Most recently, Martin Bobb-Semple could be seen playing Evan Neiman in the Peacock Original show One of Us is Lying, which began airing in October in the US, with the series being an adaptation of the New York Times bestselling book by Karen M. McManus. Previously, Martin played Thomas James Ross in Pandora, joined the cast of Free Rein in 2018 as Alex, and he had his first regular TV role as Zane in Dixi. Martin started his acting career on stage, making his debut in the West End production of Oliver! The Musical at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Speaking with us, Martin tells us about filming as Evan Neiman in One of Us is Lying, playing Thomas James Ross in Pandora and being in the cast of Free Rein.
You were most recently seen as Evan Neiman on Peacock TV in the new series One of Us is Lying, can you tell us about the screen adaptation of Karen M. McManus’ book?
What I can tell you is that the screen adaptation is slightly different from the book but it still has all the wonderful moments and exciting storyline pieces that I think people are waiting for. Slight change is always good when making a screen adaption so that viewers stay interested and on the edge of their seat, and I’m very confident that this is exactly what we’ve done, especially with the love triangles and the highly anticipated ending, just to name a few.
How much did you know about the storyline before booking your role?
I hadn’t actually heard about the book beforehand. While I was in LA, a friend of mine had mentioned to me that they’re casting for the show. A few days later, I coincidentally got an audition so I researched the book and instantly loved the concept. I discovered how popular it is and read about the characters, the storyline and how everything fits in to be such a compelling murder mystery.
What was it like filming as Evan and being on set of the show?
Filming this show has been one of the best experiences for me. The show itself is such a well-developed piece of entertainment and I’ve been able to travel to some beautiful places to work on it as we shot the pilot in Vancouver, Canada and the rest of the season in and around Auckland, New Zealand and Toronto. Evan, as a character, was a lot of fun to play. He has a really interesting point of view on the show in terms of his surrounding characters and how he navigates through the events that occur which was really exciting to explore. I learnt new things too which I love when working on a project, I’m always learning and discovering new locations and film sets and how everyone works differently to ultimately create something amazing.
How has it been seeing the response to the show and what are you looking forward to most for it hopefully having a UK release in the future?
One of Us is Lying is a New York Times bestseller so the fan base was already huge. Before we even started shooting there was already anticipation over the show’s development. Now two years later as we had a pandemic in the middle, the show is finally here and the response has been incredible. I’ve seen some of the social media attention and I’m just really happy that people are enjoying what they’re watching. I can’t wait for it to come to the UK, I think audiences will really enjoy the series, especially if they’ve already read the book.
Can you tell us about your character Thomas James Ross in Pandora?
Thomas James Ross is a young fighter pilot who is the son of an empath. He is able to feel what others are feeling, and also hear what they’re thinking. Thomas’ powers start to develop and he has to find a way to control what feels like losing his mind. Billy Dwayne Ross, played by Richard Blackwood, is Thomas’ father who comes to town looking for his help in a heist to save his life.
How was it being in the cast and filming on location?
Pandora was a really cool show to shoot. The interior sets at the studio on the sound stages was incredible to work on. We filmed in and around Sofia, Bulgaria which is such a beautiful city and country. The greenery and nature exploration was super fun and the city was spectacular.
In 2018, you began your role of Alex in Free Rein, what was the show like to be part of?
Free Rein was actually a great challenge. The whole cast had to undergo intense horse riding lessons as our characters are expert young horse riders. This was extremely new for me; coming from the city, I had never even been near a horse before but I quickly started to really enjoy the process and bring those skills into my performance on screen. Playing Alex was one of my first long-term roles on a show so I discovered so much about what its like to film a series for a few months on location. Free Rein also built up such an amazing fan base. Viewers from all over the world show so much support.
Do you have any favourite memories from playing Alex and being on set?
I have so many amazing memories from that shoot. We shot in some of the most beautiful locations all over Wales from beaches to castles in so many different weather conditions. Learning and being able to confidently ride a horse while filming is a skill that I’ll carry with me. I even rode a horse in Pandora when I told the writers that I knew how to horse ride, they wrote it into Episode 5 of the first season.
You filmed an episode of So Awkward as Trent Gatsby, how was this?
When I think back to So Awkward, it was one of my first ever on screen jobs, I think I was about seventeen and when I got the phone call saying that I booked the role, I was working at a gym at the time, I was so excited. I got to travel to Manchester which I’d never been to before and stay away from home for the first time. This whole experience was new to me but I was so excited to get into this character. Trent Gatsby was a fun character to play with, his cool energy and popularity made a quick appearance on the show to help solve a mystery.
At the start of your screen career, you booked your first regular character of Zane in Dixi, can you tell us more about this?
Now, Dixi… is a throwback! That was my very first television role and I think I was fifteen, just about to turn sixteen. I remember auditioning at the casting office in Hackney, near Liverpool Street Station and being so nervous. My mum came with me and I remember sitting in the waiting room before I had to go in and seeing the other actors that were also going in. That just added to my nervousness! The audition went well though and I got a callback the following week. When I booked the role, it felt so surreal to actually be filming my first screen project. I was so ready to start doing what I truly love, acting. The cast and crew on that show made that whole experience unforgettable.
Do you have any favourite TV shows or films to watch?
I don’t really have one favourite of anything. One of my favourite TV shows is Breaking Bad or Ozark. I love films like Seven Pounds or The Revenant but also Home Alone 2 is my favourite film to watch around Christmas time. I think it depends purely because I have so many different favourites for many different reasons.
We understand you began your acting career on stage when you were younger, what do you remember most from your time in theatre?
Oliver! The Musical was my first ever professional acting job. I was nine almost ten years old when I got the role and had no idea for the next three years I’d be performing at one of the most iconic theatres in the West End, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in Covent Garden. We had weeks of rehearsals in and around London and I learnt so much to prepare me, not only for this huge show, but for the rest of my career. Opening night, performing in front of over two thousand people will be an experience that I’ll never forget. The thrill that you get as a performer on stage is exhilarating. I definitely think I’ll return to stage at some point, if a cool play comes my way.
Where does your love of acting come from and is it something you always wanted to do?
As a kid, around seven or eight years old, I watched so much TV and film. Disney Channel and Nickelodeon was my life and I always remember thinking from a young age that I could do what they do on TV. I’d copy what the actors did and would act it all out in my living room while I watched a show. Once my parents caught onto my new obsession, they decided to send me to a children’s acting school on the weekends. This really started my journey and I began to learn what it is to perform. We’d do a play at the end of term for family and friends and this was really where I started to feel comfortable performing in front of crowds. A few years later I was in the theatre and then a few years after that I started my on screen career. I always wanted to do screen acting more which is why I’m so focused on that right now. I still have the same love and astonishment of the film industry that I had when I was growing up and that fuels me to reach new goals every day.
What are you hoping the next year brings for your career?
I have a lot of goals to achieve but I always say things will happen in their own time. I’ve come to learn that over the years and it really helps to stay present and take each step at a time. I’d love my next project to be a cool thriller or a feature film or both. I really love dramas and thrillers with some action in there too. This next year I’m hoping to discover new things and take my career to the next level which is what I’m most focused on right now. It’s going to be an amazing journey.
Follow Martin on: