Eugene Simon Interview - Exclusive
A few weeks ago, the 19-year-old British actor sat down with JustJared.com to chat about everything from being bullied in school, kicking back with co-star Kit Harington, and his plans for celebrating Halloween. Eugene was very open, honest, and insightful with his responses – you must check it out!
Click inside to read JustJared.com‘s interview with Eugene Simon…
Eugene Simon Interview – JustJared.com Exclusive
Just Jared: Hi, Eugene! how are you? Thanks for taking the time to speak to me!
ES: Hello Jared! Not at all. I’ve been looking through some of the stuff you’ve done before and it all looks absolutely wonderful! I’ve had a very good look at the website and it looks absolutely wonderful, so thank you for taking the time to talk with me!
JJ: Of course! I’m obsessed with Game of Thrones. My friends and I watched the whole thing in a marathon setting, it was amazing!
ES: You’ve got a lot more to look forward to next year. Tomorrow, I’m going to start filming for the rest of next week and it’s going to be absolutely wicked. We’ve got a very big scene coming up, I assure you that you’ll be impressed!
JJ: What’s your filming schedule like these days?
ES: From now until December it’s pretty much non-stop. Doing Anubis is obviously a five-day-a-week job, so I don’t really get a chance to have a break unless it’s in the evenings, whereas with Game of Thrones, occasionally I go off to Belfast to shoot and I think what happens there is they start much later, but from the moment you get on, it’s absolutely relentless, they have a lot of fun down there.
House of Anubis is based around the lives at boarding school for about eight, nine, ten teenagers — people come and go — and it revolves around these ten teenagers, firstly their social lives and how they deal with the social problems of being a teenager, but more importantly, the mystery within the boarding school, which is where the Anubis bit comes in, because the whole school is essentially a very, very old building that is filled with all these clues as to how to find an artifact that is called the Mask of Anubis. A lot of the supernatural comes into it, and my character within the house is sort of somewhat cunning and very malicious character called Jerome and he’s, well, within the series, he’s basically the prankster with a slight edge, and essentially what happens at the end of the series is we’re in pursuit of this thing called the Mask of Anubis and it’s all about how we go about trying to find that before our teachers do. Our teachers are essentially part of a cult, it’s quite a storyline.
JJ: Does Anubis shoot in the U.K.?
ES: It does, yeah. We shoot up in Liverpool. We’ve been filming there for about three months now, and then Game of Thrones, of course, goes on in Belfast and Croatia as well, actually. And it airs on Nick UK out here.
JJ: Is there a way for Americans to watch House of Anubis yet, or do we just have to wait?
ES: We don’t know the time that it’s scheduled to air but I believe that it’s somewhere around February to April because they like to have it fairly close to the start of 2012. The first series came out in February and it carried all the way through until roughly April, but this year we’ve luckily got 19 episodes rather than 16, so our fans have a lot more to look forward to, which is great.
JJ: Do you live in Liverpool now, or where do you spend most of your time?
ES: I essentially live in Liverpool, but my actual home is in London. I’ve lived in London pretty much all my life, but we’ve been here now, as I said, for three months, and Liverpool really does feel like a second home, it’s a great place to live. The people are lovely, I couldn’t be happier!
JJ: What was your upbringing like in London?
ES: I’ve lived in London for most of my life but the truth is that most of my childhood memories aren’t really related to London. I used to live with my family in a small cottage in Dorset and that was our refuge, where we would go to really have fun as a family. So London is obviously my home, I spend most of my time there. But in terms of the best times I had growing up, the countryside is more for me, really. We very sadly had to let go of this cottage recently, but that’s probably where I would say I grew up as opposed to London. Now, I practically find myself every day in London living in our house and not really going anywhere else, so my childhood was definitely in Dorset and most of my time now is in London.
JJ: Where was your schooling? Did you go to school in London?
ES: I started going to a little prep school in London called St. Phillip’s in London – that was one of the happiest times in my life, it’s such a great school. However, my older brother Charlie, he went to a boarding school, and I decided when I left that I’d like to go to a boarding school as well because it sounded like a really exciting, nice thing to do. And it’s more popular in the UK to go to a boarding school than it is over in America. U spent three years rather happy at my first boarding school called Branston, but unfortunately I was quite badly bullied for a while, so I then left and went to my second boarding called Downside, what an odd name, it’s literally called Downside School. It’s in the south of England, and I literally was absolutely in love with it when I first arrived. The people were so much nicer and so much more friendly so I would say the majority of my schooling was done away from home, really, which is why doing House of Anubis is fairly easy for me, because I think I’m the only one who actually went to boarding school.
JJ: Did you graduate from boarding school? Did you continue on to college?
ES: I left boarding school last year when I was 18 having done my subjects — English, French, and Spanish — so I left boarding school and literally the day I left I went straight up to Liverpool to start rehearsing for the first series of House of Anubis. I don’t know how good my luck was but I found out on June 11, my birthday, that I got the job for House of Anubis and for Game of Thrones, so I was absolutely thrilled and two weeks later, I packed my bags and came straight up to carry on and work, which was nice, but I missed out on uni, which is a bit unfortunate, but hopefully next year I’ll give that a go.
JJ: How did you catch the acting bug? How did you find out about the auditions for House of Anubis?
ES: The acting interest really started when I was a lot younger. When I was a child I used to love listening to a specific poet and writer, and his name’s Roald Dahl and he was essentially the utter source of my inspiration when I was very, very young. I used to listen to his poems every day in the car on the way to school with my mum, and one day I was with my mum listening to them and I stopped the tape in the car and I said to my mum, ‘Mum, I’m gonna recite all those poems to you’ and I did. And I was quite a lively, bouncy, excitable kid, so it really dawned on my mother, who said to herself, ‘If he can remember a poem, perhaps he can remember a script and maybe he’s itching to be a sort of young actor.’ And honestly, Jared, it was just a stab in the dark and I only really, truly fell in love with doing acting when I was about 13. So back to your question, with House of Anubis and Game of Thrones, I found out over the phone with my agent, same as with most other actors, but obviously it was two jobs at the same time on my birthday, I could not have been happier.
JJ: Has your family always been supportive of your acting pursuits?
ES: Oh, absolutely. I mean, if anyone ever asked me to write an autobiography, 99 percent of the reason I’m doing what I’m doing is because of my family. I never for a second had parents who were slightly doubtful of me doing what I do, particularly, if I may say, my mum. She’s the one who got me into it and she was one of those people who had almost relentless confidence in me. I don’t know if that makes any sense at all. She was very supportive and she was never pushy. I did what I felt was right to do, so my mum and I were basically a team as I was growing up.
JJ: It’s kind of sad that bullying is so prevalent in both the United States and England. How did you deal with it? Was your only coping mechanism to change schools?
ES: Well, the sad story about my bullying is that I changed schools really because I was surrounded by people who initially, I thought were my friends, and very sadly, these people who were my friends, supposedly, they fell victim to peer pressure. The story basically goes there’s one particular guy, who’s basically a ringleader who was very, very annoyed by me because I arrived late into this boarding school, about three weeks late because I was filming My Family and Other Animals, and the students there had all been told that there’s an actor coming into school and so there was obviously a lot of hubbub about what he’s going to be like. Finally I arrived and I was a very loud, excitable kid, and they just took an instant to disliking to me because, it’s very hard to say, but I think they were threatened by me in some sense, and I wasn’t at all, I’ve always been a very sort of easygoing kind of guy, but once this one guy had a problem with me, he manipulated people into disliking me as well, and the thing that really got me about it was that the whole point of being really badly bullied is that bullies will go out of their way to be as subtle about their bullying as possible, so even if it’s something like me walking down the corridor with my bag and a group of them pass me and going, ‘All right, Eugene?’ in a sort of vindictive way, that keeps you in a very depressed state of mind. I tried as much as possible to look on the bright side of things but finally all my friends turned against me without any real cause and I just thought ‘I can’t really fight this fight’ and I’d never said anything to my parents so I almost felt weak about telling my parents, but finally I just thought ‘I can’t take it any more’ and I did and I left and that’s when I moved to Downside and I have some of my happiest memories from Downside. It was very much a refuge for me after three years not being particularly liked.
JJ: I’m really glad you got out of it!
ES: I did get outta there! I pulled the plug on it. It was the right thing to do, really, and again, as I said, I had so much support from my parents and from other people that it sort of got me back on my feet. I’m not in any way upset that it happened because it made me a lot better in many ways, I don’t really know how to describe how, but it made me much more aware of how people work. People can be very easily manipulated sometimes, particularly when they’re young. I’ve learned a lot about people.
JJ: Let’s get back to Game of Thrones. Do you read the blogs and what people are saying online? Do you get caught up in that at all?
ES: I haven’t signed up for a particular website, but I keep track from my laptop of what people say about us and, I mean, so far I’ve seen nothing but positive feedback.
JJ: Are there any exciting tidbits or casting news from the upcoming season that you’re allowed to talk about?
ES: Well, I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say but I presume that most people who watch it are hopefully fans of the books as well, so what I will say, which I’m hoping the fans will be happy about, is that from what I’ve seen, everything they’ve imagined from the second series of book is definitely going to come true in this one. They have a wonderful scene set up for their battles and the characters are just as fantastically unique and malicious and cunning as they were, so I have every reason to suggest that the fans of the series have much more to look forward to. I’m reading the books myself and so far I’ve been nothing but amazed with them.
JJ: What was the audition like for Game of Thrones?
ES: I originally auditioned for the role of Joffrey and then moved on to being auditioned for Lancel and the audition itself was definitely quite exciting. They auditioned me for one role then called me back for another, so there was always a slight inkling in my head that the character they were auditioning me for was much more suited to my appearance, and certain enough Lancel Lannister is definitely one of my favorite characters. I’ve been reading the books, and the transition that he goes through, I don’t want to give anything away, but if you compare the first book, “Game of Thrones”, to the most recently released book, “Dance with Dragons”, there is a massive change, and I love to see how all the duress and all the pain he goes through make him into such a different person. So the audition was not particularly exciting. Once I found out what I was in for, though, it was unbelievable.
JJ: Do you have a favorite prop from the set of Game of Thrones?
ES: I would say without a doubt my favorite prop is my Lannister sword.
JJ: Hopefully you’ll get to keep it after the whole series films.
ES: Fingers crossed! You’re gonna see me wearing it down the street. (laughs)
JJ: Do you have a favorite off-screen moment between you and the cast?
ES: I think one of my favorite off-screen moments would just be relaxing and having a really nice talk… with [co-star] Kit Harington, so it’s nothing specific, just three very nice guys. John Bradley too. Just three guys I just got on with incredibly well whilst we were off set. Nothing specific, relaxing with some really great members of the cast..
JJ: Give us an example!
ES: Myself, Kit, John, Mark Addy, and several others, we all went out… last year for Halloween and I can’t really go into details of what quite happened, but it ended up being quite an adventure of a night, and I ended up sort of slightly bewildered by just how crazy these guys are, I have tons of fun hanging out with them. They work so hard and they play so hard, so it’s a lot of fun.
JJ: Did any of you dress up for Halloween?
ES: You know, sadly, I didn’t get to dress up at Halloween. We went to this huge pub, I think it’s supposed to be the largest pub in Britain, just down the road from our hotel, and we went and everyone — the place was absolutely packed, and it was full of people who had the most wonderful, elaborate costumes, but sadly, we were slightly under-dressed.
JJ: Do you have any Halloween plans this year? It’s this month!
ES: Well, I’m gonna be with the Anubis gang, and we’re planning a little event together, but I think our ideas are in the making at the moment. We’ll probably be strolling the streets… so we’ll see!
JJ: Hopefully you guys can tweet some fun photos that the fans cans see!
ES: Absolutely! We’ll be sure to send plenty of tweets to show what we all end up dressed as, so people on Twitter can look forward to that!
JJ: I have some random questions for you now. What was the last movie you saw?
ES: The last movie I saw would have been Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (pauses) No, that’s a lie! It would have been the In Betweeners. It was very good.
JJ: What are some of your favorite TV shows other than the ones you work on?
ES: One of my favorite TV shows is House with Hugh Laurie. That’s just an amazing show. He’s such a phenomenal actor and he’s very funny to watch. Another show which I’ve gotten quite into recently, I watched it with Alex Sawyer and Brad a few days ago, and it was something called Lie to Me. It’s another British actor as the lead role and I’ve only seen a few episodes but they have absolutely no shame. The style of showing how criminals lie when they’re being questioned is just…they have such an amazing way of shooting, the cinematography is wonderful, so I think that’s going to be my new TV show for this year.
JJ: Are you a Blackberry or iPhone guy?
ES: I’m an iPhone. I’m speaking to you now from my iPhone. I’m not sure whether I’m going to get the new iPhone, I have yet to decide.
JJ: Do you have a favorite musician or bands?
ES: One of my favorite bands is very sort of folky music,which I quite like, is someone called the Martin Harvey band, and they’re very simple, mellow, acoustic songs, but they’re someone who I can always listen to when I’m feeling relaxed or stressed or tired, they’re just a very good, nice band. One of my favorite bands would have to be my cousin’s band, which is called Yes Sir Boss and they’ve got some absolutely fantastic music, so I’ll definitely recommend them!
JJ: Do you have any favorite drinks and/or desserts?
ES: … I can say without a doubt that one of my favorite desserts ever since I was about seven has been the cheesecake that they do at a little dessert restaurant called Dino’s.