Edward Akrout hurriedly arrives as I await him on a terrace in the bobo neighborhood of the Marais, his favorite district to stay while in Paris. A wiry figure with wild hair, he immediately apologizes to me for his being late. Before I could utter a response, he had slipped into his native French tongue to order something up from the waiter.
The 34-year-old Franco-British actor and artist was born in Paris and raised to a British mother and Tunisian father. He had spent time training in theatre at Le Cours Florent and studying philosophy at The Sorbonne before moving to London in his early twenties.
I ask him how he managed to obtain such an exquisitely British accent. “You’d think it have come from my mother, when in actuality it came from LAMDA.” The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art where Akrout honed his craft. “When I arrived in London, I could barely speak English. Even at my entrance audition I just answered every question with ‘it depends’ because I didn’t know how else to respond!” he laughs.
Our conversation did not linger on his early education for long, but turned to his successes since graduating in 2008. Edward has been prominent on both the screen and stage, representing his acting in America and across Europe. In fact, Edward had arrived at our interview hot from the 70th International Cannes Film Festival, in which his latest film, Rodin, was chosen in the Official Selection.
In the biopic and period film, Edward plays photographer Edward Steichen, starring alongside Vincent Lindon, and directed by Jacques Doillon. “[It is] highly inspiring to work with Vincent (Lindon),” Edward says, “he allows himself to listen to his instinct and vulnerabilities, which gives him great strength.” And as for the director, Jacques Doillion, Edward is equally complimentary. “He is the humblest person that I’ve ever worked with. It’s very rare to meet a successful creative man that has absolutely no ego.”
When I asked him how the Cannes Film Festival had been, Edward frankly states, “Cannes is like a porn film where art is being gangbanged by money. It’s such a surreal experience. Although I’ve been before with previous projects, this was the first time my work was in the Official Selection.” Despite the large body of work that he has underneath him, this was also his first feature film in France, having primarily based himself from London for the last decade.
Edward is currently in the midst of auditions for various projects and I ask how the process has been for him. “Auditioning is great, it’s the never-ending rejection that one has to overcome. I’ve gotten better now, that I’m older. But certain projects still get to you.” I press him on specifics; “I recently had a call-back with the Cohen Brothers for a lead role in one of their upcoming projects. I was so in love with the work, the script, and this was all alongside the possibility of getting to work with these iconic idols of mine. Unfortunately, it didn’t go any further than that and you can’t help but think to yourself, well, what if I had done this or hadn’t of said that. But it was still just a great honour to meet them and to get in the room with them, so you have to try and hold onto that and move on.”
And Edward has moved on, with his latest work to be released this summer. As well, as Rodin, you can watch Edward in the new Netflix series, Gyspy (starring Naomi Watts), and in the final season of AMC’s Turn: Washington’s Spies.
His summer plans include painting commissioned work, as well as producing more contemporary abstract pieces for his upcoming exhibition in the fall at his London-based gallery, Lahd. That’s not to mention all the auditions and meetings for upcoming acting projects. And where’s he off to today? “Meeting friends and wandering Paris,” he says. “It really is the most beautiful city. I haven’t lived in Paris full-time since I was a teenager, so when I find myself back, I love to just wander the streets between meetings. Falling upon various museums and joining friends along the way.” Not a bad summer, if you ask me.
Words by Shelby Welinder
Photography by Patrik Andersson