An Interview with Jake Wardle
Jake Wardle is an actor and voice-over artist known for his portrayal of Freddie Sykes on Twin Peaks. Jake’s YouTube videos have gained worldwide attention and have accrued millions of views. I spoke with Jake about his natural talent at accents, portraying Freddie Sykes on Twin Peaks, and working with David Lynch.
Your YouTube videos have garnered millions of views. Have you always been a natural at accents? How much prep went into perfecting them?
I’ve been imitating accents since I was six years old. I started mimicking characters in American films, then as time went on and I became exposed to more people from different backgrounds (in real life as well as in film, TV, videogames and the internet) which resulted in my accent range growing quite a lot. It was never planned, it just happened naturally over the years. The more time that went on and the more I was exposed to these accents, the more I practiced them for fun and the better I got. Some accents I learned deliberately such as Welsh which took approximately two years to learn but most were unplanned.
You portrayed Freddie Sykes on Twin Peaks, which was your first acting credit. Can you tell me more about how this came about?
David Lynch was sent the link to my original 24 accents YouTube video by a friend of his. David was really impressed, not just with my accents but by the way I presented myself and inhabited a character for each accent. He asked his producer Sabrina Sutherland to get in touch with me for an acting role in a project he had in mind. This was in late 2012. We first spoke to each other over Skype and it went from there. We would Skype every two to six months or so, where we would have a casual chat where he would update me on progress on the potential project but it didn’t end up getting off the ground. Then in 2014 he arranged a Skype with me one day and asked if I had ever seen Twin Peaks before, I hadn’t at the time and he said “it doesn’t matter, we’re making a new one and you’re gonna be in it!” and it pretty much went on from there.
What was it like being immersed into the world of Twin Peaks? How did you get into the role of Freddie?
It was a magical experience. After David told me I was going to be in Twin Peaks, I bought the original box set and watched it all. By the time I arrived on set I was fully up to speed with everything Twin Peaks and it was very surreal and amazing to meet and work with so many original and new cast members. The character of Freddie is a lot like me in the sense that he’s from a working class background being born and raised in East London as I was, so I used this as a starting point to immerse myself in the role. Then I began adding what sets him apart from me on top of that and imagined myself in his shoes. He has a very strong old school cockney accent whereas I don’t anymore, so I had to reconnect with that as I used to have that accent myself when I was a very young child. Then I’d imagine what I’d feel like if I’d been given a magic green glove with super strength. I also compared Freddie being given the glove by the Fireman and sent to the Twin Peaks to fulfil his destiny to myself being given a role by David Lynch and flown to the States to star in Twin Peaks. Two parallel life changing moments.
Freddie plays a significant role in the series and often features alongside James Hurley (played by James Marshall). Did you and James rehearse your scenes together, and what was it like to work with him?
We sure did. On set we would do script reads together inside our trailers. Then, when called up for our scenes, David would have us rehearse before shooting as he does with all his cast and crew. James is a lovely guy and so great to work with. He was roughly my age when he was cast in the original so he could relate to how I felt being so young and new to the whole experience. He guided and advised me (as did many other cast and crew) and we became very good friends. We have a lot in common personality wise and would hang out off set too.
What was the experience like working with David Lynch?
It was the best experience ever. David is absolutely amazing to work with. I love his methods and the way he communicates his creative vision. He can see the scenes playing out so clearly in his head before they’ve even been filmed and will always let the actors know exactly how their characters should be feeling in the scene and what their internal motivations are. He also addresses everyone by their character name on set which as an actor is a nice touch and further immerses you into your role. He will either call you over or come over to you for a chat before each scene where he will brief you on exactly what’s required. On top of this he allows actors a degree of flexibility to add their own layers to the character. If you add or adjust something to your character and he likes it, he will keep it in the scene and may even add it to another scene. For example Freddie’s “Oi” was not in the original script but he let me add it because it worked so well for Freddie’s character and scenes. He values everyone on set, cast and crew and treats them all with kindness, respect and always expresses gratitude and praise for their hard work.
Can you tell me about any projects you’re currently working on?
As lockdown begins to ease in the U.K, I’ve been busy with auditions and finally started to get some more voiceover jobs. These include voiceover for foreign film dubs and social media commercials. As for screen acting, I have a few confidential projects in the pipeline but they are heavily delayed due to funding issues and COVID-19. I can’t say for sure when I’ll next be on screen but hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.