'Humans' Actor Will Tudor On Being In The Biggest TV Show Of The Year

The actor on playing a broken synth, working with William Hurt and being in Game of Thrones

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Humans has become the sleeper hit of 2015.

The series, which explores the blurred lines between humans and machines known as synths, is Channel 4's most popular drama in 20 years.

We spoke with British rising star Will Tudor who plays Odi – an aging synth on the verge of destruction – about the show's success, going nude in Game of Thrones and why TV is only getting better.


How did you go about learning to play a malfunctioning robot?

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It was a really interesting process. We all went to 'synth school' where we worked with Frantic Assembly movement director Dan O’Neill. We worked through how a normally functioning synth would move, their processes and the domestic tasks they’d be expected to do – and then for Odi, I’d take what we learned and corrupt it. We looked a lot at old computers and what they do when they’re starting to glitch. I looked at my old Windows 95.  

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The majority of your scenes are with William Hurt. Were you excited when you found out?

I was incredibly excited. He’s one of the best actors in the world and it was an honour to share the screen with him, let alone learn stuff from him. 

The show is such an ensemble. Who would you most like to share scenes with in future? 

I’d love to have some scenes with Gemma [Chan, who plays Anita/Mia]. We started ‘synth school’ together right at the beginning so it would be lovely to actually put the things we learned into practice in a scene together. But the main family – I watch it and think the domesticity of it all is so wonderful; it’d be great to be put into that environment.  

You’re also in Game of Thrones playing Littlefinger's spy, Olyvar. What’s it like being in the biggest TV show of this generation?

It’s mind-blowing. Finding out I was going to be in it was a very bizarre moment because it’s so massive – when you step on set, it’s not “I’m with these other actors,” it’s “I’m with all of the characters” because they’re part of our psyche now. It's just one of the best jobs because everyone realises they’re part of something culturally significant. Everyone was really lovely and welcoming – on something as big as that, I’m sure that’s really rare.

Do you have a favourite character?

It used to be Catelyn Stark. I really admired her strength – and I suppose Ned Stark before that. This past season, I’ve really enjoyed Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton. I love Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth too. I had the opportunity to work with Jonathan Pryce [the High Sparrow] this year and he did a wonderful job.

Nudity and sex scenes are a big part of your role. Was that challenging?

Its funny, when I was first introduced to the idea of an audition for the show, my then-agent said “Now it is full-frontal nudity but it’s Game of Thrones,” and if it was any other show, I would have had to think twice. For a start, I know it's handled well – and it’s my favourite TV show. It was nerve-wracking to begin with but everyone was so professional and made it very easy. When I did it in the subsequent seasons, it became part and parcel of the job. You do every so often stop and go, “Gosh, what I’m doing right now is very peculiar."

Would you say it’s prepared you for similar scenes in future roles?

I’m aware now how lucky I was in the way the show handles it and I think I’d be very careful in choosing how it’s done and it being tasteful. I certainly wouldn’t turn a role down because of it, no.

What's your views on the Jon Snow situation? Will we be seeing him again?

I’m certain we’ll see him again – I would hope so anyway because he’s such a strong character and it’d be a real shame if that was it. I know the writers have been given a bit of freedom in terms of where they go with the show, so it's anyone's guess.

Are we going to see you in season six?

I don’t think so – but I’m not dead which is always a good sign in the Game of Thrones world. So who knows for future seasons? 

Photo: Rachel Smith

What items should every man have in his wardrobe?

Two or three suits certainly – some good crisp white shirts too. I’m really keen on Fred Perry polos at the moment so I’d put them in as well. But for me it’s a nice pair of well fitting jeans, some good boots and plain t-shirts. Keep everything simple, I’d say.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I don’t know if you could call them hidden but I used to do impressions when I was 15. I used to do prank calls as these people and try to convince certain hoteliers that I was someone else. At the time I used to do people like Tony Blair and William Hague. It was very good fun; hearing people kind of thinking “Hmm, is that who I think it is?”  

What’s the best night out you’ve ever had?

Some of my favourite ones were back in my uni days [Tudor studied English Literature at Leicester] where there’d be house parties. We'd stay ‘till 11 in the morning and have those really deep and intense chats that you have when you're 18-years-old.  

What’s your desert island film, book and album of choice?

In terms of drama, something classic like Gladiator. I watched Lawrence of Arabia recently though – I’d been reprimanded for having not seen it – and I thought it was absolutely extraordinary. In terms of pure comedic value, Tootsie is brilliant. The book would have to be To Kill a Mockingbird. I’d pick an album called Stripped by The Rolling Stones – it’s a live set of some of their songs. There’s one called ‘Dead Flowers’ that no matter how I’m feeling, it’ll make me feel on top of the world. 

What’s your favourite city in the world?

London has got everything. It’s sort of home now. On the whole, when I travel to different countries, I like to find the hidden places so I tend to avoid the cities – but in terms of the ease of getting about, finding what you need, the excitement, that undercurrent of whatever you want it to be, it’s got to be London.

If you could be in any other TV series, what would you choose?

I very much enjoy things like 24 although I suspect that’s run its course. I’m really loving the way British TV is going now – especially with Humans – it’s starting to echo the great American TV tradition of excellent high quality drama, acting, storytelling, cinematography. So anything in the style of that would be great. 

Is that why you think Humans has been such a success?

When I received the scripts, I thought it was something really special – I love the moral questions it raised and I think the best TV does that: the question of how much are we to trust our A.I.; how much should we allow them into our lives; should we let them interact with children; or is it going to give them a false impression of what humanity is? I hope TV keeps going in that way – it unites people by making people talk about it and there’s nothing better than that.

Humans' final episode airs 2 August on Channel 4 at 9pm.


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