An interview with Jules Brown on 18/15/2020 for Variety Magazine, by Jenny Rhodes
I arrive especially early, I’ve heard Jules is a very punctual person and always keeps his promises. Cursing myself at not having enough change for the parking metre I chance it with an hour long ticket and hope the interview doesn’t run over. It’s taken me quite a few phone calls to set this up. Jules doesn’t give that many interviews, not that he’s anti-press, but he tries to avoid the spotlight too much if he can help it. Which is a pretty tall order when you’re playing the main character in one of the newest and most popular TV series of the year.
I walk into the cafe at 5mins to One. I’ve still got 5 mins to get settled. It’s a quiet, family run Italian coffee shop called ‘Pepes’ on one of the quieter, less touristic streets in Malibu, set back from the beach front. The owner greets me warmly and I sit at a table for two near the back. It’s a friendly, upbeat place with a homely, rustic feel. A little slice of Italy right here in Malibu. Jazzy old world tunes play at the right level through the speakers. Not your typical Starbucks. “Nice”, I think to myself, “very understated”. I take out my pad and look over the questions I’ve prepared. A bit nervous I sit there twirling my pen wondering if I should adapt some of them, I hear the little bell ring as the door opens and in walks Jules. He’s wearing sunglasses (of course) and a beige trilby straw hat, it suits him in a kind of distinguished way, he’s wearing smart, beige shorts and a white linen shirt with the sleeves rolled up, he looks smart but casual at the same time, with shades of the man from Del-Monte. I wasn’t going to write that originally but I thought he’d probably laugh.
Before he sees me he embraces Pepe the owner in a friendly hug, they ask each other how they are and exchange a few words in Italian, wait… he speaks Italian? Like two old friends they jester back and forth, Jules also says hello to Maria (Pepe’s wife I can only assume) and they exchange warm smiles and three cheek kisses. Europeans! He looks up for a second and scans the room, then he clocks me in the corner. A quick wave and broad smile appear on his face as he walks over.
“Hey, nice to meet you, it’s Jenny right?” he confirms
“Yes Jenny, nice to meet you too Mr Brown” I respond.
“Please, it’s Jules. What would you like to drink?”
“I’ll have a latte please”
“Sounds good me too” Jules turns around and clocks Pepe, “Two Lattes please Pepe” he says in Italian.
Pepe acknowledges the order and says something back which I can only assume mean’t “Ok”
“So you speak Italian?”
Jules laughs loudly
“Fooled you did I? No not really, I’m terrible actually, but every time I come in here Pepe teaches me another word or phrase. Honestly, I’m pretty terrible at languages but I love trying. I’ve been coming here for about a year now, and I still only know a few basic phrases. But with Italian if you just wave your arms around a lot that also helps convey the meaning.
“Haha. That’s such a nice idea, I’ve always wanted to speak another language.”
“Exactly! As native English speakers we’re so lazy with other languages. Most people don’t bother to learn one, myself included, because we really don’t need to in order to get by in life. I used to be an English teacher to foreign students, I worked with students from all over the world and I always admired the ones who could speak more than one language fluently. It’s so much harder for them because they have no choice but to learn English.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. Especially when I go to other countries and all English speakers have this expectation that everyone should just speak their language!” I say in agreement.
We share a laugh, then Jules adds.
“It’s ridiculous isn’t it. Brits are especially bad at that. It’s like we go on holiday and walk into a bar and say ‘two beers please’ without even trying. Then look at the waiter like he’s the idiot!
“And we wonder why they give us a dirty looks!” I respond.
“Haha, yeah. Like I said, I’m pretty terrible at languages but I speak pigeon in quite a few. I think it’s more respectful as well, and a great way to build rapport with people. At least they can see you’re trying. I remember when I was 21, I went travelling with my best mate around South America for 6 months, when we arrived in Brazil the first thing I learn’t to say was “Eu falo um pouco de português” which means “I speak a little Portuguese”, most of the locals were really impressed when I used this turn of phrases, the problem then came when they starting chatting to me thinking I actually understand. My mate kept telling me to stop saying that to people because it’s the only phrase I knew. But I think it helped break the ice in many situations and the locals certainly seemed to appreciate the effort.”
5 mins has passed and we haven’t even got onto the topic of the interview. Talking to Jules is very relaxed, fun and easy. Like talking to a friend you haven’t seen for a long time. There’s no awkwardness, and he makes me feel upbeat and happy. There’s definitely a twinkle in that eye.
Pepe weaves between the tables skilfully with a tray and two coffees. He slides them down onto the table….
“grazie mille” Jules says.
“Prego”, responds Pepe.
“questo è tutta”
“No no no. questo è tutto! haven’t you learnt anything Jules?” Pepe flashes a mock disappointed face.
“I must have a bad teacher eh Pepe?” Jules retorts.
They both laugh and then Pepe walks away to serve another customer.
“Thanks for agreeing to interview with me, I know you’re busy” I offer.
“You’re welcome, when I heard you know Becky and you were looking for some help it was the least I could do. Me and Becky go way way back, she’s been out here in LA for some time now. It’s great to have old friends out here, as well as new ones. So how long have you worked for Variety?” Jules asks.
“Only about a year, I mostly do awards, events, screenings. I don’t often get the chance to write one to one pieces, so this is kind of great for me, it’ll really help” I say earnestly.
Jules nods, “Hey, I’ve been there, I know what it’s like. Everyone needs a break sometimes”
“I know you don’t do that many interviews, but I’d like to get to know the real you a bit, I’d like to find out more about what got your here. I think it would be more interesting.
“Of course, whatever you need. Fire away.”
“Clearly LA isn’t your usual haunt, I know you’re here filming at the moment. How are you enjoying the city?”
“I love it! You know ever since I was a kid I always wanted to shoot a film or TV show out here. It’s the mecca of our industry and growing up in the UK we’re so influenced by US TV and film. It’s just really a dream come true. Plus the weather is ridiculously nice all the time! But then compared to England that’s not hard. I’m staying near the beach here in Malibu, I’ve taken up surfing, although I’m still terrible. It reminds me a lot of where I grew up. Plus the industry out here is on another level, I’m learning so much.”
“You mentioned that LA reminds you of where you grew up, where exactly was that?”
“Well, I grew up in Bournemouth which is a seaside town in the South of England. It’s a beautiful place with nice beaches and was a great place as a kid and teenager. I was really spoilt. So I love the beach, the sea and everything associated with it.”
“And do you still live there?”
“My mum does and so do quite a few friends. I bought a flat there a couple of years ago. It’s beautiful and modern with a large terrace and a view of the sea. It’s my weekend retreat from all the madness, where I spend time with my family and relax. My mum lives in the flat with her little dog and she has a great quality of life now. I’m so grateful that I was able to repay her. But she also spends a lot of time in London and we go on quite a few holidays which is very liberating. The flat there is really open to anyone, I always have people staying for the weekends and I often rent out a speed boat which we take out for the day. I’ve definitely found my bliss there.”
“You’re welcome to visit anytime!”
“So Jules, you found success as an actor much later in life compared to a lot of well-known actors. Where did you spend most of your 20’s and what was it like for you trying to make it?”
“Haha, it was a barren wasteland of hopelessness!”
“Haha, okay it wasn’t that bad. I really enjoyed studying acting at university, and I really enjoyed the social side, a bit too much. After that, I moved back home because my dad was sick and my brother and I looked after him until he passed in 2005. I was pretty young then and whilst I could rationalise what had happened, he was 80 years old after all, I didn’t really know how to process it. I worked for a while doing various jobs, don’t ask me how many random jobs I’ve done because the list is huge. And then I went travelling with my best friend and saw the world, at that time it was exactly what I needed. When I got back I made the decision that I really wanted to pursue acting, I felt I owed it to myself and my family. So, like a lot of young actors, I packed my bags, said goodbye and headed for the bright lights of London.”
“And what was it like when you got there?”
“It was a shock, a beach bum in London! It definitely took some getting used to but I’m pretty adaptable and soon got on with it. That big break I thought would happen straight away didn’t quite materialise, I was so naive and ignorant really. I worked a lot of bar and catering jobs. Went to fewer auditions than I’d have liked and partied pretty hard. I was so driven to make it as an actor but I think I lacked focus and I was really still finding my feet in life. Don’t get me wrong I had some amazing times, did some great plays and short films and learned a lot along the way. I also lived in this huge London tower block on the eighth floor with some of my best mates. We used to call it the penthouse and we had a great time living there, lot’s of great memories. It was probably a good thing that I found success later in life, I think I’m more down to earth because of it. As they say, ‘if there is no struggle there is no progress’. There were times when I was making so little money I could hardly afford to pay rent. It was pretty depressing! But I just always kept on going, smiling, partying and trying to see the bright side. I wasn’t getting the auditions I wanted to I started making my own stuff, to give me a creative outlet, it helped me in so many ways. Then I met a wonderful young writer called Josie and we fell in love and stayed together for 7 amazing years.”
“So what happened?”
“Well, we were a great team, very supportive of each others dreams and talent. We helped each other along the way but it was a struggle sometimes, we were always broke and in the end we wanted different things. I wasn’t ready to have a family, move and settle down and I think it was just too much pressure on the relationship. Going out separate ways was the hardest thing I’ve ever done to this day. We still keep in touch though, and I’m really happy that things have worked out for Josie. She’s pretty big in YA and women’s fiction now, with two international bestsellers and she even got a movie deal, I honestly couldn’t be more proud.”
“That must’ve been hard. But I’m glad it worked out for your both. So was there a turning point for you when things really started going your way?”
“Yeah, it was at the end of 2016. I’d been a bit down that year, I’d started a network marketing business which wasn’t going well and the acting had really dried up. Then I got an audition for a UK tour of a famous Ray Cooney play called ‘Out of Order’. It was a big deal for me, and there was some famous British actors attached. I prepared for the audition like my life depended on it. I knew the lines inside out and was very confident going in. It’s funny, because it sounds so obvious to prepare, but to be truly prepared for a role is a hugely liberating feeling. All the nerves melt away and you can just concentrate on your job, giving your interpretation of the character and script. The audition went really well, I got a call back and then got offered the job. 2017 was amazing, we toured the play for nearly 5 months, around some beautiful cities and theatres, I made some great friends and it gave me so much belief and confidence in myself again. At times, I had thought about quitting the business and settling down, but that tour reinvigorated my spirit.”
“And after that, what was the next step?”
Well, after the tour ended, so did my relationship with Josie. We decided to call it a day and go our separate ways. But then a great thing happened. I discovered the MasterKey system and MKMMA which was being run by Mark and Davine Januszewski. The course really spoke to my heart. It was a 6 month course of self discovery and learning how to become a self directed thinker. Which means, accessing the power of the subconscious mind and becoming the best version of yourself that you always knew you could be. I know it sounds like a load of self help nonsense. But it couldn’t be less like that. I already knew who Mark was because he’s well known in the network marketing industry and I was a student of his Go90Grow course, which teachers network marketers how to build their businesses the ‘right’ way, so this course seemed like the logical next step. Armed with these two weapons, I knew good things were around the corner.
“And were they?”
“So what happened?”
“Well, the first month of the course was crazy, it was like being back in school but also having a full time job. I struggled to keep my head above water. But I continued to apply the teachings and eventually found my stride. I started auditioning more, I actually started contacting people about my business again and amazingly I started growing a team. Again, I felt so much confidence and excitement about the future. After a few months I was able to quite my job as a teacher and just work part time on my business and focus on acting more, which was always the reason for the Network Marketing business in the first place. It was amazing, my belief grew 10 fold and I could feel the momentum building. After about 6 months, I was making more money from my business than I had from any other job ever and still only working maybe 20 hours a week. I got new headshots, shot a professional showreel, a new voice-reel and started getting better and better auditions. I got a TV commercial (my first ever) which paid well and gave me some great exposure. And then the best thing of all happened. I got cast in a national theatre production. This was always one of my dreams as a young actor and felt great. I was proud to call myself an actor. From there, more and more auditions came in and my business continued to grow. By the end of 2018, I had bought a nice flat in bournemouth overlooking the sea and moved my mum in there. She started renting out her place to give her an income and I was able to help her financially too. I had grown a team of 1,000 reps in my company and was earning really good money and still only working about 20 hours a week. It was such a liberating time, for the first time in my life I felt truly free from the pressures of modern life and was able to live life on my terms. So many people never get to do that, and the older people get the more they feel the pressure, the more they succumb to their circumstances. As Al Pacino says in one his best performances in Scent of a Woman “There’s nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit”. You see it all the time, especially with creatives and artists, the world has beaten them down and they have finally submitted. It’s tragic really, because most people never fully realise the amazing potential they have, and I was very nearly one of them. I’ve always thought that there haven’t been enough opportunities for artists and so around the same time, I set up my production company ‘brown brothers’ and started giving back to the arts by funding new writing theatre and film production. This felt great, to be working in such a dynamic and creative way and bringing people together from the industry and giving them a chance. Again, it was whole new mastermind group!”
“That sounds really interesting, did you get involved in every project?”
“Yes in the initial stages but each project had it’s own producer who did most of the leg work. In the end I became more of an overseer of the whole fund and dipped in and out of producing. It was an incredibly busy time actually because I was doing trainings for my NM company and still growing my organisation. But what I loved most about it was that it was on my terms, if I needed a day off, I could take one. If I needed a week off, I’d take one. We went on plenty of nice holidays too.”
“Lucky you! So when did Hollywood come calling?”
“It was about March 2019 when I got an audition for the new HBO series ‘bloodlines’. I had to send a video audition to my agent. It was a great role and a great script. A few days later I got a call from my agent who said they want to fly me out to LA for a second audition, I happily obliged! Another huge box ticked. Going out there I was so nervous but I knew that I could get the role and I knew that I was ready. The audition was at HBO studios, there were so many people in the room it was worrying. But when truly understand the Master Key system, you realise that nothing is impossible, you have a peace and strength from within. I gave it my best shot and the next day, sitting in my hotel room I got the call, my awesome agent and friend Jamie called me and said “Do you want to have a good day?” Which was very similar to what he had said to me the day I got the Ray Cooney play all those years before. I said, “don’t mess with me”, he repeated “do you want to have a good day?” I was like “yes of course! come on tell me…” and then he told me “you got the part bud!”. I think I screamed, shouted, cried and danced, although I’m not sure in what order. I can’t describe the feeling, other than it felt like everything was bursting. I called my my mum first and then my brother, they both cried as well. There are some moments in life that stay with you forever and this was definitely one of them. The next few days were a bit of a blur. I was driven around LA, taken to parties, meetings, shopping. HBO really made a big deal out of it. It was a million miles away from the fringe theatre production of Volpone which I’d done as a young man under a pub in Notting hill performing to an audience of two people! Haha”
“Haha, So did you stay out here and begin filming right away?”
No, I went back to London, back to the rain and the wind which was a fantastic coming back down to earth moment. Nothing kills a high like English drizzle in April, haha. No, it was great to catch up with friends and family and share the good news. My brother and I were also working closely together, our brown brothers company was also renovating houses which my brother oversaw and he’d also started a new business in the food and beverage industry.
“Wow, sounds like you were really busy, is that something you enjoy?”
“I have a tendency to be really lazy and put things off. So I like to keep busy and working on exciting projects. If I wasn’t, I could happily spend a week or two on the sofa without leaving the house! So yeah, busy is good. But as long as it’s on my terms. I like to be able to dictate my own schedule.”
“And what happened to your network marketing business?”
“I still ran it, I was still an active member, I just wasn’t able to be there in person at the meetings, trainings etc.. I continued to have an online presence and my blog continued to generate leads, but I just wasn’t able to really peruse them because it wouldn’t have been fair to new reps as I wasn’t able to give them the dedication they deserved. In the end, I passed on all my leads to various team coordinators in my downline who gladly followed up. At that point there were so many great people in our team that they really kept pushing it. The thing about NM is, if you train and teach people right in the beginning, it has a knock on effect and builds a stronger, better organisation down the line.”
“Did you think about leaving the Network Marketing world? Did you find it clashed with your public profile?”
“haha, yeah, a few people in showbiz told me to walk away from it, that it would bring me bad press because of NM’s mixed reputation, but actually it made me do the opposite. It made me an even bigger ambassador of the industry, which had brought so much success and joy to my life and others peoples. It was definitely the tool that got me where I wanted to be. I think if you truly believe in something and you can see the way it benefits so many peoples lives, then why turn your back on it. plus, you never know when the acting works gonna dry up! Network Marketing is all about giving and as the great Hannel says…’give more, get more’.
“I like that! who said that?”
“Hannel, I learnt it on the MKMMA. It’s based on Emersons law of compensation, the more we give the more we get.”
“And so now your back in LA filming the second season of bloodlines, it was huge hit as we all know and your character ‘Jonny Greco’ is both loved and despised by fans of the show. Is this is a dream role for you?”
“Definitely! I was inspired so much by actors like Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini as a teenager. I loved those crime and gangster films and it was because of them that I first wanted to be an actor. Obviously, I still love those films but I’ve also broadened my tastes. So, a part of has always wanted to play a gritty, complex character in a good crime series, so playing ‘Jonny Greco’ was definitely a dream role.”
“And what about the future, what does that look like?”
“Well, it depends how long they keep my character around for! No spoilers! Obviously, I love playing Jonny G and I’d continue to do it for as long as they want me to. I love being out here in LA and renting a place near the beach. I’m very lucky because I can afford to share the lifestyle with other people as well. Just last week, my mum and brother were visiting and I was able to give them a tour of the set and show them around LA which was really fun and great to spend time with the family.”
“What about other roles? Do you have any other roles you’d love to play?”
“How long have you got? haha. I always wanted to be in an action role, a boxing role, and a fantasy or period role like Game of Thrones for example. These are definitely on my list and I’m in talks at the moment regarding a film which would shoot in between filming Bloodlines. So things are looking good. I’m just taking each day as it comes, trying to live in moment, give back when I can and enjoy the ride. Of course, at some point I’d love to return to theatre, there’s nothing quite like live theatre and we’ve got a great history and culture of it in England.”
“Well you’ve certainly got a lot on the horizon and I wish you all the best with it. I have to ask, are there any relationships on the horizon too?”
“Haha, not at the moment, but I’m definitely open to looking. I’ve been really just focussed on work for the last few years. I gave up a great relationship because we wanted different things and I didn’t feel like we could make both things work simultaneously. But now, I feel huge sense of satisfaction and validation in my work and now that I’ve achieved certain goals, I feel ready to meet someone. I definitely want to share my life with a family of my own and look forward to being married and having kids one day. But I’ll have to find someone first!”
“I’m sure you will.”
“What about you? Do you have a family and kids?”
“God no! Not yet anyway. A boyfriend, we’ve been together for about a year. He’s great, but we’re just taking it easy.”
“That’s great, best way to be.”
We chat idly for a while and drink more coffee. Pepe brings over two tiramisus, Jules insists that I have to try it and it’s easily the best I’ve ever had. Pepe sits and chats with us for a while, even his cute, young son, Mario, comes over and entertains us. It’s so relaxed, so friendly….. so normal. I glance at my watch!
“Oh my god!”
“What?” Jules asks taken aback.
“My car! the metre, I only put an hour on it”
“Oops, how long’s it been?”
“An hour and half, I’m so sorry, I’ve got to go.”
“No worries, go.”
“It’s been so nice meeting you, thank you so much, I….”
Jules interrupts, “Don’t worry about all that, it was lovely to meet you to, you better go”
“I’ll let you know about the article, when it’s coming out” I say a bit frazzled.
“Forget about that, give me your card. I’m having a bbq/drinks thing on Friday night at my place. Becky and Elliot are coming, why don’t you come to? Bring your boyfriend too.”
“Yeah, of course, wouldn’t offer if I didn’t mean it. come along it will be very chilled, more the merrier. You can see where I’m staying, we can chat more, It might help you with the article.”
“Ok, yeah… great”
“I’ll text you the details”
I rush out Pepe’s cafe, shouting a quick goodbye. Dash across the road to the side street where I’m parked. I get back to the car and there’s no ticket. Phew! crisis averted. I sit in the car and take a breath. Then I smile, I’m going to Jules’s place for a BBQ on Friday night with my boyfriend and Becky. And the funny thing is, I know he was being genuine. And so that’s how I’ve written this article, no fluff, no filler, no fancy journo tricks of the trade. It’s pretty much a direct transcript of what happened. The BBQ however, will have to remain a secret.