Kingdom Come, but Now Bob's Playing the Man Who Gave His Away for Love; He's Famed for Having Inhabited Such Disparate and Troubled Souls as Dylan Thomas and J Edgar Hoover on Stage. but Now Bob Kingdom Has Turned His Attention to the Royal 'W.E.' - Namely Wallace Simpson and King Edward VIII, Writes Nathan Bevan

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 18, 2013 | Go to article overview

Kingdom Come, but Now Bob's Playing the Man Who Gave His Away for Love; He's Famed for Having Inhabited Such Disparate and Troubled Souls as Dylan Thomas and J Edgar Hoover on Stage. but Now Bob Kingdom Has Turned His Attention to the Royal 'W.E.' - Namely Wallace Simpson and King Edward VIII, Writes Nathan Bevan


IF YOU watched the Baftas recently you'll have seen Daniel Day-Lewis picking up the Best Actor trophy for his performance as Abraham Lincoln, a role he immersed himself in so much it's said he stayed firmly in character even off-set.

But it's not a method shared by award-winning Cardiff-born actor Bob Kingdom, which is probably for the best considering some of the real-life legends he's transformed himself in to on stage over the years.

"I'd heard that while he's shooting a particular film Daniel insists that everyone calls him only by his character's name, but I don't have any truck with that," says the actor, famed for his unerringly accurate portrayal of the likes of heavy boozing Swansea bard Dylan Thomas and infamous FBI big wig - and alleged cross-dresser - J Edgar Hoover.

"But that's all just affectation, I'm nothing like that. For me the thrill is in standing in the wings as Bob Kingdom and switching, the second the spotlight hits me, into the person I'm supposed to be playing.

"Then, when I'm done, I just hang the characters back up again behind the dressing room door."

However, that doesn't mean some punters don't expect Kingdom's life and art to overlap from time to time.

"People do tend to think I might have some sort of Dylan fixation and that I attempt to emulate him in other facets of my day-to-day existence," he sighs heavily.

"Sometimes it's expected I'll be propping up the bar next door to a theatre after my performance and carrying on like my subject did, but I don't even drink for heaven's sake."

So how does he set about picking who he'll essay next? "The main starting point for me is find a person I know I can look and sound like, who I can inhabit," he says.

"That's certainly what I like when go to the theatre, to see someone morphing into a completely different identity.

"What I don't do is go round saying, 'Oh, I must put on a show about so-and-so', and then wonder how I'm going to pass as them."

But, in pulling of his biggest stage triumph so far, Kingdom admits that he had his work cut out.

"There's absolutely no moving footage of Dylan anywhere, just still photos," he shrugs.

"Similarly, there's no audio of him in an interview situation just being himself, it's more his oratorical stuff.

Yet, for Dylan Thomas: Return Journey - the seminal production which charted the poet's fateful final lecture tour of the US in 1953 - Kingdom still seemingly managed to get the man's many quirks and mannerisms down pat.

"I grew up hearing Dylan's voice on the wireless and, even before my own had broken, I knew that I could copy it," he smiles.

"And I'd take the clothes I'd chosen for the part and just dump them on the dressing floor before a performance, so they were all creased and crumpled, so when I put them on it was like crawling inside Thomas' own skin.

"Then I'd gloss my lips up to plump them up and use a bit of make-up to give the illusion of my nose being bulbous. …

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Kingdom Come, but Now Bob's Playing the Man Who Gave His Away for Love; He's Famed for Having Inhabited Such Disparate and Troubled Souls as Dylan Thomas and J Edgar Hoover on Stage. but Now Bob Kingdom Has Turned His Attention to the Royal 'W.E.' - Namely Wallace Simpson and King Edward VIII, Writes Nathan Bevan
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