In the Spotlight : Robert
Robert Emms : Beyond Acting
In the competitive world that is acting, how do you compete? Stay true to yourself? Build an identity? Remain focused? Actor Robert Emms talks to Blowout about his success in the industry and his exciting current and future projects.
Neurotic. That’s the first word that comes into mind when Robert Emms attempts to sum himself up in one word. He says it confidently and he’s not changing his mind. But Blowout could think of a few more words to add to the list.
Acting now for over a decade within theatre, television and film, Robert really has covered it all. In 2011, Steven Spielberg saw him in Warhorse, at the New London Theatre, after which he was quickly cast as David Lyons (in Spielberg’s film adaptation of the play). Since then, Robert has appeared in numerous television series and films. So where does this devotion for acting stem from?
“I actually originally planned on being a musician, that was my original plan. I started to play the piano and I was really into classical music, so when I was younger, it was in my head that I would go to some sort of musical college,” he explained.
“When I started doing some local theatre in the area at the age of 14, I discovered I really enjoyed it. I went to the BRIT school and studied theatre and I thought I much prefer doing theatre. There was something about it that was more communal and shared between people as opposed to music, which is something that’s more of a solitary experience.”
I think it’s safe to say that if Robert was not an actor, he most probably would have been a musician, so we had to ask, if acting was something that he was considering for the long-run. When you’re creative in multiple fields, how do you decide which path you’d be pursuing? It is possible for your passions to lie in two places rather than one and that can’t be an easy decision to make.
Robert states without any hesitation, “Acting is definitely a long-term thing for me. It’s always been my life and is part of my bones. It’s something that I just have to do. For me, it’s a very spiritual and emotional experience and it fulfils quite a big part of my life.”
“Now that I’m 32, I’m coming around again to wanting to do some more music in my life, to have as a sort of creative outlet. I think one changes in different stages of your life and your needs change. Though right now my career is acting and I really enjoy it, I’m also at that age where I’m looking for other creative outlooks. You gotta go with the flow,” he continued.
We’ve just about made it through to half of the year and Robert has already appeared on our screens twice: first for the 6 Part TV series, Cleaning Up which aired in January, followed by the mini-series; Chernobyl, which depicted the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster from April 1986 and the unprecedented clean up that followed.
He’s also working on his fourth and fifth TV series; The Barking Murders, which is a series looking at the aftermath of four murders carried out by Stephen Port and His Dark Materials, which is a British, fantasy adventure series based on the novel series of the same name, by Phillip Pullman.
Being involved in so many great projects, does Robert Emms believe he has made it in the world of acting?
“Well, you always want more don’t you?” He responded. “I mean everyone wants more, but when I look at the projects I've done and the things that I've done; I’m very proud of it. In that sense, I would say that it’s been a success so far.”
“I think it's always about being in the moment and just being within yourself and not really thinking about necessarily what other people might think of you. That is quite hard in an industry where it seems to be all about what other people think of you, but, actually it's important to sort of remain in the moment.”
Everyone has a different bar set for themselves when chasing success. Where some may have set it quite low, others aim extremely high in order to keep pushing themselves. We weren’t surprised to hear that Robert sets his bar quite high.
“I think I've always set the bar incredibly high and that probably is one of my faults. Whilst it's something that has contributed to a lot of good things happening to me in my career, mentally it can be quite exhausting. Sometimes you can't reach your expectations and it's impossible to do that, but you have to be realistic about these things.”
“I'm not really thinking about when it's going to go on television or what it's going to look like, you know? Those thoughts always creep in but then you remind yourself that it's actually about the experience. Success for me is coming out the end of the job and feeling like I've actually done my best. That's a success,” he concluded.
Regardless of whether a character was fiction or based on a real person, the actor’s interpretation of that role is what will be remembered forever by the viewers. There is so much research and work that is put into developing these performances. When working in theatre or with series in particular, that adopted role isn’t something that is just done and over with. It continues over a period of time and almost becomes the identity of that person. It is safe to say that being an actor can be all consuming but does that mean it defines you as a person?
“I think that’s an interesting point because it is quite easy to say acting does define you,” Robert stated. “I went through a period of time where I wasn't working and feeling a slight lack of identity, because your identity is very based around you being an actor. So, when you're not acting, you're thinking of questions such as who am I?”
“This is why I think it's important that actors have lots of other creative outlets, whether it’s painting, or writing, or music, or whatever. Some will say that it’s just to stay busy, but it’s so much more than that. I think it's about building your identity as something else.”
So, tell us Robert, who inspires you? This was a tricky question, we could tell!
“It’s so hard to pick one person, because so many actors inspire me. Often actually, any job I do, I just look at some of the actors on set and I just feel so inspired by them because they’re just so great some of them. They’re so free and so able to give themselves fully. I feel lucky enough to have worked with them,” he claimed, after much thought.
If you haven’t already seen Robert in action before, you still have a variety of programmes to catch up on before his up-coming projects are released. Knowing that Robert likes to keep himself busy, what else can we expect for the up-coming months?
“I can't go into too much detail about it, but I'm currently filming for the true crime story for BBC, so that’s quite interesting. I'm also working on writing some music and I've been recording an EP so it's very early days! I’ve also been learning Spanish and I’m yet to decide if I’ll pick up an additional language at some point as well,” Robert stated.
Well 2019 definitely looks like a busy one for Robert. We can’t wait for the next TV series to air and we will most definitely be on the lookout for the EP! Project after project, how does he fit it all in!
Words by Syeda Uddin Photograhies by @dawnpcollins