This year, Milo Twomey has appeared in two TV mini-series – Four Lives, as MIT Detective alongside Stephen Merchant, and he played the Defence Barrister in The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe. In Series 2 of A Discovery of Witches, Milo joined the cast as Pierre, with the series being based on the All Souls Trilogy books by Deborah Harkness. Having worked on screen for a number of years, Milo’s many credits include playing Ted in all three series of Free Rein on Netflix, Bobby in Harlan Coben’s Safe, and Dirk Bannon in comedy series My Spy Family. On stage, Milo most recently appeared in Winter Solstice at Orange Tree Theatre, and previously toured as Mr Banks in Mary Poppins and spent two years touring with Brief Encounter, which included a three-month run in San Francisco. In 2018, Milo joined the Royal Academy of Music, where he teaches Acting Through Song, and he has just finished filming upcoming feature film Damsel for Netflix. We recently caught up with Milo, who spoke about joining Series 2 of A Discovery of Witches, playing Ted in Free Rein and touring as Mr Banks in Mary Poppins.
How did you find the experience joining the cast of A Discovery of Witches in Series 2 and how much did you know about the series before booking your role?
It was a wonderful experience joining ADOW2, the existing cast were all very welcoming. I hadn’t seen Season 1 but I bought the trilogy of books and started reading them and luckily on my first day on set, the mighty Deborah Harkness was there and I managed to have a conversation with her and ask all the questions I had about the world and specifically my character Pierre, she was a total delight and a fascinating artist.
Can you tell us about your character Pierre and what was he like to play?
Pierre. When I asked Deborah about him she said the most important quality to consider was his unbending loyalty and love for his master Mathew. He’s a vampire which also gives the actor a framework to operate in. And when I read the book I realised that, to Deborah, vampires are very similar to cats in behaviour, there’s a treasure trove in the books on how to play vampires, their behaviour and peculiarities. Feline, watchful, secretive and sometimes playful. Oh, and I got to ride a horse again!
What was it like filming episodes of The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe and Four Lives, and how was it having both series released earlier this year?
Four Lives was shot pre-pandemic but delayed two years on release as there was an ongoing investigation by the IPCC into the police’s actions. It was a couple of days filming in a small room with Stephen Merchant, who is a lovely man. Often at work, you spend time waiting for shots to be set up, you chat to the other actor and then plunge into another world. With Stephen, it was surreal, we’d be nattering away and then he’d transform into this very spooky serial killer and I’d be trying to pin him down, it was intense and I loved it.
The Canoe was filmed last year and was my first job since COVID hit. I was just so grateful to be back at work, Monica Dolan was a joy to watch, stayed in character the whole time, her detail is astonishing. I’m a big fan of hers.
You played Ted in the Netflix series Free Rein across all three series, what was the show like to work on and how was it seeing the success to the show?
Free Rein will always occupy a special place in my heart, those three years were great, it was a tight family feel to that show and largely because of the producer Angelo Abela, who combines being a brilliant producer/director with being a warm, funny and empowering human being, a real mensch. We didn’t really know how popular it would be at first but after it won an Emmy it quickly became apparent we were in a hit. So many memories on that show but really the best thing that happened to me was meeting the actor who played my son, Freddy Carter. Fred is a huge talent, well on his way to stardom and most importantly one of the nicest and best people I’ve ever met, and one of my closest friends.
What are some of your favourite memories from filming Free Rein and playing Ted over the years?
Too many! Standing on a beach at Anglesea at dawn with Freddy watching the sunrise eating a bacon sandwich and being very glad to be alive.
Can you tell us about your time filming for Harlan Coben’s Safe as Bobby?
Firstly, Harlan is like a rock star, loved his energy. He’s very open to actors and I’d email him during the shoot with questions, his replies were so useful. I also told him my accountant was a huge fan of his books and a week later he sent my accountant a parcel of signed copies of his work. So generous and a very cool man. My other memory is my time with Mike Hall, who was so good to work with. My first day shooting happened to be the production’s first day shooting so we were all starting from scratch and Mike and I had a lovely chat, he’s a theatre actor so we bonded over that. Then the director Dan Nettheim came over to discuss the scene. He asked me how many episodes I’d read, I told him only up to Ep 4. Then he smiled and said ‘well, I guess I better tell you now, you did it’. So it was then I realised I was the villain. Which was news to me, but that’s screen work, often you’re not the first to know. I really loved making Safe.
Having played Dr. Michael Burnett and Sean Wright in Doctors, what is it like on set of the show and what were both characters like to play?
Doctors is fast, it’s an exercise in efficiency, you really have to know your lines and prep your stuff because they move, like all soaps, very fast. So keeping up is everything. I was lucky enough to work with the wonderful Liz Dermot Walsh who made it a pleasure. But anyone about to go to Birmingham, my advice is prepare well!
What do you remember most from playing Dirk Bannon in the TV series My Spy Family?
Joy. Bannon was James Bond played as a clown, lots of physical comedy and some brilliant scripts and gags, we did 56 eps of that show and it’s an undiscovered gem, I wish it had been more popular. Doing comedy is often about the chemistry of the cast and we really gelled well, I lived in Leeds for two years with Ramon Tickaram, a legend of a man and a good friend to this day, happy memories!
Most recently on stage, you played Konrad in Winter Solstice at Orange Tree Theatre, can you tell us about this?
That was a tricky show, very meta. Lovely cast, especially Nick Le Prevost, who was a blast, but the script was constantly changing in rehearsals and lines were often switched or changed or cut, which was very destabilising for the cast. So the previews felt shaky but the audience response was amazing, it sold out to rapt houses. It explored how easily fascism rises and coincided with Trump’s presidency and couldn’t have been more apt and relevant. We got a lot of press on that show.
Do you have any stand-out highlights from your time touring with Mary Poppins as Mr Banks?
Working with Cameron Mackintosh closely was one for the memoirs. He’s a truly amazing man, like Steve Jobs he’s built his industry around him, demanding yes, but his notes are some of the best I’ve ever had. I loved James Powell, and the entire cast. I shared a dressing room with Matt Lee, who taught me about dance, and I shared the stage with Zizi Strallen and Rebecca Lock, both immense talents, I made many friends on that show, MT pays well but you will never work harder for your money.
Over your acting career so far, you have worked on a number of other projects on stage and screen, including Agatha Raisin, Tyrant, Twelfth Night and Brief Encounter, can you tell us about some of them?
Twelfth Night was special, a very good production and I got a chance to play Andrew Aguecheek. I’d seen him often done as a foppish fool, slightly camp and light energy. I wanted to try something else; in Andrew’s mind he was a heroic alpha male leading man and so I tried to make him a thwarted Bond. It was riotous, and the play is incredible to do, dark, light, mad, cruel, funny and crazy.
Brief Encounter was a two-year tour which was tough, especially as my character’s journey was so sad. But playing San Francisco for three months is something I’ll never forget. And what that show did to an audience was magical. Kneehigh RIP.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
I was an only child of a single parent so my imagination was everything as a kid, I guess I had a healthy fantasy world, I loved comics and films and seeing shows. I was in the NYMT when I was 12 years old and never looked back.
What are some of your favourite films, TV and theatre shows to watch?
Oh God. Game of Thrones, Succession, Chernobyl, The Wire, The Thick of It. Too many to list… theatre? I took my youngest to see Barber Shop Chronicles and it was joyful. Anything by Joel Horwood.
We understand you joined the musical theatre department at the Royal Academy of Music in 2018, what are you enjoying most about working with them?
I teach Acting Through Song at RAM, which is a joy for me spiritually. There’s not much in life as rewarding as helping to develop talent.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
With my sons or on my sofa with my partner and our cat. With chocolate biscuits, many biscuits.
You’ve worked on a number of rehearsed readings, what are these like to do?
It all depends on the material, sometimes they’re unexpectedly inspiring, I did one at the Unicorn for Justin Audibert called Fly Girl which really came alive, largely because he’d put a good cast together and he was really open and encouraging to trying and failing. R&Ds should be brave processes where many mistakes are made with impunity.
What upcoming projects do you have that you can tell us about?
I’ve just finished filming Damsel for Netflix, which is a film starring Millie Bobby Brown, I won’t say too much as it’s full of surprises but it also stars Ray Winstone, Robin Wright and Angela Bassett. Hope it turns out well.