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From fighter pilot to CIA agent, it’s all action for Cambridge actor Mark Hampton

By: Adrian Peel adrian.peel@iliffemedia.co.uk

Published: 08:23, 12 February 2024

The life of a TV and film actor is notoriously unpredictable. A performer can often go months – or even years – without ever getting work, though Cambridge-based actor Mark Hampton seems to be on a roll at the moment, with a number of exciting projects out now or coming out soon.

Mark Hampton. Picture: Keith Heppell

“I’ve had a really good month,” says Mark, a Cherry Hinton-based actor who has appeared in numerous film and television productions for both independent producers and studios such as Paramount, Netflix, the BBC and ITV.

“I’ve been lucky because I’ve had two movies come out, a TV series on ITV2, and a third film where we’re not sure of the date – it was supposed to come out in December but it’s been pushed back.

“So three movies and a TV show is not a bad start to the year.”

The first of these films is titled Lift. “Lift is a film on Netflix,” explains Mark, “it’s a Kevin Hart movie that debuted on 12 January and went straight to number one in the Netflix chart.

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“It’s an action comedy; it’s about a kind of airborne heist – it’s very high-concept. It’s a lot of fun, big silly action, and in that I play a fighter pilot.

“I play a fighter pilot who tries to bring down this jet that’s being hijacked. So I spent a day essentially playing Maverick from Top Gun, which was brilliant fun, in a studio.

“But in the final cut of the film, I’m wearing a visor and a mask and it could be anybody!

“The other film is called One More Shot, which came out on Sky Cinema. It’s a Scott Adkins movie, and it’s done as if it’s one continuous take.

“You’re talking a full action movie, with gun fights and big fight sequences, explosions, but as if it was done in a single continuous shot – so it was quite a technical thing to put together.

“In that one I play a CIA agent called Agent Lamb, who’s there trying to hold off terrorists in an airport at night. We did a bunch of night shoots at Stansted Airport.

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“That was really fun – Scott Adkins is a big action hero, and a great guy.”

Mark remembers a couple of funny moments while shooting at the airport: “We had one floor in Stansted which was kind of cut off from the public, and we were filming in there,” he recalls.

“But there was an elevator that went past this floor and people were getting off flights and going up this elevator, and they would look out and see us there, all these guys dressed in black combat outfits with automatic weapons – fake ones but armed to the teeth. People would look and go ‘what on Earth is going on?’”

The third new film to feature Mark is titled Control, in which he plays the British Prime Minister. “It’s a low-budget independent thriller,” he explains, “and I don’t know if you ever saw the film Phone Booth, where Colin Farrell picks up the phone in the phone booth and somebody on the other end starts taking control of his life…

“In this, it’s kind of updated, in that the main character gets into a self-driving car and the car gets taken over by this unseen assailant.

“But the assailant is played by Kevin Spacey, so they’ve got a double Academy Award-winner as the villain. He’s never seen but that has been the main selling point for Gene [Fallaize], the director, to try and get the film out.

“We had a really good premiere at the end of November last year at the Genesis Cinema [in London] and we’re looking forward to having a theatrical release in the UK – we just don’t quite know the date yet.”

The TV programme featuring Mark is out now and is called Count Abdulla.

“It’s a vampire comedy about an Asian surgeon who becomes a vampire, and it’s got Arian Nik and Jaime Winstone, Ray Winstone’s daughter, playing a dominatrix,” says Mark, “and I have a few scenes in that where I play a surgeon who’s a colleague of the main character.”

If all that wasn’t enough, Mark has another film, an action comedy, in the pipeline – with John Cena and Idris Elba – called Heads of State.

“Again I play a CIA agent, a bit of a theme emerging there... I’m giving advice to the president, who’s played by John Cena.

“I had a really cool scene in the back of the presidential limo, which they call ‘The Beast’, with John Cena. And he’s obviously a huge star, but he’s also a huge human being.

“He’s a really big guy, like you shake his hand and you feel like a bit of your arm has disappeared into it. But he was great, he was really fun to work with,” says Mark, who wrote, directed, produced and starred in a small independent film shot last year in and around Cambridge called Unlicensed (it is now in post-production)

Originally from New Zealand, Mark moved to the UK as a child. He made his feature film debut opposite Academy Award winner F Murray Abraham in an Italian co-production which also starred Marco Leonardi.

Mark went on to appear on British television in shows such as Jonathan Creek and Cleopatra Comin’ Atcha and in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider opposite Angelina Jolie.

After a lengthy break from the industry, he returned to acting in 2020, appearing in short films and independent feature films.

In 2022, following the lockdowns, Mark made his return to television in the BBC Covid drama This England, which starred Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson.

Mark spoke enthusiastically to the Cambridge Independent in 2022 about a film he planned to write, direct and appear in, called Five Cars.

Described as a “high-octane, low- budget feature film”, Five Cars was to be filmed in and around Cambridge and Mark had also started an online campaign to help fund it.

“It’s still in development,” says the busy actor of the film’s current status. “I launched a Crowdfunder for Five Cars based on the script that I had written, and I had one of those kind of mythical meetings with a film producer.

“I was sitting next to him on a plane, back from the Cannes Film Festival, and I pitched him this movie that I was developing, just as I was doing the Crowdfunder, and he really liked it.

[Read more: Cambridge filmmaker’s Kickstarter bid for Five Cars movie on track]

“So we’ve been developing it ever since – and they’ve now optioned the screenplay to make it at a much, much higher budget level than I’d ever be able to afford as a micro-budget independent producer.

“So whilst the film is not finished, it’s gone on an extraordinary journey of being a tiny little micro-budget production to being a still low but kind-of-in-the-millions production which we’re hoping to shoot later this year.”

Watch this space.

To find out more about Mark, visit markhamptonofficial.com. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter using the handle @HammyActor.

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