Over the last thirty-five years, Anthony Ellul has played lead roles with most of the local theatrical companies in productions such as Death of a Salesman, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, Dinner with Friends, Sawlu and Xita ta’ Flus, amongst others. In 1998, together with a couple of friends, he set up TeatruMenz, and played lead roles in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Elephant Man, Faust, Raging Bull: The Jake La Motta Story, Dead Man Walking and Caligula.
On television, we’ve seen him as Ġakbu in Wirt, Felix in Il-Familja Grech and Luigi in Giselle, for which he’s won Best Actor at the Malta TV Awards 2008. He’s also been part of foreign productions, namely Julius Caesar, Agora, When Pigs Have Wings, 20,000 Reasons and recently in I Fantasmi di Portopalo.
Date of Birth: 31st July, 1963
Star Sign: Leo
Media-related occupation: Actor and Director
Can you recall the first time you performed in front of a camera or audience?
I remember my first play at drama school. This was in December 1980 in Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, where I played a seventy-year old sea captain. It was an interesting role considering I was still seventeen at the time, and comments were positive. I was encouraged by this and realised that maybe I could be good at acting. My first time in front of a camera was in the TV production of Il-Lukandiera back in 1983. I can still remember hearing my voice on TV for the first time. It was a shock, but I got used to it as time went by.
What part of being an actor is the most exciting?
The most challenging thing for an actor is getting into the character to interpret the role in the most credible manner. I like characters with a deep psychological background. I study the way the character moves and talks, the way the character should look. In fact, I try to seek ways to look different. It could be the style of their hair, the glasses they wear, a beard or a moustache, or even padding to look fat. I remember watching how Americans gesticulate when studying for the character of Randall McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
What’s your general perception of the local drama field? How does Malta fare with the rest of the world?
With regret I have to say that the local drama scene is passing through a period of crisis. Theatrical productions have decreased as have the production companies. Attendance to the theatre has gone down, probably because drama has become synonymous with TV for most of the population, and going to the theatre is no longer attractive. As an actor, I feel disappointed that some of the local TV productions are of a low quality, since they engage people without acting experience, and this really shows. To me, this is an insult to actors who take acting seriously.
I think Malta has talent when compared to overseas. The opportunities locally to perform abroad are limited, yet we have seen a number of local actors being given good roles in foreign film productions. It’s time that we also export out theatrical productions.
Apart from acting, what other main interests do you pursue in your free time?
My other interests include painting of small plastic soldiers, ranging from ancient warriors to Napoleonics, and building wooden ship models. These take time and patience, so I usually engage in such hobbies when I don’t have any theatrical productions. I’m currently also directing and presenting a series of thirteen programmes which will air on One TV from this coming April, entitled Tul il-Kosta Maltija. This will take televiewers along the entire Maltese coast, showing the beauty of certain stretches of it, as well as cultural and environmental attractions.