Having starred in this year’s successful Teefa in Trouble, Tom Coulston is living his dream of being a global actor. Born and raised in Sheffield, England, he has mostly been cast in TV shows though he will appear in the upcoming short films In2ruders and Seen this year. Tom discussed his experience filming in Pakistan with Haider Rifaat
Describe yourself in a few words.
Passionate, hardworking, caring, over sensitive and those who are very close to me would probably say that I am moody at times.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Sheffield to my parents Anne Marie and Andrew. My momâ€™s Scottish and her dad was Irish. My father was born in Sheffield where I was raised as a child. I have family in Scotland but my immediate family is in Sheffield. I live in London but I try to regularly visit my parents and grandparents. I have a younger brother who is happily married. My dad is a retired firefighter; he served in the fire service for 30 years. My mother works as a Scenes of Crime Officer and deals with murders and burglaries, like in CSI. (Laughs)
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy keeping fit; I try to play football if I can. Growing up, football was my passion! I used to play for Sheffield United Juniors. I go to the gym regularly. I am into boxing and like doing circuit training and punch bag. I like socializing with my loved ones, the wildlife, nature and traveling. I visited Italy this year, which was beautiful. Spain is one of my favourite places, especially Madrid.
What made you want to become an actor?
I never set out to be an actor. I started modeling when I was 20 and built my confidence that way. I did a few campaign shoots and different modeling jobs, including catwalk. I never really thought about acting, that was the natural transition. I felt that the industry chose me rather than me choosing it because of all the opportunities I was gifted with. I worked on my first feature film in 2013 as a bar man in the gangster film Top Dog directed by Martin Kemp. It was his directorial debut.
I got my lines in the morning and learned them for my character. I rehearsed them with Martin and he told me that I did it perfect. I worked as a personal trainer at a gym and, in 2014, I decided to do my training with L.A. acting coach Michael John Gonzales. Although he moved back, I trained with him for 3 years. The industry is a good place to be and I relish all the opportunities I get. I feel like I am on the right path.
Is performing arts your dream career?
Yes, I would definitely say that now that I find myself in the acting realm, it is my passion. I hope things keep progressing nicely as they have so far. I have had and some good roles. Teefa in Trouble for me is one of my best roles to date. It was such an amazing experience and I pray I get many more. I feel honoured and privileged to be a part of it.
Why did you decide to do Teefa in Trouble? How were you approached for the project?
I modeled for Pakistan Fashion Week in London in 2012 and a good friend of mine, who is a director and photographer, kept in touch. We did a few collaborations together. He was a friend of Ali Zafarâ€™s. He knew about the role of Andy and he put me up for it.
I had the conversation with Ahsan Rahim, the director on the phone about the character. I did a self-tape for them so they could see my acting ability. They could visualize me playing Andyâ€™s role and the next thing I knew, I was flying out to Lahore to do my scenes. I lived with Ali and his beautiful family. They were so kind and welcomed me with open arms. I hope I get the opportunity to come back soon!
How was the transition of film from England to Pakistan? Is there any stark difference you noted?
Filming in Pakistan was great. When I filmed in Lahore, all my scenes were studio based. The internal train set that Ali had purposefully built along with the rest was unbelievable to look at. One thing that blew my mind was when I first got to Lahore, I went to meet Ahsan Rahim and the cast was filming at the Lahore train station.
The fact that the train station was running normally and right beside it was the film set where Ali was performing his stunts. I found that quite incredible because if it were here in England or Hollywood, it would probably be a closed set. The train station would not be the actual one for an international production. Everybody was professional on set. I was honoured to work alongside everybody.
How was it like working with Ali Zafar and Maya Ali?
It was great to work with Maya and Ali. My first scene was in Lahore with Maya Ali. She really is a sweetheart. Before we filmed, we got the chance to speak to each other. I found out that she has family in Scotland like myself. She is such a kind, warm and loving girl and an amazing actress as well. I do wish her the very best. She was phenomenal in Teefa in Trouble.
Ali is literally the Tom Cruise of Pakistan. He is so talented. I saw him do many of his own stunts, which were amazing. All his passion goes into everything he does. He gave me some advice on my character, which worked really well. It was a true honor to work with Ali, Maya, Ahsan and the dream team.
Are you happy with the filmâ€™s response? Do you think the success of Teefa in Trouble will open more doors for you in the future?
It is incredible to see how well the film has done in Pakistan. The film opened to a house full in London. My parents went across to Manchester to see it and I was waiting for them at the theater. A few audience members recognized me as Andy.
The fans were so kind that they wanted photos with me. It was good to see how proud my parents were. I am happy to be a part of something so historic. It would be great to come back and work in Pakistan again. I hope Teefa in Trouble opens a few doors for me.
What is next for you?
I have a few things coming up. I worked on film In2ruders and another one called Seen. They are coming out later in the year. I am still modeling so that keeps my head above waters. I am still busy with that and I enjoy it. Back in May, I worked on a television production, which will be shown in America, and England titled Flack. I play an interesting role that of Jay, a flamboyant, really out there character. He has an affair with a footballer.
I believe that comes out in the U.K. and the U.S. next year and I am sure my character will make an impact. I was lucky to work with an Oscar winning performer, Anna Paquin on this production. She very kindly praised my performance as Jay. She was the first millennial to win an Oscar and I cannot wait for it to come out next year. I am also constantly auditioning because that is how it goes in this industry.
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