Youth team bad boy Alex Wilkinson arrived as a new character in Dream Team’s second season in 1998. In a more than 70 episode stint, viewers watched as the character victimised, framed and spiked several of his team mates, showing a charismatic edge which kept the character likable during these acts. As with almost every series 'baddie', Alex was made to take his comeuppance, and after alienating himself from everyone including his own mother, the character left the show, with actor Craig Robert Young at the beginning of what has since been a thriving career.

 

Beginning acting at the early age of ten, Craig's skill originated in theatre, where he performed at the Nottingham Playhouse for the production of "The Price of Coal" by Barry Hines. He would continue on stage beyond school and the title role in "Oliver", to productions with the American based British theatre company Nomad, and in 2011 with the Stateside showing of Tom Wells' "Me, as a Penguin".

 

Leaving his native Nottingham at seventeen to attend the Central School of Speech and Drama, Craig became one-forth of an up-and-coming pop music band Deuce, which had a successful two-year run scoring four top ten singles and a top twenty album in the British charts. The opportunity to present on MTV's fondly remembered interactive show "Select" followed, with Craig also fronting ITV's kids division on "GMTV" during the same time.

 

After Dream Team, his first television acting role, Craig took a huge gamble to move his life and career to the U.S at twenty-three, in order to see whether he could achieve the big time there. It paid off, and the first of his appearances on some of American TV's most popular shows were added to Craig's acting reel: "Spyder Games" (2001), "Charmed" (2002) through to "Sabrina The Teenage Witch" (2003), "The District" (2003-04) and "Zoey 101" (2005).

 

Recent years have seen Craig's U.S TV screentime expand with popular and memorable characters in more acclaimed shows. Coach Moore in Nickelodeon's "Just For Kicks" (2006), cast in three of respected producer J.J. Abrams’ productions; “Lost” (2006), “What About Brian” (2007) and the enthralling Alfred Hoffman in “Fringe” (2010), while his guest character Dracul Comescu was popular enough to feature in both “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Hawaii Five-O” (2011-12).

 

Craig continues to add to his list of film and TV projects he has written, directed, produced and starred in, which he discusses below, alongside his special role in the anticipated “Return to the Hiding Place”, his founding of what has become an almost-citizen’s advice service, Brits in LA, and the surprise revelation he gives for his Dream Team character…

Craig Robert Young, 2013

 

 

 

Dream Team (1999)

 

 

 

Charmed (2002)

 

 

     

Lost (2006)

 

 

No Country For Gay Old Men (2008)

 

 

  

Don't Push Benjamin's Buttons (2009)

 

 

 

Melrose Place (2009)

 

 

Fringe (2010)

 

How did the role of Alex Wilkinson come about for you in Dream Team?

 

It was a series of auditions. It was the first [acting] TV job I went up for. I was in a band for a couple of years, a pop group [Deuce]. And when I left that I was on MTV for a bit hosting. So the first theatrical job I auditioned for was Dream Team. It was for a couple of roles actually, I originally auditioned for the role of Billy that Phil Barantini ended up getting. So they kept bringing me back and were like 'You know we have this other character that we think you'd be more suited for. He's from the Midlands, he's a young guy who's been in a lot of trouble.'

 

I was like 'OK cool.' I was living up in Nottingham at the time, and the team was a Midlands-based team, so it was good for them to have a Midlands actor (obviously because I was from there!). They kind of liked that he was this local kid that had come up the ranks, he'd got mislaid a little bit, been in 'juvie' and then ended up coming out. So yeah it was a nice little experience, for the first job you go out on and you end up getting.

 

Alex had a strong personality as a character, with his desire to almost take down anyone who stood in his way - was this aspect fun to play for you?

 

It's interesting because when you approach any character you have to find that line in it, the thread. I think with Alex he was just very determined, and I think that he thought if he ever took his eye off the prize he would never get it. He was very competitive. For him, Alex would do anything to get ahead. Not that I'm like that as an actor!

 

A storyline of Alex's involved a plot which questioned racism intentions - how some of the guys he ended up having problems with were black or Asian, but you could tell it was unintentional, and was about how they were affecting his chances as a player...

 

I think for Alex it was all about deflection, if the heat was off of him was the main thing. It was very controversial, it was definitely bullying there's no doubt about that. The writers were trying to bring it in as a 'Kangaroo court' thing, that this actually exists. It was definitely more about him [Alex] preying on the weak, I don't think it was racist or the writers intent for it to be.

 

When you left Dream Team, was the decision to go to America something that had been on your mind a long time, or was it just the opportunity coming at that precise time, being no longer connected to Dream Team?

 

While I was on Dream Team I'd come out to America a couple of times, I had a couple of weeks off and had friends who lived out here. So I came out to visit and fell in love with the place really. It really was the land of opportunity, and when I was in America I got a manager, Louisa Spring. She took me under her wing, showed me around introducing me, I got an agent, so with so much excitement it was great.

 

And when I went back to Dream Team I sat down with the producers, and we were talking about where Alex would go. I think Alex had done so much harm there wasn't anywhere really he could go so we all just put it together that it was probably a natural ending for him. I thought it would have been nice for him to come back towards the end of the whole show, to see how he'd changed, and because he was probably one of the characters that wasn't killed off! [laughs]

 

So you would have been prepared to come back, even though you'd been in America a few years by then?

 

I loved playing Alex, like I said it was my first job as an actor on TV. And so I'll always have a fondness for that character. So if the opportunity had arose I definitely would have come back.

 

Making the big move from Britain to the US, were you completely on your own when you arrived there, without any work offer there at all?

 

Other than a couple of friends that lived out here. It was definitely a strange, big place and daunting at times, but I think there was something in me, I had that confidence that wherever I'd go I'd always land.

 

I can only imagine you must have been saying goodbye to the whole life you knew, as any other actor who makes the move would be

 

I think that chapter of my life was coming to an end anyway.  With Dream Team my character was ending, he was doomed, and I wasn't in any relationship. I actually moved to Los Angeles with five-hundred pounds in my pocket, that was it, and a dream really. And I thought I can either wait tables in London again or strike while the iron's hot, and come off the show with a demo reel and take my chances in a new place.

 

Your time with MTV in Britain must have helped a lot there?

 

When I first came out to America, my manager is British, and she said 'You're starting afresh, no-one in America really knows what you've done in the UK, you're starting from the beginning.’ So it didn't really matter what I'd done to the Americans! I really had no C.V for acting other than Dream Team.

 

Getting successful roles for you in America, did it take time or did they come along faster than you'd expected?

 

It definitely took time. There were opportunities and I was going out on auditions quite a lot and getting call-backs, but it took a little bit of time, about a year before I landed a show. I went to class and started training with some of the teachers out here in America, because it's a whole different land, different ball-game, the different way they audition. So there was a lot of settling and trying to find my feet. My first role, funnily enough, was on MTV in the States...

 

And from there a real breakthrough came for you to some of American TV's biggest shows, "Charmed", “Sabrina The Teenage Witch”...

 

The first show I did was "Spyder Games" [for MTV], then "S Club 7" they did a series in Hollywood, I played Hannah's cousin. Then came "Charmed" and "Sabrina". Then I started on a roll with guest parts on shows like "The District". By that time I'd started to get stuff on tape and get a good reel together, and was meeting some good casting directors.

 

A popular role that followed for you was in the TV series "Just for Kicks". Did Nickelodeon hope it would last longer than it did?

 

"Just For Kicks" was a soccer show, about a female soccer team. It was my first [US] series regular job, I ended up doing thirteen episodes of that which was their season. Whoopi Goldberg produced it. It was a good show but sadly only lasted for one season. Primarily because by the time a second season would have come to air, some of the girls were nineteen and twenty, so past the age of those roles now.

The television roles continued to get bigger for you. Getting to appear on "Lost" wasa big one...

That was great. I mean everyone knows "Lost" and it was great to be a part of that. It was another one where I auditioned for a couple of different roles, before the casting director said 'hey I think I have something for you.'

Would that be where J.J. Abrams first saw you? As you've worked with him a couple of more times...

Yeah it was. I worked with him on a show called "What About Brian", and then more recently "Fringe". Do you get Fringe over there?

We do. Your character on there, Alfred Hoffman, was very highly regarded. Especially as he was in only the one episode. Would you say he's been to date the most popular character you've played?

He was surrounded in mystery. He was there to exact revenge on the Bishop family, he had history with Robert Bishop, the father of Walter. So yeah, another villain! [laughs]

Are they the best to play?

They are, they're great. I'm not sick and twisted! [For Alfred Hoffman] I got a lot of good reviews and write-ups. I think it was Entertainment Weekly that said he was one of the ten best villains for TV that year. So it was pretty cool.

And it seems to be a small acting world even in L.A, as Sarah Farooqui [Clare in Dream Team Seasons 2-3] did "Lost" - they had some good guest parts for British actors that show...

We met on Dream Team, and her character was the girl I started dating in the show. So we were friends, which was funny as I didn't know she was out here. When I left Dream Team I think she was on the show for another season, and then she went on to do "Mile High". And we lost touch, until I got a call from her and she said she’d moved to L.A. We've since hung out quite a lot, and then she ended up being on "Lost" as well. She's a great actress and recently ended up doing "Iron Man 3".  

 

Another of your characters is Dracul Comescu - he even made it into two shows, "NCIS: Los Angeles" and it's crossover in "Hawaii Five-0". That is quite an accomplishment...

 

Yeah, as it was a crossover they needed to take some of the characters from "NCIS: LA" to tie them in, so that's where they brought my character back and took him to Hawaii. He [Dracul Comescu] was the reason for Chris O'Donnell's character to come to Hawaii.

 

You've not only starred in but played a major hand behind the scenes on many of your projects, even before you left for America. I see "Soho Streets" was an early short of yours. Does it really only last for 3 minutes?

 

Well it was something I created so I love that aspect. Even when I was at home as a young kid my dad had a little 8mm camera, which I’d go out and shoot my friends and make short films. And when I was living in London, me and a really good buddy of mine Ben, we’d go out and shoot stuff, just kind of Avant-garde, and turn them into stories. So this [Soho Streets] was a story about a guy searching for his fix on the streets of Soho, and his desperation. We narrated it with 'spoken word' which I had written, put a voice-over on it, used sound effects. And then the British Film Council picked it up and sent it all over the festivals. I think it's funny that we made a short that lasted for only three minutes, because if you look at the web now, anything that's over three minutes now people lose interest. [laughs]

 

Definitely something unique for the time it was made [in 1999]. And it was followed a year later by "Scooter Mom"?

 

Actually I made that while I was in Dream Team. I cast Ali King (Lynda Block). She came out for the weekend to shoot, and a lot of the crew on the project were people I'd worked with also on Dream Team. So that was really cool, that everyone rallied round and helped me make it.

 

And another one which had a good reception is "Wannabe"?

 

For Warner Bros. It had Martha Kaufman attached as a show runner for a TV series, she created "Friends" of course. I co-wrote "Wannabe" with Richard Keith, who is a long-time collaborator of mine, and we've worked together on a lot of projects, writing stuff together, he's really cool. So "Wannabe" is semi-autobiographical of my time when I first moved out to the States. Part of it was based on a rivalry I had with a guy in a former boyband, who basically came in and tried to steal all of my contacts and leave me in the dirt, taking advantage of my generosity. More of it was sharing anecdotes and little stories of things that had happened to me while I was in America. We started shooting on nights and weekends, anytime we could really until I ended up with a feature film.

 

So your own story was clearly good enough to be made into a film!

 

Exaggerated of course! I think we all see our lives as funnier than they actually are. It was like we took a story, found gold in it and then ran with it.

 

How much did you do of "Andy & Chaz Bugger off to America?

 

It was another one I co-wrote with Richard, and Darren Darnborough who's a fellow British actor out here. The three of us collaborating together. We had a whole bunch of actors and we were going to do this thing called "Films From The Hat". You'd choose a character name from the first hat, a job description from the second, and a location out of the third. And you'd see what situations were created out of that for improv. Andy & Chaz were born out of that. We did five episodes, and based off of that we’ve written a feature version which at the moment we're trying to get investment for.

 

Good luck with that, I hope it gets off the ground. Still on the subject of projects you've worked on starring, producing and writing, several of your short films have been put forward for the TOSCARS in recent years...

 

The idea for that came about six years ago, I saw a movie called "Be Kind Rewind" with Jack Black, and it inspired me to make these parody films, or to get my community together to make them and enter into a competition called The TOSCARS. So now it's six years old and has this sort of cult following. We screen at the Egyptian Theatre every year which is a pretty big deal. Everyone who participates has a great time.

 

How did your involvement with the TOSCARS go for you this year?

Actually this year Brits in LA [see below] presented the whole event. One of the rules was the producers of the show would show up on set, and whatever they were filming they had to include either myself or my business partner in their movie, for either five seconds or more. So we basically made cameo's in every short. The last one I made for entry was last year with "Midnight in Parody", a play on "Midnight in Paris".

For your movie roles, what was your involvement in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"?

With "Pirates" that was for voice-over work, I wasn't actually 'in' it. You get credited for behind-the-scenes but I wasn't in those movies as an actor in itself.

Tell us about "Slaughter". It looks an interesting film...

"Slaughter" was a horror movie filmed in Romania, but set in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a story about a girl who was running away from an abusive relationship, and she ends up staying with a family that are more crazy than where she left, a psycho-maniac without giving too much away. I played a character called Kyle, who the main girl picks up in bar and ends up taking back to house. Good film, it was fun.

Your big film right now has been "Return to the Hiding Place" which has had a huge buzz about it?

I'm really proud of it, I think they've done a really good job with it. It's been going round the festivals, and it's been picking up awards. I've seen it a couple of times and the audience's reaction has been pretty amazing. They think it's going to do very well. I play a non-fictional character called Piet Hartog. It's a World War II movie set in the Netherlands about the Dutch Resistance. He [Piet] helped save countless numbers of Jews, getting them to hiding places all around and onto different cities away.

I of course have to talk to you about Brits in LA. When it started it was described as a community for British ex-pats in L.A, but it has become so much more now hasn't it?

It started out very social when we were trying to get it together, having breakfast every Tuesday. And then we started doing nights out on the town, pub crawls and things like that. And then we put it on Facebook when it started and opened the community a little bit. It became a platform for people to share ideas and information. Whether someone's moving here and looking for a house to rent, or someone's looking for what the best internet provider is in America, best cell phone to get, the community takes care of each other - true Brits in LA!

Was it something you could have really used when you first started out there?

Absolutely yeah. It would have been a great resource for me to tap into had it existed.

We couldn't finish without going back to your time with Deuce [pop band Craig was a part of between 1994-96] and asking what do you make about the hype they still have to this day?

I didn't know, I'm kind of out of the loop with that now! I think it's because everyone loves nostalgia, what was popular then comes back round, and the nineties are popular again (for some reason!). Probably because of that TV show "The Big Reunion". I've been very fortunate with everything that's happened to this point, so I'm not one who'd say they'd never go back and revisit. It would be like a social experiment to be honest, to see how we've changed and grown as individuals.

I read you have your own production company, 7 Deadly Films. Does that connect to your career as an actor today?

Every collaboration I do we set up a new company for it. So with Seven Deadly Films we did "Andy & Chaz Bugger Off to America", "Wannabe", and we have a couple of future scripts we're in development with. I've now set up a new production company called Stol’n Heart Films, which we just did "Pepper", which is a short film. One of the things I love about the business is there's a lot of collaboration and people are still working with each other. Marc Cleary, an Irish writer, gave me this idea to get involved as a producer, and we actually ended up working so closely that we decided we were going to co-direct it together. We just wrapped on that last week.

And the last word...

I think that one of those things that most excites me about acting or anything in the industry, is you know if you go to school and you study to be a doctor you pretty much know what your life is going to be like. With acting or being in the entertainment industry everyday is a new adventure, you never know what's around the corner or how your life could change. I think Steve Jobs said it best when he said "Only in the future, can you go back and connect the dots", which I think is a really profound quote. Like nobody really knows what's going to happen in the future, but I'm excited about the prospects.

Craig Robert Young on Imdb

His Twitter page

Craig Robert Young Online for all the latest news

Brits in LA and Craig’s Youtube pages, featuring many of his own made projects

Alex Wilkinson’s profile on DTdh

Hawaii Five-0 (2012)

 

 

Andy & Chaz Bugger off to America (2011)

 

 

War of Resistance (2011)

 

 

Deuce single cover for "I Need You" (1995)