Fortitude actor Nicholas Pinnock on acting in fake snow, poetry and the danger of ‘emojis’

Nicholas Pinnock. Picture: Georgio Murru

Nicholas Pinnock. Picture: Georgio Murru - Credit: Archant

The Fortitude and Top Boy actor’s career is on the rise, but he’s also finding time to talk about his favourite books and read extracts by aspiring young novelists at Keats House.

British stage and screen actor Nicholas Pinnock is most famed for his starring role as Frank Sutter in Sky Atlantic’s hit drama Fortitude and The Royale at the Bush Theatre. An equally passionate poet and writer, the 41-year-old will be appearing alongside fellow actors Leanne Best and Daisy Lewis this Tuesday at YOUYOU Mentoring’s I’m A StoryTeller event at Keats House Hampstead for an intimate evening of talk, poetry, and storytelling. He talked to Bridget Galton.

As well as acting, you are a poet – what writers inspired you to write your own verse and what do you write about?

Shakespeare’s sonnets were my first memory of poetry. At school I remember having to learn them – that helped me to further understand the languages and rhythm of his plays. I came to writing poetry not through other poets as such, but through necessity. Poetry was a way of expressing myself and making sense of my feelings. I tend to document my depression in my poems. And love is another main subject matter for me.

Were you a fan of Keats before doing this event? What will be exciting about being in the house where he wrote some of his verse?

I didn’t know much about Keats until I went to his house for a tour and definitely felt his energy in there – especially upstairs in his room. I’m really keen to read there, in a place of such history and stored energy. He’s in the walls of that place.

Some of the extracts you are reading came out of a scheme to mentor young talent – why is it important to get young people engaged and inspired to write their own verse?

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I think that with the way language in general is evolving globally, the English language is the one that is growing the fastest. And as we continue to embrace immigration and technology, and explore beyond the boundaries of how we express ourselves and communicate, it’s important that young people don’t forget to go back to basics. Emoji is technically the fastest growing “language”. That can’t be spoken. It can only be described. So when you’re face to face or in a situation where technology is not available, your first port of call is your voice – if not vocally, in the written form. And to do it well, in a way that can reach a mass audience or readership, is a skill. And if we don’t encourage that art form and champion that skill, like a lot of things that made Britain great, we’ll lose it.

Your acting career seems to be going very well at the moment what are you working on right now?

Thank you. I’m currently working on a three-part television drama called Midwinter Of The Spirit for ITV in which I play Bishop Mick Hunter. It’s been adapted from a series of books by Phil Rickman. It’s a horror. A first for ITV.

People know you at the moment from Fortitude – was it a tough shoot to be out in the cold? What was the atmosphere like on set?

Nothing was tough about shooting Fortitude. It was by far the best experience I’ve had filming for television. Gigs like that don’t come around often. The cold wasn’t actually that cold. Iceland had one of the warmest winters on record last year, so it was very mild. So much so that fake snow was used to replace all the snow that had melted. We became the biggest importer of fake snow in television history – including CGI snow. It was so warm that Richard Dormer and I had ice packs under our big parkas. There was lots of pretending it was cold.

We all bonded really well. We knew we were making something special and put our heart and souls into it. My good friend Johnny Harris was in it so we got to hang out. That was fun and I made some life long friends. You’d think that with a big cast, people would fraction off and you’d have the groups formed of who your family was or who were in scenes with you, but it didn’t work line that. We all genuinely got on as a whole cast. We had a ball.

What is it that got you into acting and what gives you the most pleasure about your job?

I was four when I decided I wanted to entertain. When I got to 12, I enrolled into a stage school and my love for acting grew from then on. There are so many things that I enjoy about this job that it’s too hard to pinpoint one thing that gives me the most pleasure. That said, the constant that I’m left feeling is the contentment, peace and security I find, when I’m on set, on location or on stage.