If you haven’t already stayed up til 5am binging the latest season of Netflix’s You, what is stopping you? With Penn Badgley’s Joe ever unhinged and homicidal the most fascinating turn has to be that of Ed Speleers’ character Rhys, who at first glance offers a performance of the typical suave antagonist to Penn’s murderer next door. It’s a shift for the Downton Abbey alum who switched from his performance as a staff member in the period drama to play a self-made man in the surroundings of the aristo set built in this new season of You, which primarily takes place in London. But it is never that simple as Ed’s character develops from the typical interference in Joe’s bloody plots into something more sinister and cerebral. Along with this strong performance, we will get to watch Ed shoot up into space in STAR TREK: PICARD for Paramount+. We got to link up with the actor to shoot against the works of Severin Spengler at Case Gallery. Photographed by David-Simon Dayan and Styled by Britton Litow.
You are in the 4th season of Netflix’s “You” playing the antagonist, Rhys Montrose. Can you tell us more about who Rhys is and what is his relation to Penn Badgley’s Joe?
Rhys is a guy who is a successful writer, author, he is an aspiring politician. He has had to learn a lot about himself as he’s come from one side of the track and from a particular social background to then find out later on in life he has this connection to a much higher social class. He’s had to be a chameleon all his life and to learn how to blend into any social situation and that’s also given him this inherent quality to try and understand others and also to have empathy for all walks of society. He appreciates that people make mistakes, and they should be given the opportunity to have more than one chance in life. So as a result, this means his connection to Joe is one of understanding that there are a lot of commonalities between them there is a kindred spirit in Joe.
Magnificent job bouncing between man of the people and part of the aristo set. Your character is really complex with all of these layers and backgrounds. What was your process in switching into all these various personas while maintaining the tone of Rhys?
I think that’s part of Rhys’ modus operandi. I feel that he prides himself on having to switch between different social classes because ultimately, he is fascinated by humans and what drives them and what irks them. In terms of process, It was important to have a clear understanding of who he was. I don’t think I necessarily thought about switching between two personas more just concentrating on what is driving him in the scene, what is making him tick.
Were there any shifts in wardrobe that you saw how costuming aided in your performance? You also worked on Downton Abbey with your character Jimmy, I can only assume you gleaned a lot on dressing from that performance. Can you give us your advice on keeping the look polished and have you translated these characters in your own wardrobe?
I had the pleasure of working with Sam Perry who I had worked with on a film years ago, who has a really keen eye for detail. She really knows what she wants out of a character and it was a very collaborative experience with her. I had the opportunity to wear some wonderful clothes from places like Anderson Shepard and Drakes and I’m not gonna lie they’re might’ve been a few pieces that went missing at the end of the shoot, sorry! Yes, wearing costumes and the attention to detail helps massively with putting a character together. I’ve done a fair few period dramas where the type of clothes you’re wearing, the wardrobe you put on, really does define who these people are. It completely enhances how you walk, sometimes talk, how you move about in a costume. It’s a huge, huge part for me in developing a character.
By the end of episode 5 we find out that you are the one leading the initial murders. Do you think your character is crazier than Joe’s?
I think by the end of episode five you would feel that he’s pretty crackers. I don’t know if he’s crazier – I think the interesting thing about Rhys, which also matches Joe, is the fact that he justifies his actions, and you find him at the end of the line wholeheartedly putting certain people in a box. I said he doesn’t judge people, but you know when he really needs to he will because he thinks in order to create better society, he needs to get rid of certain individuals which is pretty extreme. I mean the journey he goes on in the second half is potentially even more off the wall. But I will leave that alone for now.
The show features many amazing locations. During your downtime shooting with the cast were you able to explore these spaces and what did you do in that downtime?
It was lovely to be filming in London and I think one of the first days was shooting at the top of this very swanky hotel – might be in the four seasons – overlooking Tower Bridge in the Tower of London and that was a slightly surreal way to start the shoot. But I have to say most of the time I just went home my two children and my girlfriend and my dog and my cat. I dbon’t live in London anymore, so I just want to dash home as soon as possible. a few of the younger cast – it seems strange me referring to other people as younger cast! – they had a few social occasions but yeah I just went back home and put my feet up, played some football, listened to music, had a beer. I’m a bit of an old man really.
Not to spoil anything but do you think because of the inherent nature of Rhys’ character you will be coming back on the next season of “You” to cause more problems for Joe?
Along with “You” February is a huge month as your role in Picard will also be coming out, can you tell us what this world is about and more on your character?
Yes! It’s very exciting at the moment. I can’t remember a time like this ever in my career. So, I feel very lucky, very fortunate to be in this position. This is a high concept expansive world in space, I feel with this particular season that we’ve created is a real throwback to eighties movies with all the soundtrack, lighting, the storytelling. It’s a real rollercoaster of a journey. I play a young guy who is a bit of an outsider he’s trying to figure out who he really is, what his purpose in life is. He’s hotheaded and he’s fearless and he gets himself into a few scrapes and gets into trouble more than he should, mainly for the benefit of others.
Written and Produced by BJ Panda Bear | @bjpandabear.
Photographed by David-Simon Dayan | @sirdavidsimon
Styled by Britton Litow | @wanna__b