Early last year, Louis Payne joined the successful CBBC show, Wolfblood as TJ, having already appeared in Holby City in 2013. Since then, Louis has gone on to hold charity workshops for children for anti-bullying. We caught up with him about hosting the workshops, being the practical joker on set of Wolfblood and the process of getting wolf teeth fitted.
What made you decide to become an actor?
I first fell in love with acting after being cast in a school play of The Jungle Book as King Louie in year 8. Being on the stage gave me a massive buzz and I knew straight away that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I always wanted to be the centre of attention anyway growing up, always playing the class clown and trying to get laughs off my peers, and being on stage I could do this without getting into trouble.
Wolfblood has always been a very popular show from the start, how was it getting cast in later seasons?
Getting cast in an already very popular show is an amazing achievement and I was very honoured to have done so. It can also be very scary trying to step into the shoes of other extremely talented actors, and wondering how the fans will take to you whether they would like you or not. Thankfully it seems like they do.
What was it like filming Wolfblood?
Filming Wolfblood is so much fun! I’m lucky to be a part of a show where everyone gets on so well, but also very dedicated to doing their job to the best of their ability from the actors to all of the crew. But yeah, we had a lot of laughs and in many ways, you don’t even feel like you’re at work. We’re like a massive family.
Do you find it easy playing younger characters?
Haha yes, I do actually because I never really act my own age in life anyway. I always get cast as younger than I really am, I have a baby face. It’s also quite nice to kind of relive your childhood in a way.
What’s the process you have to go through to have wolf teeth fitted?
We had to go to a really cool place called Fangs FX in Reading, one of the only places in Europe where they make on-screen fake teeth and fangs, so all of the big Hollywood actors have been there at some point in their careers to have fake teeth made for them which is really cool. We had to get moulds done on both our top and bottom teeth, and the stuff they used was disgusting, it tasted horrible! Once they were done we left it to the geniuses at Fangs FX to make our wolf teeth, and to be fair to them, they looked amazing!
Your Wolfblood co-star Leona Vaughan said you were the practical joker on set, what kind of things did you get up to?
Haha, did she now. Yeah, to be fair I was always up to mischief. One day when we were working in the woods, we had to do a scene where a rat runs out in front of Rukku (Nahar), who plays Selina. So the art department made a fake rat attached to a string. Well, I just had to get my hands on it, and that day me and a gentleman called Chris Bailey on the props team spent the whole day (apart from the times when I was filming) setting it up scaring people, it was hilarious! That’s just one example of some of the things we used to get up to.
What was it like competing against Leona on Top Class, did you find yourself becoming competitive?
YES! I’m really competitive as it is, and I really, really wanted to beat Leona and her team. I think they cheated anyway. They didn’t even hear the full question and they were buzzing in even if they didn’t know the answer and just guessed, not giving my team a chance! Personally, I think we deserve a re-match!
When you are at CBBC HQ talking between shows, do you get nervous knowing it’s live TV?
Oh yeah of course. It’s always nerve-racking being live but everyone at CBBC HQ are brilliant and make you feel so relaxed and we have a few rehearsals before we go live anyway. I love going there though, we always have a lot of fun.
What was it like vlogging for the CBBC website and have you ever thought about doing your own vlogs?
The vlogging was a lot of fun but a lot of hard work, I had to film the whole thing in one day! I was shattered after but it was great fun because even though most of it was scripted, I was allowed to play around with it a little and show TJ’s real personality. So I hope the viewer got to see a little more in-depth about TJ and his life. As for doing my own vlog, yeah I think it’s a great idea but you have to have something to talk about and at the minute I don’t think many people would be that interested in my life. I’ve been thinking of maybe doing some funny videos but that’s all still on paper.
Did you enjoy appearing in Holby City as Jake Patterson, and do you keep in contact with any of the cast members?
I loved my time at Holby, it was my first proper role. I had appeared on Casualty before and shot a film but to have a semi-regular part in a very popular TV drama was amazing. And I really think that I grew as an actor with my time at Holby and met some amazing people! Jimmy Akingbola, who played my dad Malick, really took me under his wing and I still have regular contact with him and also Chizzy Akudolu who played Mo, we got on like a house on fire, she’s so funny and extremely talented, they both are and it would be lovely to work with them both again.
Would you like to do any theatre shows or films?
Oh yeah, I’d love to do both and hopefully will get the opportunity to do so soon. After all, I fell in love with acting being on stage, I just wish my singing voice was better because I would love to be in a musical theatre production!
We’ve noticed you were filming with Chris Kamara, could you tell us more about that?
We filmed a pilot for a new comedy panel show we’re hoping will get commissioned for CBBC. I’m not too sure how much I’m allowed to say about it though so best not to go into too much detail. But being a massive football fan having the opportunity to work with such a legend as Chris Kamara was unreal, he’s such a nice guy as well. We had a good laugh, he kept saying that I was a younger version of him and he could pass as my dad. I thought don’t push your luck Kammy, you’re not that good looking. Haha, just kidding.
You’ve done drama workshops for anti-bullying, can you tell us about them?
They are a massive charity that work alongside The Diana Trust, which help support children who are going through bullying and most importantly, try and prevent bullying.
How did you get involved in the anti-bullying workshops?
They get in contact with me last year and asked if I wouldn’t mind doing a few workshops with children from local schools at Alexandra Palace alongside Cel Spellman (CBBC) and Ricky Norwood (Eastenders). Of course, I said yes as I think this is such an important subject and in this day and age with the internet and social media, it has become 10x worse from when I was growing up and it’s something that needs to be stamped out! Now I am honoured to be an anti-bullying ambassador and do all I can to help out with the cause.
Would you like to do more workshops in the future, either for anti-bullying or anything else?
Of course, it was so much fun meeting and working with the kids and getting to hear their stories through the medium of drama. I hope all the kids had as good a time as me, they seemed like they did. I’m hoping I will be invited back this year.
What’s next for you in 2017, do you have any TV shows coming up?
I have recently just shot a short film with an amazing director, Jamie Rafn, called Mute that should be out soon, that we are hoping will get into a lot of film festivals. I have also shot a series of How to be Epic which should be out on CBBC in September where I’ve taken on more of a presenter/storyteller type role which I’m really excited for people to see. Hopefully there will be some more things coming up for me in 2017 but for now, back to auditioning hoping the right part will come along soon!
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