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Interview: We Sat Down With Poldark’s Tom York

June 16, 2017

Film + Entertainment | by Sophie Exton


We sat down with rising star and multi-talented actor, Tom York. He has already appeared in the series Olympus, The Ivory Year and popular series Death in Paradise, is now back on our screens playing Sam Carne in Poldark. 

Hi Tom, thanks for joining us. When did you first realise you wanted to become an actor?

I honestly don’t know when it happened. Like most kids growing up, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I gravitated towards where I had some talent and found that acting was my thing. Even though I used to act in a lot of school plays and dedicated a lot of my time at school to the drama department, I don’t know if I really thought I could do it as a professional career.

But my teachers believed in me, my parents supported me and I decided to go for it. I got into drama school, and the rest is another story.

When I was five years old my family moved to Holland from the UK, and when I was nine I joined a group called the AATG (American Amateur Theatre Group). Every autumn/winter we would rehearse a pantomime to put on in time for Christmas. Being backstage with other kids, adrenaline pumping and heart in my mouth ready to make my debut as a ‘Baton Carrier’ (don’t ask). It was exhilarating, it was terrifying but it was where I felt like I belonged. Not too much has changed since then.

Photography by Bartek Szmigulski

You’ve been lucky to play some great characters so far in your career. Can you tell us about your role as Hero in the series Olympus?

Hero starts off as a young guy who has been brought up in the forest all alone; kind, practical and naive to the world of men. Then tragedy strikes and he’s thrust into a dangerous new world where he has to find the strength of character to avenge his mother’s death, discover the truth behind the riddle of his life and fight the God’s of Olympus themselves for his salvation. He’s an epic mythological adventure with a huge heart.

What role have you found the most challenging to play? 

That’s a good question… I think any character can be as challenging as you want to make them. The deeper you delve into what makes them who they are, the more challenging the role becomes.

Sam is the most recent character that I’ve played and I think I’ve worked on him in a deeper way than I’ve approached other characters in the past, partly because he is so different to me, but also because I’m always learning and finding new ways of working.

You star in the hit series Poldark which has just returned to BBC. Were you excited when you got the role?

I wanted to play ‘Sam’ so much! I’d been in the running for a long time. I’d auditioned for both of the new brothers originally (Sam and Drake), then came back in a couple of times for Sam.

Sam is very complex and sees things so differently to me. I was desperate to get to work on him and to try and see the world from his point of view. When I got the call, I sank into my bed, let out a long sigh of relief, and then let the euphoria of the moment wash over me.

Photography by Bartek Szmigulski

Can you tell us more about your character Sam?

Sam is Demelza and Drake’s brother, but a lot has changed since they were last together. He grew up without a mother, lived under the rule of an abusive father and had no real prospects before him other than an achingly difficult mining career. For years and years he’s been trapped in a very dark and difficult situation.

But while Demelza manages to escape and find her salvation with Ross, Sam finds his through Methodism. With its strict rules, its focus on the inherent unworthiness of man, and it’s salvation through faith, Methodism, not only gives Sam the framework to survive, but also gives his life purpose for the first time.

“I will do as ee bid me… go forth into the world and save souls.” and that’s exactly what he dose. He means well with his desire to save others, but it is probably a bit pious and over zealous for the likes of Ross and Demelza.

What do fans have to look forward to this season?

Lots! I think everything has gone up a gear in series 3. The stakes have never been higher. There is war going on in France, there is an on-going famine and the seeds of revolt at home. The relationship between Ross and Demelza has never been so dynamic. I think the audience is in for quite a ride!

Photography by Bartek Szmigulski

If you could choose any character to play in the future (film or series) who would it be?

It’s a bit of a cliché but I’d love to play Hamlet on stage in London. It’s obviously a big challenge, but as young actor I can’t help but be drawn to the writing. It’s so full of youthful passion, rage, pain and frustration. I’d love to give him a go!

Do you have any favourite films that have been released in the last year?

I thought Moonlight was a really beautiful film. Arrival was right up my street! But my favourite film I saw last year was Victoria directed by Sebastian Schipper. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a thrilling experience watching a movie before.

Can you tell us some of your favourite hangouts in London?

Soho and Hackney are my two go-to spots whether it’s to chill out or do some work. One of my favourite places to eat is Princi on Wardour Street. It has a really nice vibe and great food!

Photography by Bartek Szmigulski

What’s next for you? 

To be honest I’ll be starting to get to grips with Sam again for series 4 soon! And then… Who knows.

The next episode of Poldark airs this Sunday on BBC One. Click here to catch with the first episodes up on BBC iPlayer.