We recently caught up with Cardiff born actor, Sunny Dhillon, about his new film ‘Only God Knows’…
We’re excited to catch up with you again Sunny! What has changed in your life since we last interviewed you?
Well, my second film Only God Knows has been on the festival circuit, so I’ve been very busy promoting that. I’ve been cast in a few projects out in LA. Can’t talk about them too much as they are still in development.
One is a Virtual reality feature about a young boxer (Myself) The project will be a highly stylized, subjective, and surreal look into the mind of a boxer preparing for a big match and the psychology of fear in the ring, the audience basically gets to be inside the ring with the “hero”. You have a 40,000 dollar plus equipment on your head and you have to fake box and make sure the camera doesn’t get damaged. The production company did a test shoot where I was asked to step in to play the lead role. After a few months I found out I got cast as the lead for the feature. It’s a boxing film and probably why I got cast so easily because of my background in that sport.
I’ve also been cast in a paramilitary sci-fi project which I’m very much looking forward to. Just waiting on all the business and political aspects of production e.g. paperwork and then I’m so excited to begin filming!
How did you first get into acting?
So, I have a business management degree and after university, I didn’t know what to do with life. It was a struggle to get a graduate job etc. and I was just working in factories, finding odd jobs on gumtree etc. At the time I was a doorman, and someone said I had a unique look about myself and should really give acting a go.
At first, I was thinking this guy is crazy but then after a few days, I did want to see how films are made and how actors perform because tv/film has been a huge part of my life growing up. I attended an actor’s workshop in Cardiff and I got great feedback from the coaches there and then just started hustling from that time onwards. I made a lot of mistakes along the way as I didn’t know how the industry worked and there’s no sort of blueprint of how to become an actor, especially if you haven’t had drama school training, let alone a GCSE in drama.
Through those countless mistakes I found the way of how not to do things and eventually found the right path. Yes, it hasn’t been easy this journey and it has had a big impact on my life, and not in a good way, but once you get the reward, you realise you couldn’t have achieved those without dealing with that adversity.
Your new film Only God Knows has been screened all over the world in places like LA, Las Vegas, Canada, Italy, Portugal…the list goes on. It has also been very successful on the awards front. You as an actor have won four acting awards for your lead role. Why don’t you tell us a bit more about the project and its success?
Well here is a little synopsis. The film is about a once top-ranked boxer struggling to deal with the adversity he is facing in life. Dominic Corella (Sunny Dhillon) has lost all self-belief and is nowhere near the fighter he once was. A man who once believed in God as a child, but has felt betrayed and abandoned by his friend. He must find a way to save those closest to him. But first, he must save himself from the darkness to see the light once again.
I was speechless at the amount of critical acclaim it received. It’s been officially selected at over a dozen indie film festivals and the film has won 6 awards and been nominated for more. It was initially a passion project and I just wanted to tell a motivational story after the success of dreamers. I wanted to focus on faith and religion and how it impacts everyone in different ways. Especially in this day and age, it is a very controversial topic. And ‘Only God Knows’ is very controversial at times. Some festivals couldn’t accept it because of that reason, and I missed out on a few awards. But I would get personal messages from festival directors saying how much they loved the project though. Sometimes that means more than a trophy or a certificate.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t over the moon with the awards for my performance. I still remember winning my first best actor award for Dreamers…still get the same feeling every time I get another one. I believe I only gave the performance I did because it was something I was passionate about. I wanted the project and other actors to do well so that was my focus, and through that came the awards. Without the cast and crew, there is no way this film would have done as good as it has.
What would say is your proudest achievement in this industry?
I would have to say Only God Knows because I didn’t expect this much accolade and success. I have top industry professionals judging me and giving me awards when I’m competing against other top actors who have probably been in this industry for longer or have done some formal training.
Also, I was able to take the huge risk of changing career paths when it seemed impossible. With no acting background and no family members or friends at the time in the industry, it was a very scary path to get on. However, I did it. I found my own way and now people in the industry, especially in Hollywood are recognising who I am.
I’m extremely proud of following my dream. In the end, this has all been thanks to ‘Only God Knows’.
What advice would you give to those who want to break into the industry like yourself?
It’s funny that I already have people messaging me asking for advice. And I think that’s what you should do, don’t be afraid to reach out. I did that with fellow Cardiff actor Luca Malacrino this past year, who is doing some very good work out in LA and making a name for himself. He’s helped me a lot in the last 6 months.
If you do choose this journey just remember your two best friends have to be patience and resilience. Without those two, you will not go very far. It’s a hard life of an actor as you’re not going to get every audition and you will face many setbacks. Keep doing projects like student films etc., be a part of ‘It’s my shout’ (something I wish I had done early on in my career). Go out and about and people watch, one of the best ways to study human behaviour. Read books, watch different genres of movies and be yourself.
What does the future hold for you – where would you like your career to go from here?
Well ‘Only God Knows’ is being submitted into Cannes, so I will still be promoting that.
For the near future is just to work on the projects out in LA. I’ve recently been accepted into BAFTA CYMRU, so it will be exciting to see what that has to offer. At the moment, I’m in the UK and training hard to get into shape for upcoming roles. I’m working out with my boxing coach Gary Locket for the boxing project, and I have personal trainers here and in L.A. who will get me camera ready.
In the long run, I want to keep on doing good work and carry on the success that I have been having. It’s a tough industry and there’s no guarantee in it. I want to carry on being consistent, while growing as an actor and individual.
Most importantly I want to enjoy the journey now. I also want to be able to solidify my name so that I can hopefully bring “Hollywood” to Cardiff one day. At this early stage of my career, it’s been great to receive all the achievements that I have but my goal has always been to be an artist first and make a positive impact to the world on a global stage, and I have envisioned that happening I just need to stay on track, that’s all.
Find out more: https://www.sunny-dhillon.com