After a long period of closure, London gave ‘The Lion King’ a very warm welcome back to the stage. Opening night was a ‘roaring’ success and all the smiles and standing ovations made the period of lockdown fade into the distant memory.
One of the characters making a triumphant return was Scar (George Asprey), whose lack of morals and slippery cunning, makes him the villain people love to hate.
We asked George Asprey about his return to the role of Scar, his costume, playing a bad guy and Lego!
To book tickets to see ‘The Lion King’ go to the website – https://thelionking.co.uk/london/#booking-information
After such a long break from performing, how did you prepare for your return to the stage?
I managed to keep myself physically fit during the lockdown periods. However, I hadn’t used my voice properly in over a year. So, in the weeks prior to our return, I did half an hour of voice work every day. I thought this would be enough, but I still had a hoarse voice at the end of the first read through.
When watching the show, it is immediately apparent that the costumes play a big part in convincing the viewer that they are watching animals in their Kingdom. How do you approach using your costume as a part of your performance?
I think my costume is one of the finest in the show. Not only in appearance but how it reflects the character. With all my mechanics underneath for the mask, it weighs in at about 15kg, so it makes moving quite cumbersome. The costume is all angles with jagged bits sticking out which mirrors Scars less than linear personality.
Is it really so much more fun to play the bad guy?
Absolutely. I love diving in to Scars well of pain and despair. There’s so much to explore. No-one is born bad, so what turned him in to the fratricidal maniac he becomes. Also, evil characters always have the best lines. They’re allowed to say things that others are afraid to, although we’re all thinking it.
The Lion King movie is so popular, did you draw on the movie’s version of Scar to help to form your character? And if so, how did you adapt this for the stage?
I did see the Lion King when it came out and of course Jeremy Irons’ iconic performance as Scar sticks in the memory. But I didn’t go back and study it when I got the part. The writing spoke to me, and I pretty much knew how I wanted my Scar to be. But that’s the joy of theatre. Different actors will always bring different aspects of their personalities to a role and different interpretations. I have since gone back and seen the film also the new live version. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance is hugely different from that of Irons but just as darkly engaging. And I’d be lying if I said I haven’t nicked a couple of things from both, but not line readings, more an emotional state.
I watched this fabulous show on the night of its return and sat between two very excited young boys. You will have to bear with me on this, as I had a request from one of them. His favourite character is your own – ‘Scar’. He wanted to ask you this question – ‘What is your favourite Lego?’ (Apparently it is his favourite thing apart from animals).
I absolutely adored Lego growing up as a kid. However, in my day we didn’t have specific sets to build. We just had bricks and connectors and we had to build from our imaginations. I also loved building and painting model GT racing cars. So, if there’s a Lego kit for an Aston Martin Vantage GTE that’s the one, I’d go for.
George Asprey – Biography
Theatre: Chicago (UK tour); They’re Playing Our Song, Private Lives (English Theatre, Frankfurt); A View From the Bridge (Leicester Haymarket); The Good Companions (Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich); Dick Barton (Warehouse, Croydon); Pride and Prejudice (Good Company); The Sound of Music (Sadler’s Wells and UK tour); Scrooge, Guys and Dolls (Birmingham Rep Theatre)
Television: Sex Education (Netflix); The Barking Murders (BBC); The Crown (Netflix); New Tricks (BBC); Psychoville (BBC); Waking the Dead (BBC); The Bill (ITV); The Gil Mayo Mysteries (BBC); The Afternoon Play (BBC); Riot at Rite (BBC); A Life in Pictures (Wall to Wall); The Dying of the Light (BFI); Holby City (BBC); Trial & Retribution II and III (ITV); Secrets and Lines (Channel 4); Nancherrow (ITV); Supply and Demand II (ITV); Coming Home (ITV); An Independent Man (BBC); The Peter Principle (BBC)
Film: Without Remorse (Paramount Pictures); The Gentlemen (Miramax); The Greatest Game Ever Played (Disney); The Wedding Date (Universal Pictures); AKA (Empire); Dead in the Water (BFI); Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (TriStar Pictures)