Rhodri Lewis played Johnny Davies, Ianto’s brother in law. He lived on a fairly rough estate but when the Army came to take the children for the 456 selection, he was a force to be reckoned with.
Rhodri Lewis loves talking about his work and his life and so we took the opportunity to find out more about this wonderful actor.
Hi Rhodri, you studied acting at the RWCMD was this before you began acting or after?
Rhodri: Coming from Wales and from a Welsh speaking family performing was a part of my life I started very young in the Eisteddfod which is a big festival of culture. I didn't even think that it was something you could do as a job. I just did it for fun
Rhodri: The film was a fantastic experience, very different from anything I've done before. The film was based on real people’s stories. They were in Iraq and they gave interviews and spoke about their lives. All the people in the film sadly died over there. my character was a young soldier who found out his girlfriend was pregnant and didn't really know what to do or what to expect, and didn't really know how to deal with what he was doing out there, he was just very lost I think.
According to IMDB you played a village child in the film Vive La France (2010) but I’m a little confused as if you played the child, then you must be younger than I thought you were! There’s nothing but the premise on IMDB so did this film make light of day, being as it’s a 13 min short?
Rhodri: This has followed me around for ages and I do get asked about this all the time, it wasn't me I’m not sure if there was a child actor with the same name as me and it’s just been a bit of a mix up on IMDB.
Johnny was well matched with Rhiannon in the series and although I felt at first he was a bit of a lad, he showed loyalty to the family and wasn’t afraid of getting into the thick of it. Are you anything like Johnny in real life?
Rhodri: I wish I was that would be a lovely thing. He was a bit of a lad you're right, but you could always count on him to do the right thing
They say never work with animals or children, were you ever upstaged by the children on set of Children of Earth?
Rhodri: All the time. They were an absolute pleasure to work with far more professional than I was
Although there were no outtakes in COE were there any funny moments during filming between you and Katy Wix and the kids?
Rhodri: I don't remember any specific moments I do remember it being a warm fun environment to work in. The only funny story I can remember is the moment before I had to do the naked in bed scene the costume ladies knocked on my door to show me what they had designed for me to keep my modesty, the options were, holding a cricket box over myself the alternative to that was a 'hands-free' version in the way of a cricket box thong, which is a fantastic look and I encourage people to try it, I guarantee you won’t go back to normal underwear. The last option was very low tech, I thought with it being the BBC and a sci-fi production there would be loads of cool gadgets and solutions to things, I was wrong, the costume girl basically whipped out a skin coloured sock and suggested I use that.......
In the scenes involving the fighting on the estate between the army and the residents, to show real animosity for the enemy what did you do to get psyched up or to get in the mood?
Rhodri: I’m quite a lazy person and the thought of spending a day running up hill helped me get some of the way there also the extras were brilliant they were well up for it and that spurred me on.
Although the fight scenes or scrum would have been stage managed was there ever any moments when a few punches would have connected?
Rhodri: Somebody told me a while later that I broke one of the army guys shoulders, I felt awful about that, I'm not really a fighter or anything, just a big softie. There was a little bit of choreography with the fighting just to make sure we were where we needed to be for the camera but most of it was a free for all, so I’m sure there were loads of punches that connected
When you got the role of Johnny had you tried out for any other roles prior?
Rhodri: Not in Torchwood or Dr Who but hundreds of other things, I couldn't tell you how many auditions I've had, but it feels like your life is a constant job interview after a while
Although a lot of COE was pretty harrowing in terms of losing children, the death of Ianto, do you have a favourite episode in the series? And do you have a favourite episode in the Series 1 & 2 and perhaps in Miracle Day?
Rhodri: Any scene with Eve Myles in it really......I did like the scene at the end when Ianto dies very moving. It's hard to say really I have a strange thing in my head that if I've been in something I can’t watch it anymore, which is a shame because sci-fi is my favourite thing and I loved Torchwood up to the point I was in it. I always loved the very first episode I didn't really know what to expect, I thought it was going to be like Dr who, but it was a bit more risqué and I love that about it
Prior to joining Torchwood, had you seen any of the series?
Rhodri: Yes, I loved it I’m a massive sci-fi fan
During spells of resting have you worked as anything other than acting?
Rhodri: I think we would be here for a fortnight listing all the jobs I've done like most actors the list is long. Everything from a bar man to a gardener to a call centre person. I also worked in a nature reserve. I’ve also been Father Christmas in an amusement arcade in Barry Island
What is your favourite genre?
Rhodri: Sci-fi (and I’m not just saying that)
Have you ever done voice overs for video games or adverts and if so, which?
Rhodri: I’ve never done that but I’d love to do the video game thing
When you’re not acting, how do you relax?
Rhodri: I like writing stories
What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Rhodri: Guardians of the Galaxy.....amazeballs
Are you involved in any new projects you can share with us?
Rhodri: I’m on a two year sabbatical at the moment, doing some writing in Belfast with my partner.
Do you have a website?
Rhodri: No but you can follow me on G+ or Twitter, not that I have anything interesting to say
Many actors seem to be in a band these days, or have performed in bands; do you have a musical flair?
Rhodri: Never in my life. I play a bit of guitar but I'm fairly terrible at it
Did you like the guy you played in CoE? Johnny seemed to be a chav at first, but in the end, but he also was more clear-sighted and politically aware of what government was doing to his family, the children.
Rhodri: ha-ha yes he was a bit of a chav. I thought he was great family first type of guy
Acting under "normal" conditions can sometimes be pretty hard already but acting naked, waking up and having a gun put to your head, answering the question about the whereabouts of your brother in law when you are supposed to just have woken up from sleeping is even harder. What was the hardest part about that scene? Reacting to the guns, pretending to just have woken up, being naked and vulnerable or stating that the character you are playing is a married man - once again a remark to the fact that Ianto is with a man?
Rhodri: The hardest part was trying to make sure I didn’t mess up the punch line
How do you prepare yourself for getting into that moment? Do you remember what time it was when the scene was shot?
Rhodri: You sort of take yourself off to a corner and just get your head in the right place try and relax a bit because your nerves are going a bit mad
Was it in the script that your character was supposed to be naked in bed? Or did it just happen to end up that way?
Rhodri: He was always naked in the script, I did have to read it again when I first got the script just to make sure
Thanks to Rhodri Lewis for a wonderful interview and to Betty Dee and Claudia Lindner for their questions.