act, because you can literally rip a scene maybe once or twice then you move on from it, but in theatre it’s a totally different craft of making it interesting four months down the line and making yourself still feel it four months down the line. You’re always challenging yourself to keep it at a standard that it should be even though the pressure is not on that night, even though the press aren’t in that night, even though your mum might not be in watching on that night…it’s keeping that intensity going no matter what. That’s more of a challenge I feel on stage that keeps my hunger and thirst for it alive.

Have you always been a big Green Day fan?

Yes, I always have been. Green Day and Nirvana were the first two bands when I was getting into finding a style of music that was about who I was. I grew up with Green Day and they were always there.

Cast of American Idiot, Green Day Musical, The Arts Theatre, London, England

So what’s next after the show has finished?

I’m just seeing what happens. I am just letting go of the wheel and seeing where it takes me next. I’m being a bit picky and not necessarily jumping at the next thing, because I want it to feel as right as this has felt, or at least to present a new challenge or to work with someone who’s going to develop me a little bit more. I’m always looking to improve and that’s what I want to do next.

Is there a role you really aspire to play on the stage?

Not at the moment. If don’t play Macbeth at some point I’ll be livid and if I don’t play Hamlet at some point I’ll be livid. If I don’t get to play such classic roles then I’ll be really disappointed, but nothing is on at the moment that’s screaming to me.

See Aaron in American Idiot the Musical at London’s Arts Theatre until 22nd November 2015. The show will then embark on a UK tour commencing 19th March 2016 at the Leicester Curve theatre. Visit www.americanidiotwestend.com to book tickets.

Images: Darren Bell

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