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'This will be a fantastic, creative time for writers holed up at their homes'

Mike Beckingham has carved out an acting career off his own bat - but that's not to say older brother Simon Pegg hasn't been a pillar of support. With plenty of work in the pipeline, he tells Gemma Dunn that he's very excited about what's to come


Deadly game: Mike Beckingham as Robert Atkinson in The Host

Deadly game: Mike Beckingham as Robert Atkinson in The Host

Derek Jacobi as Dr Hobson

Derek Jacobi as Dr Hobson

Simon Pegg

Simon Pegg

Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for S

Deadly game: Mike Beckingham as Robert Atkinson in The Host

It's one thing to have a job postponed, but it's quite another when said job will take you to the palm-lined beaches of Fiji.

That said, Mike Beckingham - who was due to jet off to paradise this month - is taking it all in his stride, having had the production of his latest film, Waltzing With Brando, halted due to the global pandemic.

The rising star is set to play the part of idealistic LA architect, Bernard Judge, in the comedic feature - a role that will place him opposite Billy Zane in the titular lead of rebellious prodigy Brando.

"Billy is going to do such an incredible job," enthuses the Redwood actor, who's 37. "He's a wonderful guy; he really backed me from the off and I owe him so much for having that faith in me."

As for rescheduling: "We're hoping to start shooting in the summer," he reveals. "But that might not happen, and I feel like there's bigger issues to tackle before we go back to film sets.

"(In the meantime) I've got a script to work on and to give me that additional prep time is a real blessing - I'm trying to take advantage of that for sure."

So today, much like the rest of us, Beckingham is at home - dividing his time between work, virtual chats with his dad and brothers (one of whom is A-list actor, writer and producer Simon Pegg) and swinging his golf clubs in the garden.

"It's like my therapy," he says of the latter. "And you have to have that release; you have to continue doing those things, as safely as possible, to keep sane!

"I also try to take every positive spin I possibly can, and at the end of this the cinemas are going to be full, pubs are going to be full, we'll appreciate each other more.

"And think of the scripts that are going to be written off the back of it because writers are going to be holed away," he says excitedly. "This will be a fantastic, creative time!"

First, the Gloucestershire-born talent can be seen in The Host, a fast-paced crime thriller - directed by Andy Newbery - starring Dutch favourite Maryam Hassouni and McFly's Dougie Poynter, among others.

Beckingham plays Robert Atkinson, a London banker who, sick and tired of the rat race, takes a chance and risks his bank's money to start a new life. But things take a turn when he unwittingly signs up with a Chinese cartel to transport a briefcase to Amsterdam.

A city of dark secrets and fuelled by power players, drugs, seduction and violence, Robert (who soon winds up as a pawn for femme fatale Vera Tribbe (Hassouni), awaits his turn in a deadly game of choice and consequence. "Robert's a complex character in so much as he's lived a very selfish life," Beckingham ponders.

"His decisions haven't been ones that have been made with anybody else taken into consideration. He uses that to try and become a better person as the film progresses.

"But I liked where the twists and turns were in the script, and that it's very story and character driven," he follows. "I'm old-school like that."

What does he make of the filmmakers' desire for a modern-day Hitchcock?

"I knew that it was kind of like an homage, a twist on such an iconic film, and so I approached it differently," he says tentatively.

"I didn't watch Psycho, I didn't watch any Hitchcock stuff, because I didn't want to try and replicate what they had done. It's so pioneering, it's such a classic, that to try and match it would be ridiculous.

"I wanted to do a fresh take on it, so I just went with my own character instincts with Robert," insists Beckingham, who shot the epic between London and Amsterdam. "You don't want to take characteristics from (Hitchcock) either because it was a different era, a different film. It's such a high bar, you're just like, 'Do you know what? If we can have a little bit somewhere, within the film, so we can tip our cap to the incredible filmmaking that was Psycho, then we're happy'."

Having filmed his debut role in 2013 for Subconscious, and having since picked up credits for the likes of Pegasus Bridge and Black Site, Beckingham has traversed many a genre.

But horror and suspense-driven thrillers have long been part of his make-up, he recalls.

"My brothers tried to get me into Freddy Krueger when I was really young - they really went hard on me for horrors because they were big fans.

"I started off with Aliens (when I was 12) and then went to Predator 2... But my favourite movie is The Exorcist, which for me still holds its own. You can watch it and still be in shock!"

Next, Beckingham will star in Truth Seekers, the hotly anticipated show from Stolen Picture, the production company run by his older brother Pegg, Nick Frost and Miles Ketley.

Co-written by and featuring dream team Pegg and Frost, the eight-part horror comedy series - set to launch exclusively on Amazon Prime Video - follows a team of part-time paranormal investigators who uncover and film ghost sightings across the UK.

It marks the first time Beckingham has been cast in one of his sibling's creations - and he couldn't be happier.

"I play Bjorn, which is Simon's sort of office rookie," he details. "While Nick goes out and fights the ghosts or whatever.

"If you're a Pegg and Frost fan, you're not going to be disappointed." he says. "It was just the best experience I've ever had - easily."

He doesn't take it for granted, he's quick to point out, keen to ensure he's never ridden on his famous brother's coat tails.

"Seven or eight years ago, I started in short movies and short films and Simon's made sure that he's watched everything (I've done)," he says earnestly.

"So I kind of auditioned for Truth Seekers over that period. And then last year he came to me and said, 'Look, I think I've got something for you'.

"I always trusted him; I knew he would know when I was at that level and we never wanted to force it, it had to be the right character, in the right circumstances, and thankfully the stars aligned," Beckingham finishes.

"I was very lucky to get in there. You can't even put into words (how it feels) to work with your big brother, let alone if he's an A-list actor."

The Host is available through all on-demand platforms now

Belfast Telegraph