In the latest series of Waterloo Road, Osian Morgan joined the cast as new antagonist character Myles Massey, with the show currently airing weekly on BBC One and streaming on BBC iPlayer. Previously, Osian was in the Welsh soap Pobol y Cwm playing Aaron Monk, with the storyline of him caring for his mother with bipolar disorder being nominated for a Mind Award, and on stage, he played Gavroche in Les Misérables at the Wales Millennium Centre. Osian recently talked to us about joining the cast of Waterloo Road, playing the antagonist character Myles Massey and his time as Aaron Monk in Pobol y Cwm.
Can you tell us about your character Myles Massey in Waterloo Road and how did you feel finding out you’d booked the role?
When I got the call to say I was joining the cast of Waterloo Road for Series 12, it really was a roller coaster of emotions. The audition process was a movie in itself. Sometimes auditions go swimmingly and you come out of the room with a feel-good energy. Other times it just doesn’t work, which is how my first audition for the Myles Massey role felt! I had lost all sense of composure and I had forgotten more or less every word. I decided on the final take, I was going to keep the scene alive and improvise to the extreme. I felt disappointed with my performance and was now facing a four-hour car journey back to Cardiff. Despite this, casting decided they saw something and gave me a second chance. Ironically, I believe the chaoticness attached to my audition was what we associate with Myles. He’s someone who has an abundance of ability but at every given opportunity he takes the wrong path.
Joining such a remarkable and iconic show was a real honour, it’s an experience I will never forget.
How much did you know about Waterloo Road before auditioning and what do you enjoy most about working on the series?
Honestly, I had never watched the show and wasn’t aware of the love people had towards it. However, someone I know messaged me via Instagram after the cast announcement telling me how her family binged every series during lockdown. They were obsessed with it, loving how relatable it is and they couldn’t wait for the new series.
It was at that point I realised, woah I’m involved in something special. I’m a lucky boy to say the least.
I loved my time shooting on Waterloo Road. The atmosphere amongst everyone was definitely the stand out. I have never connected with so many types of people on a set, it was a wonderful culture to become a part of! It was like working with your close friends every day, surrounded by humble, generous, encouraging and humorous people, who all want the best for everyone involved. Those 5:30am wake ups never felt exasperating. Actually, maybe once or twice.
What is Myles like to play and how has it been seeing the viewers’ response to your character?
Playing the antagonist in any production has to be the highest glory in my eyes. Over the years we have witnessed actors revolutionise the arts with their performances, Heath Ledger’s take on The Joker being one of the most prominent.
Playing a villain gives a sense of freedom. In Myles’ case, being the provocative youngster that he is, he operates by observing others and acknowledging what their insecurities are.
The appearance alone was an indication to me that I had to make Myles the extreme version of an academy footballer to get the required results. You’ll always watch the guy with the shining silver hair and the glistening earrings, whatever the situation.
As for the reaction, it has been as I anticipated. Some love the fact that there is a character who does not care in the slightest about anyone and believes himself superior. Not only compared to the student but also the teachers. Others want him gone. Being so divisive was inevitable, to have that responsibility was a true joy and a pleasure to portray.
Have you had a favourite/most challenging scene to film so far?
My favourite scene was, for me, what ultimately epitomises the stereotype of an egotistical footballer. In the finale, we see Myles alone which is a rare sight and seeing how he reacts is gripping. Having been in a football academy myself, I can completely relate to Myles. You are admired by aspiring footballers everywhere because you are at the top of the game and therefore you feel a responsibility to fulfil a character. When we see Myles alone, we see his true vulnerability and he’s completely lost. It’s kind of heartbreaking because somewhere there is a capable kid but instead he’s trapped in this lie. With no words and only action, this scene perfectly captures Myles and with 13 bruises across my legs, it was all worth it.
Why would you recommend watching Waterloo Road and who do you think it will appeal to?
Waterloo Road appeals to absolutely everyone. We have all been to school and have all experienced the highs and lows that come with it. Waterloo Road accurately portrays life at a school for both students and teachers, it’s so relatable and therefore a great watch.
Additionally, it tackles everyday problems that we all have to cope with. It has some hilarious moments as well as some that will bring a tear to the eye.
Do you have any favourite memories from playing Aaron Monk in Pobol y Cwm?
Pobol y Cwm was simply incredible. As a proud Welsh speaker, to work on the pinnacle of Welsh television was immense. Especially working with such gifted actors. I arrived so inexperienced and left as a confident performer; that was down to the support that I received on a daily basis.
Similar to Myles, Aaron was a perplexed character, who had so many questions regarding his identity. My favourite would have to be highlighting the child carer storyline where my character Aaron was caring for his mother, who was suffering from bipolar disorder. This story challenged me as an actor but also on a personal level. We had scenes that were intense and heightened to the extreme along with emotional and traumatic scenes. I realised during my endeavour at Pobol y Cwm that this is not a game, it’s a serious business and I can’t afford to represent a community of people in a disingenuous way. When this portrayal was nominated for a Mind Award, I felt relieved but also overjoyed that we did the brave child carers out there justice. They’re the real winners, not me.
What do you remember most from playing Gavroche in Les Misérables at the Wales Millennium Centre and being part of a West End performance for their 35th Anniversary?
This was the greatest experience in my lifetime. As I stated previously, I was a proud athlete at 13/14 years of age and considered the arts a hobby. When I got the call to say I was playing Gavroche it was incredible and my dad celebrated by buying me a Sudoku book, reminding me studies come first. Cheers, Pa. Yet again, Gavroche is a maverick type character and allowed me all the freedom in the world. When I was on that stage with a cast of 250 Welsh speakers, singing my heart out, presently, there has been no better feeling.
How did you get into acting and was it something you always wanted to do?
I’m always fascinated by how people get involved in the arts, but there’s always a story or two that you think just can’t be true. This is one of those stories. Being the footballer I was, I regarded that as my occupation and was adamant that I had no other interest. However, being Welsh and, more importantly, a Welsh speaker, singing is a colossal part of our culture. That being said, I always enjoyed singing and would compete from time to time in the National Eisteddfod in Wales. When I arrived at high school, they were casting for a Gavroche and were looking at the newcomers from year 7 to represent the school. I took my footballer’s arrogance out on the character and danced around the room, ironically in my Cardiff City Academy Kit. Fortunately I was selected to play Gavroche in the school play.
Fast forward two years and a teacher who is aware of my reputation, and my obnoxiousness, announces in front of the class that they’re auditioning for Gavroche and that she thinks I could do fairly decently. The class clown in me belittled the idea and reminded everyone that I am an athlete not an actor. Despite the reaction, this teacher filled out the form and proceeded to call my mother who then persuaded me to audition. I remember the audition like it was yesterday, kids with agents and dressed up like the character. Some had been in well-recognised films and then there’s me, who thinks an agent is what I associate with superstars.
I think they warmed to the fact that I was a nobody and had little to no experience. I remember, they asked me “what are you doing here?” and I answered, “My mum made me come”.
Thankfully, I got the role and after the first night with the entire Morgan family there in attendance, some of whom I had never met, I turned to my mum and said, “I want to continue to act” and since then I’ve been forever grateful for my opportunities. The bottom line is, if it wasn’t for that teacher who put faith in a fool then I wouldn’t have been Myles Massey.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I have the greatest friends and family, I’m so appreciative to every one of them. We live a good life and we enjoy going away, being spontaneous and making lifelong memories. After all, you’re only young once.
What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch?
I’ve watched almost everything, I’m convinced. However, my favourite movies are The King’s Speech, The Godfather, Warrior and Inception. My favourite TV Shows are Prison Break, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and Peaky Blinders.
What are you hoping 2023 brings for you?
More incredible memories and some laughter on the way too. Bring on the rest of the year!
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