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Streetdance 3D - George Sampson interview

George Sampson in Streetdance 3D

Interview by Rob Carnevale

GEORGE Sampson talks about some of the challenges of appearing in Streetdance 3D, his first big acting gig, as well as landing a recurring part in the BBC’s Waterloo Road.

He also talks about his career since winning Britain’s Got Talent and why much of it still feels like a dream.

Q. Streetdance is a film that really gets people excited about dance. Was that part of the appeal?
George Sampson: Oh yeah, it was the main deal really. A lot of people aren’t really on this scene and that’s our main goal – to try and get young people to realise that streetdance is not just young people in hoodies. It’s also nice to get people off the street and start dancing.

Q. So, what was your first experience of making a movie like?
George Sampson: It was certainly an interesting first film! I never see myself as an actor. Ironically, when I was at drama school my acting teacher used to always say that she thought I was a better actor than a dancer. But I just thought she was lying. A few weeks before I started this film, though, I went back to speak to her and she said that she still thought that of me [laughs]. But making Streetdance was an interesting experience. It was long, as there was a lot of waiting around, but it was also a lot of fun.

Q. The scene in which you dance in front of the crowd towards the end looks demanding. Was that your toughest scene?
George Sampson: Yeah, but mainly because I had to perform it 12 times! So, that was probably the most difficult thing I had to do. By the tenth, eleventh and twelfth time I was knackered!

Q. Do you get nervous before performing in front of such a big crowd ever?
George Sampson: Not really, no. The thing when you’re dancing is that you get your adrenaline from the crowd. You have to let any nerves take over and not allow them to get the better of you – but if you’re confident in your material and in what you’re doing, it comes out cleaner, especially with the audience behind you.

Q. What made you want to become a dancer?
George Sampson: I didn’t really decide that I wanted to become a dancer. It was not by choice. When I was younger, my mum took me to theatre school because she was working. And I just loved it and wanted to keep going. I didn’t know I wanted to become one. It was a hobby, but it just kept pushing me forward and getting more and more exciting.

Q. Did you ever think you’d become this successful?
George Sampson: Not a chance in the world… I try to think about everything I’ve done in the past two and a half years and it’s crazy. I was only 14 at the time [Britain’s Got Talent], so my dreams were so high. But I never thought I’d be where I am now, and starring in a film.

Q. Especially something as high profile as Britain’s first ever 3D movie…
George Sampson: Exactly! Exactly [laughs]

Q. And how have people reacted to Streetdance?
George Sampson: Everyone that I’ve spoken to so far says they’ve enjoyed it. But last night was the big one for me, in Manchester – doing the screening there. People can always tell you it’s good, but your close friends and family will always be more truthful. And they all loved it. They all said it was amazing. But I love it too. I’ve seen it three times now and I really enjoy it every time.

Q. How was getting to act alongside Charlotte Rampling?
George Sampson: Amazing, and she’s such a lovely woman, she really is. She’s someone that’s been there and done it so many times, so you know you’re on to a winner when you get to star alongside someone like that. I gave her a lot of respect, and she respected me, so we got along fine.

Nichola Burley in Streetdance 3D

Q. And did you also get on with co-star Nichola Burley?
George Sampson: Nik’s really nice as well. She’s just lovely in general. She’s done amazing in this film because she wasn’t a dancer pre-Streetdance. She was taught to dance beforehand and she really pulled it off so well.

Q. How has life changed for you since Britain’s Got Talent?
George Sampson: It’s sped up… everything’s gone really, really quickly. I’m doing stuff now that I never thought I’d do. Time flies when you’re having fun and I’m having a lot of fun right now. It’s been two years since I won and it still feels like a few months ago. Sometimes I feel that it’s a shame because I can hardly remember stuff… I’d love to be able to go back to that memory and really enjoy it. A lot of it still feels like a big dream to me. But I can’t complain too much. It’s all so exciting.

Q. How important are shows like Britain’s Got Talent in providing a platform for artists like yourself?
George Sampson: They are so important. If I hadn’t been on that show no one would know who I was now – I’d still be training in a studio right now. But if you have someone who has been training for 10 years in a studio, who lives and breathes dance, people should know about them. For a dancer, though, you can’t just go out and do that. The only way for a dancer to do it [get noticed] is through shows like Britain’s Got Talent. It provides them with a tremendous platform.

Q. I gather you’re now in Waterloo Road?
George Sampson: I got the job about four months ago. I’ve already completed by first series, and I’ve picked up an option for two more.

Q. Is that a more gritty character for you?
George Sampson: Gritty-ish. He’s a lot different from anything I’ve played before. He’s a bad lad who is always throwing chairs and kicking people. He’s a proper bully. But it was fun to play that. I had to throw chairs and kick doors in. I did a bit of research by hanging out with people I know to be like him, observing what they were like.

Q. What’s next for you?
George Sampson: I’ve got a lot of things coming up that will take me to the end of the year. I’m writing a book and I’ve just built a new website that’s going to be animated and in 3D. That’s all in the making, and then I’ve got another DVD I want to make. So, it’s all go…

Q. Do you get any time off? And what do you do with it?
George Sampson: I don’t get much to be honest, just the odd day here and there. And them I’m on the Xbox all day playing Call of Duty. I can’t get enough of the Xbox!

Q. So, what advice would you give to people who want to follow in your footsteps?
George Sampson: Just don’t let anything get in the way of what you want to achieve. A lot of people get knocked back by friends, or family, or peer pressure. If you have a talent and want to do something with it, it’s down to you. If it’s what you really want then go after it and be very selfish… You have to remain committed, you have to stay focused and you have to be selfish.

Read our review of Streetdance 3D

Read our interview with Richard Winsor