Category Archives: interviews and articles

interview by Julie at MCM Comic Con, London (2017)

I had the honour of interviewing Rupert on the Sunday afternoon at MCM Comic Con in London. He was just as obliging and delightful about it as you would imagine. One of the reasons I like him so much is that, whether it’s on panels or individually, he really does try to give honest and meaningful answers to whatever he is asked.

So, let’s get into it! I started off with a couple of easy ones…

What has been your favourite role, and why?

I’ll say Sir Leon [Merlin], because it’s opened up lots of doors, and I got to spend time with people, get close to people, film with amazing people, and film in amazing locations.

What was your favourite location?

Pierrefonds Castle.

Everyone says that!

Yeah, but it was amazing. It really was.

Chateau de Pierrefonds in France, also known as ‘Camelot’ (photo by Julie).

What do you look for in a director?

One that wants to hire me! Someone who has done their work, and is very passionate about the project they’re doing – and who I trust and can get the best out of me.

You really like Metin Hüseyin.

Love Metin, yeah. Love him.

Any particular reason?

I think he’s just kind, and very good and very gentle, and not too much ego. He wants the best out of actors, he really cares about performance. So, that’s why I love him.

What did you do in the few years between leaving school and studying with LAMDA?

I did lots of things. I taught in a school, I worked in the City, I worked in The GAP, I directed plays for children, taught drama – quite a lot of things.

Actually, when I first left school, I got accepted into musical theatre at drama school, but I couldn’t get the funding together. Which, in hindsight – I think when you’ve first left school, you’re desperate to start your life – and then you go, actually, it’s quite good to not do that. But obviously I wanted to be able to do musicals. I waited, and started doing a couple of plays before drama school – but it was very hard, and I knew I had to train. I applied for LAMDA, and that was it. Because by then I knew I didn’t want to just study musicals. I liked them, but I knew that I wanted to do other things.

Do you think it’s useful, though, to live a ‘real’ life for a while, work in ‘real’ jobs?

Yes, I think so. It’s weird because when you first do acting at school, it’s an extracurricular thing, which is amazing and really fun. However, when you go into it as a job, sometimes it’s so… it takes over your whole life, and sometimes you need to have other passions to keep you sane – and in acting you need to learn a lot of different things, different skills – that’s one of the reasons I love it.

I think it’s good to take time, but some people’s careers happen when they’re very young, and others’ careers are – I like to think I was going to be a ‘leading man’ as opposed to a ‘leading boy’. [laughs] Well, maybe not ‘leading’, but ‘man’.

Continue reading interview by Julie at MCM Comic Con, London (2017)

“Merlin Star to Shine in Gaslight” by West Sussex County Times (2017)

Rupert was interviewed by Phil Hewitt in relation to his work in Gaslight, and it was published on 27 January in the West Sussex County Times.

Rupert Young – best known as Sir Leon in the BBC drama series Merlin – says he’s wary of digging out an old “museum piece” and putting it in front of the public.

He’s delighted to confirm that Gaslight is anything but. It remains a thrillingly-good thriller, as the cast are discovering on a tour which brings them to the Theatre Royal Brighton from Monday to Saturday, February 6-11. …

“It’s a strange piece of work that was written in the 1940s but set in the 1800s,” Rupert says. “For me, as actor, you have got to find the truth of a piece, and the last thing you want to do is a museum piece with old costumes that, when the curtain goes up, creates a distance between you and the audience and the audience are thinking ‘That would never happen now!’ We were all slightly worried about that. But I didn’t really know the piece at all. I hadn’t realised that it was such a brilliant play. I read it half thinking that it was going to seem old tosh, but I read it and thought it was fantastic.

“And I hesitate to say it, but it almost seems more relevant now than it would have done when it was first performed. I think we are now so much more in tune and aware of mental health and the way that people manipulate other people in our times when marriages are supposed to be marriages of two equals. Back then, it was more a question of finding a woman to marry who will have a family and be subservient to the husband. But the base line is that we discovered that it is a really good thriller.”

He’s also finding it easier to talk about. Doing interviews before the production opened, Rupert recalls he was very cautious not to give anything away: “Kara and I would be talking about opening the play and seeing this lovely couple, and we were saying that you have to believe that they are two people in love and that it is a real marriage.”

Now, with the tour under way, he finds it easier to confess: his character most definitely has his darker sides: “Really within the first scene we know that for whatever reason I am slightly unhinged and unpleasant towards my wife, and the audience members think they can see why because to all intents and purposes he is getting annoyed because she is going a bit insane. But people can start to see that I am being slightly manipulative.

“In fact, so far I am getting booed most nights. At least I think it is for my character and not my acting! But I am really playing a different part to the parts I am usually playing. Without sounding too arrogant, usually the parts I play are of the charming leading man. I was in High Society at the Old Vic, and that part was the absolute antithesis of what I am doing now!”

Rupert’s previous television work includes episodes of Doc Martin, Foyle’s War, Hotel Babylon, The White Queen, Doctor Who and numerous others. He has most recently performed in While The Sun Shines for Bath Theatre Royal.

“Really for me, it is just about getting interesting parts, parts that push you and challenge you.”

Thank you, Phil Hewitt! It’s wonderful to read something a little more in-depth than the usual.

You can read the full piece here.

Q+A at Richmond Theatre, for ‘Gaslight’ (2017)

Rupert and Kara Tointon attended a Q+A at the Richmond Theatre about Gaslight, which will be in Richmond from 6 to 11 March 2017.

Alas, I didn’t attend, so cannot report on what was discussed, and I cannot see that there’s a blog entry or anything. If anyone has any details, I’d appreciate hearing about it!

(Click the Tweet captured below for a large version of the lovely photos!)

Rupert Young and Kara Tointon at Richmond Theatre

Post-show talk at the Theatre Royal, Bath for ‘While the Sun Shines’ (2016)

I was delighted to be able to attend the post-show talk this evening, after another hilarious couple of hours with this play – this ‘farce with a heart’. All the cast attended, which was marvellous – very generous of them indeed. I am not sure who the host was, but I assume he was associated with the Theatre Royal. There were plenty of questions from the audience, who seemed really engaged with the whole thing.

Alexandra, Rupert, Tamla, Nicholas, Jonathan and Rob (with apologies to the host on the left, and Michael to the right).
Alexandra, Rupert, Tamla, Nicholas, Jonathan and Rob (with apologies to the host on the left, and Michael to the right).

The first topic raised was the fact that this play is so unfamiliar to us. It was very successful at the time it was first produced, but has virtually disappeared since. This production has been so successful, no one can quite explain why the play has been so neglected – unless it was seen as being too much ‘of its time’. We can’t even say that once the war was over, audiences didn’t want to revisit the subject, because Rattigan’s other war-related plays continued to be produced.

An audience member asked whether it was easy to slip into such ‘antique roles’. Michael Cochrane (the Duke) immediately explained that he was antique himself. Jonathan Dryden Taylor (the Butler) said, somewhat more seriously, that Rattigan was a great writer. The characters are well delineated, and there are clues to the characters throughout the play. It’s all in the writing.

Rob Heaps (the Englishman) said that they’d spent their first rehearsal day actually in The Flat in Albany, where Rattigan had written and set the play. The owner was moving out at the time, so the place was bare, but there were two bottles of wine awaiting them. This all seemed to kick-start the process nicely!

Another audience member said that Rattigan’s plays tend to be known for repressed emotions and sadness. Were these things to be found in this play as well, even if buried deep? It was agreed that there are genuinely touching moments, and given the war-time setting, it was understandable that the characters wanted to make hay while the sun was still shining. It was also suggested that the jokes only work because there is real emotion behind them.

The seven characters are all stereotypes (as I’m indicating, a little facetiously, with my designations), so how do the actors approach making them human? I think it was Nicholas Bishop (the Frenchman) who said that they attempted from the first to rehearse as if the characters were not stereotypes. He said that director Christopher Luscombe was particularly firm on this. However, Nicholas added that farce and satire works on stereotypes, so in some ways you just have to go with it.

Continue reading Post-show talk at the Theatre Royal, Bath for ‘While the Sun Shines’ (2016)

Post-show talk at the Orange Tree Theatre for ‘The Philanderer’ (2016)

The Orange Tree Theatre hosted a post-show Q+A on Wednesday 1 June, featuring the director Paul Miller (also the theatre’s Artistic Director), as well as cast members Helen Bradbury (Grace Tranfield), Michael Lumsden (Colonel Craven), Mark Tandy (Cuthbertson), Paksie Vernon (Sylvia Craven) and Rupert Young (Leonard Charteris).

Given the lateness of the hour, it was kept fairly brief, but it was very interesting.

Warning: There are spoilers ahead!

Paul Miller came out while the cast were still getting ready, and spoke about the choice of play. He feels there is something very lively in George Bernard Shaw’s early plays. Having already successfully put on Shaw’s first play, Widower’s Houses (written and produced 1892), it made sense to consider his second play, The Philanderer (written 1893, produced 1902).

Paul thought the language of it was amazing, and eccentric, with Swiftian and Wildean elements. He also liked the subject matter, of how intelligent people handle the inherent clumsiness of intimate relationships. While so much has changed since the time the play was written, we still suffer from that clumsiness today.

Shaw originally wrote the play in three acts, with the third act set four years later and ending in a divorce. However, a friend of his suggested that wouldn’t do, so Shaw wrote a new third act, which continued on directly from the second act, and ended with a proposal of marriage being accepted. That is how the play was produced – until 25 years ago, when a company experimented by using both endings, with the proposal first, and then the divorce scene. That is how the play is being presented at the Orange Tree during this run.

However, Paul said that he felt the proposal scene was so brilliantly written – so Mozartian! – that he can’t believe it was included by Shaw in a reluctant way. He is therefore not so sure that the story of the two alternate acts is entirely true.

By now the actors had assembled, so Paul asked them to talk about Shaw’s language, and how they worked with it.

Rupert said that initially he’d felt intimidated, and that he hadn’t even taken the opportunity to see a recent production of Man and Superman (1902) as he’d thought he wouldn’t enjoy it. When he’d read The Philanderer, however, with a view to auditioning for this role, he’d been amazed at how easy it was to read.

Paksie said the language was challenging, but fun. Michael said that Shaw’s sentences are so long and complex that it isn’t always clear how funny the lines will be. Once you make the sentence make sense, however, the humour emerges. He concluded that it plays better than it reads!

Helen said that Shaw obviously had an ear for language, with its rhythms and inflections. Mark said that Shaw was more Irish than we think he is. His lines are fantastically well punctuated. Mark’s approach was to seek out the verb, and lean on it. (Michael complained that he had a lot of lines without any verbs!)

The audience had more remarks than questions, but the feedback given to the actors and director was wonderful to hear. In dot-point form, if you’ll forgive me:

  • ‘It all really worked, beautifully well.’
  • As a long-time Shaw fan, one man was delighted with the production. He said that Shaw is always preaching, but lucidly so. He was impressed by the cast remembering the lines, which aren’t easy. (‘Oh, we never had any trouble with that,’ Paul and Rupert joked. ‘No, right from day one…’)
  • A woman was delighted by the inclusion of the ‘fourth’ act, so that the play didn’t end with the proposal. She felt that it helped further explore the themes and issues raised by the rest of the play. It also made the play more relatable, more relevant to life as we know it.
  • The ‘lightness and freshness’ in the production was wonderful.

I had the chance to ask a question, so I asked Rupert how he approached a character like Leonard, who is interesting and fun but also appalling. (And I’ll probably get his answer all out of order, as I was just sitting there listening while he spoke.)

When initially analysing the character, Rupert noticed that Leonard never apologised, and he thought that was important. (I agree this is important, and I think that if Leonard ever did apologise, it would take all the wind out of his sails.) Otherwise, Rupert thought about what, in any given moment, does Leonard want – and when is he lying? He’d found the ‘fourth’ act challenging, in that he needed to figure out why Leonard wanted the couple to divorce. Originally, Rupert wondered if it was a happy ending, and if Leonard had changed in the four-year interval, but he soon saw that wasn’t the case. Rupert added that Leonard was nothing like him, but it was fun to play the mean aspects of Leonard’s character.

Paul (I think?) said that he felt the verbal jousting of the characters suited the theatre, which is laid out ‘in the round’. Michael agreed that the cast could relate to their fellow actors in a more natural way – as opposed to a traditional ‘proscenium arch’ theatre, where the actors always need to be oriented towards the audience. Mark (?) said it was scary when you first came out into the space. (And I think it must be, as even with the lighting focused on the stage area, you can still see everyone in the audience, at both the lower and upper levels.)

Rupert said that the audience is an integral part of the show. The actors can feel the energy from the audience – and can feel that energy changing as the story progresses, and the audience’s approval of a character fluctuates.

Paul called an end to the talk, reminding us that the cast and crew had two shows to deliver the next day. And so ended a lovely evening!

If you want to see the play, there are still tickets available throughout the run to 25 June. It is a small theatre, and in terms of enjoying the play, there are no bad seats! Visit the theatre’s website for all the details.

“There are so many issues that are still relevant today” by Surrey Comet (2016)

Rupert has been interviewed by Jim Palmer of the Surrey Comet about his forthcoming appearance in The Philanderer at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond.

It’s a fantastic part and a challenge. I have never done a Shaw play. We’re all finding the lines not the easiest to get. They are very long sentences. It’s a great challenge.

Read the full piece here.

update: The article also appears here at Your Local Guardian, so it must be a press release from the Orange Tree Theatre.

ETA 21 May 2022: I have copied the full text below for the sake of preservation.

Most casual audiences will know of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (adapted into My Fair Lady) but fewer will know of the Nobel winner’s 1898 trio published as Plays Unpleasant.

Widowers’ Houses was brought to the stage at Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre last year, and this month is the turn of The Philanderer.

Directed by Orange Tree’s artistic director Paul Miller, the work – a witty satire about a man who falls in love with two women – was not performed for a number of years after it was written due to censorship laws.

Actor Rupert Young, who played Sir Leon in five series of the BBC’s Merlin, leads the cast.

He said: “It’s not going to be a museum piece in terms of ‘this is how it would have been done 100 years ago’.

“There are so many issues that are still relevant today, I think – people’s views on marriage, I suppose. Shaw is very cynical on marriage.”

The Philanderer opens on May 16 (Young’s birthday) and he said it was a great chance for him to work with Miller again, having taken a part in Miller’s adaptation of French without Tears a decade ago.

He said: “It’s a very interesting play and one that a lot of people don’t know of Shaw’s. It’s nice to do a play that people don’t know and probably haven’t seen before.

“Also, it was a chance to work with Paul Miller again. I would do almost anything he asked me to do, having worked with him about ten years ago.

“It was also being in Richmond. I have been to see a lot of things at Orange Tree but never actually worked here. So it’s a combination of them all that has led me here.

“It’s a fantastic part and a challenge. I have never done a Shaw play. We’re all finding the lines not the easiest to get. They are very long sentences. It’s a great challenge.”

Q+A at The Old Vic for ‘High Society’ (2015)

The Old Vic hosted a post-show Q+A on Monday 18 May, and it featured Kate Fleetwood (Tracy Lord), Richard Grieve (George Kittredge), Jamie Parker (Mike Connor), Annabel Scholey (Liz Imbrie) and of course Rupert (CK Dexter Haven).

Well, did you evah? What a swell cast this is!

The five cast members gathered with their inquisitor on the stage, with an audience filling just about all the regular stalls. I’ve never seen so many people stay on for a Q+A, but it was definitely worth it. As classy as the show.

Rupert kicked off proceedings by announcing that his niece had been born just at the start of the show that evening. (Such happy news for his family, and I’m sure we wish them all very well indeed!)

Kate talked about what a happy production this is, with a great team and a show all about joy. It’s one of the happiest experiences of her career.

Rupert talked about how he’d had so much fun in Company in 2011, that he’d kept going with his vocal exercises with a view to doing more of the same. Then one day as he exited his trailer on the Merlin set, one of his colleagues asked him, ‘WTF was that?’ and Rupert was too embarrassed to continue. (Boo!)

Rupert and Jamie talked about how they’d been in the same dance audition for the American Psycho play, which they seemed likewise to have found an excruciatingly embarrassing experience.

This rambling story ended up with Rupert receiving an email from his agent just as he was arriving at the Old Vic to audition for High Society … and the email was letting him know he’d just been turned down for a role because his ‘voice wasn’t strong enough’. Such laughably bad timing! Still, Rupert decided that if this audition was his last hurrah in musical theatre, then he might as well just go for it. And we all know how that turned out! Rupert added that he’d been very well received in the Old Vic audition, and how odd it was to be both criticised and praised so strongly all on the one day.

Continue reading Q+A at The Old Vic for ‘High Society’ (2015)

The Iris Interview continues (2014)

Hanging at Supanova Adelaide with … Rupert Young!

A follow-up interview by Sosefina Fuamoli for The Iris during Rupert’s attendance at the Supanova cons in Australia.

I was having breakfast with Louise Brealey today and we were laughing and saying, ‘We’re in Australia, having breakfast. How amazing is this?’ It’s brilliant.

Read the full article here.

“Quick & Dirty with Rupert Young” by Soot Magazine (2014)

In the lead-up to Rupert’s attendance at the Supanova conventions in Australia, he was interviewed by Angela Allan.

There is nothing better than being part of a loyal band of brothers which us knights became and my favorite moments were – aside from sword fighting – when we were in our cloaks and on horses galloping into the castle in France. There would usually be school parties watching filming or looking around and when they saw us ride in they would look at us in awe. You couldn’t help but feel pretty cool.

The full interview can be found at Soot Magazine.