Bedlam: Interview with Will Young!

by Lisa McGarry

Will Young began his journey as the first winner of the global phenomenon Pop Idol, in 2002, and has since become an icon of British pop culture with 4 multi-platinum albums and close to a decade in the music industry. He is one of the most successful and likeable UK male pop stars of his era.

Not stopping at music, he has also written for The Times, appeared as a panellist on Question Time and been the star of a South Bank Show special. He appeared alongside Bob Hoskins and Dame Judi Dench in a Stephen Frears movie (Mrs Henderson Presents) in 2005 and a sell-out Noel Coward revival of The Vortex on Manchester’s most auspicious theatrical stage, The Royal Exchange, in 2007. Early this year, Will also appeared on Skins (E4).

Bedlam is Sky Living’s first foray into scripted drama and is a contemporary paranormal six-part series. This thrilling ghostly drama stars Will as Ryan McAllister, alongside Theo James (A Passionate Woman) as Jed Harper, Charlotte Salt (The Tudors) as Kate Bettany, Ashley Madekwe (Secret Diary of a Call Girl) as Molly Lucas and Hugo Speer (Vera, Moving On) as Warren Bettany.

Can you describe your character, Ryan?

I love playing Ryan! You get used to coming in every day to film and it’s like being with a friend. He’s nerdy and lacking in confidence but he’s also clever and he enjoys solving problems like fixing computers. He’s got sadness in his life; he lost his brother under very sad circumstances and I think that’s marred him a lot. He’s confused in many ways and that shows through his interactions with the other three flatmates. He doesn’t stand up for himself but he does have a moral belief. He’s a kind and confused soul. Ryan is willing to believe in ghosts from the start. Because his brother died tragically, he wants to communicate with him. I think he’s confused about who he is as an adult and what he really wants to do. You can even see it in his clothes. He tries to be a little bit trendy but it doesn’t quite work. I quite like that. There should actually be a whole blog on Ryan’s jumpers alone!

Did you do much research for the role of Ryan?

I didn’t research anything from a historical side as I don’t think Ryan would have started off knowing a lot about ghosts or about mental asylums. I should have properly learnt how to fix computers but it’s so boring I didn’t!

How is Bedlam different to other shows you’ve worked on?

I’ve tended to do more period shows before now and this is the most modern programme I’ve done. I think the scary element of the show really came across when I was reading the script and it’s important that it leaps off the page. We hardly used any CGI for the series so it feels very real when you’re shooting it. Hopefully that will translate to the viewers.

Did you find it scary filming any of the scenes?

The first frightening scene I shot had a man in the back of the car with scary blacked-out eyes. I couldn’t look at him because he looked terrifying. I don’t like that old ghost story where there is a guy in the back of a car, people go past honking at you and then you turn around and no one’s there. I quite often check the back of my car anyway because I live in the countryside and get a bit scared!

Who is your character, Ryan, closest to?

I think Molly has a bit of a crush on Ryan and they do get very close. They probably have the most functional friendship. He also gets close to Jed and they become a partnership. I like to say we’re ‘Rosemary and Thyme’ but I think we’re going for something a little bit younger! The relationship they form is strange because they’re not warm with each other but they have a working relationship. They work out what’s happened in the building and to everyone in the flats.

How was it working alongside Theo James who plays Jed?

Theo made me laugh on set, which is very unfair! We end quite a few of our scenes with dramatic one liners and as we were coming to the end of filming we just lost our discipline a bit. I couldn’t look at his eyes in quite a few scenes and just looked at his shoulder; otherwise he would have made me laugh. We basically lost our professionalism!

Do you think the ghosts in the show represent anything?

I think the ghosts in the show definitely represent other things apart from being scary. I think they show human failings and sadness. They show what has gone wrong in their lives and the reason why they can’t pass on to the next existence. I think that brings up a notion of how you live in your own life when you’re flesh and bones; how you treat people and how you’re treated. I suppose the importance of karma is if you lead a good and happy life then maybe you won’t feel the need to be tied to the earth.

Have you ever had a spooky encounter?

I’m a big believer in ghosts, angels and energies. I have had a few spooky happenings over the years and think I had a paranormal experience once. I stayed at a friend’s house a long time ago that I didn’t think had a very nice presence in. I ran through these curtains which were tied back and they shut behind me. I remember he had a Scalextric which used to go around the track on its own.

What have you got coming up for 2011?

I wish I could have a well-deserved break but I’m back into the studio finishing off my album and I’m moving house too. Just take a word of advice from me, don’t try and finish an album and move house at the same time!

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