Does the name “Will Tudor” not ring any bells? How about “Odi”, the malfunctioning synth from Channel 4’s hit show Humans? Or perhaps you’re more familiar with “Olyvar” from Game of Thrones? A character chameleon that has graced our television screens many a time over in the past few years, even if you don’t think you know Will, the truth is, you probably do. Collecting roles quicker than your windowsill collects dust, this is a British actor whose star is on a rapid rise.
Most recently applying his talents to the multifaceted character of Sebastian/Jonathon in Shadowhunters, Tudor has by now proved to us all that he is anything but a one-trick pony – who else can say they’ve played a prostitute, a robot and a demon-angel hybrid? “It’s funny, it seems to have happened that I’ve kind of gone from one extreme to another with each job,” he laughs, “which is lovely.”
Not one to shy away from a challenge, Will’s penchant for the creative arts doesn’t come to a halt once away from the scrutiny of a camera lens; in fact, in a quick phoner with the actor, he revealed quite the opposite. Talking all things from artificial intelligence to writing musicals, below Will fills us in on what’s coming up next on his agenda.
Hi Will. Can you start by telling us how you got into acting?
I always think I got into it quite late. I’d always wanted to do it, I was always one of those children who would try and put on plays and corral my unsuspecting cousins into performing things. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I finally thought, “okay, I’m going to do a play now,” and things just sort of clicked from there. I stepped out on stage and I remember thinking, “this is great, this is wonderful.” And so it was from then that I really thought I might like to do this as a career, and then I thought, “well, I’ll get a degree under my belt before I do drama school.” So I studied English Literature first and then went on to drama school after that.
You’ve worked on some pretty high profile projects in the last few years – Game of Thrones, Humans and Shadowhunters. Was there ever a “this is my big break” kind of moment, or do you think your career has evolved naturally?
I think probably naturally. I mean, with Game of Thrones, that’s such a big show and I was an enormous fan of that before I got cast. I’d actually, within maybe the space of a few weeks before the audition came through, binge watched the first two series’, so that was incredibly exciting and I think that I was aware that might start to get the ball rolling, as it were. Then Humans came along and I think I was just very excited about the project because the script was so good, and I really felt like it was something that I could put my stamp on. So more in terms of the creative sense I think, you know, the opportunities to do things that I haven’t done before – those were the moments that were exciting. And it’s the same with Shadowhunters, going from a character like Odi in Humans, to possibly the worst kind of person you can imagine in Shadowhunters, creatively that was really fun and gave me a lot of scope for trying things out, which was great. But I think overall it’s felt fairly natural, which has been good for me because there hasn’t been too much of that kind of scary, “oh my god, this is a big jump” sort of moments.
As you’ve mentioned, you’ve played a huge range of characters, how do you adapt to each one? How do you start preparing for a role once you’ve been cast?
I think it happens fairly organically, you know. I read the script and I look out for things in everyday life or in programmes that I’m watching that just seem to click, and once I’ve read a script my imagination will start rolling. I have been very lucky that I’ve been able to play a broad range of characters. I know I very much like doing that. I like to be someone who is sort of immaterial in the parts that I play because I think that keeps me on my toes. And I feel like it’s a good way to learn and develop your craft, because you’re constantly having to adapt and find new ways to express this character’s needs and that kind of thing. I wouldn’t like to feel like I was constantly portraying one kind of character. But I’d say, yeah, it’s quite an organic process. I think just anything that gets my imagination going is very positive to me and it becomes very exciting.
Interesting. So which role would you say has been the most challenging so far and why?
Well, what’s funny is that the most challenging one probably was also the most joyous and that was Humans. Because it did require a whole new sort of vocabulary, if you will, of acting, because obviously playing a robot, not just a robot, but a broken robot, and then one who becomes conscious, it then required a lot of hours at the desk even – which doesn’t sound very acting-y – but a lot of hours at the desk working through exactly how his sort of central nervous system would work and what his reactions to things would be. So that was very challenging, but because it was such a joy to do that and because everyone on the project was in the same boat and were passionate about it, and the scripts were so great, it didn’t feel at all like a chore, I’d look forward to getting back to work with it. So I’d say that was the most challenging. I think with Shadowhunters I was able to do a lot of things I’d never done before. Firstly, we kind of worked out that I was essentially playing about four or five characters because he’s so manipulative, he’s projecting all these different versions of himself and of other people, so that was a challenge. But I also got to do all the special effects, the fights, the green screen work, which I’ve never done before, which was just wonderful to experience that, because it’s another side to filmmaking and TV making, which is something I’d certainly like to explore. I had great fun doing it and that’s where the magic of filmmaking expresses itself.
A lot of the projects that you’ve worked on are sci-fi or fantasy based, is this something that you’re personally interested in, or has it been something new for you?
It is. Again, I feel like that’s happened kind of quite naturally. I suppose there’s an advantage in that it means you get to do parts that are very outside yourself, and they might tend to be written in a way that is more vivid, I suppose you might say. And that’s always a very nice thing for an actor because you get to really push your own realm of experience and push yourself out of your comfort zone. As a genre, it’s something that I am interested in, especially things like Humans, where the subject matter is this fantasy, but it’s based actually very much on a kind of extension of what’s happening now, which is great. I’m a big science nerd, so anything to do with artificial intelligence or anything like that really gets me excited, and I’ve always been a fan of the fantasy genre anyway.
Great. So your most recent film project is called Tomorrow, can you tell us a bit about that?
So that is about a chap who’s a soldier and he suffers a rather terrible accident in Afghanistan, I believe, and he’s really injured and comes back to England and suffers from terrible PTSD. It’s sort of a story about him finding the beauty in life again. It’s a beautiful story and I’m very excited to see it. It’s quite a long time that we shot it. I don’t have an enormous role, but the people I was working with were wonderful and it was a really great, fun shoot.
Are there any other genres that you’d like to work with, but haven’t had the chance yet?
Projects that I’ve seen which I’ve really loved are things like Manchester by the Sea – these very hyper-real and emotive stories are something I’d love to explore. I always think, as actors, it’s our job to explore the human psyche and explore what it means to be human, so anything that sort of brings that into sharp relief, I’d be very keen to do. So yeah, something very human, very gritty. Things perhaps further outside my realm of experience as well would be great. I’m just hoping to grow as an actor as much as possible really.
Would you ever be interested in doing the stage?
I would love to. I consider myself actually to be a stage actor, I came from that stock. I was brought up in Stratford Upon Avon, so I was fortunate enough to see Shakespeare almost on a weekly basis. I always really, really enjoyed that at drama school. It was something that clicked with me quite a lot I’d say. And the excitement of being on stage, it’s something I’d really love to get back to. I’ve been lucky with the jobs I’ve had in that they’ve been really interesting projects, and it just so happens that they’ve been on TV and film, but I’d certainly like to get back to the stage.
How does it differ to be on stage as opposed to being on film?
Well, I suppose, there’s very little rehearsal with film and TV. We were lucky with Humans that we did have a rehearsal period, so we were able to explore the characters beforehand. I think that process of seeing the whole story through in one go is something that can become quite alien if you’ve done a lot of TV and film because you’ll do the scenes in a different order, but I think each medium has something to teach an actor. The speed of working with TV and film and having to “bring it”, if you will, straight away has been something that has really taught me a lot actually. And also doing it out of order, and having to hold the entire arc in your head at one time, in order to be able to serve that theme correctly has taught me a lot. But then they say, conversely, that, for the stage, doing it night after night is how you really hone your skills. I think ultimately, I would love to have a sort of broad career where I’ve had a chance to do everything, because I think that’s really where you get to hone your craft properly.
We noticed from your Instagram that you’re quite into photography. Outside of acting, what are your main interests?
Definitely photography is a big one, I’ve been doing it for a good few years now – probably seven or eight years. I used to do actor headshots, but then as my acting career progressed I didn’t have the time to do them as much. It’s something that I really like doing – I really like doing portraiture and I’m trying to get more into landscape photography – but I don’t currently have the lenses for it. I need to go and buy some more soon! I also really enjoy songwriting, I’m doing that quite a lot at the moment actually. I’m co-writing with a friend something that will hopefully turn into a show or a big project, so that’s exciting. It’s just something that I try and do on a daily basis, just because it’s a good counterweight to acting actually. But yeah, that’s something I do a lot, and certainly, those two take up a big portion of my free time.
When you say, “show” do you mean a musical?
Yes! A musical and also I’m trying to write a play at the moment as well, so I’m trying to keep as many fingers in as many pies as I can.
Finally, what projects are you working on at the moment, aside from the musical, and what can we expect in the future?
At the moment, I’ve just finished on Shadowhunters, so I’ve just got back to London and now I am looking to see what’s out there basically. We’re trying to work out what’s the next right thing. But for the future, I don’t know. I really hope I get to do something that is very different to things I’ve done before. I mean it’s a really exciting time for TV. People are really pushing the boundaries of what you can do with the medium, so that’s very exciting. I’m just excited to see sort of what’s out there really.