Interview with ‘Misfits’ star Iwan Rheon
The first thing I notice about Iwan Rheon during our phone interview is that he is very different to his well-spoken character Simon Bellamy. For one, I am greeted with a friendly hello in a Welsh accent that has the clichéd sing-song quality to it, and two, every answer he gives me is punctuated with laughter. There is no hint of shyness from the actor whose ‘Misfits’ character was originally based on Ian Curtis, the quirky lead singer of Joy Division.
The biggest difference in this series has been the departure of Robert Sheehan who played the hilariously silly if loveable Nathan and the arrival of ‘This Is England’ actor Joe Gilgun as Rudy. Rheon tells me about the response he has got to series three. ‘Some people have been like: ‘it’s boring without Nathan’ but that was really early on. I think that was because it was establishing a new character. It’s sort of a difficult one when you have a new character and the boots you have to fill, it’s so difficult to do that and he’s [Gilgun] done such a great job.’
I ask him what it was like to make this series. ‘It was good. It was really different to the first two series for a few reasons. One of course massively being that Robert Sheehan wasn’t there anymore but Joe Gilgun just came in and after about ten minutes of the first episode you kind of forget about Nathan. But me and Robert were good friends and I miss him but it was fine in the end.’
Rheon describes his co-star Gilgun as a ‘non-stop whirlwind’ and tells me the lengths he will go to make him corpse. ‘He just tries to make me laugh all the time, that’s pretty much his primary thing, he’s just literally there doing anything he can.’ Gilgun’s antics include pulling faces from behind the camera and exhibiting his manly parts – a lot. It seems to work a treat as Rheon has to hit himself to avoid slipping out of character.
Another big difference in the third series is that each member of the group got a new superpower. When I ask if he would want Simon’s new power which allows him to see into the immediate future, he is uncertain. ‘I don’t know. I think it could be a hindrance, it could be really useful but he can’t really control it so it’s a bit rubbish. I think it would be useful but it would kind of start messing up things if you’re using it all the time, looking into the future and what’s going to happen to you. You end up depending on it and then you wouldn’t live your future because you’re looking at the future beyond that, and you wouldn’t live your life.’
Previously, when asked what power he could have, Rheon has always said he would like the power of invisibility like his character (so that he could spy on David Cameron). However, if he could have a new power, Rheon says he would like to be able to teleport. ‘I would go down the shops, it would brilliant. I would go on holiday, see you later! I would go and – oh shit I forgot my wallet – and come back again. You would never have to queue up on a train or get on a crowded bus.’ He eagerly enthuses about the limitless possibilities of this power which is up there on the A-list with invisibility and mind-reading.
In episode five of the third series Kelly (Lauren Socha) unwittingly took part in a body swap with a coma patient, I question Rheon about which member of the gang he would like to body swap with. ‘I always fancied being Nathan from series one and two but he’s not there, can I still go for him? Or maybe, I don’t know, it might be quite fun to be Curtis with his new power.’ But midway through he changes his mind: ‘Actually, I don’t think I would want to be any of them because they’re all so flawed and weird! They’re all a mess!’
Indeed, they are far removed from your average group of juvenile delinquents and this series has taken them on several different adventures. From stopping Hitler to battling with zombie cheerleaders, it feels like series three has really raised the bar with the scale and scope of its storytelling. For Rheon the stand out episode was number four which involved the Nazis. ‘I think it’s because it’s in a completely different world. As an actor it was really interesting to play everything from a different context and we had guns and all that stuff and that was the first time that had happened on ‘Misfits’ and that was all good fun. It was just like doing a different job but within the same job. Also, the third episode, as an actor, it was quite a journey for the character.’ Out of all the episodes, Rheon found the final one of the series hard: ‘there was some really tough stuff in that to do’.
The show has had both mainstream and critical acclaim. It was given the Bafta award for Best Drama series in 2010 and Lauren Socha won a Bafta in the category of Best Supporting Actress this year for her role as Kelly. And despite the changes to the cast and the superpowers, the show has remained consistently popular, which Rheon says can be attributed to several different factors. ‘You get a brilliant young director who’s got a fantastic vision, a great director of photography, a great writer who’s come up with all these amazing ideas, a production company that want to push it with a channel that allows you to do it. Then finding the right actors to play the parts, I think that’s on one level. I think basically the result is that you have got characters that people can relate to. There’s one there that you can relate to. The comedy, the writing is cutting-edge, they are really pushing the boundaries, pushing what you can say on TV or what you can do on TV.’
Rheon seems to have a lot of projects in the pipeline aside from ‘Misfits’. He is multi-talented, having won a Laurence Olivier award in the category of Best Supporting Performance in a Musical or Entertainment as Moritz Stiefel in ‘Spring Awakening’ in 2010. He is also musician and earlier this year he released his second EP ‘Changing Times’. He tells me that he is keen to record another one when he has some time off. Most recently, he starred alongside Michael Sheen in a Nazi dystopian film called ‘Resistance’ which is set in Abergavenny, Wales. He has several other films coming next year, including one directed by Dexter Fletcher (Nathan’s dad in ‘Misfits’) called ‘Wild Bill’. So it’s all go for this young actor but he says he will be taking a bit of time off before Christmas. As we say our goodbyes, it’s clear that whatever the future may hold, Rheon is a force to be reckoned with.
This interview took place before the series finale. Iwan Rheon has since announced that he has left the show. In a Facebook post he said: ‘Thanks for all the comments and support. I’m so grateful for the opportunity that MisFits gave me and all the fun I had doing it. But I have left now and look forward to doing exciting new things. The show must go on! X’
Series 3 of ‘Misfits’ is out on DVD and Blu-Ray from 26th December.
For more information about the series visit: www.e4.com/misfits
Image credit: Channel 4Tagged in: iwan rheon, joe gilgun, Misfits, science fiction
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