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Streetdance 2 - George Sampson interview

Streetdance 2

Interview by Rob Carnevale

GEORGE Sampson talks about reprising his role as Eddie in Streetdance 2 and working with an all-new set of co-stars. He also reflects on his career to date and how fame and success has bought him stability and happiness.

He also jokingly refers to himself as a mummy’s boy and what some of his plans for the future are.

Q. Do you see dance as being a secure future for you?
George Sampson: Well, it’s not secure! But for now it’s secure. In terms of what I want to do in the future and stuff I have absolutely no idea! I won Britain’s Got Talent, it opened a door for me and now I’m just kind of trying everything.

Q. How’s that going? You’re in Waterloo Road, you have Streetdance 2
George Sampson: I love it. I love it. I enjoy playing someone else. In Waterloo Road, I enjoy playing the bad boy. I come into school and they say: “This is how you’re going to trash the school today…” And that’s it. It’s so fun. It gets worse. It’s going to get deeper in Waterloo Road… but it’s good. I’m doing Mount Pleasant on Sky1 at the moment, which is just playing this young, cheeky footballer and I’m enjoying that as well.

Q. Do they base the characters you play on you?
George Sampson: I don’t know. I just think people are loving the cheeky thing at the moment. I’ve practised on my mother for years [laughs].

Q. Were you worried when they announced Streetdance 2? You’re the only survivor from the original…
George Sampson: Yeah. Flawless returned but in terms of acting yeah I was. I didn’t think they would come back to me at first. I heard they were getting a whole kind of European new cast and they were going to do it bigger and better, so I thought: “Well, that’s the end of me then… goodbye Eddie!” But they asked me back and I was completely shocked by it. But I love Vertigo, the film company, because they’re looked after me for a good few years now.

Q. You’ve had an awful lot of success pretty quickly, so what does that do to you? How do you stay grounded? Does having two sisters help?
George Sampson: Well, I’ve got three sisters, a brother and my mum and my mum is the reason – she’s so hard on me. She would never let me… I mean, I’ve been 18 for nearly a year now and I’ve never been to a single club in my life. She just looks after me and she knows what’s best for me. She knows what’s best for me more than I do. She’s completely on it and she keeps me grounded. She’s amazing. She’s here now, outside, probably listening to everything I’m saying!

Q. What do your mates make of that? I’m not saying ‘mummy’s boy’…
George Sampson: Oh no I am a mummy’s boy! I am. I’m totally a mummy’s boy. But they love it. But my best friend Tom is a mummy’s boy as well and my other friend James, well he isn’t. But I only have two best friends that I kind of see all the time, as well as people who are kind of arm’s length away who I’m cool with. I don’t go out that much anyway because I’m always kind of doing stuff. And when I do have time where I should be looking at girlfriends and doing other things, me and my friends just come round and play Xbox and that’s all we do. They’ve got used to me being away for a while and then seeing me for an hour or two. My friends have been great.

Q. What has success bought you? You can now drive, obviously…
George Sampson: Yeah, I’ve got a car. I bought my mum a car. I paid my mum’s mortgage off when I first won. And then I put someone in the house that we’d lived in and bought her a new house. So, at the moment it’s bought me… not happiness but stability. I can finally just sit down and say: “We don’t have to worry about this, this, this, this and this… like we used to.” Now we can do what we do and concentrate on work, which is great. It’s an amazing feeling. I can’t even remember how bad I felt before because I don’t want to. I’ve had to force that out. So, it’s nice to know I can relax a bit.

Q. What car did you buy yourself?
George Sampson: Well, I’m the fussiest person when it came to buying a car. I didn’t want to stall in front of fans, so I thought I’d go for an automatic. I took a manual test but wanted an automatic. I wanted something sporty with a small engine. So, it’s a 1.4 and it’s a Seat Ibiza FR. It’s amazing. People look at it and go: “That’s what you’re driving! The money you’ve got!” And I’m like: “Yeah. It’s my little baby.” People think I should be driving Range Rovers and things like that. But I love my car. It’s white, it’s small, it’s got black tyres… it’s everything a little boy from Warrington could want. So, I absolutely love it.

Q. Do you ever get used to red carpet style exposure?
George Sampson: The red carpet stuff is brilliant because it’s so fun. In terms of exposure, I think it’s something that you can never get used to because you don’t know what you’re being exposed to at all times. You just don’t know what to expect. I could totally get used to the red carpet because it’s such a great atmosphere. As much as I enjoy being interviewed, I love looking around and watching other people get interviewed as well because I’m thinking that everybody is having a good time and I’m having a good time through everybody else, and on top of that I’m having a good time from what I’m doing. So, the premiere was brilliant.

Q. What do you put the success of Streetdance down to?
George Sampson: I think there’s a lot of aspects. I think a lot of it is down to the characters. I think it’s the skill involved. And I think it’s the fusion of dance. Step Up have done fusion before but it’s not been seen properly over here. I think the marketing was done really well. Everyone has pulled their weight on this.

Q. Who were you closest to on-set?
George Sampson: Falk [Hentschel] and Sambo, who plays Tino in the movie. Falk and I got on from day one. He’s like my big brother. People say we’re like an old couple. He’s the most professional person I’ve ever met. We were shooting in Berlin and he was up every morning in the gym before shooting. He’d finish shooting, go in and have a shower and go to the gym again, come in and learn his lines and be in bed at 8pm every night. He never changed. He was so professional, to the level where it was my birthday and I needed him to come out… he did in the end. But it was hard because he really takes it to heart and I have to respect that.

Q. Is there a difference between American and European dancers?
George Sampson: Yes, a massive difference. I say European, but it’s more English [laughs], we’re just very lazy. We just want things to come to us, whereas in America they’re very military and it’s like if you want something you go and get it and you work your hardest until you’ve got it. They really push that. When we did the rehearsals before the actual shoot we had a month and a half of rehearsals and it was 12 hours a day, 8 until 8, the American dancers were there at 8am on the dot… it was like boot camp. They’re completely boot camp about everything – but you get the best out of people that way! It’s the same with the acting. Falk was very boot camp about what he did and it worked, whereas we have more of a crazy imagination over here, in Europe. If you look at some of the characters in this, such as Scorpion… I mean how did he think of that? It’s crazy. Legs flying everywhere! It’s nuts… the creativity is amazing. The pure creativity of it keeps us going over here, whereas over there they’re all about work and getting it done in time.

Q. Is it more bitchy over there?
George Sampson: Over here, because it’s so creative, everyone is different. They have their own egos but everyone is different. Whereas over there, everyone’s military and wants to be the best and so there’s a lot of bitchiness over there. But it’s LA, it’s America, if it wasn’t bitchy it’d be boring. And Europeans love a bitch. We love listening to it.

Q. You must have been one of the youngest people ever to appear at a Royal Variety performance, so what was that like for you?
George Sampson: It was the weirdest night of my life. I knew I was performing. I knew I was coming on after Rihanna… and that was nuts because… it was: “George, you’re on stage…. George come on!” I was lost. And then suddenly Prince Charles is walking by and I can’t understand what he’s saying because of everything that’s going on. And then I’ve got Rihanna’s off-stage and she needs people to carry her dress, so of course two of my dancers left me and went and grabbed her dress. I went on stage missing dancers… it was just nuts! It was one of those nights I’ll remember forever. But they got back, we did the routine and it turned out great.

Q. Whose gracious hand did you shake that evening?
George Sampson: Prince Charles. He shook my hand, he bowed and I bowed, but I can’t even remember what he said. He talks dead quiet and you can’t just go: “Speak up!” He’s the prince. But I had Peter Kay stood next to me and he kept pinching my ass and making me laugh! Oh man, it was just a weird but great day.

Q. How do you feel when you dance?
George Sampson: I dance for freedom. I dance for people’s reaction more than anything. I feel great… I feel like I can do anything, say anything while I’m dancing and nobody can care. I do have times when I’m angry and I literally do slam my bedroom door and dance all around my bedroom. It’s a good way of getting energy out and it’s a good way of doing things, but I do it purely just to entertain other people. It’s not about me. So, call me a show-off, I don’t care… as long as people are happy watching me doing what I do, I’ll do my thing and that’s it.

Q. What do you do when you’re not dancing?
George Sampson: I’m either with my friends playing Xbox or I have my own dance studio now , which is about to open in Warrington. It’s built and I’m using it a bit like a den. So, i go there and play Xbox with friends, make some music, dance a bit…

Q. Are you going to get other young people in to train them up?
George Sampson: Yeah. I’m going to get teachers in there and then I’m going to do a master-class once a month also.

Q. Is that a look to the future? An investment?
George Sampson: It is, it is. It is an investment and I know it’s going to make me some money and stuff. I only got the teachers that taught me how to dance. That’s my only rule. The teachers that teach there are the people that taught me as a kid. I want to create mini George Sampsons in a sense. People often watch other people dance and say: “I want to dance like that!” But you’re not going to get that if you go to other teachers. If you want to dance like George Sampson, for instance, you’ve got to be taught by the people who taught me. So, I got the teachers that taught me and they’re all going to teach there.

Q. Do you have any crazy fan stories?
George Sampson: A few… girls fainting and things like that. But I don’t get it. I could never meet someone and just collapse. Girls are a great thing, though, so if they faint, they faint.

Q. You sound so up, is there ever a time when you feel down?
George Sampson: Not lately, no. I’m just really happy at the moment. I mean, I have the odd argument with my mother. But other than that, no. I’m happy with everything that’s going on – with my friends, my life, my house… everything is running OK. It’s not the best and there are people who are doing what I do that have so much more than what I have but from what I had before to what I’ve got now I can’t help but be happy.

Read our interview with Sofia Boutella

Read our interview with Falk Hentschel