Australian Actor Jayden McGinlay on Acting, Theatre and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Young and gifted Australian actor Jayden McGinlay has been making waves in the entertainment sector. He is best renowned for his range as an actor and his capacity to give his characters depth and sincerity. Jayden will have the opportunity to display his skills in the upcoming Lionsgate adaptation of Stephen King’s Children of the Corn, in which he will portray Cecil Williams.

With his lead part as “Jeremy Potts” in the Australian tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Jayden made his acting debut. He shared the stage with David Hobson and Rachael Beck. His subsequent performance as “Friedrich” in the London Palladium production of The Sound of Music solidified his standing as a gifted theatrical performer.

Jayden has appeared on television in such shows as ABC’s Harrow, where he had a recurring part, and The Bureau of Magical Things, where he portrayed Dylan. Additionally, he has received praise for his leading performance as “Teddy” in the Disney film The Curious Case of Dolphin Bay and for his portrayal of “Max” in the Netflix production Sweet River.

Jayden McGinlay is undoubtedly an actor to watch out for in the upcoming years due to his diverse set of acting abilities and his capacity to give depth and authenticity to his parts. He has a growing fan following because to his love of acting and commitment to his trade, and he is ready to dominate the entertainment business.


Can you tell us about your background and how you got into acting?
Well, my parents are animators so they had this huge DVD collection of kids movies and musicals, which I discovered when I was a toddler. I used to ask to watch them and I’d act scenes out and perform the full show of Cats on Broadway in my living room and stuff like that, haha. So being an actor and being in that kind of creative field was sort of a natural thing for me. Watching musical theatre and films definitely inspired me and I enrolled in just a local theatre school when I was 6, and was cast in my first professional stage production when I was 8, as Jeremy Potts in the Australian tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. After that, I got an acting agent and started screen acting too.


You have worked on a variety of projects, both on stage and on screen. Do you have a preference for one over the other, and how does your approach differ when working in each medium?
I absolutely love doing both. Theatre requires a lot of discipline as you’re doing the show from beginning to end, night after night, in front of a live audience, so there’s no room for mistakes- you can’t re-take! You have to train vocally for singing and your voice has to hit the back of the theatre and fill the space. You need to train in dance obviously, for musicals, and you’re also aware of how to use your space and make bold choices. In theatre you have weeks of rehearsals followed by months of performances, so I would say that’s definitely how I finetuned my accents over the years, haha. I’ve learned so much from performing on stage which I feel has definitely helped me to become a more well-rounded actor. For mscreen, you’re really just focusing on the acting, so it’s less demanding in a way, and you can just get right into the character. As you get to re-take, you can try things a few different ways and see what works best, which is fun.

You played Cecil Williams in Lionsgate’s theatrical release. How did you prepare for this role, and what did you find most challenging about it?
Well, I mainly worked closely with our awesome director and writer, Kurt Wimmer, to flesh Cecil out and prepare for the role. Kurt was such a great director and his openness to collaboration really allowed me to dig deeper into the character’s world. It was also really helpful that he also wrote the script because he already had tons of insight into the character and was able to articulate clearly what his ideas were about the character, whilst also allowing me to develop him. These characters and the story are original, not a remake of the original, so there was a lot of freedom in the creation of Cecil. I didn’t really find the role particularly challenging personally, but what was a challenge was the fact we were shooting in the middle of the worldwide lockdown! We were the only production that was shooting in the entire world from March to May, and the production basically had to evolve the shooting process (and the script) constantly to comply to the safety protocols, which was incredible. The entire cast and crew operated in a ‘bubble’ to limit exposure risks, and our incredible producers brought all of the families of the child actors into the bubble as well and provided everything we needed for the duration of filming. It wa because we worked in this way that this was the only film that was shot and completed during covid without a shutdown, and I’m extremely grateful that I got to be a part of this project.


You also played Teddy in the Disney movie, The Curious Case of Dolphin Bay. Can you tell us about your experience working on this film and how it compared to other projects you’ve worked on?

The Curious Case of Dolphin Bay was such a fun experience. Bella, Ella, Allegra and I clicked instantly and the whole cast and crew were just amazing- it was like a big family on set, with such a great vibe. Working with our brilliant director, Christine Luby, was such a pleasure. She really allowed for creative freedom, and even though we were on a tight schedule, as we shot the film in 15 days, she let us ad lib and have fun. She also had a really clear vision in her mind of the big picture, which as an actor is great because you’re not wasting any time, but you still get to have fun and experiment. Throughout the shoot, she maintained a ‘rehearsal energy’, always exploring, discovering and building, which is really helpful for keeping everything fresh for the cast and crew. The experience on this film was different to my previous experiences, because it’s a fun family film, so I got to lean into the comedy and have a lot of fun with Teddy, who is quite goofy character. It doesn’t have a dark tone like Children of the Corn or Sweet River, so the style is obviously very different and Cecil and Max were quite serious. From an acting standpoint, I felt that I was able to inject a lot of my own personality into Teddy, and be a bit playful with him, so it was a lot lighter than my previous roles.


What has been your Favorite role to play so far, and why?
That’s a hard question haha, I love all of the roles I’ve played for different reasons. I think I had the most fun playing Teddy in The Curious Case of Dolphin Bay, because again I could put a lot of my own personality into the character and also, he was just super fun. When I first read the whole script, I knew that it would be an awesome time playing him as he was funny, a little awkward and he had a lot of heart. The whole experience was also amazing, everyone on set was so lovely and fun, and it was just a great vibe. But I also love horror films and getting into those more serious characters is great. I love them all and I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to play such varied roles in those different genres.

You starred as Jeremy Potts in the Australian tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. What was it like to work on such a beloved production,and how did you approach playing such an iconic character?
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was an incredible experience. I remember I felt like the luckiest person on Earth to be able to perform in the flying car each night, haha! I was only 8 years old at the time, so it was a huge deal for me, and a great role. I was the youngest person to play the role in Australia, as the minimum age was meant to be 10, so I was really fortunate that they made an exception for me and got my mum to sign a waiver to allow me to work the longer hours. What I remember most was how lovely and supportive the cast and crew were. The director, Roger Hodgman, was so awesome and encouraging and I’m so grateful to him for recognizing that I had the ability to play the role despite my age, and picking me out of over 300 kids. That was a dream come true. I remember I got the script around a week before we started the three-week rehearsal process and I was so excited, I memorized the entire thing in less than a day, and was laughing throughout as it was hilarious and so much fun. I had watched the movie before and loved it, read the book by Ian Fleming also watched the stage production online. My approach was really just to be myself and have fun whilst honoring the character. You have also appeared in TV shows such as ABC’s Harrow and The Bureau of Magical Things.


Can you tell us about your experience working on these shows and how it differs from working on films or stage productions?
The main difference between TV shows and films is the pace haha. You have to be extremely focused as time is very limited and they film episode after episode. So, it’s very fast, but I love the speed. It that sense it’s pretty similar to professional musicals – you have to learn everything super quickly and be ready for opening night, and I personally love the adrenaline that environment creates.

Who are some actors or actresses that you admire and look up to, and why?
There are so many actors that I admire and look up to, it’s really hard to narrow it down! One of my favourite actors whose work really inspires me is Leonardo DiCaprio. In all of his roles he’s just amazing and he has so much versatility. I love Robert De Niro, for obvious reasons, he’s a legend. I love Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Rylance and Andrew Garfield because of their incredible work on both screen and stage. My favourite actresses are Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton who are obviously screen legends.

What advice would you give to young people who are interested in pursuing a career in acting or the entertainment industry?
I remember hearing someone say, when I was first starting out, ‘If there’s something else you can do, do that. If this is the only thing you want to do and you can’t imagine ever doing anything else, go for it.’ Haha! It really is a career you have to be fully passionate about and dedicated to, and as they say, you can get a hundred ‘no’s before one ‘yes’ so you have to be quite resilient and really believe in yourself. Learn everything you can, build up your experience and commit 100%, and remember that no one else can be you, so stay true to yourself.

What can we expect from you in the future, and what upcoming projects are you excited about?
You can expect to see me on screen for a long time to come, and I’d like to also get back on stage in the future. I also have some upcoming music projects that I’m excited about.


How do you approach your craft and continually improve as an actor?
I always search for characters and scripts that I think well challenge me in some way, to challenge my skills and what I know as an actor. I read books and plays and take notes, but the way I really love to learn is by doing. I take a lot of classes and I’m always learning. I really want work with amazing actors who I can learn from and work off and collaborate with talent who will push me as an actor.

What kind of impact do you hope to have on the industry and the world through your work as an actor?
Well, ultimately as an actor I want to entertain people, tell stories that touch them in some way and for people to take away something that sticks with them. Films and shows can have a huge impact on people and I hope to play roles that people remember because they moved or influenced them in some way. I want to work with great directors and work on amazing projects that I’m passionate about, and if the audience is entertained and also takes away some sort of message from the films, what more could I ask for?

How do you balance your personal life with your career in the entertainment industry?
I have a great team who helps me balance my personal life and my career, and I have a great support network which I’m super grateful for. I never really found that I had any trouble balancing that as my parents were very involved and supportive of me, growing up. My mum homeschooled me and my brother, so that allowed a lot of flexibility and I’d get my school work done around my work hours and have time left over to have fun and be a kid. She ran lines with me, drove me to rehearsals, shows an sets all the time throughout my childhood, and in between I’d be doing all my lessons and keeping my grades up!


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