People I Admire – Michael Socha
This review was originally posted on geekygirlexperience.com. After a server crash, it’s being added to What the Fangirl with permission from the writer.
One plan when I created my blog was to do a “People I Admire” series. This would feature people who inspired me throughout my life to get where I am today. The list had a ton of celebrities on it like Tom Hiddleston, J.K. Rowling, Garth Nix, Emma Watson, Mark Ruffalo, Raphael Sbarge, Gerard Way with My Chemical Romance, and so on.
I wasn’t sure who to start off with. My list had over twenty people on it! I needed a bit of inspiration.
I first discovered Mr. Socha through Once Upon A Time in Wonderland. I talked about the character of the Knave of Hearts briefly when I ran my summer hiatus project last year on my Once blog. I explained how in the fallout of losing fan favorite Jefferson (Sebastian Stan) to Captain America, the writers decided to create a new fan favorite.
Lord did the fans respond! When Once: Wonderland was (sadly) cancelled, they cried out for the writers to keep Mr. Socha’s character. I’m glad they did, because the Knave is about the only reason I’m sticking with Once Upon A Time at the moment.
Edit: This article was originally written between the Frozen and the Queens of Darkness half seasons of Once Upon A Time. For my thoughts on season four and Will Scarlet, see this blog.
Anyway, I was drawn to Mr. Socha’s range of talent. Taking the Knave for example because I’m most familiar with that character, there’s a swagger and sass about him. He used his wits to wiggle out of most situations. He’s charming and charismatic throughout the entire show. I think I said at some point it’s like Killian Jones, Jefferson the Mad Hatter, and Neal Cassidy on Once had a love child, and it was the Knave of Hearts. They created a unique character that’s similar but far different than the stock Once already has.
It’s not just the sass that Mr. Socha plays so well. His physicality is astounding. When Lizard died in Once: Wonderland, Mr. Socha slams himself against the bars of his imprisonment. I remember my heart lurched startled by the action. It was a violent choice but portrayed the Knave’s sorrow and frustration in that moment. Later in the show as the Knave watches his beloved Anastasia die, Mr. Socha presses himself beyond recognition into the jail cell bars trying desperately to get to her. In other instances, he takes comedic falls hard. He will get punched and throw a few too. As mentioned above, he would get so physical while filming Being Human that they would send him to the hospital after shoots. This might sound horrible to some, but I see an incredibly dedicated actor without fear. He has no problem throwing himself fully into a character. Not many actors would do such a thing or use a stunt double.
Mr. Socha has a lot of heart too. He can make you cry in one scene and cackle in the next. Even if the characters are in a fantasy world, he gives them very human emotions creating people the audience can connect with. His characters cry and mourn. They laugh and poke fun at themselves. They have wants and needs. They can be popular or lonely. This man’s range astounds me to no end.
Mr. Socha’s performance prompted my interest to look into him more. When I read through his Wikipedia page and looked into some articles and interviews, I knew I found the first person on my “People I Admire” list to feature.
Michael Socha is the personification of the phrase “Never give up!”
His father passed away when Mr. Socha was young. He became very independent often walking his sixteen year old self all over London to auditions. This is impressive, because I sure as hell wasn’t doing things like that at sixteen. I’m pretty sure I was going to fandom conventions believing the world would fall into my lap.
There also seemed to be part of Mr. Socha that knew what sort of sacrifices it would take to succeed in his career goal. He would work many jobs at once but quit them if they interfered with his acting. Making the choice to become financially unstable to pursue what you love is a SCARY path. I know. I did it recently myself. I left a high paying job for a lower paying one because it interfered with my writing career. I commend Mr. Socha for that and doing it at such a young age. He was penniless and waiting for work most of 2009-2010. Looking back on my own life, that was about the time I was unemployed and losing our house to foreclosure. I sincerely feel for Mr. Socha in that time period. I’m sure he learned as well as I did that sometimes the harder path makes you stronger in the long run.
The final thing that made me say “Holy crap, this is one of the most amazing men I have ever read about,” was his audition for Being Human. Mr. Socha was helping a friend move when a taxi hit him and drove off as they crossed the street. While it only bruised him, it’s still pretty damn scary! He ended up missing the audition as well. He still went to Being Human and begged for another spot. They gave him a second chance. He won the roll of Tom McNair where he went on to get critical acclaims for the character.
As mentioned before, Mr. Socha then went to Once: Wonderland and the main show where my admiration began.
Where can I even begin to describe what an amazing man Michael Socha is? He overcame every curveball that karma shot at him to gain his dreams. While I don’t know him personally, he seems like a humble guy who loves every minute of his life. Sean Maguire described him at Dragon Con 2014 as someone who’s incredibly dedicated to his craft and extremely funny.
When I hit struggles in my own life, here is a person I can look up to. Here is a figure that I can say, “Okay, this is hard, but it’s not over just because you failed once. If Michael Socha can do it, so can I.” I mean, he’s only a few months younger than me! I can get there too. The long road is a hard road, but it’s worth it when you reach your destination, right Mr. Socha?
Thank you for being brilliant. Thank you for not giving up. Thank you for inspiring me to keep going.
Michael Socha, you are my hero.