Most recently on screen, Jonathan Raggett filmed as the joint lead in the feature film Trafficker, directed by Larry Smith, with a release date not yet announced. For his series regular debut, Jonathan played Jimi across the first three series of Wolfblood on CBBC, with his episodes airing throughout 2012 to 2014, having previously worked with the channel on an episode of Dani’s House as Kashuro. Also a theatre actor, Jonathan performed at Stratford-Upon-Avon in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Snow in Midsummer earlier this year. We caught up with Jonathan about his time as Jimi in Wolfblood, working on Snow in Midsummer and his upcoming role in Trafficker.
You played Jimi across three series of CBBC drama Wolfblood, how did you get the role?
It’s a funny story. I didn’t want to go to the audition for Wolfblood because the original character they wanted was a tall 6′ Indian bully type and I’m not that. Thankfully my dad pushed me into going to the audition and said ‘you never know’ so I went to the audition and, after a recall, they thought I was really special and they re-wrote the part for me to make him Jimi. I’m always grateful for my dad for that push because it was a life-changing experience for me.
How much did you enjoy your time on set?
I loved it. The crew and the cast were brilliant to work with, I learnt so much off the directors and the crew about how a set should be run, and it’s just an experience I’m really going to treasure.
If there was to be a Wolfblood film, would you like to be involved?
Of course, we actually spoke about it while we were filming and we thought it would be great to do one about where they are 10/15 years on. You never know, it might get written, maybe by a cast member or somebody… you never know.
How long did each series take to film and would you like to do another CBBC show?
Each series took three months in Newcastle, which was a lot of fun. I have done other CBBC shows in the past, and I really enjoy filming them.
What have you been up to since leaving Wolfblood?
I’ve done a lot. I’ve kept up with my hobbies a lot. I did a play about a samurai bunny rabbit which involved a lot of stage combat with Katana Japanese sword fighting, so I’ve kept up with a lot of stage combats that help me with the RSC. I like horse riding and sports, so I’ve just been doing workshops and classes and things like that.
You have also appeared in films, do you prefer working on these or TV shows?
On one hand, I like TV, it’s a very fast process and the scripts can change last minute, so you need to be able to adapt to a lot of changes. You could be filming a scene from Episode 2 and then later that day you could be shooting Episode 4, so you need to be able to adapt to the script changes and be able to pick up lines quickly. Also, there are multiple shots because a lot is happening all the time so you need to be focused. On the other hand, with film, you have one script that goes through a few changes but once you get to filming it’s pretty set. You could spend all day on one scene or even one shot depending on how big the production is, you can really focus on that moment but I’d say as a whole, filming is something I love doing, the fact that everyone there is working towards a common goal of a great piece of work and it’s something I’m always going to adore and appreciate.
Can you tell us about performing on stage in Snow in Midsummer?
It was based on a modern adaptation of a Chinese classic play about a wrongly executed young woman who was wrongly accused of a murder she didn’t commit. It was a fantastic production, nothing like the RSC I’d ever seen before. Greg Doran, the artistic director, said it was a really big production. I played a young frustrated people’s liberation army officer and an east end type town worker, both characters were really fun to play.
The play ran in Stratford-Upon-Avon, what did you think of the area and had you visited before?
No, I hadn’t visited before, it’s a lovely little town, but I think I’m too much of a city boy.
Can you see your future career on stage or screen?
Both are very different. The filming and the joy that I get from a live audience is like nothing else, and it’s the adrenaline rush, especially when something could go wrong, and you have to look upon each other and talk with your eyes about what you’re going to do and carry on. Funnily enough, I remember more experiences that went wrong than all the really good runs from my stage experiences because they’re the ones you really have to focus on. Film is such a wonderful medium, I love the process of it, I find it so fascinating. I’m always interested in the technical side of it and the acting side of it. I prefer filming, so that’s the route I’d like to go down, but stage is such a wonderful medium, I would never say no.
Would you like to perform in a musical?
I grew up singing and dancing before I really focused on acting, and that’s where I really found my true passion. If it was the right musical, I would consider it.
Having worked on commercials previously, do you find that it is a quick process?
It can be, depending on the commercial. Funny enough some of the shots that would take the longest were if I was holding a phone and it would be a close-up just moving my thumbs because you need to polish your nails and things like that and it’s really precise. On the other hand, I did a Coca Cola advert about eight years ago and that took a week in Prague in a massive studio for a thirty-second clip, so it was a huge production with about fifty cast members.
Was there anyone that inspired you to get into acting and did you enjoy drama in school?
To be honest, I can’t think of any one particular person that inspired me into being an actor. I’d say that I’ve always wanted to do it but my first ever part was Dandy Dan in Bugsy Malone, I really enjoyed it, and I kind of got the bug from that. I’d say college especially, my teachers guided me in the right direction but I just kind of always wanted to do it.
I loved drama at school, it was one of the classes I was almost quite excited to go to. I’ve never been one of those kids that can sit still, I needed to do something, so the fact it was different and active, drama was perfect for me.
What TV shows and films did you grow up watching?
I actually watched a lot of cartoons on TV, I really liked the classics, Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry, I also watched a lot of TV sitcoms like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Scrubs and then movies I watched a lot of Jackie Chan films funnily enough, so I like my kung fu movies and action films.
You are originally from Brighton, do you support any of the local sports teams?
I am a massive Seagulls fan. I’m so proud of their Premier League debut, it’s such an accomplishment and such an amazing thing for the town. I was here for the parade, I came down from London. I am actually going to a football game this weekend, and then I’m going back to London, and then I’ll be down for the opening game against Manchester City, so yes, I’m a big fan.
Where do you feel more at home – London or Brighton?
I grew up in Brighton, it is my hometown, and I will always call it home, but I’m really enjoying my time in London right now, and I can see my foreseeable future there.
We understand you recently worked with Formula 1 in London, can you tell us about this?
I helped run a tent for school kids. There was an activity where they could do the pit stop, and they could drill out the tyres and put the tyres on against the clock, it was a really fun activity. They had a big pop up event with a big concert. They closed Trafalgar Square, it was really secretive, so I wasn’t allowed to say anything. It was a really fun event, and I got to watch Kaiser Chiefs and Bastille live on stage which was cool.
Do you have any projects coming up that will be released soon?
A little while ago I filmed Trafficker, a film by a director called Larry Smith. I was the joint lead and it was about two young brothers from Vietnam, the older brother gets into a lot of drug problems with his bosses, and they blackmail the younger brother, played by me, to go to Singapore and shift heroin back. Unfortunately, the plane is searched, so he doesn’t come off too well. I don’t know when the release date is, maybe we’ll see it soon, but I don’t know.
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