• 15 Sep - 21 Sep, 2018
  • Attiya Abbass
  • Interview

“Teefa? As in Queen Latifa?”

You probably recognised him at first glance. If not here, is helping you do so: remember the endearing, Brad Pitt-esque young man who made Maya Ali swoon in Teefa In Trouble? Tom Coulston deftly fit into the shoes of ‘Andy’, making it a rather captivating character to behold on the big screen. In a chat with MAG, Coulston spills the beans on his acting dreams, how he got roped in for Teefa and the experience of working with Pakistani superstars. Read on!

Please begin with telling us a little something about yourself.

I studied sports science in Sheffield for three years and was only 16 when I started working in a gym in my home town. I started modelling in my 20s with a few agencies in the north of England, which lead to some great campaign shoots for various clients. 

Acting was never really on the cards, but I was offered small acting roles and it really panned out from there. I believe the industry was choosing me rather than the other way around. Fortunately for me, in 2014 I was made redundant from my full-time gym employment and that’s when I decided to throw everything I had into acting and was thankfully introduced to my amazing acting coach Michael John Gonzales through a good friend Ajay Nayyar. 

When was your first exposure to acting and how did it eventuate?

I was cast to play in a short film called Are You Proud of Me? This was one of my first on-screen tests and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have any dialogue but it gave me a feel of what it’s like being on screen rather than just be in stills. My first true acting role in a feature film came when I played a barman in a British gangster film called Top Dog. I remember receiving my few lines in the morning of filming and running through them just before we started with the director, who was none other than Martin Kemp, a great actor and musician who was in the group Spandau Ballet. I shot scenes with the great Hollywood actor Vincent Regan. The experience served as a catalyst for me to pursue acting workshops.

Another favourite includes scenes from Mission Impossible 5 where I was cast as the chancellor’s aide and it involved some action scenes, as we protected the chancellor in a big opera where he was shot. It was surreal to be so close to Tom Cruise and to be directed by Christopher McQuarrie.

How were you roped in for your role in Teefa In Trouble? 

In 2012, I walked the runway for Pakistan Fashion Week in London and it was there that I met a good friend of mine the director/photographer Adnan Qazi. He got me into contact with Ali Zafar and the director Ahsan Rahim. I spoke with Ahsan on the phone about the role and it sounded like a superb opportunity. I made a short video tape of myself and thankfully the guys liked it, and were able to visualise me playing this character in the film. 

 How was the experience like, working with Ali, Ahsan and Maya?

It was such a wonderful experience working with these talented stars. I filmed back to front, so my first scene was with Maya on the train in Lahore. She truly is a beautiful soul and made my job very easy with her inborn kindness and warmth on set. Ali is incredible! I went down to the sets at the train station, the day before I was due to film to meet Ahsan and the team. Ali was doing one of many of his fighting scenes and I knew I was watching a genius at work. You could tell he was putting everything he physically had into each and every scene. 

As for Ahsan, it was a pleasure and honour to be directed by him. I really love his attention to detail and his vision.

What was the most difficult aspect of shooting for a Pakistani film?

Naturally, there prevailed a bit of language barrier with me not speaking or understanding Urdu. But the team was very accommodating in relaying to me what was happening.

Some of the scenes were shot in Pakistan.What was your first impression of the country and its people?

I was ever so slightly apprehensive about travelling to Pakistan, purely because of how the media portrays the country. I was assured by Adnan that there was absolutely nothing to worry about as I would be looked-after well by Ali, and that was definitely the case. In fact, I enjoyed my time and the hospitality so much that I could have quite easily stayed a lot longer had my visa granted. Everybody was so kind towards me and welcomed me with open arms. I will never forget that, so bohat bohat shukriya to all of you!

Teefa is grossing high numbers at the box office, worldwide. Did you expect this?

I knew that I was working on something special because everybody who worked on that film literally put their heart and souls on the line! I’m so honoured to be a part of the historic film. We had some great screenings in the UK too, which was very overwhelming, especially the time when I travelled up to surprise my parents in Manchester to watch the film. The audience soon recognised me as Andy and everybody wanted photos at the end of the night with me and even wanted my mum and dad in them. My parents were so proud. It was certainly a night I will cherish forever.

As an actor, what sort of roles are you keener on playing and what are some you’d rather miss out on?

I love something that is challenging or fun to play! I’ve just filmed with the Oscar winning actress Anna Paquin on a show Flack, which will be released in 2019. I played a flamboyant reality TV star called Jay. It was only a small part to play but Anna praised me on my performance which was quite an overwhelming achievement. •