Christopher Evangelou has made the transition from professional boxer to professional actor. Not only is he in the Devon-based film Card Dead, but Guy Ritchie has also spotted his talents, and he’s already got behind the camera. We caught up with him to find out the difference between life in the ring and life on screen
D&CFilm: The life of a professional boxer is pretty hard, but why did you decide to move into acting?
Christopher Evangelou: The life of a boxer is hard, I had to make many sacrifices, but it’s the life I chose and I’m glad I did. Unfortunately, the decision to put a hold to my boxing career was down to a hand injury. I broke my hand two fights ago in a title fight for the International welter weight masters. I broke my hand in the first round, fought my heart out till the last bell and was victorious. It was an amazing Rocky moment winning the title with one hand and a very battered face, however I was left with a bad injury. One of my bones in my right hand was broken in four places, so I was forced to take some time out of boxing. With my hand healed about 70% I went back to sparring and had another fight, which I won, but I could still feel the injury. My surgeon, who has saved my hand and career a few years earlier, said that I need to take a substantial amount of time out of boxing and let my hand heal. He recommended 6 months to a year. In that time I decided that I wanted to go back in to acting, my first love as a child, and pursue another dream of mine. That was 3 years ago, now my acting career has taken off.
D&CFilm: You’ve already had some pretty interesting roles – can you share anything about your time on the Guy Ritchie film? And tell us about your character and experience in Card Dead?
Christopher Evangelou: Getting the role in a Guy Ritchie movie has been a dream of mine ever since I saw the film Snatch. I can’t say much about the film or my role at the moment, but I will say that I had the most amazing time filming and I can’t wait to see it.
Shooting Card Dead has been an absolute pleasure. Being cast as one of the leads, Tony Sparks, brings a lot of pressure as you are helping to carry the film, however being a pro boxer I thrive on pressure and deliver some of my best work when I need to step up. It’s a fun film, I’m playing somewhat of a nasty character, which is different to what I’m used to. It’s actually more exciting when playing the bad guy and I get to swear a lot, sorry mum lol. Tim Thorne is a great director and the story of Card Dead that he wrote is great to be a part of.
D&CFilm: What are the skills from your sporting life that you can take into acting?
Christopher Evangelou: I can honestly say that the discipline and hard work mentality of a boxer has helped so much in my acting career. I have learned very quickly that it’s so important as an actor to have these qualities, where many actors in my opinion lack these attributes, unfortunately. The phone isn’t just going to ring and you’re offered a part in a feature film or TV show, you have to be pro-active and do things for yourself and your own career. You have to train for auditions that can come up at any time, just like you have to train as a boxer for an upcoming fight.
D&CFilm: And what’s been the biggest difference you’ve found in the acting world to the sporting world?
Christopher Evangelou: If I’m honest there are a few differences, one being that I don’t get punched in the face for real any more lol
I think the biggest difference is that the ladder to get to your goal, in any job or sport, there is a blue print. As a boxer you fight and fight, if you keep winning eventually you’re offered a title shot, win that then you go for bigger titles, even though it’s a difficult sport you can see how to be successful.
However, in acting there is no blueprint, every successful actor has had a different path, right place right time, wrote an amazing script, shot a short film which was seen by a big director who then casts that actor and so on. You never know which projects you’ll be working on, sometimes right up till the day before. You’re always living in hope, you can be working on a huge feature film one week then the next at your day job where it felt like the week on the film set was just a dream.
D&CFilm: You’ve taken the initiative and co directed, co produced and played the lead in the short film Shadow Boxer. What’s the film about and why do you think it’s important to take a pro-active role in your career by getting behind the camera as well as in front of it?
Christopher Evangelou: I had a story that I wrote a few years ago, kept it to myself, until I met Ross McGowan on the set of Guy Ritchie’s film. I pitched him the story in Nandos, good old Nandos, and he really liked it. He helped develop the story with his amazing film experience and came on board as the director. He has a film production company, Deadline Films UK, along with Craig McDonald-Kelly and David Hepburn, both actors are also featured in Shadow Boxer as my cornermen.
The story is of a boxer, Mason Mendoza, played by me, is fighting in a world championship fight. However, he is fighting an old stable buddy and former friend, Andre Gibson, who is the current world champion, who is played by a professional boxer Humzah Awan. Not only is Mason fighting an old friend but Mason’s father and ex world champion legend Eddie Royce, played by James Cosmo (Braveheart, Game of Thrones), is in Andre his opponent’s corner.
The film is currently in post and should be finished first week of September, ready for all the film festivals. we are hoping to turn Shadow Boxer in to a feature film next year.
It is vital that an actor is pro-active and writes, directs or produces a project for themselves. This film shows me as an actor, as the lead, but also my best skill that I have, boxing. So now I have something to show the world as both an actor and a boxer. The cast and crew were all so amazing and professional, and what a bonus it is to have such a legendary actor, James Cosmo, in the film playing my father.
D&CFilm: How was directing, and which would you prefer in the long term: directing or acting?
Christopher Evangelou: I directed mainly the boxing part of the film but Ross was just simply amazing, he was just so sharp and great to work with. I would have to say that acting is where I want to be, I’ll eventually direct something again i.e. the feature of Shadow Boxer, but for now my passion is in acting.
D&CFillm: Part of Shadow Boxer was shot live in front of a boxing audience. How difficult was that to organise and film, what do you think does it add to the movie and where do you think boxing films reflect what it’s like to be in the ring?
Christopher Evangelou: The live audience in the film were 10/10, I couldn’t have asked for better fans in the film.
I’m fortunate enough to have a good reputation in the boxing world, from the many years competing, I managed to get in touch with Ring King Events and negotiate for Shadow Boxer to be filmed in the interval of their night of boxing. This gave us the live audience we needed and extra publicity for Ring King Events, so we helped each other out. However, this also only gave us 30 minutes to film so we had to rehearse as much as possible so we could nail it on the night. We had to think of the shoot as a filmed live theatre production.
I personally have a big problem with boxing films in general, maybe it’s because I’m a boxer but I have always felt that boxing movie’s are great when it come to story and the acting, but when it comes to the fight scenes, I feel that they always let themselves down, they lack authenticity. The main reason is because they use actors and not boxers to play the boxers in these films. In our film we have two professional boxers doing the fight scene and I believe people will see a great boxing movie when they see Shadow Boxer.
D&CFilm: What do you look for in a role – and is there any role that you’re really keen to play?
Christopher Evangelou: To be honest I look for an interesting character with depth that I can really connect to the audience with. That along with a good story line and overall film, no good playing a great character in a bad film and visa versa.
If I could choose any role I would love to play a super hero, someone in the Marvel universe, but not your typical superhero, someone that is the good bad guy, the hero that no one expects to be the one to come through and save them, the anti-hero. Or a character like Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, big battles with swords and shields, or anything playing along side Tom Hardy lol.
D&CFilm: Do you think that an actor or a sports person has a responsibility, and what do you think the role of an actor (or sportsperson) has in society?
Christopher Evangelou: Anyone in a position of influence has a responsibly in society that represents what a good human being should be. Because of social media someone who is well known is seen by a lot of people, children especially, where that influential person has a direct influence on their followers actions for example. Anyone in a position like this has the ability to change the world, even if it’s just one person they affect. I like helping people in life and being a pro boxer and now actor I can help more people. You just need to be a good role model in life, whether you are well known or not.
D&CFilm: You’re filming Card Dead, and the Gentleman is in post production, but do you have anything else lined up – and what sort of things are you looking for?
Christopher Evangelou: I have the premiere of Shadow Boxer at the end of September, then I fly to L.A. where I am meeting agents and managers. I will be there to set the foundations for the up coming pilot season, which starts in January and ends in April. However, in this industry everything can change, I might get a role over here which means my plans will change. That’s the nature of this industry. I’m always looking to better myself in any way possible. I always keep up my acting training, physical training and always work hard on the business side of my acting career, there are no days off for me. In short, I am always looking for that next role/character I will become.
D&CFilm: Where can we find out more about your work and keep up-to-date with what you’re doing?
D&CFilm: Thanks for your time Chris! Looking forward to seeing Card Dead, Shadow Boxer and The Gentlemen!