Having made his first appearance as Ollie Hide in Casualty in 2016, Harry Collett has been playing the son of Jason Durr’s character on and off over the years, most recently returning in February and has continued playing the character in a number of episodes since. Harry has been involved with many films including playing Tommy Stubbins in last year’s release of Dolittle, where he worked closely with Robert Downey Jr. and attended the press tours and film premieres. Amongst his other screen work, he has filmed for Dunkirk, Ethel & Ernest, The Hive and played Young Michael Bublé in the music video of Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Starting his acting career on stage, Harry was in the cast of Billy Elliot the Musical at Victoria Palace Theatre and he played Eric in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical. Recently talking with Harry, he answers our questions about playing Ollie Hide in Casualty, returning to the show earlier this year and filming as Tommy Stubbins in Dolittle.
You play Ollie Hide in Casualty, can you tell us about the character and how was it returning to the show earlier this year?
Ollie is a character I have been playing on and off for a long while. I’ve been so incredibly lucky to be given the chance to play this role. It’s been lovely as well because I have grown up with this character and grown up with Casualty which I think is nice for the audience to see. Ollie is an interesting character to play, he loves spending his time with his dad David and his stepmum Rosa, but at the same time Ollie wants to be independent in a way now as he is getting older and he is just acting like a typical teenager. Ollie seems to be very unlucky in the Casualty world as a lot of bad things seem to happen to him, however. I am lucky on the other hand as I get to play Ollie in these scenarios which is absolutely brilliant and a great opportunity to work with stunts and different stories. Overall, I love playing Ollie and I am very grateful that I am still playing him today.
How does it feel being asked to reprise the role?
Ollie is such a good character to play and when I am asked to reprise the role it is always such an honour. The storylines when Ollie comes back just get better and better and they are always so great to work on. Coming back is also a great feeling because you get to see familiar faces when you return who you probably haven’t seen in a long time.
What do you enjoy most about playing Ollie and how is it working with the rest of the cast which includes Jason Durr who plays your on-screen father?
Ollie is an intense character. He is a normal teenager but has a lot of struggles in his life. He has been pulled from his mother to his father all his life but is now starting to be brought into a happier life. I love doing the scenes where Ollie is angry or upset because Ollie seems to bottle feelings up over time and hide them so when he does get annoyed it normally comes out all at once. However, the scenes where you get to see Ollie and David really get along and have that father and son relationship is lovely to film.
The whole cast are just lovely people. They always make you feel welcome and part of the team. Jacey Salles who plays my stepmum Rosa is just amazing. She is such a talented and nice individual and we always have a laugh on and off set.
Jason Durr is a great guy, he always makes sure I am comfortable and he plays his character so well. He is such a talented actor and we have a great friendship too and I am very grateful for that.
What’s the series like to film and how is it on set of the show?
On set it is always a joy no matter if we are short for time on a scene or we are not on schedule, there’s always someone cracking jokes and lightening the mood on set. I love talking to the crew and extras as well as the actors in between takes on set as well, they seem to always have interesting stories to tell. Obviously now during COVID the set has changed a lot. You have to socially distance and wear your mask all the time except for takes but the mood hasn’t changed. The Casualty set is always a great place to be for me.
Can you tell us about playing Tommy Stubbins in Dolittle and how did you find the experience working on the film?
Being a part of Dolittle was one of the most surreal experiences I have had in my life so far. It just all felt like a dream. I auditioned for the role in London about four times and then I got a call asking if I would fly out to Atlanta for the screen test as Robert Downey Jr. was there at the time filming something for Marvel. I had never been to America before and I remember stepping out of the plane and going to the airport carpark and getting excited to my dad about the number plates as they were so different. Everything to me didn’t feel real at that time. We got put in this amazing 5-star hotel and me and my dad treated it like a holiday. The next day, I went through the scene with my dad for most of the day and then in the evening I was told that Robert Downey Jr. would like to meet me the day before the test so that I would get all of the nerves out of the way before we did the scene. I remember putting on the nicest shirt I had and I was very nervous. I met him and he is honestly the most down to earth guy you will ever meet. We sat there having a conversation for about ten minutes and it was great. The next day, I did the screen test and then left. I really really wanted the part, every day after school I would ring up my mum and dad asking if they have heard anything. Then, one day, I was in the car with my mum and I found out over Bluetooth in the car. I was speechless.
When it got to filming Dolittle it was as fun as you could imagine. I got to work with so many amazing people during filming and I made some really great friends for life. I was really lucky as I got to do most of my own stunts as well. I had to do some boxing training to stay in shape to do those stunts and that was just awesome. I remember going into the stunt studio and doing some amazing practise, I felt like I was a superhero sometimes.
The set design was also very cool, each different location was like a different world and it really helped for me to get into character being around those sets.
Tommy Stubbins is a more childish naive version of me so playing him wasn’t too difficult. Tommy Stubbins loves animals and mostly likes them because that’s all he has. He doesn’t get on with his family and he has no friends so he always would try and talk to animals. When Dolittle comes into his life, these two start to gain a friendship and Tommy slowly realises that. He also starts to slowly understand the animals around him which I think is very magical.
Everyone looked after me on set, going from my acting coach Sarah Jane Butler to my tutor Hugh Davies. Even Robert Downey Jr. as well would constantly check up if I was okay or needed anything. They all really helped me on set and I cannot thank them enough.
Working with visual effects was also a new and exciting experience for me. You really have to use your imagination when you are acting to essentially tennis balls on a stick. Sometimes you would also get men dressed up in green suits acting like animals which was great to interact with. My favourite was the gorilla as I used to call it The Kardashian as it had this massive stick out bum.
The transition you get to see Stubbins get through is great. He goes from being this shy kid to being super confident and brave.
I still can’t believe I played him in that movie. Surprisingly, it still hasn’t sunk it. However, I am extremely lucky and thankful I got to be a part of that project.
What was it like preparing for the role and what are some of your favourite memories from being on set?
In terms of preparing for the role, honestly, I didn’t really do much, the way I could really get into character was getting into costume and being on the sets. That is what really prepared me for the character.
There were so many great memories on set especially with Robert being on set with me, it would always be a good laugh. One time we were on the boat rig, it was a massive life-size ship that actually rocked like a real boat. We were doing this scene at the back of the boat in a room and it was rocking. There was a part in the scene where I would nearly fall off my chair and then I would stand up, however, I moved the chair a little further than I was supposed to and I fell to the ground. I got up and Robert and I couldn’t stop laughing, my stomach hurt from laughing so much.
My favourite location to film at was Blenheim Palace. It is a beautiful place and we had it to ourselves. I was lucky enough to get a tour of the place and I love history so that was a great place to film.
How was it attending the film premieres and seeing the film for the first time?
Going on the press tours and visiting the premieres was like living a different life. I was so lucky to be put up in some amazing hotels and I had an incredible time going to all the different countries. I will never forget that whole experience.
I saw the film for the first time in London with my family and my ninety-four-year-old great nan. Everyone loved it. We had our own little private screening room and I was so excited for it to finally come out and for everyone to see it. My nan said it was particularly good because she said she didn’t fall asleep and she normally falls asleep at films!
You’ve worked on films Dead in a Week: Or Your Money Back and Dunkirk, what were these like to do?
Dead in a Week was a fun one to do! It was just for a flashback scene but the amount of stuff that happened in that scene was unreal. I was eating an ice cream and the next thing I know a piano fell onto my on-screen parents. The director Tom Edmunds was also a great guy to work with and that was super fun. I got invited to the premiere of that too and the film was very good and I enjoyed it.
Dunkirk was an amazing experience too, there were loads of extras dressed as soldiers so that was fun to see. Harry Styles and Fionn Whitehead are both great guys, down to earth and chatty. Me and my dad are both fans of Christopher Nolan movies, so to be on the set of one was very surreal. Christopher has a great family too, I remember speaking to his wife and one of his sons.
You voiced Wally in Wallykazam!, how did you find your time working on the animation?
I started doing voice acting straight after I started doing theatre. I started doing different projects for a great guy called Mat at Sonica Studios. From then on I started to really enjoy doing voiceover work. I got an audition for a voice job which was for an American Nickelodeon show that was turning British. I got the part and I was over the moon. You sit in a little booth for about four hours and record line after line. I also did some singing in that too. That was super fun to work on and I had great feedback from people across the country who enjoyed the show.
Other voiceover work has included Young Raymond Briggs in Ethel & Ernest and Buzzbee in The Hive, can you say more about this?
Ethel & Ernest was a wonderful film about Raymond Briggs and his life starting from when he was just a little boy. I learnt so much about World War 2 during filming that animation and it really helped me take into perspective how scary it must’ve been for people during those times.
The Hive was also fun as I grew up watching The Hive to then being in it. It was cool as well because I got to see children who were fans of the show who would ask me to do the voice.
When you were starting your career, you appeared in theatre, what do you remember most from your first job in Billy Elliot the Musical, and how was it playing Eric in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical and Michael in Elf The Musical?
Theatre was where I started and it will always have a place in my heart. I remember being six years old starting in Billy and I had to swear. As a kid that was a free pass and I loved it! On Billy I also met the great director Nick Evans who I still keep in contact with now. He helped me so much through coaching on that show and I learnt so much from him.
The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical was also fun, I made a lot of friends on that show, It was hard work but it paid off at the end when you all get that massive round of applause.
You filmed as Young Michael Bublé for the music video Baby, It’s Cold Outside, what did you enjoy most about working on this?
Baby, It’s Cold Outside always comes back every year for Christmas. Even now! I used to do street dancing so I had to train to be a ballroom dancer which was different but it was very fun. That is also when I first met the wonderful Emily Carey. From then on we have seemed to either bump into each other or work with one another in the industry.
I went on The One Show for this as well which was a cool experience. I was super nervous and I can remember just shaking a lot.
I spoke to Michael Bublé on the phone and he said how he loved the music video and then we got tickets to go see him perform in the O2 and he saw me and Emily in the audience and put us on the big screens.
Where does your love of acting come from and what encouraged you to do it professionally?
When I was four I started street dancing and then from there an agent spotted me. I never really said “I really want to be an actor when I grow up” until I did my first few jobs. It’s an amazing business to be in and I hope I can carry on doing it for the rest of my life.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I love spending time with family and friends but I also love writing when I get the chance. I have written a couple of novellas and also some scripts which hopefully I could turn something into in the future.
Do you have any favourite TV shows or films to watch and have you seen any recently you would recommend?
I’m a big fan of Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarintino’s movies so I really recommend you watch all of those. I have also started watching Peaky Blinders recently which I am really into.
Follow Harry on: