Most recently on screen, Wills Whittington played Christopher in the Dave comedy pilot Perfect, which was written by Laurence Clark and directed by Matt Holt. Wills stars in the pilot opposite George Robinson and Shreya M. Patel, who all play the three young disabled leads who meet on a work preparation scheme. In 2019, Wills could be seen in the BBC comedy series Don’t Forget the Driver as regular character Kieran, working alongside a cast including Toby Jones (who was also one of the writers) and Claire Rushbrook. After taking part in child modelling jobs, Wills signed to VisABLE People Agency, which led to him booking a named character on Casualty for his first acting role. Catching up with Wills, he spoke about working on the comedy pilot Perfect, playing one of the lead characters Christopher and filming comedy series Don’t Forget the Driver as Kieran.
Can you tell us about the TV show Perfect and about your character Christopher?
Perfect is a comedy pilot show written by the brilliant Laurence Clark. My character Christopher is gay, very confident, fun, and sure of himself, but Christopher is trapped because of his disabilities, but it doesn’t stop him wanting to have fun. He is non-verbal, and so uses a speech device to deliver his, at times, acidic one-liners.
Was there anything that originally drew you to Christopher and how was it reading the script for the first time?
I really loved Christopher’s self-assurance, despite his disabilities, it’s how I really try to be, although I wish I could come up with some of his witty responses in real life!
Reading the script for the first time made me laugh, and I was so glad that it was me that was going to deliver those funny lines. The script also made me realise what life is like for many disabled people just trying to get a job, a social life and a love life, I totally got it.
What was it like working alongside the rest of the cast, which includes George Robinson and Shreya M. Patel?
The cast on this TV production were awesome, it was truly so much fun to make. We were so lucky to have a fantastic director in Matt Holt. George and Shreya have a lot of experience, and so it was great learning from them all.
What was it like seeing the release of the pilot episode last year and who do you think Perfect will appeal to?
There was a lot of interest in the press about the release of Perfect, it met with some great reviews, which made seeing it for the first time even more exciting. I was so, so happy with how it turned out, and that I had been a part of it.
Of course, Perfect will appeal to a disabled audience as it mirrors in comedy form what goes on in real life. But, I know it appealed to everyone. My friends kept asking when the next episode will be, as it was just plain funny and entertaining.
You played Kieran in the BBC comedy Don’t Forget the Driver, what encouraged you to be part of the series, and what do you remember from your first day on the project?
Of course, the thought of working with Toby Jones and Claire Rushbrook was part of the appeal, plus the original script. But also, my character Kieran is very cheeky and confident and I knew it was going to be fun.
The first day of filming for me was on the side of a busy A road, it was the first day I had met Toby and most of the crew, despite the enormity of it all, everyone made me welcome.
How was it having Kieran as your series regular character debut, and how did you feel finding out you’d booked the role?
I was ecstatic that I landed the role as Kieran, I was so lucky to be put forward for it by my agent. To land a series with my disabilities proves that anyone can do it if you put your mind to it. I actually found out that I had secured the role whilst on a cruise, so that made the holiday even brighter.
Is there anything you enjoyed most about working alongside a cast including Toby Jones, and how was it on set of the series?
I just enjoyed being part of this amazing team. Toby Jones is one of the writers as well as the main character, and I was so proud that he believed in me enough to book me for the job, and he was someone I could learn a lot from.
On set, everyone made me welcome, even though they were up against a very busy filming schedule set in many different locations.
Do you have any stand-out highlights from playing Kieran in Don’t Forget the Driver?
My stand-out moment was when we were filming in a hydrotherapy pool, which on its own was loads of fun. As a last minute addition to the script, I had to turn around and tell Toby’s character to get lost in expletive form. It was a funny moment.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
I had done one or two minor child modelling jobs, and was always quite happy in front of a camera. Then my parents tried to enrol me into an agency, and I got turned down from one or two that we approached as they didn’t take disabled actors or models, I would have been around six at the time. Eventually, we came across VisABLE People agency, who took me on. They got me a job on Casualty as a named character when I was around 14 years old. It was a great introduction to acting, and I knew I felt at home.
I also wanted to study drama at high school, but I wasn’t permitted to join the drama class because of my disabilities. This just made me want to do it more.
Acting is an area of my life I feel confident, and with each job, my confidence grows.
Can you tell us your favourite aspect of working on screen and being part of comedy shows?
I think my favourite aspect is when there has been a lot of groundwork away from the set, and then finally we all get together and this magic happens. Making people laugh has to be one of the best aspects, I love that I can be a part of that.
Have you been given any advice over your career so far that has stuck with you?
To not be too disappointed if a job that I really want doesn’t happen. So many good opportunities have happened, that it’s not worth getting hung up about something that didn’t happen. I’ve been told that I’m a good advocate for disabled people. That has stuck with me.
What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch?
I loved Hancock with Will Smith when I was younger, and I also thought Breaking Bad was brilliant. I do like action films and I’ve always been a Mr. Bean fan, Rowan Atkinson’s comedy is outstanding. I’ve also loved watching After Life with Ricky Gervais, and Bodyguard with Keeley Hawes.
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