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Robert Sheehan: ‘Human beings are more destructive and wasteful than we’ve ever been’

Actor Robert Sheehan on the environmental message of new Netflix series The Last Bus and return of The Umbrella Academy

Watch out Stranger Things, there is a new show full of exceptional young talent tackling an end of days-style threat.

Can this be the next British version? “Young people trying to save their world, absolutely,” Robert Sheehan tells The Big issue.

Comedy, heart, adventure, mystery are the themes than run through Netflix’s latest original series, The Last Bus, a new sci-fi drama that has landed on our screens.

The ten-episode series created by Paul Neafcy follows a group of students as they escape from a full-fledged apocalypse after attending a school event with their teacher Mr Short (Tom Basden).

The Last Bus stars Moosa Mostafa as Nas, Daniel Frogson as Tom, Marlie Morrelle as Chelsea, Carys John as Bethan and Nathanael Saleh as Josh Cr. James Pardon/ Netflix © 2021
The Last Bus stars Moosa Mostafa as Nas, Daniel Frogson as Tom, Marlie Morrelle as Chelsea, Carys John as Bethan and Nathanael Saleh as Josh Cr. James Pardon/ Netflix © 2021

Remarkable ‘genie orbs’ have been launched by tech billionaire Dalton Monkhouse, played by Robert Sheehan, designed to clean up the environment. The robots also manage to vaporise everything else though, except students who escape by hopping back on their school bus.

Survivors in an empty world, they embark on a harrowing journey and meet plenty of obstacles.

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The cast is full of exceptional young talent including Mossa Mustafa, Lauryn Ajufo, Phoebe De Silva, Daniel Frogson and Nathaneal Saleh.

Irish actor Robert Sheehan, best known from The Umbrella Academy and Misfits brings equal parts charisma and menace to Monkhouse.

He talks to The Big Issue about the new series.

The Big Issue: Why did you want to take this role?

Robert Sheehan: The character was a good laugh. The script was very good quality; you could tell that it was developed with great love and care.

What is your character up to in the show?

My character is a verified billionaire who decides to “save the world”. He starts well, but I suppose he is a typical narcissist who thinks that his solution is the only one that will work.

Was it fun playing a tech billionaire?

Yeah lots of fancy sets, beautiful builds to play around in. It was incredibly fun to play a reclusive billionaire who turns out to be more emotionally immature than the young leads.

What are the main themes of the show?

The main themes are that we are perhaps less individual and more collective. The world is wonderful, but if we don’t have each other we’re screwed. We’re like a big shoal of fish; we human beings need each other more than we probably like to admit. That is probably the main theme, but ultimately it’s about oneness and connection.

I’m sure this show will have a fairly broad range of audience because it’s quite sweet. Parents with their kids. Maybe some fans of Umbrella Academy, Stranger Things, fans of apocalyptic stuff.

I, as an adult man, watched it and really loved it. I was totally drawn in and engaged by the kid’s characters. I could easily watch another series.

Robert Sheehan in The Last Bus Credit: Netflix
Robert Sheehan in The Last Bus Credit: Netflix

How was it like working with a group of young talented stars?

It was very exciting. They’re very hard working, and great fun on set. The youngsters in the show are very good, incredibly natural on camera.

Until someone invents the genie orb to clean up the environment and save the planet – what do you advocate we do?

Any small bits around the house, any little changes we could make to our lives. Just little things, you don’t have to take on the whole world.

How important is the protection of the planet for you?

We present human beings are more damaging, destructive, wasteful than we’ve ever been. We create islands the size of Texas of waste in the ocean. We’ve created a serious problem for ourselves.

I try to live and create as little waste as possible in the clothes I wear, food I eat, what products I buy. I’d rather contribute positively to the planet with my existence than add to the spectacularly enormous problem that we’ve all created together.

I like tree planting initiatives, taking a lunchbox with me when I go out to the world—just small things that have a positive effect. There’s lots of zero waste options now in the modern world, in cities mostly.

Does the show suggest young people should be in charge?

Yep, I think that’s probably a good way to go. Ultimately, they’re the folks inheriting the planet just around the corner. If not put them in charge, at least give them a seat at the table.

The third season of The Umbrella Academy comes out June 22. How are excited are you?

So excited. I wake up quivering daily for June 22. What can we expect? I suppose more familial dysfunction on an apocalyptic scale.

The Last Bus is available now on Netflix

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