Johnny Boy

Cloud 9 may be an Asian soap, but not all the stars are Asian! We grilled Johnny Sachon on what’s it like to be involved in Zing’s ground-breaking soap. 

Posted: 25.04.13

Over the last couple of week’s we’ve brought you interviews with two of the leading cast members of the UK’s first televised Asian soap – Valmike Rampersad and Rakhee Thakrar and this week we present Johnny Sachon, who plays Ben on Cloud 9.
But what’s it like to be the ‘minority’ in an Asian world? Omar Mehtab catches up with him to find out.

So Johnny…we have to ask upfront, you’re one of the only non-Asians in an Asian soap, how does it feel?
I’m definitely within the minority, but I couldn’t feel more welcome or comfortable. I have Polish and Russian heritage, so I understand about integration. Because Cloud 9 is in English, I believe it is accessible to the masses and can be a voice for all kinds of British Asians – we can use it to address issues that young people and Asians face, even if they are controversial. The storyline will soon be dealing with interracial relationships, something that is really occurring within young generations, not just in British Asian society.

Have you had to adjust to any specific aspects of Asian life?

The spiciness of Asian food took a bit of time to handle!

How did you get into acting?
To be honest, it was always on the cards for me. My parents were into amateur theatre, so I’ve been raised in that atmosphere and was involved whilst growing up. I did a production of Bugsy Malone when I was 10, and after competing against older actors for roles and succeeding, I was hooked. There was a point in my teens where there was doubt - I caved in and tried getting a proper job. I lasted a month! It drove me crazy and confirmed that I should go for my dreams.

Well it seems to have really paid off for you! You’ve starred in Rage: Midsummer’s Eve, and are now filming D is for Detroit whilst still appearing as a regular on Cloud 9. It sounds demanding.
Rage was the biggest project I’ve worked on in terms of film. Even though it was an American horror flick, we filmed for two months in Finland. It was a taste of the good stuff that the industry can offer. Cloud 9 is going really well too, albeit the format fairly different from film acting. For example, we receive film script weeks in advance, but Cloud 9 is a daily programme so we only get the script two days in advance. It has been difficult but it’s helped me develop as an actor. More effort is required and improvisation is essential, it’s been a fantastic experience so far that has taught me a lot!

What’s it like working with the cast of Cloud 9?
I really enjoy it. Niki, who plays as Nisha, is very experienced. Watching her amazing performances always leaves me in awe. Valmike, who plays Ajay, is a lot more experienced and older than myself, and is a fantastic central figure. However, working with Omar and Sam, who play Harri and Peter respectively are my favourite. They’re great at improvisation, which is more than I can say for myself! We try out many different jokes on set to see what works best. I don’t want to give too away much, but hopefully my character will be interacting with Rakhee’s soon, so I’ll have a chance to work with her too.

Your character Ben seems to be quite lazy...are you like him? 
Not at all! As the series has progressed, and we find out about his back story we see he’s not conventionally lazy; things just haven’t worked out for him like the system of education, so he sits back and does things his way. If I had chosen a different path, I’d probably be a lot more like him though! But in this industry, you have to be very interested and motivated to do well in order to succeed, so I’d say I’m the opposite. That and I don’t play games! Last one I owned was all the way back when I was in primary school! I could barely work the Xbox on set!

We didn’t expect to hear that! So if video games aren’t your thing what hobbies do you have?
Working out is my hobby. If I wasn’t an actor, I’d be a personal trainer. I was quite unfit and more like Ben when I was younger, but ever I was 18, I’ve been very involved in fitness, and spend a lot of time in the gym. Because I’m a workaholic, and always looking for next thing in career, I suppose watching films is an educational hobby too. I get the chance to relax and enjoy some great films and also learn from them.

And with all that film watching, you must have a favourite film?
Haha I knew you were going to ask that! It sounds strange but instead of films, I have favourite performances like Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, Tom Hardy in Lawless, and Ryan Gosling in Drive.

Who would you most like to work with?
I would love to work with Michael Caine. There are a lot of actors that are prevalent in this generation, but I’m desperate to work with Michael Caine. He has an awful lot of experience, and is one of the first cockney actors to break into mainstream. I could learn a lot from him. And someone from this generation... maybe Ben Drew, otherwise known as Plan B. He made Ill Manors last year; a film that made waves and is known for being quite controversial. I like what he stands for.

Sounds like you’re an ambitious man!
My sights are set on America and the film industry. I want to travel, explore and learn as much as I can. I’m only 25, and the industry is immense. So I want to experience as much as I can!

Catch Johnny on Cloud 9, weekdays on Zing at 6.30pm  

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