top of page
  • Writer's pictureAugust Sorenson

In Dialogue: Connor Delves is on a roll

A 2016 grad, Connor Delves works in the theatre, film, and TV scenes in New York and the UK. Delves originated the role of Mercutio in the UK premiere of Starcrossed, for which he earned an Offie & UK/West End Broadwayworld nomination. Spot him in Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game, with Mike Faist. When we spoke over Zoom, Delves popped in moments after finishing a callback. The multi-hyphenated artist is on a roll.


The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.


It’s great to see you. We spoke in the summer of 2022…what’s been new since? 


Pinball did well on the festival circuit before being picked up to stream on Hulu. The film’s done well, and its release on a streaming platform has given it widespread viewership.

I’ve been involved in developing a lot of plays this year. With SAG-AFTRA being on strike, I was focused on theatrical work, and developing new work. [I’ve been] continuing the growth of my theatre festival, the Australian Theatre Festival NYC; our fourth in-person festival lasted five days, with seven events. About 750 audience members attended, with 60 Australian artists involved (all paid!). Three new plays went up; I acted in one, in this year’s New Play Award winner, and sang and hosted the cabaret. We’re moving into our fifth year, and have hired many Academy grads…it’s great to stay in touch.


I shot an indie movie for about a month in California. We got a “special allowance” to shoot during the strike. It’s a gorgeous and intimate film slated to come onto the festival circuit in the new year. I’m really excited to see how it's received. There are a few other things for the spring I’m in talks for that would make me a very happy boy, so fingers crossed.


It’s been a continuing conversation with Starcrossed as we prepare for the West End in 2024. It’s been a long wait, and to experience what it means for producers to take their time getting it right has been a learning experience.


Can you say any more about Starcrossed?


I can say that I’m definitely still a part of it. [Laughs.] Yes, I can share that the show will happen in 2024. We’re looking at late spring or early summer, depending on scheduling and timing. I’m kind of at the mercy of schedules. I will be available for it; it’s not something I would pass up. I’ve been part of the process for six years, and things went so well in London in 2022…it’s been an important part of my career. I’m excited to jump back in, and it’s obviously an amazing opportunity to go the entire way from development and readings to the West End. It’s a dream run, but it does take a lot of time. It’s definitely happening, and I’m really excited. With much of the same creative time, we’re capitalizing on some really good, quality work. 


And what does it mean to you to do good, quality work?


Whenever I see something, whether it’s Broadway, West End, film, or TV, I first ask why it is being produced. Is it to make money? Is it because it’s easy to profit from an 80s or 90s property? Or is it being done to tell a meaningful story?


So when I talk about good work, I’m talking about work that’s thoughtful and done for a reason other than money. The arts are still recovering; cinema seems to be doing well with a few really amazing releases lately…but theatre isn’t quite back regarding audience sizes and funding. Some producers seem to be panicking and producing things to appeal to the lowest common denominator and make a quick profit. Some celebrities who’ve never been onstage are jumping to do theatre in New York. If they bring the money back to the theatre and do great work, then awesome! Whether that’s the case, I’m not sure.


How about your “why”? What makes you tick as an artist?


Certainly developing new stories…I love new works. It takes years for a show to get off the ground, and it stands out when I read a script that’s been developed and workshopped. I worked on the audition earlier today for a TV show that’s been developing for five years. The script is in a great place; it just sort of pops. I seek out things with a high level of work put into them over a long period.


There’s an emphasis placed on the “grind.” Do you think there’s more value in letting things be and breathing a bit?


It’s a luxury when you get the time. Time also means money; when you get the time to work, it’s usually because you’re being paid. I don’t believe we should sacrifice our lives or our finances for the sake of an audition…I just don’t believe in that. It’s a very elitist thing because only the people who have money sitting in the bank can do that. Something being addressed with the strike is how little actors receive during the first round of television. There needs to be more respect for what actors do. Good writing that has been developed and given to an actor is respectful.


So what makes me tick is work done the right way–respectfully and passionately. If someone is doing this to make a quick buck, it’s probably the wrong reason to do it. Sure, it’s a business and industry, but we’re not in the industry to make money–particularly in the theatre. Even for film and TV, you can get pinned for a pilot, give it six months of your time, and at the end of the day, you only make five grand or nothing. That’s not right....right?


There is so much detrimental “advice” for young artists. Is there a piece of advice you’ve found beneficial that you’d like to share?


Prioritize your energy. We don’t always get to choose the projects we work on, or at least the projects that come our way. Getting an audition is difficult in the first place, and booking something is even harder. You still need to live and have some hobbies and friends you can count on. Find a balance. So often, I see young actors who spend so much energy on the wrong thing–like sending cover letters to casting directors who don’t look at them. It’s such a waste of time and energy. Stay true to finding what makes you tick and full as a person. Be professional but also a human. Robots are boring.


Work smarter, not harder.


Absolutely. It’s like an athlete…they don’t spend all their time at the gym; they don’t work out 24/7. If they did, they’d be burnt out for the game. You have to nourish your body and mind in multiple ways, just like they do: don’t send constant emails or go to class four hours a day. You just don’t need to do that.


I wonder how that made its way into the conversation, the “grind” mentality.


Money. It’s because of money. People say you need to attend class all the time as an actor, not because you need to do that, but because they’re in the industry and want to make money. Classes are so often about making money. If you want to go and flex your acting muscles, take a class. But will attending classes four or five times a week change your life? Probably not. Be realistic about these things, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Live a little.


What about as an actor–if we were in a show together, what might I observe from you as a scene partner or castmate? How do you like to work? 


It depends on the project. I would say, especially theatrically, [I] always come in really prepared and ready to get to work. Being off-book early is something I strongly believe in. You have to be flexible and ready to adapt; having a book in your hand is really inhibiting. If you aren’t bound to rhythms or inflections, learn your lines immediately. Communicating with the director is something I’ve learned to do. Early in your career, you might only get two takes on something. If I can discuss or communicate with the director months before to get an idea of their process and how they like to work…I can get started earlier. Sometimes, you don’t get a rehearsal or meet the actors beforehand; you just roll. Directors tend to have bigger things to worry about than you, especially if a $20,000 explosion needs to go right!


I learned to be selfless and focus on what I need to do…on my job. Keep my side of the table clean, and be prepared to work. Enjoy being on set because it doesn’t happen very often. I’m happy to be there when I am, and I enjoy it and feel relaxed. My younger self was too stressed about doing it “right” to enjoy it. Whenever I speak to actors, that’s what I tell them, just relax. Smile.


What was it that changed?


My best work is when I’m confident, relaxed, and not high-strung. I started witnessing other actors I know do good work, but then they self-sabotage in the room or make it about themselves negatively. It was learning from other people’s mistakes to a certain extent, and making plenty of my own.


When I noticed how and when adrenaline would hit, I learned to manage the pre-show and prep…keeping my triggers in order. We’re in a world where we’re encouraged to talk about triggers, but that doesn’t mean we can behave badly. There’s never any excuse to be rude or unprofessional. A diva can ruin a day on set for themselves (and others), and burn bridges that can’t be rebuilt.


Since you’re not a diva…where might people be able to get in touch with you or learn more about you, and is there anything else you’d like to mention?


Some other projects are in the works…more screen time, which is a blessing. Find me @connordelves just about everywhere online and at connordelves.com.


bottom of page