Alfred Enoch Discusses “Red” Ahead of West End Premiere
Alfred Enoch, known to us as Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter series, is tackling the role of Ken, an assistant to famous painter Mark Rothko, in John Logan’s play Red. The revival of this production will once again be directed by Michael Grandage and will be premiering for the first time in the West End. Alfred Enoch will be joining Alfred Molina, who is reprising his role as the main character, Mark Rothko.
Fun fact: When the play originally debuted back in 2009 at the Donmar Warehouse, Ken was played by none other than Eddie Redmayne, or as we know him, Newt Scamander.
Red is based on a true story that spans two years and takes place in the 1950s. It follows Mark Rothko as he completes large murals for the Four Seasons restaurant opening on the ground floor of the newly built Seagram building in New York City. He is assisted by Ken, who questions the famous painter’s theories regarding art.
The full interview with Alfred Enoch and Alfred Molina can be found here, but keep scrolling for the highlights, including a short video posted on the London Theatre’s Facebook page!
The interview begins with asking Enoch and Molina what they’re able to tell us about the play and their characters.
It’s [not only] Rothko’s journey but also the journey between these two men who are very different in age. There’s a father-son element, there’s a master-servant element, there’s a teacher-student element – it’s the way that that relationship changes through the process of the work they’re engaging in.
The interview then addresses any parallels they may have with their characters, and Molina is quick to point out the difference between Redmayne’s Ken and Enoch’s Ken.
I think it’s important to say that with all the different manifestations of the cast, Michael [Grandage] and I have always felt it was really important that whoever came to play Ken was 50% of the cast and therefore he was 50% of the play. It wasn’t a matter of recreating what we’d done already but discovering the play again.
Whatever [Alfie] chooses to do will have an effect on what I do, and it’s just as good for me for it to be different.
A question is then directed at Enoch about what he brings to the show. Enoch replied modestly, but Molina wasn’t afraid to share his opinion on the matter.
Enoch: ‘It’s quite hard for me to sort of evaluate that with any kind of objectivity. I’m just trying to… get it right, I guess! [Laughs] I’ve been given a lot of freedom, so I think that my responsibility is to seize that.’
Molina: ‘Alfie is too modest to say so, but I can say it for him. He comes with an amazing amount of skill and intelligence and sensitivity and awareness, and these are things that you learn as an actor through your career. If I had been as aware and intelligent and skilled when I was his age I would have been very happy.’
Molina is then asked a question about whether or not there is a difference in the way he approaches the material, knowing that his character isn’t a fictitiously based one.
It is a little bit, yeah. I think that when you’re playing someone who actually existed, either a contemporary or historical figure, I think the job is essentially the same because hopefully you’re recreating what’s on the page of the script, but there’s a certain responsibility not to misrepresent that person. Especially if there’s documented material on that person… I know that I can’t suddenly turn up and say that I’m gonna do it with a big Russian accent as if I’ve just come off the boat. I can’t suddenly decide ‘You know what, just to make him more sympathetic I’m gonna give him a limp’ – you can’t do that, unlike with a fictitious character. You just have to be careful not to misrepresent them, but that’s really the only obligation you have.
The interview was wrapped up with one last question directed at Enoch about whether or not he felt the need to compare his performance against previous renditions of Ken.
No. But that’s partly how I’ve been freed by Fred and Michael. Also, I didn’t see them. I couldn’t if I wanted to. It’s one of those productions people know about. It was a huge deal and I remember I didn’t go see it. I didn’t have time! But it’s one of those things I’ve since looked back on. I did a show at the Donmar and you were on the wall and I was like ‘Oh, I wish I’d seen Red!’ so many times. Or someone mentioning it and me wishing I’d seen it. But again, I can’t. I wouldn’t want to work in that way. You’ve got to find your own relationship with the play, your own take, and it’s always going to be different. And then someone else is going to do it and see different things in it. So no.
Red, which is currently in previews, opens officially on May 4, 2018, and runs through July 28, 2018. Are you planning to see it, or have you had the opportunity to see its debut with Eddie Redmayne as Ken? Let us know in the comments below!