With Emmy Award-winning series Free Rein airing on Netflix from 2017, Bruce Herbelin-Earle has been seen as Marcus over all thirty-two episodes, and last year he played the role of Josh in crime drama TV series 15 Days. Since the start of his career, Bruce has filmed a number of roles including an episode of Casualty and as Harry in feature film 2:Hrs. With his involvement with Oxygen Films, he was Executive Producer and appeared as Kyle in Wretched Things, and he has written an episode of A Series of Light, where he will also play lead character Nils, which will be released later this year on Amazon Prime. Speaking with us, Bruce tells us about filming Free Rein as Marcus, working with Oxygen Films and writing an episode of A Series of Light.
You’ve played the role of Marcus in Netflix series Free Rein since it started in 2017, can you tell us about the character?
Marcus has been working on the yard as the stable boy for as long as he can remember. He has dreams and aspirations to one day be the greatest riding instructor on the “Island”. He’s had a long-standing friendship with a girl on the yard called Mia, they’re sort of like childhood friends. He looks after the yard and makes sure things are running smoothly, but doesn’t hesitate to get involved with the mischief that happens throughout the story. Described as the “Golden Boy” in one of the episodes, Marcus has a heart of gold and would do anything for his friends.
What is the show like to be part of and how did you prepare for the role?
Free Rein was one of my first professional acting jobs, I learnt how to ride! The producers sent us all on a two-week training course, so that we could grasp the basics that we needed in order to go ahead with the series. I liked horses before I started the job, however, I found them to be quite intimidating once I started riding. Throughout the show, we were sent on lessons to help maintain our riding ability, however, for most of the stunt work, we would be switched out to allow the body doubles to make us look like we knew what we were doing!
How did you find the experience attending the Emmy Awards and seeing Free Rein win at the ceremony?
Attending the Emmys was a blast. I don’t think any of us were expecting a win (or two!!) so it came at an extremely nice surprise when they read us out as the Best Family Viewing Programme! As you can imagine, the rest of the night was pretty dreamy.
What were the films Free Rein: The Twelve Neighs of Christmas and Free Rein: Valentine’s Day like to work on and how different were they to filming the series?
Not too different at all really, we kept our same rhythm of filming that we had done previously on the series. The stories for both Christmas and Valentine’s were so action-packed with some really nice locations and awesome snow effects, the producers knew what kind of vision they wanted for both these TV specials so it was great to see it all come to life by the time us actors arrived on set.
Last year, you could be seen in Channel 5 mini-series 15 Days, how would you describe your character Josh and what was the series like to film?
Josh is a farmhand working for a farmer named Huw. There’s a suspicion that Josh might be Huw’s undisclosed son, however, that theme isn’t explored and is only touched upon during the series. He’s thrust into this world of sibling rivalry, the mother of the family has died and now comes the decision of who should get what respectively… they all want a piece of the farm that the land is built on.
15 Days was great to film, and a very different vibe to Free Rein. It’s a bit of a whodunnit style drama, as in the beginning scene, one of the main characters is shot and brutally killed.
What was it like working alongside the rest of the cast of 15 Days?
I worked alongside Freddy Carter, whom I also worked with on Free Rein – so we were able to gel quite nicely on set. His character actually kills mine (spoiler)! So we found that to be quite an interesting dynamic when it came to shooting it. It was also cool to be on a set with lots of other older actors. I often found myself just watching David Caves and Mali Tudno Jones tackle a scene, their professionalism was quite brilliant – one that I hope to replicate moving forward with my career.
You were a guest lead in Casualty as Finn Barling, how were you involved in the storyline?
Casualty was a blast, I play the son of a mother and a father who are going through some hard times. My mother is trying to jump start the car to take me to swimming practice when there’s an oil leak under the bonnet that she doesn’t see – as she jump starts the car, there’s a spark from the metal, and she goes completely up in flames! The episode kicks off in its traditional Casualty style with her being rushed to hospital, my character is in complete shock about what’s happened. While waiting for Mum to recover, Dad and son have a nice rekindling and bond over their stories, we get a sense that this is the closest they’ve been in years, and the episode ends on them hugging it out – without closure on whether the mother survived her awful burns (I always assume she did!).
Can you tell us about your time filming for 2:Hrs as Harry?
2:Hrs was a project that I’d auditioned for the lead but had been invited back to play a different, smaller role, but I appreciated it nonetheless! 2:Hrs is a story about a boy called Tim, who finds out, through a science experiment, that he only has two hours left to live. I play a guy who crosses Tim’s path thinking that Tim is hitting on his girlfriend (which he was) and gives him a bit of a ruffle up on the school playground before sending him on his way.
You were Executive Producer on Oxygen Films’ Wretched Things, and played the role of Kyle, what was it like producing for the first time?
I’ve worked a few times now with a director called Gage Oxley at Oxygen Films, and when he told me about Wretched Things and that he had a role for me, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity. When we got talking and discussing, it became clear that I wanted to be more involved with the project in an off-screen capacity, so Gage brought me on as a producer. It was great producing for the first time, I felt like I had the freedom to say what I liked and what I didn’t. I began to devise the scene where Kyle comes into the story, and Gage made my suggestions feel heard. Overall, it made it more like a collaborative project rather than me just coming in, doing my bit, and heading home!
Another Oxygen Films project A Series of Light is set to be released this year, is there anything you can tell us about it?
I’m back working with Gage on one episode of A Series of Light. The series is made up of six mini stories, each with its own individual tone and storyline. My episode will be the sixth episode in the series and it’s called Limelight. I’m proud to say that I’m jumping on this project as a writer as well as playing the lead. Episode 6 is about a desperate actor who just wants to be seen and heard, but is achieving neither and decides to take matters into his own hands… We started shooting right as the COVID-19 lockdown was put in place here in the UK, and so didn’t manage to finish filming! Production resumed on the 7th June though, and we shot for three days in Leeds. We had the chance to come back to this project and make it even better, and I can’t wait until it’s available to watch on Amazon Prime later this year.
What do you enjoy most about working with Oxygen Films?
Oxygen aren’t scared to dive into seriously juicy topics and, combined with their work ethic and their revolutionary vibe, it’s almost as if I’m working alongside people that I’ve grown up with all my life. They know me and I know them, and with an extreme level of attention to detail, the team at Oxygen are one of the most exciting companies I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
We understand you are involved with HOMESTAY, can you tell us about this?
HOMESTAY was a script that my friend sent to me. I wasn’t working at the time and was looking for something to get my teeth into, even if it was just a short piece. My friend Brandon, who DP’d on the shoot, had me read for a character called Chris, and we went on to film in his house with a minimal crew that was a combination of his and my friends. We’re looking to do something again with those characters; however, I’m not involved with the writing this time.
HOMESTAY is available to watch on YouTube!
How did your acting career come about and had you always wanted to be a professional actor?
I began to go online and look up castings that were happening in London when I was around the age of 16. Through those castings, I got to meet some cool people and even booked a project or two. Then there was a casting director who was hosting an audition for a Disney show called The Lodge, and after my audition, he referred me to an agent who I am now signed with today! Shortly after leaving school that summer, I was emailed and asked to audition for the part of Marcus in Free Rein!
What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch and have you seen any recently that you would recommend?
I’ve just finished watching Space Force – I’d recommend that one if you’re looking for something easy to watch. The films I love to this day include School of Rock with Jack Black, and The Mask with Jim Carrey. They’re my all-time favourite movies, I used to have them on replay as a kid and I think fundamentally I took a lot from watching those guys act on screen. They became my idols.
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