Interview by Irene darko
Photographed by Ian Phillips-Mclaren
Known for his brilliant West End performance in the remake of the classic film High Society, as well as Merlin – a hit medieval drama shown on BBC that kept millions glued to their televisions every week and many simply binge watching on catch up TV.
We have the pleasure of chatting with the ruggedly handsome Rupert.
• Firstly Rupert, you have gone for a totally new look. We love it! But the hair! Your famous locks! Did the clean shaven and slicker look come about for your role in High Society?
I know it is a very different look. I actually cut it a year ago for a cycle of Noel Coward plays called Tonight at 8.30. I was slightly nervous as I’d had my long hair and beard for such a long time I didn’t know what was underneath. It felt quite therapeutic though as if I was putting Merlin behind me and moving forward. That said I grew it back as soon as the run finished and cut it again for High Society. It’s now an indicator on how long I’ve been unemployed for.
• What a way to make a return to the stage? You looked like you had an incredible time this summer in your role as Dexter for Maria Friedman’s glittering production High Society, at the Old Vic. It received rave reviews! Did you think the remake would do so well?
I owe so much to Maria for casting me as Dexter. I assumed it would be a success as the songs are so great and the team behind it were all incredible- Maria Friedman, Theo Jameson the musical director, Tom Pye the designer and Nathan M Wright our choreographer, but I don’t think any of us expected the reaction we used to get from the audience each night.
• Many fans were slightly devastated by the ending of Merlin, do you think that the hit series will return?
It was devastating for all of us that Merlin had to end, but I am so glad it did when it was at
its peak and when the show was still extremely popular. Each season was bigger and better than the previous one and the special effects were some of the best you could see on British TV. Unfortunately I think it would be impossible to get the cast back together now as everyone is so busy.
• You have been in countless plays and TV dramas Primeval, Shameless, Hotel Babylon to name a few. As an actor which roles stayed with you the most?
Sir Leon in Merlin will stay with me for a very long time as it was such fun to play and opened up a lot of doors for me. It was great to have a job which meant I spent most days having sword fights with my friends. I think Marc in Shameless was a highlight because he was so different to me and was a real challenge to play.
• As a English actor do you think you would cross the pond and go over to the big screen?
I would love to do that. I think most actors get into the business with the hope that one day they will do movies in America. It seems like a great time to be British in the states. I go up for a lot of American TV shows and films so hopefully one day I’ll get one.
If you were not an actor, what other career would appeal to you?
I think if I knew the answer to that I’d be doing it. As an actor you have to put 100% into it and back yourself 100%. So right now I can’t be thinking of other jobs I’d do if it didn’t work out. Ask me again in 5 years!
• Tell us how you carved out your career in acting?
I saw lots of plays in London as a child and I put on a lot of plays in my house with my siblings, which I subjected my parents to. As soon as I could be in school plays I was and I acted in lots of plays throughout school. At 17 I had a drama teacher, Paul Clarkson, who directed me in Guys and Dolls who told me after the show I should be an actor and go to drama school. So I applied to LAMDA, where he had gone and I got in. After 3 great years of training I got an agent and started going for auditions and eventually I got my first job and have been lucky to build a steady career since then.
• Who inspired you, and who continues to inspire you?
My drama teacher Paul Clarkson obviously inspired me to go into the profession. Since then Stephen Jameson, who has directed me in 3 plays has shown me that it is possible to have fun and create great and exciting work. In the filming world Metin Hüseyin is someone I would drop everything to work with again and I’d say yes to whatever he offered me without reading the script. I have filmed some of my most difficult scenes with him and have always felt huge support from him which has meant I had a freedom to push myself and take risks.
• What is your ultimate role? A part you have yet to play and can’t wait to try?
There are many roles I’d love to play. I don’t know if there’s an ultimate role. If there was and I got to play it I think it would be hard to carry on in the profession knowing that every role I played afterwards would be disappointing. I would love to be in a great American comedy series though.
• Theatre or TV?
For me, if I could swap between the two as I have done so far, that would be great. If I had to choose 1 it would probably be TV as I love the immediacy of it.
• What’s the plan for 2016?
I have no plans as yet. I might go to LA for pilot season in February, but right now I’m focusing on Christmas and spending some time at home.
Interview by Irene darko