Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Afternoon With Tom

Originally posted by Nabu San:

We here at SARAH-JANE.tv are of the opinion that Tommy Knight is made of WIN. =D Since his debut on Invasion of the Bane back in 2007, the now 17-year-old actor's managed to get almost as many signings and television appearances under his belt as SJA's leading lady! Though, despite having been quoted about his work dozens of times over the years, few interviewers have had the opportunity to talk to the man behind the character; the real Tombo.

Fortunately for you lot, I - and fellow SJA enthusiast, Kirsty Juniper [aspiring journalist and BFF extraordinaire] gave it a shot last Saturday, when we got to chat to Tommy at the Midlands MCM Expo in Telford!

Tommy and his mother, Sandy, are kind enough to escort us into a rather lavish-looking Green Room at 3.30pm. Tom's just spent the past few hours signing hundreds of autographs, posing for dozens of photos and taking part in a Q&A session with an audience that was wayyyy over capacity. Perhaps it's down to his youthful energy, or maybe it's the can of Coke he's been clutching all day - but Tommy doesn't show the remotest hint of fatigue! A lesser man would've collapsed from exhaustion, especially if he'd set off from his home in Kent at 6 o'clock that very morning. Seems to be all in a day's work for Tommy, however, who's no doubt used to the long hours and heavy workload from the three years he's spent working on The Sarah Jane Adventures.

We learn from Sandy that Tom's always had a knack for taking on more than what would be expected of him. Whether devouring whole novels aged just seven, or learning to play a song on the piano by simply being shown how - you'd be hard pressed not to think of him as a real-life Luke!

We sit down around a conference table in the Green Room to discuss how Tommy's on-screen persona has affected his life since he took on the role:

Kirsty: So...what does it feel like to have so many children idolising you?

Tommy: It’s er, it’s pretty weird actually. I’ve got to think about things a lot more. Like how I am in front of people. I have to mind my language and y'know, be a lot more friendly towards the little kids.

Kirsty: Because you’re like a role model for them, people look up to you?

Tommy: Yeah, it’s quite worrying actually(!)

Me: What’s it like at school? You have the rare opportunity of going to school with the target audience, do you often have the little year sevens come up to you and ask you things?

Tommy: Yeah, I do actually. I get a lot of that the first few weeks in. Every time I walk into Science or go have a Chemistry lesson, the next door year sevens are all pointing as I’m sorting out my bag and there’s like a shock of wonder and awe(!) I walk past and I hear them whisper 'Sarah Jane Adventures!' or something like that to each other. I get used to it, though.

Me: Do you have a little gaggle of fangirls following you around?

Tommy: Not really. No, I go to an all boys school...!

Me: Oh!

Tommy: So it'll be a gaggle of, er boys! No, no. No such luck. *laughs*

Kirsty: So as you’re a young actor, do you have any plans to do anything more meaty in the future? Like, because you were in The Bill last month.

Me: That was so good!

Kirsty: And we heard there was a bad experience there...? [referring to an incident we'd heard about from Tom's mother].

Tommy: Oh yeah, getting stuck in the cell. [When they weren't filming!] That was creepy. Um...I think in the future, I dunno, I really can’t decide on what I want to do. A part of me really wants to leave acting and go and do something else. Like, I’d love to do Medicine, I’ve always wanted to do that. But another part of me wants to join the RAF. I’d love to continue acting because it would be so much fun, but I’m not cool with settling down with something that’s not a regular income. I don’t know if I’d be alright with that throughout my whole life. I want a family one day. =D

Me: Any particular field of the RAF you want to get into?

Tommy: I want to fly aeroplanes.

Me: Ooh, apparently they can pay your tuition for university too, that’s quite a good perk!

Kirsty: Are you a sci-fi fan yourself, because most people are not. I read an interview with Lis and she said 'No, I’m NOT a sci-fi fan at all(!)'

Tommy: I’m not really a sci-fi fan, no. I’m a bit of a nerd, like I play Halo 3 on the Xbox. I follow their MLG competitions for that and love it so much. That’s my nerdy side, all competitive computer gaming. I’m not much of a telly person, which is a shame.

Me: Are you quite techy, then?

Tommy: Tacky?!

Me: Oh, no! Techy! With regards to computers.

Tommy: Oh, oh techy. Yeah, yeah I can work my way 'round a computer.

Me: Do you take after your dad a bit? [his father works with computers for a living]

Tommy: Oh, yeah he knows a lot more than I do. He’s a lot better than I am but yeah, if something goes wrong I can sometimes fix it.

Kirsty: So if you went to a convention or something, is there anyone you would really really want to meet?

Tommy: I think if I was to come to one, I’d probably be like the sort of person that gets stuff for all my friends. I’d text them all like 'oh this person is here' to every single person you see, 'does anyone want this? We’ll go for this person!' and things like that. I’m not much of an autograph-y person. Personally, I don’t have an interest in having them, I completely get why people do want it, though. But like, I’ve never really wanted to run up to someone.

Me: Do you have any nerdy friends in your friendship circle, then?

Tommy: I’ve got a couple of nerdy friends, yeah. :P

Me: Any of them Doctor Who fans, or fellow Sarah Jane Adventures fans?

Tommy: Couple of Doctor Who fans in there, yeah. They’re fully supportive though, everyone I know - they love it. Yeah, it’s nice.

Me: Is it difficult making newer friends at school?

Tommy: Yeah, it is quite difficult sometimes. Fortunately I’m getting older now, so most 17-year-olds don’t really watch it. But I mean, there have been quite a couple of times if I’m out with some friends, and I meet some other friends I’ve never really met before - and they’ll be like 'Oh, are you from that show?' And you sort of feel like they judge you and expect you to be someone a lot better than you are, if you know what I mean?

[We round off our chat with a foray into Tom's favourite things, something every self-confessed Tommy Knight fan's been dying to see answered but have, until now, never had the opportunity to ask! :)]

Me: Favourite book, what do you enjoy reading?

Tommy: Um...I’ve read the book Inkheart, before it was a film.

Me: Is the book better than the movie?

Tommy: So much better. So, so much better! I really loved the book. Yeah, favourite book I think I’ve ever read.

Me: Band?

Tommy: Band...that’s tricky. My music taste is changing. [Tom's mother nods knowingly at this point]

Me: Oh, is it quite a bit eclectic, then?

Tommy: Yeah, yeah I’ve always loved my heavy Deathcore or rural music, but recently it’s just been Dubstep. I just can’t get enough of my basey music.

Sandy: And Vampire Weekend.

Tommy: Oh yeah, and I took mum to see Vampire Weekend. Tuesday, Brixton Academy, we were there. For Vampire Weekend.

Kirsty: I have no idea what Vampire Weekend is. :P

Tommy: They’re...really happy music. xD
Me: Where abouts is Brixton Academy, is that in London?

Tommy: Yeah, yeah that’s London.

Me: Coolness. And favourite song, if you had to pick one song out of your whole life, the song to your life?

Tommy: Jamie T - Back In The Game.

Me: I’ll have to google that one. And...favourite movie?

Tommy: Um, favourite movie...Fight Club!

Me: Oooh, brilliant. Favourite television show? Oh, well you can pick maybe three...

Tommy: Favourite television show is...I liked, I really loved Misfits.

Me: I love that! Is that coming out again?

Tommy: They’re doing a second series, I'm so excited for that!

Me: Brilliant!

Tommy: I love series one and two of Skins, but I’ve just lost interest in it. *laughs*

Me: Same, same! Effy’s the only strong point in the new series really, and maybe Cook.

Sandy: If they went for another series, presumably the kids in it now would be out...

Tommy: Yeah they’re doing a series at the moment, which is out currently.

Sandy: Yeah, but if they start auditioning for it, would you be interested in doing the next one?

Me: Yeah, there’s an option. It does get a bit raunchy however...so...

Tommy: Yeah! Oh, I’d love a bit of raunch!

Sandy: It’s your age group.

Kirsty: Yeah, you’re about the right age for it now.

Me: Yeah, you'd be perfect!

Tommy: Yeah, I’d love to do that. Definitely.

Me: Yeah, but wouldn’t it intrude on his uni time...

Tommy: Yeah, that’s the only thing. If it's going to effect my education, I don’t know if I'm alright with that.

Kirsty: So we’ll look out for you on Skins next, then!

*all of us have a giggle*

Me: Yeah well, I think that's pretty much it. :)

Kirsty: Thank you very much, that’s about all we wanted really.

Tommy: Oh yeah, well I’m going to go and have a look at the robots now!

Tommy had wanted to go and see the Robot Wars section all day. What he didn’t know was that his mum had secretly organised for him to have a private play with the controls so he could actually move the machines about!

A source tells us that he 'pushed, gripped and bashed a tin barrel to bits...and broke the hammer bit on the robot....'! Nice =D

Many thanks to Kirsty for accompanying me into the interview and for asking some truly insightful questions, as well as typing up the massive chat transcript! And many many thanks to the Midlands MCM Expo Press Office for giving us the opportunity to ask those questions in the first place! I'll be running into Tommy and Sandy again later on this week, when SARAH-JANE.tv will be jetting off on a trip to Los Angeles for Gallifrey One!

Tune in later on in the week for my, hopefully, daily updates from the convention - as well as an account of my adventures in Hollywood!
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