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By midlandsmovies, Jun 17 2019 06:46AM



"Don't Talk About It - Just Do It" - Midlands Movies interviews Toby Osmond


Midlands Movies Editor Mike Sales speaks to Game of Thrones and Henry VIII and his Six Wives actor Toby Osmond about his starring roles, the significance of Mark Rylance and his prolific acting in the region.


Hiya Toby, could you tell our readers a little about yourself and career?

Hullo! I was a late starter coming to acting having been an environmental campaigner throughout my 20's. My brother Jim suggested I audition for the role of Hamlet at our local Shakespeare Society - and I got it! I then did the next show there - Gormenghast - playing the lead and it may sound cliched but I had found my calling. I handed in my notice at the office and began my love affair with Stage and Screen. I was very lucky to land a good role in a C4 Docu-Drama about the Crusades shooting in Morocco and it's been a roller coaster ever since.


Great. You’ve also worked with prolific Birmingham filmmaker Tom Paton for a few years now – what is it like working in the Midlands region?

It feels quite lovely to say I think I'm turning in to the Johnny Depp of Tom's Tim Burton! He's been good enough to cast me in all 3 of his films since he edited a previous project that I was the male lead in. Black Site which won quite a few awards I only filmed over in Essex on, then Stairs we had both in Essex and Nuneaton so that was lovely - exploring Coventry and the local area. We were on the principal investors land which was a fantastic site - he collects Militaria - including several tanks!


Can you tell us about Tom’s last films G-Loc and Stairs and your involvement in those?

As well as working on Stairs as the central character 'Jack Ford' who's essentially a combination of class clown and bad-ass merc-assassin, Tom auditioned me for a big role on G-Loc which is a space sci-fi with some brilliant names involved including Lord of the Rings John Rhys-Davies and none other than the Starship Trooper himself Johnny Rico aka sci-fi royalty Casper Van Dien. Unfortunately I didn't get the role hahahaha - it went to the wonderfully talented Mike Beckingham however who is a lovely guy and very good actor - and having seen him on set on G-Loc actually much more suited to the role than me! Tom being the super star he is offered me a role as the Captain of the spaceship instead - which was fantastic as I got to do a scene with Casper. I was a bit star struck as Starship Troopers was for me one of the great films of the 90's. Casper was hilarious to work with as well - a bit of a joker like myself - he's a great guy.


Tom is quite prolific - is it easy for you as an actor to jump from role to role in a short time?

I love playing different roles - I often get type cast as either the villain or some sort of romantic boyfriend or some such. I much prefer the villains! But I love all acting - especially if there's time to really get in to a role. It was probably hardest for me on G-Loc as my first scene was a death scene - and I'm speaking in a made up language! hahaha. Great fun though - I love a challenge.


As well as challenges, you’re currently most known as the Prince of Dorne in Game of Thrones. Can you tell us how that opportunity came about?

Yes my wonderful agent Patrick Warrington who splits his time between Yorkshire and London got me the audition. It was the standard process - he told me Nina Gold's company wanted to see me for this role on Thrones but they were being very tight lipped about what it actually was. So I then get to the audition not knowing I'm about to be asked to ad-lib a complex scene in a Dornish accent! Luckily I'm a fan of the show and fairly good with accents - I think largely as I'm ballsy and will just go for it - not much sense of shame haha. So I ad lib this scene involving multiple characters (who of course aren't actually there) and as I'm leaving and seeing all of these other guys waiting to audition who look like me but are more muscular and better looking I think 'well at least it's nice to be seen for GoT'. Then in less than a fortnight I've flown to Belfast and back for the costume fitting, said hi to Peter Dinklage and Anton Lesser who were there, popped my head in to Kings Landing and am waiting in the VIP lounge at the airport to fly to Seville to film!


And how did it feel to be in such a well-known and esteemed series?

I was on cloud 9! I'm also a big fan of the show so it was not only fantastic from a career perspective but also I was just loving the hell out of every second. It was a total thrill to be on set surrounded by so many of the stars of the show, having lunch with them, nicking and sharing cigarettes with them (I've since quit btw! In case my mum's reading this). I especially loved a chat about theatre with Tobias Menzies (Edmure Tully) - I've followed his career since seeing him in the great TV show Rome. Interestingly the fantastic Indira Varma who plays Elariah Sand was also in Rome. Alas she wasn't in the scene - but if there's ever a spin off I think first thing on the Prince of Dorne's agenda is to go and rescue her from the dungeons!


Staying with Game of Thrones, how has the experience affected you as an actor? Are you recognised in the street?

They don't, no! I had a chat with a very talented actor friend who I trained with - Calum Bowie - who was on 'First Dates' and he said he gets recognised on the street haha. For Stairs however, which was filmed after Thrones, I cut my hair off. I also don't usually have as much of a beard as I did as 'the PoD on GoT' so I don't look much like I did on screen. It's been wonderful for me as an actor as in the same week that Thrones came out I got a meeting with the fantastic writer/director Jessica Swale and was promptly cast in her film 'Summerland', starring Gemma Arterton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sir Tom Courtenay and Dame Penelope Wilton. Which was rather exciting! It was also nice getting such exposure for my work - I wasn't on screen a huge amount on Thrones but I did a lot of research in to the role and I hope that paid off. In fact all the people and memes saying I looked bored in the meeting are great - because that's what I was trying to portray! haha.


I currently live in Leicester which is the final resting place of Cardinal Wolsey who was buried in Abbey Park. You’ve played another Henry VIII adviser Thomas Cromwell in the recent Channel 5 show Henry VIII and His Six Wives. How was that experience and did you do any research before filming?

I always try to do research for roles I'm playing and Thomas Cromwell was one where I got to do a lot of reading in to it. I also watched all of Wolf Hall prior to the audition and a running joke on set between the director - a fantastically talented guy - Chris Holt and myself. He would say 'more/less Rylance please Toby' - Mark Rylance famously being a very subtle actor so it was a gauge of if Chris wanted me to up or lower the performance level. I actually looked in to Leicester for another role I played in a great comedic play by the wonderful Sharon Jennings who is sadly no longer with us. 'The King Must Lie' was about Richard III - who of course also has his final resting place in your cathedral. One of the things I love about acting is the chance it affords to research in to things you just wouldn't ordinarily come across. For instance the fantastic history of Leicester!


Jumping from the princely Game of Thrones to the courts of Henry VIII, you are also due to appear in Summerland set during World War II. Do you specialise or favour any particular genre?

I love period dramas and fantasy - I'm a geek at heart so the holy trinity for me is Game of Thrones, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. One down two to go! haha. To be honest I love it all though - from Westerns to War films and Doctor Who to Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. After working with Tobias Menzies on Thrones I got in to 'The Crown' and am loving that - he's set to play Prince Phillip and was going through his lines while we were on breaks. I also love comedy and horrors - I'm a big fan of Neo Noir too and David Lynch - loads of stuff! I just love good film and television (and Theatre!) and also the opportunity to play in them.


And finally, what projects are next on the horizon for you?

I'm actually hitting a bunch of conventions because of Game of Thrones - which is super exciting. I've been to a few comicons before with Tom Paton for qna panels for his films but this is the first time I'll be signing pictures of my face haha. I'm really looking forward to them as I'm a bit of a fan boy myself so the enthusiasm of other fans gets me going! I love the excitement at the events. I've had some offers of films roles which is exciting and my agent has me up for some TV and film projects - so we will see! Can't really talk about the specifics I'm afraid! Tom is directing another film later in the year set in WWII and says he has a role for me - so that's very exciting!

Thank you Toby


Catch Toby's latest updates on his social media pages:


www.twitter.com/tobyosmond

www.facebook.com/TobyOsmondActor

www.spotlight.com/1413-1279-9342

www.tobyosmond.com






By midlandsmovies, Aug 5 2018 07:00AM



Ready Player One (2018) Dir. Steven Spielberg


Co-written by Zak Penn (X-Men: The Last Stand) and the novel’s author Ernest Cline, Ready Player One is a new film struggling hard to condense the pop-culture complexity of the book into a 2-hour action blockbuster from Steven Spielberg.


In 2045, the world’s decimated population is immersed in the OASIS – a virtual reality world where ‘anything goes’ – and whose creator James "Anorak" Halliday (Spielberg stalwart Mark Rylance) runs a contest to challenge players to uncover three hidden keys in the game to win full ownership of the pixelated world. A corporation run by Nolan Sorrento (the perennially evil Ben Mendelsohn) is out to use an army of players to find these treasures whilst teenager Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) and his online friends try to get there first.


The beginning is everything I feared from the trailer. Figuratively and literally, the film’s opening is like watching a friend play a computer game – full of CGI, uncanny valley avatars and obvious pop culture references. The cool quirkiness of a Zombieland-esque voiceover filling in the backstory helps flesh the story out but the images are akin to the visual hell of Speed Racer (which is also referenced in the film itself). Its backwards in its introduction with a very quick ‘real-world’ segment before the likeable Sheridan has his amiable acting ditched for an elf-like cartoon avatar.


Ben Mendehlson is having some fun as he overacts his way through a very 80s inspired villain and whilst there are echoes of both Tron films, the quirky Mark Rylance as the OASIS’s creator channels South Park’s Matt Stone, Garth from Wayne’s World and (obviously) Steve Jobs in an eclectic performance.


The film sees Sheridan’s virtual character Parzival team up with Lena Waithe’s virtual mechanic Aech, Philip Zhao’s Sho, Win Morisaki’s Daito and Olivia Cooke’s feisty Art3mis as the "High Five", an informal group jumping from the game challenges to a virtual archive. The archive contains video clips reconstructing Halliday's life which provides clues to the game’s construction, history and to the concealed prizes too.


These historical sections are great and the scenes give a more human aspect to a film filled with so much spinning camera which, as a non-video game player, demonstrated how unattuned to this aesthetic I am. The film is so kinetic I struggled to focus on the action as the camera zipped from one millisecond shot to the next.


It’s not all bad however. I did find myself warming up to the (many) Back to the Future nods – from snippets of score, a ‘Zemeckis cube’ and the DeLorean itself. A section where the gang ‘visit’ The Shining is very good. Like Back to the Future 2, the characters actually go back into the movie in a phenomenal sequence that recreates the iconic hotel and visuals from Kubrick’s film flawlessly.


Whilst the tone varies between Wreck It Ralph and his own Minority Report, Spielberg becomes guilty of the teal/orange ending at the film’s finale making it look like every other blockbuster. The Michael Bay-ness of a huge CGI battle which although looks the business, uses stupidly quick editing and a constantly spinning camera that will give all but die-hard video game fans a migraine.


So I really just wished Ready Player One slowed down so I could savour the characters, story and action. It would really benefit from it as a movie but, again, feels like a real-life game delivering a style to satisfy gamers’ short attention spans.


But that leaves us the question as to who is the film for in the end? Whilst the style reflects modern gaming (MMRPGs and Metal Gear Solid aesthetics) the film references are pure 80s so what’s the audience here? At 38, I recognised most allusions to the trivia of the past but some will be aimed at kids who wouldn’t have a clue about Mad Balls, Chucky and Mecha Godzilla.


Fans of the book may find joy in seeing all their childhood pop-culture dreams come to life but the film feels a mish-mash of wildly varying tones and styles. The actors do the best they can with the material but by spending so long in the OASIS, the computer-generated ‘sprites’ left me cold without the human attachment so badly needed. A fun ride at times for sure, Ready Player One is an entertaining and sometimes dazzling blockbuster for the family. But bring your headache pills for the unfortunate messy action and endless trivia nods which are both at the expense of real character arcs.


7.5/10


Midlands Movies Mike



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