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Cassian Bilton: "I’d really like to shoot a Western"

Cassian Bilton, one of the leads of Apple's Issac Asimov adaption Foundation, shares his dream roles, fantasy films and big breaks.

Cassian Bilton

Cassian Bilton has already amassed a formidable stage CV including major roles in the likes of Romeo and Juliet, Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Now Bilton is starring in the epic Issac Asimov adaption Foundation. He talks us through his dream roles, fantasy films and big breaks. 

"I’d really like to shoot a Western," says Bilton. "There’s something inherently cinematic about these lonely people set against the backdrop of arid, sweeping vistas."

Just don't expect deafening gunfights and bloody duels. "I’d want to make something more in the spirit of Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas or Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland."

Spoken like a true cinephile. 

What was your ‘big break?’

I never believed in “big breaks” but then when I got cast in ‘Foundation’, I knew that that was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of phone call.

What film / theatre production changed your life? 

I remember being blown away by Denise Gough in ‘People, Places and Things’ at The National.

She gave everything to that performance. I really admired that commitment.

Who’s your acting inspiration? 

It changes all the time but at the moment it’s Mads Mikkelsen. I just watched ‘Another Round’ and loved it. He is so open and free in front of the camera.

He also has this brilliant danger and charm to him – you’re never sure of what he’s going to do next. He’s magnetic.

Cassian Bilton

What’s the dream role you haven’t yet played? 

I’d really like to shoot a Western. There’s something inherently cinematic about these lonely people set against the backdrop of arid, sweeping vistas.

I’d want to make something more in the spirit of Wim Wenders’s ‘Paris, Texas’ or Chloé Zhao’s ‘Nomadland’.

What person – contemporary or historical – would you play in a biopic?

Yves Klein. A mad conceptual artist and Judo Master who created his own colour, and then later died from a heart attack after seeing himself on screen? It’s a no-brainer.

Let’s play snog, marry, avoid, only with Film, Theatre and TV. What are your picks and why?

Snog: It’d have to be something dark, sexy and thrilling like a Nicolas Winding Refn or Darren Aronofsky film.

Marry: All of Cate Blanchette’s filmography, especially ‘Carol’ and ‘The Aviator’ - they’re gold.

Avoid: Repetition. I’m always looking to find new challenges as an actor.

Cast your perfect James Bond film with contemporary actors. Who’s playing…

  • Bond: Daniel Kaluuya
  • Villain: Paul Dano
  • Henchman: Ciaran Hinds
  • Girl: Vanessa Kirby
Cassian Bilton

What beloved work – film, TV show or play – do you think is totally overrated and why? [Anything from Hamlet to Breaking Bad to Mary Poppins] 

I don’t know about ‘overrated’, but I do think that Tom Ford’s ‘A Single Man’ is underrated.

Colin Firth and Julianne Moore knock it out the park and every frame of Eduard Grau’s cinematography is gorgeous. It’s definitely my favourite film.

And what work do you think deserves more love? 

I’ve been watching lots of Park Chan-wook’s films recently. They’re all so tightly constructed.

The storytelling in his films is so taught and precise. I think ‘The Handmaiden’ is faultless.

What upcoming projects of yours should we look out for?

I’m currently filming the second season of Foundation so keep an eye out for that!

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Foundation is available on Apple TV