Guy Remmers has come a long way from Bristol. In recent years, Remmers has moved to East London and secured a lead role as Duke Theo in the Apple TV+ period drama The Buccaneers.

“I was excited and nervous, but I had the sense of ‘this is where I'm meant to be,’” Remmers says about landing The Buccaneers. “I dreamt of these things.”

He’ll have to keep dreaming: the show has been renewed for a second season.

We caught up with Remmers to discuss growing up in Bristol Bohemia, the similarities between himself and Duke Theo, the joy of swimming and much more.

What was it like growing up in Bristol?

I loved it. Bristol is a very free, creative, Bohemian place and I definitely think the soul of Bristol helped me feel confident, feel like acting or storytelling was a career that could come true, really. The Bristol Old Vic and the Bristol Old Vic Young Company played a huge part in teaching me the craft; not even teaching, really, just learning how to be on stage or in a workshop. But I love Bristol. My parents still live there. I go back there and I'll be back there at Christmas. I have lots of friends in Bristol. So yeah, Bristol's amazing.

What was it like coming up through Bristol Old Vic?

It was amazing. It was very kind of a devised theatre, ensemble theatre, improvised theatre, physical theatre. It was very playful, it was very free. Especially the Bristol Ovic Young Company. I was a part of a few plays that were on at the Bristol Ovic, which used puppetry or used kind of physical theatre or site-specific theatre. It was very creative.

So my first introduction to acting was through a kind of devising. There is almost no such thing as being too big in that world. I loved it and I miss it. I miss devising and I miss improvising.

Even when you're doing a screen job on set, sometimes depending on the director, there can be scope for improvising. But there's nothing quite like improvising at a workshop or in a play at the old Vic because anything goes. You can be as wacky or as big as possible. So I do miss that and I think it definitely shaped me into the person I am today.

Guy Remmers

Would you like to do more improvisational roles in the future?

I haven't really thought about it until we just started speaking about it. I'm not seeking that specifically. If there is a production and a director and a character in a scene where there is scope to find things that maybe aren't on the page in black and white, then that sounds really exciting to me.

I think my time growing up in Bristol and being at the Bristol Old Vic has given me those tools, which is very exciting to know. I know I've worked with actors for whom the idea of improvising is really scary and they like to know exactly what they're doing. And those actors are incredible. I think they're amazing as well because they can make something that's on the page feel so fresh and new. I think that's a real skill in itself.

What do you look for in a role?

I'm very, very dyslexic. I can count on one hand how many books I've read in my life. If I can read a script from start to finish without any breaks, then regardless of whether it's a sci-fi or a period drama or a voiceover in an animation, if I'm engaged and I can read it all the way through then that's a character or a world that I want to be a part of. If I had to be specific, I mean, I've always loved Tarantino's characters. I think they're so colourful and alive; Jackie Brown and True Romance are two of my favourite films. Those characters that are so vibrant, they kind of jump off the screen.

One of my favourite characters of all time is Malcolm Tucker from In the Loop and The Thick of It, played by Peter Capaldi and I still watch YouTube clips of his character to this day. I like quite bold characters. So, yeah, I really hope I get to play a wide range of those. But most things I find are really hard to read, so if something can keep me wanting to read from start to end, that's the indicator for me.

How's your life changed now since the Bristol days?

Well, I guess the biggest thing would be that I'm an only child. I grew up in Bristol with my parents. I now live in London on my own. So I guess I'm much more independent and London now feels like my home.

I still feel like my soul is the same and I feel like I'm very lucky. Lots of my friends from Bristol all now live in London. It's kind of like a little Bristol commune, I live in East London, there are a lot of Bristolians in East London. I don't feel completely out of touch with it. And I guess I just feel a little bit wiser. Ultimately the same person though.

Guy Remmers

How have you found playing Theo in The Buccaneers?

It was a bit of a dream come true really. Sometimes you get an audition and you have to spend a day or two or a few days, there's usually not enough time to prep. You spend all your time kind of writing things down. “How does this character move? Why is he where he is in the scene and where is he going with Theo?”

Sometimes you read auditions and sometimes those characters are there for you. And I felt like quite a fairly big chunk of Guy was in there and I guess that's down to the writing. I'm definitely not part of the Royal Family and I don't live in a castle. So there's lots of things I didn't relate to. But I guess just his essence and his good heart; the way he talks to people and treats people, I could kind of think: “Oh, I know this person”. I can't relate to his circumstance, but I can relate to who he is. I remember it felt quite natural playing him.

When I got the role, I worked with a movement coach called Toby Sedgwick, who was amazing. We worked on Theo's physicality and how he carries himself when he's around his mother and he's at balls and dinners and then how he carries himself when he's on his own on the beach. And so that was a really cool thing to play with. But yeah, when I read the script, I just kind of thought, well, I think I know who this person is. I don't really know why, it just kind of happened that way.

Would you say there are other elements of your essence that you're bringing to that role?

Swimming for sure. I love swimming. My dad's from New Zealand and I grew up swimming. He's a great swimmer. One of Theo's things is he loves to paint and he loves to swim. That feeling of being in the sea and that kind of taste of the sea salt.

His friendship with his best friend Guy, I can definitely relate to. In the books Theo has eight sisters, but in our adaptation, he's an only child. So I could relate to him in that way because I'm an only child. I think when you're an only child, your friendships are like family to you. So I could relate to Theo's bond with his best friend, which was more than a friendship in some way.

Did it feel intimidating when you first started working on the project?

Oh for sure. But then I don't know if I'd use the word intimidating. I think I was excited and nervous, but I had the sense of this is where I'm meant to be. I dreamt of these things and dreamt of being on these types of film sets and these types of crews. And so I was nervous and excited, but I've worked towards this for a long time. It felt right, but I remember my first time set, my first important scene. I remember being very nervous about that. Very, very nervous, but also let's go, I'm ready.

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Was it difficult getting into the role?

I think what helped greatly playing Theo was how amazing the costumes were. And I think the costumes. Especially my character, who has these quite amazing, extravagant costumes with really high collars and the way the suits are almost skeleton-like — they do a lot of the work for you and put you into that physicality.

I think that also after I got the role, I had a little bit of time to really think of who this person is. Once you get more of the scripts, you can go: “Oh, this is where he ends up.” So you can work the character’s puzzle out. But I think a lot of the work is done on the day. If I have Matthew Broome opposite me or Amelia Bullmore sometimes what they do can actually dictate your character in many ways. So a lot of it is done, I think, when you're actually doing the scenes. That kind of in the moment reaction. If you're really in your character's head, then you should be able to react to them.

What excites you about the show?

I love period dramas, they're amazing. I love the scenery and the costumes and the culture of the period. It’s so different from how I grew up in Bristol. So I was really excited to figure out how Theo eats and how he sips his tea and ask myself: “how would a Duke do all of that stuff?”

We shot for six/seven months in Scotland. I have often heard it compared to New Zealand in its landscape, and I can really agree with that. Some of the places we shot in Aberlour and the Trossachs and the Highlands — they’re all so breathtaking.

There’s also the cast, lots of whom I had seen and my mum knew. And so that was so exciting being in scenes of people that I'd watched on telly with my mum and dad was a very cool moment to me.

What was it like working opposite such a talented female cast and crew?

Absolutely incredible. It was really beautiful getting to see how they inhabited their characters and their perspective. When you read a script, you can have your own opinions or imaginations on what the other characters are like. But then when you're there and you see all these incredible actors just bring these characters to life that I had read on the page that does so much of your job for you because when they are alive in the world, it truly immerses you.

So yeah, it was really special getting to work with all of them and I really hope I get to work with all of them again.

Watch The Buccaneers on Apple TV