On screen, Anthony Rickman plays the regular role of Olly Reyes (the love interest to main character Jamie Walsh, played by Oscar Kennedy) in BBC’s comedy horror series Wreck, which premiered on BBC Three and iPlayer in October 2022. Most recently on stage, Anthony performed as Trevor in the UK premiere of indie rock musical Lizard Boy at the Hope Mill Theatre and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, sharing the role with the show’s creator Justin Huertas, who performed with the US cast on alternate nights. Further credits for Anthony include playing Dick Whittington in Above the Stag’s 2020 pantomime of Dick Whittington (which had to close after a few performances due to lockdown), touring internationally with The Jungle Book as Mowgli and recording for the Double Life EP with Leo&Hyde. Answering our questions, Anthony speaks about his regular role of Olly Reyes in Wreck, being in the cast of the UK premiere of Lizard Boy and his time touring internationally with The Jungle Book.
You play the regular role of Olly Reyes in the BBC Three series Wreck, can you tell us about the show and your character?
Wreck is a loud, genre-bending, relentless thrill ride. It’s a slasher set on a cruise ship, and it’s got a lot of murder, but a lot of heart too. I play Olly, the love interest to the main character Jamie. Olly works in Quacky Burger, the onboard duck-themed (everything is duck-themed in the show, even the killer) fast food place. After a couple of years flipping burgers, he’s come to understand the ship quite well, with all its tribal hierarchies and seedy underbellies, and so when Jamie comes onboard to find his sister’s killer, Olly is compelled to help him untangle the mess that is life on the ship. Olly is cool, calm, collected (which I think I portrayed ok) and also very handsome (struggled more with this).
What is Olly like to play and how did you feel finding out you’d booked the role as your first regular character on screen?
Olly was fun. It’s quite the journey he goes on through the show, not all of it pleasant, and that range of experiences left me exhausted but so satisfied as an actor too. The biggest privilege in playing the part though was (apologies for the ensuing, very minor, spoiler) the Filipino Mafia storyline. Wreck was a real pageant for Filipino talent, and having worked previously with other Filipino creatives only one at a time, to be on set surrounded by them felt really special. Everyone was just so proud to be there all together, to show off what we could do. And the Mafia really did show off all our best bits; fiercely proud and loyal, loving and generous. When I found out I got the role I did a backflip in the street. Not really, but I would’ve if I could’ve.
How was it reading the script for the first time and seeing the viewers’ response to the series?
I was utterly enthralled by the script. It was as gripping as it was funny, and it made me so unbelievably excited to get filming. Fun fact, when we first started shooting, as a cast we only had the first three episodes. We’d only get the fourth and fifth episodes some weeks into production. Never mind about that sixth and final instalment, it wasn’t even worth thinking about. So we literally had no idea how it was going to end. Who would die? Who would survive? Maybe if you did a good enough job of this scene, they’d keep you alive long enough to do another? It all got very exciting. Ultimately it took the time that it took because it had to be good. And my god, it was good. The viewers’ response has been the best bit, to be honest; the right people loved it, and that’s the most important thing.
How did you find the experience on set of Wreck and what was it like working alongside the rest of the cast?
It’s such a cliché, but we really did become a family out there in Belfast. And I know everyone says that, but it was actually true for us. Any other actor who says that about their cast is lying. Apart from if they’re talking about Wreck, then it’s true.
Last year, you played Trevor in the indie rock musical Lizard Boy at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester, was there anything that drew you to the show and what did you enjoy most about playing Trevor?
Yeah, we really became a family out there in Manchester.
(Lizard Boy was actually an incredible show, Justin Huertas is a genius, the Hope Mill in Manchester was a dream to work at, the show was beautifully crafted and it was clear Justin has poured his heart and soul into it. It was a privilege to be able to play the role.)
((I also had about four weeks to learn to play the cello for it, which if you’ve ever tried to learn to play the cello in four weeks, you’ll know you can’t learn to play the cello in four weeks.))
What was the musical like to perform in and how was it sharing the role with Justin Huertas, who was part of the US cast performing on alternate nights?
To a lesser actor, sharing a role with the guy that wrote it can seem like a daunting task. I am one such lesser actor. Couple that with having to learn the cello and the guitar and the ukulele and the show starts to feel like a minefield. But Justin was kind, he was compassionate, and above all he was patient. We got there in the end, and looking back it does feel like one heck of an achievement.
How was it working on a UK premiere of a new musical and what was it like taking the show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last summer?
The Fringe is always a maelstrom of entertainment, whether you’re there for a boozy weekend or the sweaty long haul, but taking a show up with you is another level. You just feel part of it in a different way. Your show makes friends with the other show in the same venue. You see theirs and they all come to see yours. You collect an endless amount of flyers. You spend your entire savings on Tatti Dogs from Piemaker. You get so used to promoting your own show you don’t even realise come see Lizard Boy that you’re doing it.
In December 2020, you were performing as Dick Whittington in Above the Stag’s pantomime of Dick Whittington, what was it like returning to theatre during the pandemic and how was the run going before it had to close due to lockdown?
I have never felt more lucky to get an acting job than I did when I got what seemed like the only acting job going on the entire planet. Working at Above the Stag was like this little oasis, and you could feel that with the audiences too, we all just felt so happy to be able to come together and do all this again. We got through 14 socially distanced shows, and each one felt very special indeed.
You’ve also been part of the Aladdin pantomime at Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre as Aladdin and Sleeping Beauty at Theatre Royal Stratford East as Prince Forrest/Fairy Nightfall, do you have a favourite aspect of working on pantomimes and how different do you find these shows to your other work?
Panto is always fun. Maybe not when it’s a 10am show and you’ve got 500 kids screaming at you, but most other times it’s a blast. Yes, it’s much more hard going than other theatre jobs you might get throughout the year, but everyone you’ll work with is hilarious and incredibly hardworking. It’s tough not to be inspired by it. It’s also important to remember that for a lot of the audience this’ll be their only theatre trip this year, so you better give them one hell of a show (yes, even if it’s 10am and 500 kids are screaming at you).
We understand you played Mowgli in the S4K International Tour of The Jungle Book, what are some of your favourite memories from this production?
I know I said before that any actor that says that their cast became a family is lying, but this one’s different because S4K is actually run by a family. And when you join the cast you join that family. It’s got this real cottage industry feel, with all the dedication, heart, and pride that comes along with that. The productions they take out on tour to the Middle East really are brilliant, the writing is sharp and compelling, and the casts are always stellar. If you ever find yourself in an Emerati primary school in Abu Dhabi, do try and get a ticket.
Can you tell us about being involved with the Double Life EP last year?
This was a really fun one, and an entirely new experience for me. Leo&Hyde’s music is irresistible. They’re writing musical theatre like you’ve never heard before. Keep an eye out for them, because they’re going to do amazing things (as if they haven’t already).
Where does your love of acting and performing come from and how did you get into it?
My dad used to take me to see these kids’ shows in this little theatre by East Croydon station every Saturday morning growing up, so my interest was kindled pretty early. My dad himself always wanted to be an actor actually, but his dad wouldn’t let him go to drama school and instead made him work at his tailors in Mitcham. So, in a way, I’m doing it for my dad as much as I’m doing it for me.
What are some of your favourite films, TV and theatre shows to watch?
Best TV out there that I’ve seen recently is Severance on Apple TV. Mindbogglingly gripping. I’ve also really got into Columbo recently, I don’t know how I ever missed it growing up. Peter Falk was one of a kind.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I think any actor will tell you that they like to spend their time away from their career getting as quickly as possible back into their career. But I do value my downtime too, I like to read, and my girlfriend likes me to exercise.
What are you hoping 2023 brings for you?
Some more fun acting work (watch this space).
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