With filming for the upcoming Channel 4 comedy series Big Mood having wrapped recently, Robert Gilbert has been announced for the cast, working alongside Nicola Coughlan and Lydia West, with the series created by Camilla Whitehill. Last year, Robert was seen as recurring character Tim in Jack Rooke’s comedy Big Boys (also on Channel 4), and he has appeared in this year’s release of Who Is Erin Carter? as Tobias, and a 2022 episode of Midsomer Murders as Tom Larkton. Robert joined the cast of the final series of Killing Eve last year as Yusuf – filming with Sandra Oh and being directed by Stella Corradi – and amongst his numerous screen credits, he played Angus in the feature film The Tragedy of Macbeth. Also a stage actor, Robert most recently played Sam in The Rolling Stone at Lincoln Center Theater in America, and his other stage shows have included the original London production of Network at the National Theatre and Shakespeare plays such as Richard II, Henry V and Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3. We found out from Robert about filming for the upcoming comedy series Big Mood, playing Tim in Channel 4 comedy Big Boys and joining the cast of Killing Eve’s final series.
In the Channel 4 sitcom Big Boys, you play the recurring role of Tim, how would you describe the character?
I’d say Tim is a man who ‘peaked’ earlier in his life and fell from that peak pretty hard. A few hard realisations have left him a little wiser but he maintains his bitterness and disdain for anybody not extraordinary.
What was it like reading Jack Rooke’s scripts for the first time and what is Tim like to play?
It’s common knowledge that Jack is a very funny and talented writer who can also break your heart. However, I, of course, only searched the PDFs for Tim so it was a short read. Honestly, you get a lot of scripts and you try not to get excited so I didn’t realise how special the show would be until I got on set and met Jim (Archer) and everybody else and felt the spirit of what they were making.
How is it filming alongside the rest of the cast and how was it seeing the fan response to Series 1?
The set was very lovely and affectionate, which I loved. It was also very funny. Lots of ideas being thrown around and a really flexible way of working. In my short stint, the cast and crew, to a person, were genuinely great. The response to the show was phenomenal. The response to Tim directly was mostly pretty horny. I could have made a fortune selling tightie-whites.
It has been announced that you will be in the cast of the upcoming series Big Mood, is there anything you can tell us about this?
I’m very excited about Big Mood. It may be my favourite job I’ve done to date. The character I’m playing is very different to anything I’ve done before but a lot closer to who I feel like I actually am. Nicola (Coughlan) is incredible. I had such a good time working opposite Lydia (West), who made me feel super comfortable and is a joy. Camilla (Whitehill) was unflinching on the right things and her voice is so strong in this script but I was totally able to make the part my own. Mainly though, the vibe of a show comes down to the director and Rebecca Asher is an absolute vet with the most supportive and kind way of working. That makes it sound wet and boring but we laughed so much on set. If we weren’t taking the piss out of each other or recreating the Vanderpump opening, we were hugging and laughing. LONG LIVE BIG MOOD.
How has filming been going and what are you looking forward to for the release?
I’m hyped to see all my friends get all the praise they deserve for the work they’ve done.
You can be seen in an episode of the new Netflix series Who Is Erin Carter? as Tobias, what was this like to work on?
This was a real holiday of a job. I got to go to Barcelona for six days to stay in a nice hotel and only work for four hours. Who wouldn’t like being on screen next to Denise Gough!?
Can you tell us about your character Tom Larkton in Midsomer Murders, and how was it guest-starring in an episode last year?
Tom is ambitious and is about to get his fingers burned. It was a real privilege to get to work on a show like that that’s a British institution.
You joined the cast of Killing Eve in Series 4 as Yusuf, how was it getting into character and filming alongside Sandra Oh?
It’s always complicated stepping into such an established show, especially for the final season when everybody is trying to guide the legacy of what the show will be. Watching Sandra work, of course, was a real pleasure. She is incredibly detailed and doesn’t do anything by halves. Obviously she is also a phenomenal actor but you know that going in. I learned a whole lot about what it meant to be in a big show that’s a UK/US co-pro and I was guided by Stella Corradi and Sandra, two unbelievably hardworking and generous people who were entirely committed to navigating a really complicated situation to make the show what they felt it deserved to be. I feel very lucky to have done that job.
What did you enjoy most about being part of Killing Eve and playing Yusuf in the final series?
Without a doubt meeting Stella. She is a close mate now and she has done so much for me as a professional but also to teach me about how to be in this industry and maintain your humanity. She is the Commissioner of Gas and Energy.
How was your time filming as Angus in the 2021 historical thriller film The Tragedy of Macbeth?
This was a wild ride. It really felt like the stereotypical fantasy of a Hollywood dream. Driving onto the Warner Brothers lot and then walking into a room full of so many titans of the industry. Joel (Coen) was so relaxed. You could feel his experience and skill while filming. I wouldn’t be surprised if he used every second he shot. It was so specific without being dictatorial. Frances (McDormand) was so caring and warm. It felt a lot more like doing a play, the company feel of it. Plus, I got to work with Alex Hassell, who I knew from the RSC, and James Udom, who I’d been in a play with in New York so it was a super warm experience.
How do you find the experience filming guest roles for shows such as The Windsors, Temple, Hold the Sunset and Uncle, and working on feature films such as Ready Player One and Gulliver’s Travels?
Guesting on things can be tough because you are dipping in and out of an already established network of people without the time to plant your flag in any way. I’m always trying to make sure I add as much value as I can and understand the cog that I am supposed to be in the machine of the show. I’ve learnt, over the years, to be seen and not heard as much as possible. Get in, smash the scene, get out before you get your hopes up that anybody is going to be impressed by you. That way anything better than that is a nice surprise. Obviously in this list, there are jobs where I’ve got to be on set with some absolute giants, so you keep your mouth shut and your eyes open and try to learn as much as you can and hope the next time they think of you they remember you brought it… even if they can’t remember your name.
Most recently on stage, you played Sam in The Rolling Stone at Lincoln Center Theater in America, how was this?
Sam is the only character I’ve ever played that is specified as bi-racial on the page. That felt really good. I didn’t realise how much I needed it until this part came along. Having that connection to the character, especially in a show where race and identity are core factors in the drama, can also take a bit of a toll. It’s difficult to divorce yourself and your feelings about yourself from the character. It sounds so woo-woo but I’ll always take a bit of Sam with me. I feel a great sadness for him and what he was trying to do. I also got to work opposite the force of nature that is Ato Blankson-Wood. An ethereally talented and dedicated actor and human.
What was it like playing Jack Snowden in the original London production of Network at the National Theatre?
Jack was not really a character before we started. What came from it was Ivo (Van Hove) allowing me to pitch an idea about him being a failed stand-up. I spoke directly to the audience as if I was the warm-up act for the news show in the play. It was a lot of pressure doing what felt like opening for Bryan Cranston but, looking back, I should have just enjoyed it more. It was a gas getting to take the piss out of the rich audience members that paid a load extra to sit in the on-stage seats and Ivo was always very encouraging of the way I wanted to take the character.
You’ve performed in a number of Shakespeare plays, including Richard II, Henry V and Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3, what are they like to be part of?
The difficult thing about doing theatre is how many times you have to do the show. I’m the seven billionth person to say this, but the great thing about doing Shakespeare is you do genuinely find new things in it all the time, which is a real pleasure. I also met my wife doing these shows so they will always have a special place in my heart.
What are some of your favourite films, TV and theatre shows to watch, and how do you like to spend your time away from acting?
Films – Casablanca, Blade Runner, Rushmore, Avengers: Endgame, Good Time, The Civil Dead, Prisoners, Training Day.
TV – The Wire, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad (like every good mansplainer), Feel Good, Attack on Titan, Mother/Father/Son.
Away from work, I do stand-up, improv and play video games.
Do you have any projects coming up that you can tell us about and what are you hoping the rest of the year brings you?
I can’t wait for the world to see Big Mood and I’m excited to write and direct my own stuff. I’m getting married in January. For now, I’m just enjoying looking forward to that.
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