I had an absolutely marvellous day on the Sunday of the Cardiff Film and Comic Con, due in no small part to the presence of Rupert ‘Fabulous’ Young, and keeping company with Karen, one of my many fellow Merlin!fan stalwarts. Unfortunately we never saw our mate Nick. (Where were you, Nick…?)
My first task (and I chose to accept it) was to seek Rupert’s autograph.
I was there early, so the queues were very reasonable, and dear Rupert could take the time to chat to each of us. Not realising that he was also doing a Q&A later, I took the chance to quiz him rather!
The first thing to note is that his hair is cut quite short at the moment – he joked that, like Samson, he feels quite weak now. He said it had been for a part. However, he kept his NY baseball cap on the whole time, so I’m afraid I can’t report on the full effect!
I asked him about the Doctor Who credit that had suddenly appeared on his IMDB page – and he said it wasn’t true at all! He has no idea where that came from. So I will have to demote my post about it. (What shall I call such things? False positives…? Lies, damned lies, and rumours?)
Rupert is currently considering two offers of acting work, only one of which he will be able to accept due to clashing timeframes. One is a TV show and the other is a theatre play. He seemed in a genuine quandary – though later in the Q&A he seemed to be leaning towards the play. But it’s great to know he’s in such demand!
As we’d heard, Rupert was filming something late last year, but he seemed unsure as to whether anything would eventuate, or if/when the film appears whether his role would be included or cut. So that’s half tantalising and half frustrating!
Karen and I also confirmed with him that the new Angel Coulby Twitter account @Hushyabeak is indeed Angel herself, and he said it definitely was. Hurrah! Welcome to Twitter, Angel. ♥
Kai and Eve
Karen and I then had some fun with one of my favourite on-screen couples, Eve Myles and Kai Owen, who play Gwen and Rhys in Torchwood. Of course we also know Eve from the first episode of Merlin, in which she played Mary Collins and Lady Helen – and she recently played opposite Anthony Head in You, Me & Them (which she announced has been renewed for a second season).
Eve and Kai did a Q&A which was great fun – they’re a terrific double act! John Barrowman’s bits got mentioned, which is apparently de rigueur for any Torchwood-related panel. And mentioning them again now has completely driven anything sensible out of my mind.
OK. They talked about the fannish and now official memorial for Torchwood character Ianto Jones, which they obviously felt genuinely touched by, while also acknowledging that it was ‘a bit mad’. But hey this is Wales, and a bit of madness is all well and good.
They were asked who their favourite guest stars had been, and they each talked about James Marsters (who played Captain John Hart) before going on to mention a whole list of others. Eve mentioned that she’d been a huge Buffy fan, so she’d been overwhelmed to be working with Tony on Merlin, which was the first time she’d met him. (I wonder if Eve and Bradley ever swapped fannish notes re Buffy…?) Working with James must have been very cool as well.
They talked about how much fun they had while working on Torchwood, and how happy they’d be if there were more of it. When I got up to ask a question, Kai said, ‘Hello, my lovely,’ in his gorgeous knee-weakening Welsh accent, which promptly made me sit down again. I said I’d enjoyed their on-screen relationship, and it was one of a very few examples on TV of what I recognise as a good marriage; I asked them about their thoughts on that. To be honest, I was after something character-related and/or related to the craft of acting. Instead they talked about how well the two of them got on in real life. Which is actually really lovely.
Soon after, when I had a photo taken with Kai and Eve, she said to me, ‘That was a really lovely question you asked earlier. Everyone loves a good love story!’ Which was wonderfully sweet of her.
Such lovely people. And Eve in particular was full of energetic mischief.
I also had a photo taken with the lovely Rupert, but I’m too shy to share it… ♥ Suffice to say he’s obliging and completely adorable.
Rupert took part in a Q&A later in the afternoon, which was very nicely hosted by someone from the con (and I wish I knew his name). He interviewed Rupert for about half an hour, and then asked us for questions. We probably didn’t get through as many as we’d have liked, because Rupert (bless him!) gave us some very thorough answers.
I won’t repeat here the things that have been asked and answered before about Merlin, but will try to cover the items we hadn’t heard so much about.
The host asked about Rupert’s early acting experiences, and he talked about having been raised in London, ‘the home of theatre’, and going to shows with his family. He played in Guys and Dolls at school – I think he said he was about 16 years old – and how the drama director had come to him afterwards, kissed him on both cheeks, and told him he had to be an actor. This was all rather shocking to Rupert, especially the continental kisses! It was the first time he’d seriously considered acting as a career, though he knew it wasn’t a sensible choice.
It seems Rupert had an offer to study musical theatre not long after, but couldn’t afford to go. Plus was also a bit put off by the required kit of ‘full body leotard’, and so on, which made him seriously question his own choices. As we know, however, he later went on to study at LAMDA – and now here we all are today!
Rupert talked about the great team on Merlin, which we have heard about before, and especially mentioned that the filming in France had helped with the bonding. While they were working in Cardiff, everyone tended to do their own thing, and stayed in different places. While in France, however, they spent more time with each other, and also had the weekends together. He said that he and Eoin really enjoyed visiting Paris as well!
The host said that Rupert was reputed to have the driest sense of humour amongst the Merlin cast. Rupert cautiously agreed that he could be ‘quite amusing’… but then added that everyone in the team were funny, and Tom Hopper especially so. (He later mentioned having ‘a giggle with Tom’. I think Bradley is right about Laura being a very lucky lady!) Rupert went on to talk about the fact that when you’re doing a job you love, then you feel a buzz, and that has a positive effect on these things.
Rupert also talked about how friendly and welcoming the Merlin team was, and that once he was no longer the new guy, he’d tried to do his bit as well to help everyone feel at home. He talked about how everyone is in the same boat, and if even one person is unhappy or does badly, then the show is less than it might have been – so it’s in everyone’s interests to support each other.
I got to ask the first question from the floor, which was cool! I said I’m a fan of crowdfunding, and asked if (like Eoin and Tom with Cold) Rupert had thought about using that method to fund a project. He said he was keen, and he had a few ideas, but he wanted to be sure to run with the right one. If he goes with crowdfunding, then he wants it to be for something brilliant. He talked about Cold as being something great, that we fans had felt a real part of, and obviously he’d be aiming for that same feeling of involvement.
I didn’t quite hear the next question, but Rupert then talked about the acting work where he’s not actually in front of the camera, but is standing beside it while the other half of the conversation is filmed… as it were. (I’m not explaining this very well, am I? The bits where they’re filming Bradley as Arthur, for instance, and Rupert as Leon has to stand in the right place so that Bradley can act and react to him.) Rupert talked about how, ideally, this would be his best work. He wants to really give the other actor involved something great to work with. However, the reality often was that he’d just mess up and ruin things…
Apparently he kept the current bit of script tucked into his boot, so he could refer to it when needed!
Another audience member asked who his best off-set relationship was with. ‘Who did I have a relationship with off-set?’ Rupert clarified – and then he scoffed. ‘Who didn’t I?’
Seriously, though. As we know, our beloved cast have kept in touch with each other, and go to each other’s plays, and so on. Rupert went on to talk about how that includes the crew as well, and coming to Cardiff had meant he’d been able to meet up with some creatives and crew members, which he’d obviously enjoyed.
In response to another question, he talked a lot about the riding he did for the show, and how much he’d had to learn. And also about how scary it could be! The scene where Sir Leon’s horse rears when it sees a snake – that was actually Rupert on the horse, even though we don’t get to see his face. And he hadn’t learned how to rear, because he’d been told a stuntperson would be doing it. (Yikes!)
Rupert was asked what he’d ideally like to work on, and after a little thought he said he’d love to work on a comedy show such as Arrested Development or Curb Your Enthusiasm. He feels the Americans are writing really great comedy right now.
He then went on to say that he’d love to work on all kinds of things, however, and keep up his talents. He said an actor comes out of drama school having had experience in a whole range of things, but then if you don’t use those talents, you start losing them. Rupert said he’d learned a lot from doing commercials last year, and voiceovers this year, as he could only use his body to communicate in the former and only his voice in the latter – each was a challenge.
Rupert also said he’d love to re-explore some former roles, such as Bobby in Company or Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. (Oh, what I wouldn’t give to see him as Benedick!)
That was the end of the questions from the floor. The host wound up by asking one last question himself: What was the most unexpected thing resulting from Rupert’s work on Merlin?
Rupert almost immediately answered that doing these conventions was the most unexpected thing – and not only the cons themselves, but the chance it had given him to travel to Sydney, for example. (‘And Cardiff!’ the host interjected, and of course Rupert agreed. ‘Sydney… Cardiff…’ and he shakes his head. What luck! Who’d have thought?)
He also said that he’d spent Christmas in Sri Lanka, where they are currently showing Merlin on Saturday and Sunday evenings. He said he was walking past the open door of a house, and a boy inside had seen him and done a double-take and said, ‘Merlin?!’ Which was both lovely and weird.
He said another unexpected thing was being on a Top Trumps card! And being Mr August in a calendar! He had one disappointment, and that was he’d been asked to travel to Japan to open a theme park – and he’d been really keen to go, but hadn’t been able to get the time out of the Merlin schedule.
I’m sure we all hope there is another theme park opportunity in Rupert’s future. :-)
And that pretty much wound up our day. Karen and I dropped by the Big Finish stall to buy the new CD sets of The Confessions of Dorian Gray (the complete series one and two), featuring Alex Vlahos in the title role and Rupert as Moriarty!
And then it was time to head home, and despite the Welsh downpour that lasted me all the way into England, I had a smile on my face the whole time.