1883 Magazine

Tom York, best known for his role in OLYMPUS, joins the cast for BBC One’s period drama Poldark this summer. Playing the role of Sam, he is on a Methodist mission to improve people’s lives and help them escape their poor lives - but has to face many struggles throughout his journey.

We had a chat with the talented actor and talked through his role, his favourite films and his upcoming projects. The third season of Poldark now on each Sunday 9pm BBC One.

Which film title would you use if you had to describe yourself?

Oh wow, that is a tricky question. I’d say Falling Forward!

Growing up, did you always want to become an actor? When did you decide that this career path was the right one for you?

To be honest, growing up I really didn’t know what I wanted to do for a long time. I knew that I loved being involved in acting and when I was younger, like nine years old, I joined a theatre community and we worked on a pantomime show for Christmas and I remember going on stage for the first time, and being backstage with the other kids. I remember it being the most exciting, most exhilarating feeling. So I just kept chasing that and somehow managed to find myself here.

How did your first TV acting role come about?

I was at Drama school in London and we got a career event by someone called Laura in the third year. She had a business working with agents and casting directors outside of school. We got a casting breakdown for a part and I managed to get a meeting with the casting director. We really got on and she found me a part in a show called Tyron which is a show set in the Middle East. I got a regular role there while I was still at Drama school which was a brilliant learning experience. We filmed in Tel Aviv which was another amazing experience.

So you joined the cast for Poldark, can you tell me more about the show and your character?

So Poldark is period drama of the BBC set in Cornwall in about 1794, and it basically takes a look at the political and living situation back then. It was a really difficult time, there was no real prosperity and it looks at the very rich and the very poor. The whole show is based around the character Ross from the rich world. He owns a mine and tries his best to take care of people even though there are many forces against him. When I joined the show, I played a character called Sam who’s the brother of Ross’s wife Demelza. Basically, Demelza comes from nothing. In the first series, she manages to escape her abusive father and the dark life. She finds salvation in Ross. But for me – her brother – and her other brother – were not so lucky and get stuck in this very difficult situation. But at some point our family finds methodism, which is a very strict form of Christianity. It completely saved us and the family. The ideology of methodism is that the man is unworthy of anything. We are all sinners, we do not deserve anything. If we get any nice moment in our lives, that is from God’s infinite mercy. And it makes sense to these guys living in that difficult time. It gives Sam purpose for the first time. So when we meet him in the series, he is on a mission from God to save the souls of Cornwall. But not everyone wants to be saved so it can become tricky.

How did you prepare for the role?

I did a lot of research. It’s a really interesting case, Sam has a lot going on and is obviously very different from me. I did a lot of reading – John Wesley is the father of Methodism and he was an amazing writer. He wrote very dogmatic, passionate and powerful speeches. So I was trying to get my head around how hard life was back then.

What role can you identify yourself the most so far in your career?

To be honest, I’ve played characters very different to me and I have been very lucky so far. I hope to continue doing that! I love Sam, he’s very well intentioend. I think he comes from a place of love

In Olympus you have acted alongside Sonya Cassidy, how was it working with her?

Oh, it was a dream! She’s fantastic and so talented. Getting to work with her and Nick, the creator and director of the show – a team like that was wonderful, it was a great learning experience.

What’s your all-time favourite film and why?

Okay, it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure. I shouldn’t say this… but it’s Gladiator! It’s still so epic and moves me every time. Another film I watched recently, it’s not an all-time favourite, is Victoria and it was wow! It is great, so thrilling!

If you could choose one actor to work with, who would it be?

That’s another predictable cliché but I’d love to work with with Daniel Day Lewis, that would be a dream of every young actor!

Do you have any other projects going on this year?

We are already working on series four, and will start reading through the script soon!


Catch Tom in Poldark 9pm each Sunday on BBC One.

Interview Antonia Künzel

Photography Stephanie YT

Grooming Chantelle Phillips

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