In February this year, the screen adaptation of Gretchen McNeil’s Don’t Get Mad books premiered on BBC iPlayer as Get Even and Isaac Rouse could be seen playing the role of John throughout the series, with the show having since been released worldwide on Netflix. Prior to his role in Get Even, Isaac had appeared a couple of episodes of Genius, played Ben Bronson in Inferno: Skyscraper Escape and Benjamin and Barney Bean in Rocket’s Island, along with voicing the role of Mike in Nickelodeon animation Mike the Knight. Isaac started his acting career on stage, with his first professional role as Charlie Bucket in 2013 in the original West End cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Recently answering our questions, Isaac chats about playing John in Get Even, having the show released worldwide on Netflix and his time in Rocket’s Island as Benjamin and Barney Bean.
Can you tell us about playing John in Get Even and how would you describe the character?
John is a king of self-deprecation, sarcastic, honest and an all-round joy to play as a character. His relationship with Bree was perfect as it brought the best out of his character as well as providing me with the chance to play opposite Mia McKenna-Bruce in several scenes, an experience I will always be grateful for.
What was the series like to film and how was it reading the script for the first time?
My first time reading the script (or at least part of it) was for my initial audition for John. Obviously, at that stage, I had no idea what the story held for all these characters I was coming across, let alone that I was going to be able to be a part of this story. The process of reading the scripts and filming them afterwards was incredibly fulfilling, we were literally going out and performing this story just after we discovered what happened inside it!
What was it like being part of the cast and how long were you filming?
As one of the younger members of the cast, I was lucky to have experienced people around me who were a joy to play against. Thankfully, we got along as people off set as well as on it, and the environment became closer to working alongside family than working with colleagues. We filmed for the whole summer of 2019, split between three stints helmed by different directors. I worked most significantly with Sarah Walker (director of block one) and Andrew Gunn (director of block three). While their styles and artistic voice differed, they were both amazing to work with and I hope to do so again soon.
Can you say about the experience attending the show’s press launch?
It was certainly surreal, having put your heart and soul into a project you’re just desperately hoping for people to like it as much as you do. And seeing it up on screen for the first time was completely bizarre, but I was thrilled to have finally been able to see the final product of everyone’s hard work.
How has it been seeing the release of the series on BBC iPlayer and having it released on Netflix worldwide?
Thankfully, people seem to really be enjoying the show, and the reception and subsequent feedback has been really positive. I can’t quite wrap my head around how many people have seen it and might see Get Even in the future, but that’s just the reality of this industry. The sheer scale of consumption of media is huge, I’m just glad people are enjoying what we put so much work into.
What was it like filming for Genius as Emile in Series One and Claude Picasso in Series Two?
Taking part in Genius was a real learning curve for me, I felt like I graduated from Emile to Claude in one sense, as I was given more responsibility to give weight to a more relevant character to the primary narrative in Series Two. I learned so much from both stints on the show, but I have to say that observing Antonio Banderas and Clémence Poésy work was an incredibly influential experience for me as an actor and person in general.
You played Ben Bronson in Inferno: Skyscraper Escape, can you say more about this?
Inferno was the first feature film I ever took part in. It, again, was another massive learning curve for me. Filming in Bulgaria for an extensive period was amazing, and the people I worked alongside were brilliant professionals and so much fun to work with. I particularly learned a lot from Jamie Bamber, who played my father in that film.
What do you remember most from your time as Benjamin and Barney Bean in Rocket’s Island?
Rocket’s Island was childhood magic for me. It was the first filming work I’d ever done professionally, and I was embraced as part of the family of the cast and went on to have one of the most exciting times of my whole childhood. The whole shoot felt like a big adventure, something which I felt translated into the show as a whole.
How was it voicing the role of Jaydon in Monster Family?
Voicing Jaydon was a short and sweet experience. I came into the studio for a day of recording (most of which involved me singing like a bootleg Justin Bieber) and had an absolute ball.
You voiced the role of Mike in the Nickelodeon series Mike the Knight, what was this like to do?
Mike The Knight was the most I’ve ever worked on a single project with voice acting. Tonally, it’s obviously very different to most of the other things I’ve done, being aimed at a much younger audience, and it was very enjoyable to play that kind of a role over a large period of time. Seeing the animatics for the show come together as we recorded it was particularly enjoyable.
In 2013, you were in the original West End cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as Charlie Bucket, what was this role like to play?
Playing Charlie will forever be one of the most formative experiences of my entire life. Building a show from scratch and learning songs and dance numbers as we went was an incredible creative process to be a part of and seeing Sam Mendes work as a director is also something I’ll always remember. Pretty awesome guy.
How was it having this as your first professional acting role and do you remember how you felt opening the show?
I will never forget the feeling of opening the show for the first time. While I was obviously aware of the pressure of leading this show, I think I was too young to fully grasp the pressure of what that meant. I had an unforgettable time during the whole process, from rehearsals, techs, previews to the show run itself, and I feel extremely fortunate for that to have been my first major experience as an actor and of the industry itself.
Did you always want an acting career and how did you start?
When I was much younger, I was completely obsessed with being a tennis player, following in the footsteps of my childhood idol Roger Federer. But I’d also always loved performing from a very young age, and as I began to see kids performing on stage in things like the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical and various TV shows, I thought it might be possible for me to do it as well. Luckily, I’ve managed that so far.
What TV shows and films do you enjoy watching and what do you enjoy doing away from acting?
I don’t think I could pin down a particular film genre or show as my number one, but I would say that Catch Me if You Can, The Dark Knight and The Incredibles are a few film favourites, and my favourite TV show at the moment is Sherlock (I just completely rewatched the entire thing). Away from acting, I love music; I play the piano, so I try to write some myself as a bit of a creative outlet. I also love playing sport, football and tennis in particular.
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