Page last updated at 08:29 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

Carl Barat swaps guitar for stage

By Tim Masters
Entertainment correspondent, BBC News

Carl Barat and Sadie Frost in Fool For Love (pic: Roger Sargent)
Despite starting a drama degree, this will be Carl Barat's first time on stage

Carl Barat and Pete Doherty were one of the most memorable rock partnerships of the Noughties.

Now Barat, formerly of The Libertines and Dirty Pretty Things, is putting aside his guitar to make his acting debut in London.

In Fool For Love, Barat and Sadie Frost star as a couple in a tragic love-hate relationship.

The play, by Sam Shepard, is set in a motel room on the edge of the Mojave Desert and is described as a "bleak but savagely funny drama".

Frost made her West End debut last year in Touched, and has been nominated for for best solo performance at the theatre awards.

Barat took a break from rehearsals to tell us how he is working on his American accent and why he won't be reading any reviews.

How rock'n'roll are you finding the world of theatre?

This is all confusing for me, there are press nights and previews. It's been pretty exhausting, they're not lightweights these actors.

Was it Sadie Frost who got you into this?

We've been friends for about eight years, we started out as drinking buddies. She called me up after my constantly saying I'd be really good at acting, and then I couldn't really back down.

I thought I'd take the challenge - even though it really scared the life out of me and it still does.

Carl Barat and Sadie Frost
Sadie Frost made her West End stage debut in 2009

Sadie made her West End debut last year - what have you learnt from her?

I wouldn't say I've learnt anything yet. She's certainly helped me out. She's given me a lot of pointers in the right direction. I think it's an instinctive thing really.

You're used to live audiences, but now there's no guitar to hide behind...

You're just making me more scared now.

It is very much like that, and I can't start the song again either or mumble the lyrics when I forget them.

The character is something you can hide behind as well. I don't want to sound all academic but it's a different aspect of yourself - doing a play and singing your songs.

So what's the character of Eddie like?

He's a bit of a bad-ass, a rodeo rider stuntman, a drinker and he wants his girl back. They've been on one of those on-off doomed relationships.

They're like when you see crack addict couples at about 5 o'clock in the morning arguing over a last rock and a bit of Special Brew. They've got that tragedy about them - and that kind of romance as well.

It's set in a hotel room on the edge of the Mojave desert so there are accents involved, which is scary.

You and Pete Doherty know all about on-off relationships...

Yes there are some parallels, but I've got more than just that to draw on, but that has occurred to me in various stages of this.

Is this your first acting experience?

Absolutely, apart from a cameo in a film [playing Gene Vincent in 2008's Telstar]. They said here's your line and off you go.

But you started out on a drama degree?

I applied for American Studies, so I got in through the back door. I never actually did any acting, I never finished the degree.

Do you have any more acting plans after Fool For Love?

I wouldn't be so bold. I'll wait and see how it goes.

Will you be reading the first night reviews?

No. I've been reading reviews every day on the Tube to rehearsals and they're never great - there's always something cutting in there, and I've always been really bad at that sort of thing.

Fool For Love, directed by Neil Sheppeck, is at Riverside Studios from 26 January until 21 March.

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