Before Poldark you were perhaps best known as the conspicuously handsome dwarf Kili from The Hobbit.
Who had an unlikely romance with Evangeline Lilly’s elf Tauriel.
It wasn’t even a storyline that was part of the early scripts at all. You shoot so much you don’t what’s going to be left or whether the story will work so yeah, I was quite surprised to see how much of it was in the. It was nice to see a strong female in The Hobbit. It’s movie that has a lot of guys and a lot of beards so a pretty girl was much needed.
Over the last few years you’ve played a dwarf, a vampire (Being Human) and a werewolf (The Mortal Instruments). Is it nice to playing a normal guy in the new adaptation of Poldark?
I’ve got to say it is nice playing an actual human this time, not going through big make up calls, putting fangs in my mouth or growing a beard. It feels like it’s about time I play a real guy.
Why was Poldark brought back now?
The themes we’re always interested in seeing – love, friendship, jealousy, rivalry, family – these are things we never get sick of hearing about. It seems like it’s the right time. It’s a great story that should be heard.
At the start of the series Ross Poldark returned from the American Civil War to find his his father dead, estate ruined and sweetheart marrying his cousin. But he seems to handle it all pretty well…
I know. It would bury a lesser man. He’d always been reckless and rebellious. He was heading for jail or the noose so when he enlisted in the war it changed a lot for him. He’s grew up and become a lot stronger but equally when he finds out his beloved Elizabeth is going to marry his cousin Francis, he’s crippled by it. That’s the one thing love can do, you can be screaming orders on a battlefield but your heart can be broken in a second and you don’t know how to recover.
Poldark fits in with a long line of brooding literary heroes like Rochester or Darcy. Why do they remain so popular?
I don’t know, there’s romanticism involved. They’re reckless and dangerous. I guess I don’t necessarily put them up there. I don’t look at Darcy and go, “Oh dreamy…”
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Not even when he’s in his dripping wet shirt?
Even after that. It’s not something I think of when I play Ross, “God I’m dashing in this scene, aren’t I?”
When playing a literary figure, do you go back to the source material for inspiration?
It’s always going to be the writing but finding inspiration from a host of other places. You read what was happening historically in Cornwall and Britain at the time. I’m reading up on tin mines and the techniques involved. All sorts of crazy stuff you would never find yourself researching if it wasn’t for the jobs you take. Inspiration can take you to crazy places.
Is the history of tin mining in Cornwall interesting?
It might bore some people but I did genuinely find it interesting. It’s such a gamble. You would take a punt on a vein of copper to see if it would take you into a greater load, and a lot of time it didn’t. Financially and physically there was an element of danger. I got the opportunity to go down and visit a couple of mines on Cornwall. That’s where men are really men. They’re terrifying places. It’s the darkest dark you’ll ever witness when that candle goes out.
Cornwall itself is almost a character in the programme.
It’s epic. You hear actors say sometimes – the location is a character. I’ve never quite understood that, but I get it now. When you’re standing on the side of Bodmin Moor, on the cliffs, you feel it because it’s the biggest set in the world.
I got the thumbs up from the original Poldark
The original Poldark, Robin Ellis, appeared in one of the episodes. Did he give you any advice or feedback?
We didn’t exchange notes on how to play Ross. We just had fun. Robin was calm and cool and accommodating. There’s a scene when I’m in court and after the first take, I thought, God what’s he going to think? I looked over and he’s wearing a cape and a wig, looking very intimidating and he lowered his glasses slowly and gave me a wink. I got the thumbs up from the original Poldark.
Warren Clarke who plays Ross Poldark’s uncle sadly passed away after filming.
It was very sad to lose Warren. I remember one of the first days on set, I was a little bit nervous because it was the beginning of the shoot and he broke the ice immediately. He started playing his character as Tommy Cooper, and it made me think this is going to be a fun shoot.