For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to JAMES BUCKLEY.
After appearing on the London stage as a child, James became one of the stars of ‘The Inbetweeners’ in 2008, both on E4 and in two hit films.
More recently, he’s started a gaming YouTube channel and used his distinctive accent for commercials as well as ‘The Expendables 2’.
This week, he’ll be appearing in ‘Zapped’, a new fantasy comedy starting on Thursday on Dave channel AND the end of the month sees his return to the big screen in ‘The Comedian’s Guide to Survival’, sharing an insight into the ruthless nature of the stand-up comedy circuit.
All in all, it’s a busy time for a young actor who tells us he’s nothing like his ‘Inbetweeners’ character Jay, a man of a thousand boasts. To prove it, he sat down for some Wise Words…
How do you switch off from the world?
I just go home and see my family. But my life isn’t high-maintenance. I don’t go to nightclubs in Mayfair. I go to local places where everyone knows me. There’s nothing much for me to switch off from.
How do you deal with negativity that comes your way?
Actively try not to engage with it. It would be easy to dwell on things, and it’s important to understand what’s happening, and then try to avoid the same thing in future.
A friend of mine went to prison, and he told me he remembered when he was inside, ‘I can waste my energy on things I can’t change, or I can conserve my energy to change the things I can.’ I try to do the same thing.
When and where are you at your happiest?
At home, with my wife and two boys. Not doing anything particularly special or interesting, just feeling grateful for it all.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
It was my acting coach when I was younger, a lovely lady called Anna Karen, who’d actually played Olive in ‘On the Buses’. She told me, when considering any job offer, I should ask myself three questions: Is the money good? Will this further my career? Will I learn something from the experience? And if the answer to two out of three is yes, I should take it.
What has been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
That you can’t please everyone. I’m not sure why being liked is so important for me, and sometimes it’s meant I’ve gone too far for my friends. But if something bad comes from good intentions, it shouldn’t change you.
What would you want to say to you 13-year-old self?
Nothing. I’m thinking of the butterfly effect, of the fact that I’ve stumbled and through laughs and luck, got this far in my life so far, to a place of complete happiness. So I’d hate to change any of it with a piece of well-meant advice.
The only thing I would do differently, I would tell my mate Craig not to join the Army. I lost him, and it still confuses me.
What 3 things are at the top of your to-do list?
All three would involve going to Tokyo and the Far East. I’m always so averse to leaving my comfort zone, I’m looking for food I can recognise, but if I could go somewhere so completely different, I’m sure it would benefit me as a person. Five-star comfort all the way, obviously.
What do you think happens when we die?
Logic tells me otherwise, but I can’t help but feel there’s something else going on. I’d like to think so. I like that we find out then, not before. But I’d be really miffed if this was it.
When have you been somewhere you feel in the presence of something larger than ourselves?
The times in my life when something incredible is happening, like the birth of my children, events I have no vocabulary to explain. It isn’t necessarily something bigger than ourselves - we can be as big as we want to be, but we’ve something that stops us, something that limits us humans.
What quality do you most treasure in your relationships?
Laughter. If you’re laughing, everything’s okay. The actual act of laughing is what most of my friendships is based on.
What keeps you grounded?
Kids. Having them, no matter who you are, keeps you running around. Also my friends. Most of them I’ve known since I was four years old.
What the last act of kindness you received?
It happens all the time. Complete strangers look pleased to see me. It’s been one of the best things of acting, it wasn’t what I aimed for, but it’s been a wonderful by-product, and I hope I never stop feeling grateful.
The Comedian’s Guide To Survival is set for a dual release in cinemas and on DVD at the end of October, courtesy of Signature Entertainment. James Buckley stars alongside Jimmy Carr, Omid Djailili, Paul Kaye and Tim McKinnery.
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