You’re starring in Victoria! Today’s audiences have such a thirst for Royal Dramas – why do you think that is?
I think there are many elements to it. We get to see the humanity behind the heads of state. I think people find it interesting to see how those born into such privilege and prestige often share the same kind of anxieties and insecurities as the rest of us. I think nostalgia does well on TV and people find it genuinely informative to discover details about bits of history they half remember. Also, a royal period drama gives set designers and costume departments the licence to indulge in sumptuous settings and gorgeous costumes – they look and feel amazing.
The character you’re playing is real person in history, how do you prepare for a role like that?
It’s a help and a hindrance. There is information out there about who Mr Drummond was and the notable moments in his life. It’s nice to read up on that to get a rough feel for the setting and the period. But it doesn’t tell you much about his character, what he was actually like as a person. For that I look to the script and my imagination. It allows me to create a unique and real character. I also confess to watching a bit of Prime Minister’s Question Time to see what front-bench politicians could get away with.
The Victorian era is known for its homophobia and conservative views – how do you approach a subject like that, as an actor?
Before I started on Victoria I also thought the Victorians were prudish and puritan when it came to sexual proclivities. But at no point does any character make a directly homophobic remark. And actually when I was researching the role I was quite surprised to see how fluid and lax high society was around these topics. ‘Homosexuality’ didn’t exist as a term until 1869; ‘gay’ and ‘queer’ had different meanings. Sodomy was a capital punishment but law enforcement tended to look the other way, especially if the perpetrators were upper class (as Mr Drummond is). So it was a murky situation. The longing feelings Mr Drummond has for Lord Alfred are certainly dangerous for his political career. He is an aspirational young Conservative politician. There is definitely a sense of peril for sure were the secret to come out. But it’s perhaps allowed to be a little more explorative than we might imagine. The 1840s was an age of fluid sexual possibilities.
Sexuality is being displayed more and more in mainstream media, how does a gay character in Victoria fit into this, what do you think this achieves?
I think sexuality has always been displayed in the media, but the diversity of sexualities on our screens has certainly changed. A gay storyline in the 9pm Sunday night slot is progressive and necessary – and realistic! If that helps towards educating people that can only be a good thing.
You have also recently finished filming another period piece- Music, War And Love. How did your acting experience differ between the two?
My character was very different. In Music, War and Love play a young Polish opera singer who falls in love with a Jewish violinist in the run up to The Second World War. The film then follows my character’s attempts to find her and save her amidst a war-torn Europe. Music, War and Love is probably a harder and more brutal story. On top of that, it’s a feature film made over 6 months in Poland, so the day-to-day experience was different. We had the time to work in great detail. There was often less time while filming Victoria so we had to get it right first time.
Having appeared in CBS drama, Ransom – is the production style/ process different in America?
Oh yes, things over there are just a lot bigger – across the board. I’ve seen it in the American film jobs I’ve been involved in too. There are just a lot more people involved at each level of production.
Have you ever taken to the stage? If not, would you?
I have and I love it. I was in plays throughout my time at school and university and would relish the opportunity to return at some point. My stage-acting highlight so far was taking a production of Romeo and Juliet on tour to Tokyo with Thelma Holt. That was a great learning experience and a lot of fun.
What are your passions outside of acting?
I used to love playing cricket, but unfortunately I played too much and developed a stress fracture in my back. That’s stopped me from being able to play seriously, so these days I have to make do with watching it on the TV and listening on the radio.
What’s next for Leo Suter?
I am looking forward to the release of Music, War and Love, and also a few of American film projects which I’m quite excited about… let’s wait and see
Interview by Ian Casey
Photography by Andrea Vecchiato
Grooming by Shadiya @ The Canary Salon
Styling by Theo MIkkel
Clothes: Denim Jacket by Mads Nørgaard , black Tshirt by Mads Nørgaard – Leather jacket by Raddar7 , jeans by Diesel Gold, shoes by Clarks – Black Leather jacket by Mads Nørgaard – T-shirt by All Saints,