"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
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