Having starred in both British dramas and Hollywood blockbusters, Martin Delaney has had a career as diverse as his new film! As well as popular shows such as Family Affairs and The Bill, Delaney has mingled with Hollywood heavyweights such as Clint Eastwood in the acclaimed hit Flags of our Fathers and Kathryn Bigelow in Zero Dark Thirty. The young actor now plays one third of the trio in his new comedy Amar, Akbar and Tony. His character, Tony, is on the hunt for his new love in the Asian community, the question is will he succeed? Delaney talks to us about diversity in film, working with an amazing cast and how to find the one!
Tell me a bit about your character Tony.
Tony is a Londoner with Irish heritage on his dad’s side, he’s lived in Southall all his life and been friends with Amar and Akbar since he was a kid. Tony’s a softie with a heart of gold, he tries but he’s not the brightest or most charming of the three. Living in a largely British-Asian community he’s become obsessed with Asian women. The question is will he find the Asian girl of his dreams? Or more to the point is the girl of his dreams looking for her “Caucasian prince”?
What drew you to this project?
The thing that drew me to the piece was the script and role, it read like a really fun script with room for light as well as moments of heart and weight. Of course the role was great fun. Tony being described as ‘the honorary Asian’ reminded me of moments in my life that were important. I worked in New Zealand some years ago and I was taken under the wing of the Maori boys, there were elements of the character that reminded me of this time. The fact that Tony would be my first comedic lead in film was of course exciting, not to mention that I am British Asian myself. I don’t look it as I’m Caucasian but my mum is Burmese and my dad is Irish. I identified with the strong family and friendship themes running through the piece.
Do you feel this film is an accurate representation of London today?
The piece represented London and in particular Southall very well. London is a melting pot of different cultures and communities and it’s used as a backdrop in a very positive light in Amar, Akbar and Tony. When I grew up in South East London/Kent border, culture didn’t keep me away from my friends of different race or faith and the movie echoes that.
You’ve starred in Hollywood blockbusters such as Zero Dark Thirty and Flags of our Fathers. Do you enjoy working on these big movies as well as local films such as Amar, Akbar and Tony?
I have and yes, they are incredibly enjoyable. I managed to do a few Hollywood movies now and I’m particularly proud of being part of the two you mentioned. Not only because Clint Eastwood and Kathryn Bigelow are wonderful directors and not to mention charming human beings, but because both those movies were nominated for Oscars with Zero Dark Thirty winning one. It’s lovely to be involved in all that! Zero Dark Thirty had some great cameos which lead to it also winning ‘Best Ensemble Cast’ at The Critics Choice Awards. Winning over fantastic movies like Les Miserables feels incredible and I’m very grateful. In those big Hollywood pictures I also tend to play American roles which I love to do where possible.
Did you, Sam and Rez become close friends during filming?
Sam, Rez and I got on so well during filming, I love those boys! I read somewhere that directing is 60% casting, well Shakyra Dowling along with the director Atul Malhotra did a top job with this piece because we all had such a blast and bonded in a truly natural and believable way. The girls are all fantastic too; it’s been a real pleasure and honour to work with them. I had worked with Laura Aikman and Amrita Acharia before in television and it was a joy to spend time with them again.
As well as comedy, are there serious moments the audiences can relate to?
There are serious moments of course, every story needs drama and conflict and Amar Akbar and Tony doesn’t avoid this. There’s a moment in the early part of the movie that puts strain on their relationship as friends. Not to mention the dramas involved with trying to find the girl of your dreams, I think everyone can identify with that. Love is never easy, but it’s always worth it!
What was it like working with such an ensemble and multicultural cast?
As I mentioned earlier, the cast were just incredible, every single member. We all had such fun together and were a really great team. It was a delight to work opposite Meera Syal and Nina Wadia too. Not only are they super talented ladies but really beautiful and generous people. You mentioned it being a multicultural cast, but it didn’t stop there. Amar, Akbar and Tony had the biggest multicultural crew I’d ever worked with and that was inspiring. In a time where diversity in British film is a huge negative talking point, Amar Akbar and Tony really did prove that there are no reasons why film can’t be more diverse.