For our latest edition of Portraits of London we travelled to Tower Bridge to meet up with actor Rob Knighton to find out how his life went from laying carpets to the red carpet.
With a look most commonly referred to as a ‘silver fox’, you’ve been a resounding success in the industry. Coming in to this career at a later stage in your life, how have you found it?
It’s been an incredible journey so far. I was scouted at the age of 50 sunbathing in an east London park. Within a year I and had played a lead role in a feature film traveling to many film festivals for screenings and Q&A’s and later appearing in commercials with David Beckham and Penelope Cruz so it’s been quite a change to laying carpets. It is such a diverse industry to be a part of and especially making the transition from modeling to acting – I’m counting my blessings every day. I still just feel like the bloke from East London and Essex who’s done good.
You’ve covered a variety of styles in various campaigns. Was fashion something you’ve always had a vested interest in or did you start developing your own style since you were signed as a model?
I always had a strong identity with what I wore even from quite a young age. So being part of the fashion industry wasn’t a major change. I like to look smart and know that looking like you mean business goes a long way.
Having been in front of the lens from your modelling career, would you say this made acting a more natural transition for you?
It’s not been something I’ve found too difficult. I’ve always been a hard worker and I’ve made sure I study and am always prepared for anything I’ve done in life. I’ve never had any acting training but as long as you immerse yourself in that character and know who you’re playing in every single detail you can’t really go wrong. It’s been amazing so far. I did an amazing film called Everyone’s Going to Die that was my first proper lead role. That was a challenge but looking back being thrown into the deep end was the best thing I could have wished for. And I was thrilled to receive a special jury mention for my performance at Dinard film festival in France
Guy Ritchie is a revered director, responsible for the upcoming epic King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Were you familiar with his work and what lessons will you take with you from being on set with him?
Yes I’ve always admired Guy’s work but never dreamed I’d be on a set being directed by him personally . Again it was a whole new challenge working with green screen all around for the effects to be added later it forces you to use your imagination to get into the role. That was definitely a great learning experience and lesson I will always remember.
We recently shot fellow cast-member Craig McGinlay, did you manage to cross paths on set?
Unfortunately no I didn’t meet Craig on set but I did work with some of the other main cast members. One scene we did in the amazing specially constructed Camelot castle included Jude Law, Poppy Delevingne and Eric Bana. My main scene was with Eric Bana in the film. I’m the baddie in the opening scene and we have an epic fight. That scene has some cool CGI and when you see the film you realise we were actually in the middle of a rather extraordinary imaginary world. It really is an epic boys film.
Born in Stratford was followed by a move to Southend, Essex. Now you’re back in London, how has the city been treating you?
That right I was born in Stratford but moved out in my teens to Brentwood first and later Southend for most of my life. But eight years ago I moved back to east London to the Brick Lane area and I love it. There’s so much going on it can get a bit crazy at weekends but it so easy to get around for work and meetings.
What’s next for you? Dream role?
A lot of people tell me I have the face of a baddie for acting. I’m not sure whether that’s a compliment or not! Ha. When you meet me in real life you realise I’m far from the baddie. Quite the opposite. But I’m happy that the baddies often have the strong and more interesting role as far as acting is concerned!
Shot at Le Pont De La Tour
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is released May 12.