Sean Power first introduced himself to me as I was walking from the Russell Square Tube station to my flat on Farringdon Road. He stopped my friend, Jackie, and me and asked, “You guys American?” Upon hearing an American accent I eagerly spun and exclaimed, “Yes!” A thirty-something man wearing a full leather motorcycle-racing outfit met my gaze. The jacket was black, red and white and the pants were solid black. He wore black, heeled boots with square toes and carried a sleek red and black helmet. His jacket was unzipped, revealing a black tee underneath. His short brown hair was disheveled along his receding hairline. He had deep, tan wrinkles around his steely hazel eyes. There was stubble on his thin face and two smile lines running from either side of his nose to the corners of his mouth. His tan, wrinkled, and stubbly face was ruggedly handsome.
We chatted on the street corner about what we were respectively doing in London. He revealed that he is an actor on the “British version of Curb Your Enthusiasm” a television program called Lead Balloon. He then invited us to a pub in Convent Garden, saying “There’s a secret league of Americans in London and we all meet at this pub for jazz night. It’s impossible to find decent jazz in this city.” He tried to explain where the Three Brewers was, but answered my confused expression with “Tweet me,” which deepened my puzzled brow.
My interest in this American actor I had just randomly met was piqued. After finding him on twitter and sending him a tweet he sent me more information on the Three Brewers. Jackie and I head there on a Sunday night having no idea what to expect. I walked in and spotted him right away at the bar wearing his same motorcycle outfit, but this time a white tee underneath. His right hand held a soda water and his left rested in his pants pocket. He greeted me with a peck on each cheek with a friendly intimacy that caught me off guard. We sat in a corner of the crowded bar as the jazz guitar and harmonica started up.
There were four of us in total: Sean, me, Jackie, and Sean’s friend, Tommy. Tommy is also an actor and the evening was filled with bantering that went over my head. Tommy lamented the news that Steven Spielberg plans to make a film out of the hit play War Horse. He claimed the magic of the puppets would be taken away and it would be “just another war movie.” Sean rolled his eyes and said he liked Band of Brothers, then quickly changed the subject to prevent the evening from being bogged down by Tommy’s intelligent although long-winded critiques of pop culture.
After comparing New York to London, Sean began talking about his heritage. . He grew up in Canada, but his passport is from Ireland. When I asked where he was born he told me that his mother went into labor over the Atlantic and he was in fact “a Citizen of the world.” His mother and father are Irish and they lived in Dublin for a small part of his childhood before moving to Canada, where he eventually attended acting school. His claim to an American identity comes from living and working in New York for a few years before coming to London six years ago. He moved to London because it is easier to get an acting job. The American swagger that comes so natural to him is difficult for native Brits to learn, so his resume is highlighted by his time spent stateside.
This transient life Sean Power has makes for an interesting way of speaking. His accent is undoubtedly American. However, he throws in words and phrases that are from the United Kingdom. He called things “brilliant” and said “cheers” to the bartender. He ends many sentences with “Do ya know what I mean?” that has a hint of an Irish brogue to it. He has managed to resist the quiet and quick speech that the British use, and instead speaks loudly and laughs a boisterous American laugh. He often has an assured and brash opinion to offer. I noticed this upon our first meeting when he snubbed London’s jazz scene. I saw it again when he told me he is often compared to Colin Farrell. He didn’t seem to see it as a compliment saying, “We have the same fuckin’ eyebrows.” As he went on about popular roles he had just missed getting, I mused about the level of self-obsession required to notice a tiny similarity such as eyebrows.
Since the bar began to close down, we were forced to move our conversation outside. Here, we met a few more Americans in the “secret league” Sean mentioned. With a voice full of pride, he introduced Jackie and I to his friend Nathan Osgood. Sean told us, with an elitist flair, that Nathan is directing a new show playing in the Leicester Square called Burnt Oak. Nathan Osgood is one of Sean’s many talented and well-connected friends. Sean never shies away from mentioning the important people he has met. Perhaps it was the age gap, but I shrugged with ignorance at many of the name drops sprinkled in Sean’s sentences.
After I became conscious of Sean’s quite narcissism, I began to internally challenge his claim to the American identity. I thought that if he grew up in Canada and Ireland and only lived in New York for a few years where did he get the right to call himself American? After living in London for six years he wasn’t calling himself British. I wondered if he marketed himself as American for the sake of his craft. However, I caught myself. A mixed heritage is so essential to the American identity and to doubt Sean’s claim to this identity would be hypocritical of me. He might not speak with the slang of the states, but his long, confident strides on his heeled boots are reminiscent of the great American cowboy.
While I begrudging came around to Sean’s self-branding as an American, I was still suspicious of his charismatic persona. After a few hours of silently listening to Sean, I grew tired of our one sided conversation. I gathered up Jackie who had been chatting with Tommy and we headed to the bus station. Sean, of course, had to get the last word in and walked with us down the street. I enjoyed my night spent with a small scale British celebrity, but prefer my cocky American actors to stay behind the television screen.
Sean Power’s Blog: http://www.seanpower.tv/wordpress/index.php