Released 30 years ago, Rain Man has certainly earned its place as a Hollywood classic. Centred around the tale of selfish businessman Charlie Babbitt and his autistic brother Raymond, the original film starred A-listers Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise.
Having now been brought to the stage by Bill Kenwright, the playwright who famously created stage productions of The Shawshank Redemption and A Few Good Men, Rain Man is not to be missed, with its run at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre beginning this April.
Ahead of opening night, we hear from former Hollyoaks actor, Chris Fountain, who’s taking on the role of Charlie.
It’s a really interesting story that’s got a bit of everything. It’s funny, it’s heartfelt, it’s emotional.
My character, Charlie, is not a nice person at the start of the show. I don’t like him and hopefully the audience won’t either. His father dies and he thinks he’s going to be left a fortune. Then there’s a bombshell. He finds out he’s got a brother, Raymond, who’s getting all the money.
At first all Charlie’s interested in is trying to get half of his money, but as the show progresses, the two go on a journey and start to bond. By the end of the show you see Charlie in a different light. He really connects with Raymond in a way you don’t think is possible at the start.
I really relish the opportunity to play something different from myself. It’s a test of your ability and it’s a challenge. Of all the parts I’ve done in my career, this is probably the biggest.
Rain Man is one of my favourite films. It features two great performances from Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, so I was 100 per cent interested as soon as I heard about it.
It’s great to have the film as a reference; Tom Cruise portrayed Charlie absolutely magnificently, but I want to create my own version of Charlie.
My first ever job – I was 10 when I did it – was the UK tour of Les Misérables when it came to Bradford.
I did it for two months and when it finished, I was inconsolable. I was devastated. I wanted to do it forever!
Following that I did Oliver! for Cameron Mackintosh, then Les Mis again.
Then I got to a point where, in musical theatre, I was too young to play an adult and too old to play a child, so I started exploring TV.
I left high school at 15 and was straight into Hollyoaks for seven years. I really grew up there, in the public eye and on the set. I learned so much from being there. Soap is a relentless schedule. The turnover of scenes in a day is absolutely incredible.
I think people underestimate how hard actors in soap work. There’s just no rest. There’s no room for mistakes. You’ve got to get the episodes out. It was a real learning curve for me.
I don’t regret any of it. It was great. I was earning a good living and I made a lot of really good friends. But I do look back and think, ‘That was pretty intense!’
Rain Man is at Everyman Theatre from Tuesday 23 to Saturday 27 April 2019.
The producers of the UK Tour of Rain Man can confirm that, due to illness, Paul Nicholls will not be returning to the production playing the role of Raymond Babbitt. The whole company wish him a swift recovery and return to health, and look forward to working with him again in the future. Continuing in the role of Raymond will be Adam Lilley, who has done an outstanding job in the interim, receiving rave reviews from both audiences and critics alike.
Tuesday 16 April 2019
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