Old Princethorpian Interview

Richard Sanderson

Bit of background, where you live, what you do for a living:

It's tricky to give a straightforward answer! I'm an actor and filmmaker with a small film production company that I run with my wife. We've been based in Los Angeles since 2012 but have recently found more opportunities in Texas as well as back in Europe. I've never been very good at settling in one place so I'm lucky to be able to travel so much. 

Age: ...is just a number. And when I look at what's written in my passport I'm certain there's been a terrible mistake made with that number! 

When were you at Princethorpe - years from and to?


What was the school like in your day?

When I recently returned, for the first time in approximately 23 years, the school seemed quite different on the surface. But I didn't have to squint much to visualise the portacabins in place of the shiny new Sixth Form Block, or the Photography dark-room and Physics lab underneath the new Drama studio. I didn't have to wrinkle my nose much to recall the smell of the liver and onions we were served once a month in the refectory, or the cloud of cigarette smoke coming from the staff room...or the gas works, where us cool kids could be found! 

I think it felt a lot more testosterone-fuelled back then too. I was surrounded by other smelly boys for most of my time there, praying I'd make it to Sixth Form and have some more attractive schoolmates to look at! When I finally arrived in Lower Sixth, GIRLS started to be introduced in all the year groups I'd left behind! I rolled my eyes pretty hard at that but it was probably for the best...

How did Princethorpe affect the person you are today?

I wasn't very academic or sporty but the two places I found myself happiest at school were the Photographic Society (with Mr Darkes) and the Theatre Studies/Performing Arts programs (with Rosie Neal). All of those groundings and skills are a huge part of everything I do today.

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Oh boy, so much! 

Don't wait for anyone to blow a whistle - the race has already started! 

All the cliches about how quickly time flies past are true. Even if you can't feel it yet. 

Learn foreign languages...the world is much bigger than Warwickshire. And France is actually quite nice!

Keep a diary. Because your memory is not as good as you think it is! 

Who or what has been the greatest influence on your life?

If I hadn't met my wife whilst working at Warwick Castle in 2004, I'd probably still be there, probably wearing tights. 

What keeps you awake at night?

I can easily work late into the night if I'm preparing for a job or production, writing or learning lines. Otherwise I put on whatever conspiracy theory podcast I can find and I'm out like a light! 

What has been your proudest moment/greatest achievement so far?

I had a role in the movie Dunkirk. That was pretty amazing in itself but I was quite proud when Christopher Nolan tapped me on the shoulder in a cafe in Hollywood a few months after filming had wrapped and told me he was putting one of my scenes in the trailer. I've been dining out on that story ever since.

What’s your biggest indulgence?

I have to admit I'm a sucker for most conspiracy theories these days.

If you had to have one last meal, what would it be?

The more I travel the world, the more I love an Indian curry from Warwick Spice.

If you could be anywhere right now, where would it be and who would be with you?

I'm pretty happy to be most places where the sun is shining and I have my Mrs and dogs by my side.

Lasting memories of Princethorpe:

Hanging out with a rag-tag bunch of misfits, getting in trouble and definitely never exploring any of the tunnels or hidden doors or tower at all, ever! And never skiving off games to climb trees around The Mile Walk. 

Are you in touch with any other Old Princethorpians, if so whom?

A few of those misfits for sure. Joseph King, Tim Donnelly, Guy Illing, Danny Leary, Ed Creyton. 

Is there anyone you would like to track down?

I'd love to hear from my old Buddy, Bill Barrett!