12th February 2024
With the new season of Waterloo Road on our screens, we got to chat to Noah Valentine who plays the loveable Preston. Valentine talks to us about dealing with different emotions on screen, memories he remembers from school, and sharing the screen with his co-star Adam Ali.
Hi Noah! We are so delighted to see Waterloo Road back on our screens. What made you audition for the role of Preston?
When you’re an actor, you get different auditions come through all the time. At first, you can’t attach yourself to anything because you want recalls to come through for different auditions. So, for Waterloo Road, I did my prep and I did the audition and then I forgot about it. Then they came back and wanted another audition and then another. Suddenly we were breaking down the character and then I went in to do chemistry reading, and they caught me talking about the character to the producers and I felt like I was getting him as time was moving on. The closer I got the more I wanted him, it felt like I was supposed to find the character because he’s done a lot for me personally, through playing him and hopefully he’s done a lot for other people too.
Your character was known last series to have mental health and anger issues. How was it playing those emotions on screen? How did you prepare yourself for this?
It was a challenge, you want to get it as truthful and honest as possible and you have to drop any sense of ego. To prepare for it, I had a meeting with a Bulimia specialist, and she was really helpful at breaking down the ins and outs of bulimia. When I joined the series, I didn’t really know what Bulimia was, I’d heard about it but it wasn’t something I was familiar with. So, to talk to the specialist and find out all this information, such as bulimia not being that common in males, I felt a weight on my shoulders but it was one that I was willing to carry if that meant I could do it justice. If you get trusted by the producers with a story like that then all you want to do is do it justice. I didn’t realise how hard it was going to be until I started filming the first three episodes of series one and we were doing all these intense scenes after one another, and there wasn’t really a chance for him to smile. I just remember feeling really exhausted afterwards, I didn’t realise the effect it was having on myself, so I had to find a way to deal with that.
Preston and Kai have a strong relationship on the show. What’s it like working with the lovely Adam Ali?
It was amazing! There was just a natural chemistry with us, we got on well and it was easy. We both have different processes in the way that we approach scenes and acting, so to pair that together was good because we learned from each other and brought different things to the table when we rehearsed. We were really passionate about creating a relationship that was authentic and meant something, because it was important for fans to be able to identify with either Kai or Preston.
When I was in school between 2005 - 2012. Coming out as gay was very difficult back then. Do you think schools nowadays have changed and people have accepted it more?
I would definitely say there has been a change. My last school experience was in 2018, and I would hope that within that timeframe it would have changed as well. Hopefully there’s a time when there isn’t any pressure to ‘come out’, where people can just be themselves, and not have to explain themselves to anyone. I think it’s progressing forward but there’s still more work to be done.
What’s a core memory that you remember being in school?
One thing I remember vividly is when everyone would start sprinting when the lunch bell would go at school. In the canteen, we had the normal dinner section, and we also had a hot food section which had paninis and wraps, and that section was the best place to be, but the line was huge. You would literally have a hundred people lining up, and the line went from the canteen all the way out into a massive corridor. You could get there and there’d be nothing left for you, all the food would be all gone.
Lastly, where do you hope to see Preston go in the next chapter of his life?
I want him to be as happy as possible. I think we catch him at the hardest time in his life in the first two series, and with the third series it is still hard for him. Especially with him going back to school and not being able to do the things he used to because of his heart attack. I just hope that wherever Preston ends up, that he’s happy, and feels some peace because he’s really had a hard time.