interview by JANA LETONJA

Up and coming British actor Kai Alexander can be seen in the highly anticipated Apple TV+ limited series ‘Masters of the Air’, opposite Austin Butler and Barry Keoghan, which was released on 26th January. Most recently, Kai was also seen in Danny Boyle’s FX limited series ‘Pistol’ and in recurring roles in Amazon’s ‘Catastrophe’ and Netflix’s ‘The Stranger’. 

Kai, you’re starring in the highly anticipated ‘Masters of the Air’ that follows the actions of the 100th Bomb Group, a B-17 Flying Fortress unit in the Eight Air Force during World War II. How exciting was being cast on this project for you?
Incredible. The idea of being involved in a show of this magnitude felt surreal. I knew the legacy ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘The Pacific’ left so being given the trust and responsibility to portray Sgt. William Quinn was a huge honour.

Tell us more about what can we expect from this limited series and your character, Sgt. William Quinn’s story.
Honorability, sadness and brutal reality. At our premiere the other day, Tom said hopefully the audience can come away every few moments thinking “I didn’t know that.” I feel that’s the perfect description of the show and specifically Quinn’s story arc that delves into a piece of WW2 history, which I knew very little about prior to filming the show. 

How challenging was it starring in a series with such a heavy and historic story? What preparations did you have to undergo before filming?
I love working from source material and the factual accuracy in this series is incredible. After finding out Quinn was born in Spokane, Washington, I found some amazing local newspaper excerpts from around the time he was a child. It gave me some insight into what he would have experienced leading up to him enlisting. I also watched many films. Specifically for the show, I wanted to have a present memory of particularly comedy films. In dark moments I think we often cling to recent happy memories. 

Abbot and Costello made a great film about the Air Force, ‘Keep ‘Em Flying’, which I read actually encouraged many young men to volunteer. My grandad introduced me to Laurel and Hardy as a child, so I had a great joy revisiting their work. ‘The Music Box’ is one of the most brilliant pieces of television. To encapsulate an audience for thirty minutes simply trying to get a piano up stairs, gold standard.

How nervous and excited were you to be on set with Austin Butler and Barry Keoghan, among others?
It’s a huge privilege to be able to work alongside these guys. I’m always learning and they are performing at the highest level. I have grown and learnt so much being part of this amazing show. The whole bootcamp experience led by Captain Dale Dye instilled team unity into us. We all got to know each other really well.

Before this role, fans were able to watch you also in limited series ‘Pistol’, Amazin’s ‘Catastrophe’ and Netflix’s ‘The Stranger’. Which role you’ve done so far has taught you the most about acting and yourself?
‘Catastrophe’ taught me a lot about comedy, working with so many amazing performers, observing the delivery and timing. Every single script was so incredible.

What kind of roles would you love to portray next in your career?
I really enjoy the process so any role that challenges me, really excites me. The truth is I love not knowing. When you read something for the first time and get drawn in and fascinated, that’s a wonderful experience. 

How did you develop your passion for acting? Was acting something you’ve always wanted to do?
When I was younger, I wanted to be Formula 1 Driver. I went Go karting every weekend for a while, but It got to the point where there were a lot of people who were faster and more serious than me. A few years after, I auditioned for a Honey Monster TV Commercial directed by Garth Jennings. It was during the callback where I had this sort of lightbulb moment. Garth, who had just Directed ‘Son of Rambow’, and I were improvising a scene and I just felt he put so much trust and faith in me. It was so much fun. 

Is there a person in the industry you could say is your biggest inspiration?
There are so many. Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Christian Bale, Sam Rockwell, Robert De Niro. All their different projects and techniques fascinate me. I remember being fascinated recently by Sam Rockwell’s absorbing performance in ‘American Buffalo’ on Broadway. One of my all time favorites is Al Pacino’s incredible character arc in ‘Serpico’.

When you are not filming, how do you like spending your free days?
Exercise, Yoga, boxing, walking. I like to spend even my free days exploring the craft though watching films and reading books. I still love learning and studying about different methods. However, if the Lakers or Newcastle are playing, I will be watching. 

What can you share with us about your other upcoming projects for this year?
I’m incredibly excited for the release of the show and what is to come. 

all photography by NICK THOMPSON