For his first series lead character, Oliver Cunliffe plays Louis in the sci-fi series Silverpoint, which aired on CBBC in the UK earlier this year, and has since been picked up by Hulu for a worldwide release, and Oliver is currently on location filming Series 2. Later this year, Oliver will be seen in an episode of Doctors as a guest-lead having filmed for ten days in Birmingham for the project, and he will be playing Fred Leer in the upcoming release of comedy series Safe Space alongside Greg Davies as Michael Leer. Previous work for Oliver has included playing Young Jay in feature film The Dare, and Young Tom Ray in Starfish, for which he met the real Tom Ray. We talked to Oliver about playing lead character Louis in Silverpoint, returning to set to film Series 2 and filming for an episode of Doctors.
Can you tell us about your character Louis in Silverpoint and what is he like to play?
Louis is a great character to play, he is one of those people who has a very curious mind, loves all things sci-fi, and if there’s a mystery to find, he dives straight in, not really giving too much thought to any possible consequences.
He’s kind, and cares about his friends, even if at times they think he’s a bit obsessive and controlling.
Was there anything that originally drew you to the show and how is it on set of the series?
I loved the script immediately, I had been given several scenes to audition with and found myself desperately wanting to know more, it’s a really exciting, compelling story that had me hooked. I was always that one cast member on set pestering the script writer Lee Walters for what he had planned for Louis.
Being on set was amazing, I loved every second and had a huge amount of fun.
The cast formed a really close bond, which you tend to anyway, but because we filmed during COVID restrictions, we weren’t allowed to socialise or be with anyone outside our cast bubble, so we became a little family for the five-and-a-half months of filming. We lived together, ate together, socialised together and, of course, worked together.
Why would you recommend watching the sci-fi drama and what has it been like seeing the response to the show?
The show is brilliantly written and brilliantly directed; it has something for everyone. It has several twists and turns that take you by surprise, I also think most kids would be able to identify with one of the characters in the show, and the production is pretty special, the effects really are outstanding!
We’ve had such a positive response to the show, which has been incredible, everyone at team Silverpoint worked so hard during really difficult times to make a show that we could be proud to be a part of and I definitely am!!
What do you enjoy most about working with the rest of the cast and being part of Silverpoint?
Doing what we do is actually pretty unusual, there really aren’t too many teenagers working on a TV show, so what ends up happening is we form a bond like no other. The best thing is the lifelong friendships I know I will have, with the cast, directors and some of the crew.
When we finished filming last September and we all went home and back to school and college, it felt so odd to be away from everyone, and took quite some time to adjust back to normal life.
Do you have any stand-out highlights from filming Series 1 and did you have a most challenging scene or episode to work on?
My stand-out moments were probably doing all the stunts, we had quite a few in Series 1 and I loved doing them.
The most difficult scenes were probably those that involved reacting to the special effects, the dinosaur, for example, was actually a long pole with a tennis ball on for an eyeline. All great fun but not necessarily easy to do.
It’s been announced that you are currently filming Series 2, how has it been returning to set and reuniting with your fellow cast members?
It’s been amazing to see everyone again, although of course we had seen each other several times since filming finished, when promoting the series etc but being back on set together has been brilliant. Of course, this series you will get to meet some new characters and cast members, and we have loved welcoming them to Silverpoint and getting to know them has been lots of fun too.
How are you finding the experience having Louis as your first series lead character?
I was quite nervous to begin with, I was anxious to get it right and not disappoint those who had put their faith in me, but very quickly I felt at home on set. The directors and production crew were so nice and encouraging.
It’s been a huge amount of fun, hard work at times and long days and I had lots of script and lines to learn, but I can honestly say I loved every second.
We understand you have filmed for an episode of Doctors as a guest lead, what was this like and is there anything you can say about your character?
Yes, I recently spent a lovely ten days in Birmingham on the set of the daytime drama Doctors, the team there work so hard, and I was amazed at how quickly and efficiently they work.
I am afraid I can’t say too much about my character and storyline at the moment, I guess you’ll have to watch it when it airs in October!!
What are you looking forward to most for the release of Safe Space, in which you play Fred Leer?
Safe Space was a lot of fun to film, the script was very funny and as you’d imagine filming with Greg Davies was a real privilege. He is a very kind, laid-back guy, who had a lot of fun with us on set. Lots of laughing and pulling funny faces at me whilst I was trying to deliver my lines!
What are some of your favourite memories from playing Young Jay in feature film The Dare?
This film was a great experience, we filmed it out in Bulgaria at the very impressive Nu Boyana Film Studios. It was amazing to see some truly incredible sets from entire New York streets with subways to old London streets, Roman villages, to mention just a few.
My character Jay was a bit mean and that’s always fun to play. Several of our scenes were filmed at night, in the depths of a dark wood, around a campfire, which I really enjoyed.
The director, Giles Alderson, was great to work with, he himself started out as an actor and I found this helpful, as a younger actor.
One of your first screen roles was playing Young Tom Ray in Starfish, what do you remember most from playing him?
I was ten years old when I played Young Tom in Starfish, looking back, it was quite a complex role for a young actor. But I just saw it as a chance to do what I loved.
But the thing that stood out to me, and probably will stay with me, was getting to meet the real Tom Ray. He came to the set often to watch and advise, it was quite intimidating to begin with, but I found his stories and his ideas fascinating, a really ordinary man who had been through something extraordinary and lived to tell the tale. As I’ve got older, I’ve come to appreciate the sheer determination and resilience of his and his family’s story.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
I’m not sure really, I don’t come from a performing family. I started out attending a local weekend theatre school called Faces Arts in my hometown of Leicester, my school teacher thought I’d enjoy it and suggested it to my mum (I was always the class clown, loved to be centre of attention and never sat still). I have ADHD so was always full of energy and enthusiasm and she thought this would be a good place for me to be myself, and somewhere where I didn’t have to sit still and be quiet.
I absolutely loved my time there and my teacher was right, I was allowed to be myself and I was encouraged and supported at every turn, my teachers there saw something in me and suggested I attend an audition for the film Starfish, and the rest, as they say, is history…..
Do you have any favourite films and TV shows to watch?
I’m a real Marvel fan, I absolutely love anything Marvel, both my dad and older brother Max are fans too so whenever there is a new film out, we are usually first in the queue!
How do you like to spend your time away from acting?
To be honest, most of my time is spent around acting in some way, whether that’s attending classes or workshops with my brilliant acting coach Bekki Maddox, doing a bit of am-dram with ESNA – a local group to me, or learning lines and preparing for castings and auditions, but I guess when not doing all of that, I will spend some time on my PlayStation, usually playing FIFA or just hanging out with friends.
What are you hoping 2022 brings for your career and do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I am out here in Northern Ireland filming Series 2 of Silverpoint till the end of November, and I suspect I will spend the remainder of the year and a couple of months into 2023 doing a bit of ADR for the series.
Of course, my episode of Doctors is expected to air in October, so that’s exciting.
I imagine that as 2023 progresses, there will be some opportunities to promote Series 2 of Silverpoint, which is always good fun. But I’m really hopeful that there are some exciting opportunities arise as we wrap up 2022.
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