We sat down with Brit School Alumni Robert Emms to chat about his new film ‘Apostasy’, his career so far, and his plans for the future. Out on the 27th of July, ‘Apostasy’ is Daniel Kokotajlo’s exquisitely dark directorial debut. Check out the trailer below, and stay tuned to hear what Robert Emms, the rising British star, gets up to next.
Hi Robert! First of all… can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Theoretically I should be able to do this…. Here goes!
I’m an actor. I grew up just south of London. I didn’t always want to act. I originally wanted to become a concert pianist. I play the piano still- every day-sometimes all day. But I really fell in love with acting when I went to The Brit school which is (in my opinion and of many others too) one of the best vocational places to study in the country- and it’s free. I then went to LAMDA which was when I realised this was going to be my life. Acting, for me started as a sort of superficial enjoyment of having fun with some mates, playing dress up and pretending- (which it still is at times!) but after a while I realised it was a necessity for me, almost like breathing and it became a more meaningful experience about connecting to the truth, to myself and other people so in the end it is less pretending and more just being. It’s a strange dichotomy. But don’t get me wrong I still like dressing up and doing accents- I do a mean general north of Watford!
I also have a big part of my life in Spain, I speak Spanish and am quite good at drinking Spanish beer especially Estrella Galicia. Galicia is where I spend time when I’m not working- it’s an incredibly beautiful part of Spain where tourists don’t go to, which is a part of what makes it so lovely (so basically what I’m trying to say is it’s horrible don’t go there!)
So it’s safe to say you’re pretty busy at the moment… You are starring in Daniel Kokotajlo’s debut indie feature ‘Apostasy’, can you tell us a little bit about this project?
This project is a stunningly brave debut by Dan our director. It’s a story that’s very much based around his own experience of being a JW and leaving the church. It’s been described as one of the best British films in years- I would say that’s a good description, but I’m bias! I’m pleased for Dan- he took a risk and it’s paying off.
The feature is about a Jehovah’s Witness family living in Manchester, how did you find playing this type of role? What did you do to ensure your characterisation was correct for the character?
Because Dan was an ex JW himself he had a very clear insight into this world so we were very lucky that we could have an ongoing dialogue with him about how to find the exact way to embody these characters. At times Dan could be very specific in how a witness of my character’s level would stand, sit, gesticulate, and communicate. I found this incredibly useful and his directing invaluable.
It’s clearly an emotionally fraught film, did you find any of the scenes particularly challenging?
I found playing the part of Steven quite uncomfortable at certain moments. He is so indoctrinated and at times that felt quite oppressive. (In a good way!)
Next you will star in ‘Cleaning Up’ a six-part series for ITV, can you tell us more about that?
It’s a new drama series about a cleaner (Sheridan smith) who is a single mum with a serious gambling addiction. She cleans the offices in Canary Wharf. When she realises she works for an inside trader she starts to listen to his phone calls and sees a business opportunity for herself. It’s a great concept for a television series! I play Glynn who is her quirky lodger and they become friends. It was nice to play a comedic role.
This was a crazy 2-week night shoot with rain machines and wind machines. One evening I got strapped to a ladder in the sky and they switched the rain machines on at 7pm and I watched the sun go down. I then watched the sunrise at 7am still strapped to the ladder soaking wet and freezing cold- but it was worth it, it was an amazing sequence!
Can you tell us about any more exciting projects that you have coming up?
I’m currently filming Chernobyl for HBO and Sky Atlantic. It’s a 5-part drama telling the story leading up, during and after the accident. It’s going to be an incredibly epic piece of television.
And finally… what one piece of advice do you wish you had been told before you became an Actor?
It’s actually a piece of advice that I was given and still something I try to remember- It’s a marathon not a race!
Matilda Feeney-Mellor | WRITER
Jason Crozier | GROOMING