Interview with Ned Cooper, actor

Ned is an actor from Sheffield who made the plunge to move to London, and is now working with acclaimed Spies Like Us on their latest work, Speed Dial.

Interview with Ned Cooper, actor

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Hey! I’m Ned. I’m an actor from Sheffield now living in London and working with Spies Like Us for the first time on ‘Speed Dial.’

What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?

Rehearsing… a lot! We start every day with a group warm up and end every day with a debrief, talking through positives from the day as well as things to improve on. It’s a great way of touching base with everyone again after busy days and making sure we’re all on the same page.

With the nature of Spies Like Us productions we start by devising the more physically demanding sections of the piece. We talk through the concepts and start playing with ideas until something sticks and feels promising, then we establish the sequences and solidify them. Movement sequences can take a couple of hours, sometimes they can take full days; every section is distinctly different and so there’s no real pattern; we just keep working on it until we’re happy with what we’ve got. 

What’s great about your job?

Working on so many different projects and meeting so many different, brilliant people is definitely a highlight. It’s always so inspiring to be in a room with exciting, hard working creatives and being in the room with Spies Like Us is no different. We all clicked on day one and it's been great to work with people of similar ages to me that are creating their own work in this industry and making it happen for themselves. It's a great energy to be around and keeps you motivated.

And what are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?

The lack of schedule and irregularity of work is a struggle. Having the chance to do a variety of stuff is a huge bonus but with there often being gaps between jobs it can sometimes be tricky to keep positive. Finding other interests to keep you energised is challenging but very important!

Tell us about your new show, Speed Dial?

Speed Dial is about a University Professor struggling to communicate with their work colleagues and loved ones, until one phone call, which leads to another phone call, then to another, and so on, sends them on an intense journey of discovery. It’s a fast paced thriller with a physical theatre edge and an endearing sense of humour. 

3db8f80ed836a8055ba7327f1a3bb498824d980b.jpgSpeed Dial production shot (Provided)

What should an audience expect when they come to see it?

To be baffled, enthralled, entertained, and impressed… hopefully!

What are the highlights of your career to date?

One of my first jobs out of drama school was a war play about Cornish tin miners that were recruited during the First World War to dig trenches. We performed over Remembrance weekend in a miners chapel on the Cornish coast; performing in that play in such a beautiful area of the country with so much history and poignancy behind it was pretty special. (Second only to being in Speed Dial, of course…)

What was your career path into this job?  Have you also worked outside the arts?

My secondary school specialised in performing arts, so I had amazing acting opportunities as a teenager. From them, I learnt about drama schools, applied, auditioned, and got a place at the Manchester School of Theatre. I had an amazing time working on a load of projects after graduating, but in recent periods where acting has been less consistent I’ve also worked part-time in child care and as event staff.

Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?

Making the permanent move down to London was a big moment for me. It was always something I knew I wanted to do. Sheffield and Manchester are both big cities but London is on a whole other level and arriving with no job – acting or non acting – was daunting. In a way I think it helped me massively, because it meant I had no choice but to put myself out there and work extra hard to find acting opportunities in London, which is how I came across Spies Like Us! So it’s definitely a decision I’m glad I made.

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?

Read more!

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

Get involved with as much as you can. Professional theatres are making more and more effort to connect with young locals in their community, and having the chance to do this at a young age gave me such a valuable insight into the industry and gave me the opportunity to work with fantastic professionals. The more you learn and the sooner you start, the better.

For details on when Spies Like Us are touring, you can visit their website:

Header Image Credit: All images provided by Spies Like Us


Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe..

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