Ray Panthaki: “I have to keep making films. I do not know why’

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Ray Panthaki, 43, star of the 2021 film Boiling point. It was co-produced by his production company Urban Way, whose other productions include the 2013 Bafta-winning comedy. Convenience. He starred in the TV series marcella and A wayand his directorial debut, the short film Perpetuitywon an East End Film Festival award.

Private school or public school? University or straight to work?
State. My father transferred us to a slightly richer area to get us into a better school. We couldn’t afford it. He worked all the hours that God sent. I failed my baccalaureate — it was just too academic — and started a university course that would take my qualifications. I was saved by getting an acting role that would have meant missing so much of the class, so I freed myself to pursue what I loved.

What was your childhood or your first ambition?
I was an incredibly shy and quiet child. When I was 11 or 12, there was a boy in my class who was an actor. A part of me wanted that attention. My parents said, “What? You don’t even talk to anyone! But when I went to the local drama school, acting completely engaged me.

Who was or still is your mentor?
I never really had one.

How politically engaged are you?
Probably less than I should be because I’m so tired of politics right now.

Are you in good physical shape?
Right now, I’m fine. The fittest I’ve ever been was in 2019. The producers told me that in five weeks there was a scene where I had to be topless. Nothing fuels commitment more than vanity.

Ambition or talent: what matters more to succeed?
Certainly ambition. I wish it was talent, or some element of both, but the arts are not a meritocracy. I had to fight to be seen. The phone wouldn’t have rung without it.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently own?
A time machine, so I can attend the Last Supper, have a pint with Nikola Tesla and go to Woodstock.

Where are you the happiest?
Los Angeles. When I get there, my shoulders drop, I feel free. I can be on the beach, in the mountains, in the desert in hours. And there is excellent sushi.

What is your biggest extravaganza?
I recently bought my first house in London. I’m happiest when I live with one bag. I’ve spent my whole life avoiding financial commitments that would make me value money over art.

What ambitions do you still have?
It’s always been about making important films – as an actor and as a director.

What motivates you ?
My family and my friends: to make them proud, to show that the commitment was worth it. In terms of deeper appeal, it’s something I can’t get rid of – I have to keep making movies. I do not know why.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
It’s one that never existed. I was cast in a movie that became a Hollywood juggernaut. There was a visa delay and the role had to be recast: the success was to get the role and also to get up after this disappointment. And to be nominated for a British Independent Film Award for Boiling point.

What do you find most irritating in other people?
Rudeness and bullying.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would it think?
He would see that there was treasure in all those scars I had. They ended up being things that made me grow.

What item you lost would you like to still have?
A book about Zoroastrianism, the religion I was born into. On my own personal spiritual journey, I would like to see how this aligns with where I am.

What is the greatest challenge of our time?
Governments are entering Big Tech and how it leads to our loss of freedom.

Do you believe in life after death?
I’ve had too many experiences not to believe that there is something more magical.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would your score be?
Seven. There is still so much to do.

Ray Panthaki Stars in ‘Boiling Point,’ Available to Stream on Major Platforms Now

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