Visual Tales: Hi Edward! Thanks for taking the time to do this shoot for Visual Tales while you are spending some quality time in the US. What made you decide to travel (especially during the pandemic). What was the experience like to be here for you personally? Have the view of America changed dramatically from what you came to know about the US prior to the pandemic?
Edward Bluemel: I came here because I very stupidly fell in love with an American during the pandemic but luckily she happens to be one of the only people in the world I’d wear a mask on a long haul flight for. She took me to meet her family and experience my first proper thanksgiving (sensational) before letting me be her arm candy while she was on tour doing stand up in the midwest (lots of cheese). In return, I made her take me to every diner and dive bar we came across while constantly asking her why the cars are all so big. My experience of the US is pretty limited so I’m going to really get to know it in a post pandemic world - as far as I’m concerned you’ve always washed your hands thoroughly for twenty seconds with soap and water at every opportunity.
VT: You started your acting career back in 2013 and went to Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Was a career in acting always been in your deck of cards? What were some key moments in the early days that might trigger your desire to pursue this path?
EB: I have always acted but only started considering it seriously when I was about seventeen and realized I was very mediocre at everything else. I remember acting in some school plays and finding the approval I received afterwards, it felt great so I’ve been chasing that high ever since. Like a lot of actors, I essentially finagled attention seeking into a career path.
VT: Education and Science plays a large part of your environment growing up in your family, since both your parents are in the academia (teaching chemistry and physics). What was life like growing up knowing your parents are teachers? Would they have liken you to pursue the same path as they did?
EB: My parents were always very supportive. Sure, they would have loved to have brought up a chemist or physicist but unfortunately I don’t love coming into physical contact with acid and I find even basic maths quite confusing so it wasn’t to be. Maybe my genetics will suddenly activate in later life and I’ll make a late push for a Nobel prize.
VT: Auditions — Every actor has to go through the process whether you are starting out or already successful. How do you choose a role, what draws you to a role or preparing for a role? Can you generally tell if an audition goes well or not at all? Are there any humorous tale you can share?
EB: I find auditions fun. When you’re out of work it’s your only real chance to do some acting so because of that I’m not picky with roles. If you give me an audition the likelihood is that I’ll have a go. This approach comes with mixed results - I’ve done some truly terrible auditions in my time. If the casting director of the chewing gum advert I once auditioned for is reading this, please could you delete that tape.
VT: Your acting career to date covers a wide variety of characters: Hugo in Killing Eve; Marcus in A Discovery of Witches; Sean in Sex Education and Toby in Halcyon. What are your memories of portraying each of these character?
EB: A little cliche perhaps, but my main memories of portraying these characters are the people I met along the way. Each job brings a whole new world, complete with cast and crew. Working with Sandra Oh and Fiona Shaw on Killing Eve was like living inside a constant acting class and I learnt so much while playing Toby Hamilton in the Halcyon, the series introduced me to some amazing friends and taught me how hard it is to get real brylcreem out of your hair.
VT: What’s more challenging for you? A character in a film (for a few months) vs. a character in a tv series that you can develop as the series progresses (for many years, if the series does really well)?
EB: I think it’s easier to prepare for a character in a film because you have all your information right there in front of you and you can construct the character from that. With a series, you generally have no idea where it might be heading, so you have to make strong choices and hope for the best. Having said that, this can often have an interesting effect and result in characters seeming accidentally more complex than they might have been otherwise. For example, If you’ve been playing a character thinking they’re a good person (Charity worker/ second hand book shop owner/ Dalai Lama) and then when you read season two it reveals that they’re actually secretly awful (murderer/ cannibal/ crypto guy), your original performance will probably be much more subtle and therefore sinister. I wonder if the Dalai Lama is into bitcoin?
VT: You have written a story that is now turning into a film titled Safe Word. How did the story came about and what was the process like?
EB: Yes. It’s a short script I wrote in the very first lockdown as a bit of an experiment to help fill up the time. It felt satisfying to write with no parameters not realistically thinking anything would ever happen to it. That all changed of course when I showed it to my friend and excellent director Eleanor Hayden who then asked if she could make it alongside her sister Lydia with their joint production company. We very slowly tweaked it over time before being lucky enough to cast two brilliant actors who brought it to life. It was exposing to hear my words out loud, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to watch it without wincing slightly at my own writing but I’m so proud of everyone involved and what they did with it.
VT: After you complete a project, how do you unwind? Does a character ever leave you after a project is completed?
EB: I’ve never got so into playing a character that I’ve needed to unwind from them. I’m pretty good at keeping myself at a distance from the work that I’m doing so I find it pretty easy to let a character leave me. Sometimes, if I’m not careful, they leave me midway through a scene.
VT: Everyone was affected (professionally and personally) by the pandemic, what was your personal view and journey through this unprecedented period of time in history?
EB: I had gone to stay with my parents in the country for three days when the pandemic hit. I ended up living with them for three months and returning to being a teenager in the middle of nowhere surrounded by fields. My problems were very insignificant compared to many people all over the world so it gave me time to reflect on that and also a second chance to live with my mum and dad, something that probably wouldn’t have ever happened again otherwise. I look back on being in that bubble quite fondly, which gives me mixed feelings because it was ultimately such an awful thing that was happening worldwide - It’s almost like I’ve ended up with some kind of twisted Covid Stockholm Syndrome, longing for the thing that imprisoned me.
VT: We are always looking forward to another adaptation of a Jane Austen’s book, happy to hear you will be co-starring in one with a diverse stellar cast: Dakota Johnson, Richard E Grant, Henry Golding, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Cosmo Jarvis. How is this adaptation differs from the previous ones? From your perspective, what is it about Jane Austen’s work that attracts filmmakers wanting to recreate her stories time and time again?
EB: I think it’s great when we find writers whose work transcend the period they were written or set in and Jane Austen is exactly that. The reason her books are so easy to update into modern adaptations (the most memorable of which is of course Clueless) are because her characters are so human, real and flawed. Someone like me doesn’t often expect to find myself identifying with an upper class woman living in Bath in 1818, but here we are. All I need now is the corset.
VT: We read the news you will be co-starring in a very exciting new series for HBO titled Washington Black (With Sterling K Brown). Can you share any details about this particular project or the character you will be portraying?
EB: It’s based on the amazing novel of the same name by Esi Edugyan and is a sprawling piece of historical fiction about a runaway slave and his journey. My character isn’t in the book and has been added as part of an extra storyline so I won’t say much except that he’s quite complicated - he should be a joy to play.
VT: We really had a great time working with you on this portfolio of images for Visual Tales. You are quite open to dressing into looks for which we are extremely grateful. Through costumes, you have appeared, through your acting work, dressed to suit the period you are portraying. What’s your view on fashion and what’s your favorite period, wardrobe wise?
EB: I’ll wear anything, as long as I’m having fun. It’s exciting to put on clothes that you wouldn’t normally wear, and even better when you feel good in them. I had to wear heels, stockings and lingerie in a play once and I felt a million bucks - I can’t recommend it enough. My wider view on fashion is simply that if in doubt, everybody looks good dressed as a cowboy.
VT: Everyone has books, films, music or works of art that inspired them or utilize as a guide to navigate through life. What are your personal favorites?
EB: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was the first book I read that really inspired me - I think Douglas Adams’ rampant imagination has gone on to influence my entire sense of humor ever since. Also I’m about thirty years late to the party but I recently read The Secret History by Donna Tartt for the first time and felt absolutely engulfed in the world and its characters, however, it’s also resulted in me feeling even more inclined than ever to go and experiment with bacchanal rituals in the woods with my pals and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Music also plays a large role in my life, I love getting lost online in deep pits of different genres and then making playlists with what I find. Jonathan Richman’s music has always had an effect on me, it’s generally lofi, funny, light and almost whimsical but is so brazenly unapologetic that there’s something actually quite punk about it. It’s no surprise that he also was the lead singer of proto-punk band, The Modern Lovers.
VT: The entertainment industry has gone through a lot of necessary important changes to adapt to the times on how we view the world through entertainment. From your perspective, what continual changes would you like to witness going forward?
EB: There need to be space for diversity not just in the limelight but also behind the camera/offstage. If we have a wide variety of people from a wide variety of backgrounds creating the stories, then I think we’ll end up with a wide variety of people from a wide variety of backgrounds telling the stories and the ripples of that will be huge. The shift have started but there’s a lot more work to be done in that area.
VT: We loved your loose sense of humor in terms of postings on your instagram account (@edwardbluemel). In a social world filled with smoke and mirrors in presenting one self, yours is quite refreshing: personal, joys of living life and telling like it is. What’s your take on social media?
EB: I’m glad it comes across like that. What you don’t see is me agonizing over a caption for six hours or quickly deleting my story because I’m worried it’s not that funny. Social media is fun but I think you have to presume that one hundred percent of the content you see is a lie. Having said that, posting stupid stuff online with the vague hope of entertaining people is actually quite wholesome at its heart.
VT: If you could invite a group of guests of 6 to join you for a dinner party. And you can invite anyone (living or from the past) who would these dream guests be and why did you choose these individuals?
EB: I’d invite all the members of Fleetwood Mac (Rumours era) and a relationship counselor and try and get them to sort it the fuck out.