Charlie Carrick is a history fan, something that’s drawn him to period dramas such as The Borgias and currently Reign, as the nobel Robert Dudley, a friend and suitor to Queen Elizabeth. Hailing from England, Carrick was familiar with the history, but said he loves to read up on the real-life character he portrays and the time period. Catch the third season of Reign airing on The CW now.
Cliché: How did you first get into acting?
Charlie Carrick: Well, when I was around 12 or 13, I started getting into school plays, and also around the same time, I started watching movies more seriously, seeking out things that I would like that people recommended to me other than just what was on at the multiplex. I started to think about acting then.
How was it jumping into Reign for its third season?
It helps that everybody—the whole cast and crew—are super nice. Everybody looks out for each other and are very welcome to new people that are joining. There has been a big shift in the show’s direction to have a lot of the show set in England and an English court now, so it was a big adjustment for everybody. It felt like a new start within a show, so it didn’t feel like I was just flopping in to somebody else’s thing.
How did you prepare to play a real-life character?
It’s the second time that I’ve played a real-life character, but he’s a well-chronicled historical character of his time. There is a lot of contemporary writing from the time and paintings of him and analysis about what his role in court was. There is a lot of material to read. I had a fairly short time before I started, so that’s an ongoing thing. Every now and then, I’ll seek out something on him. It was also important for me to read up on Elizabethan life, what day-to-day life was like for people then and how that informs the show.
What are the things you drew from your research on the character and the time?
I’d done something in a similar time period before. I did the show called The Borgias. It was about 50 years before this and in Italy rather than England, so it was very different in terms of clothes and societal things. But I studied English history at school, and I kind of remembered from that. I tried to look for stuff that I knew would work into the storyline of the show, and so when you read about Robert Dudley, you realize that he was a very accomplished man. He achieved a lot in his life and had diverse interests. The big paradox in his life was that part of his life came up against the fact that he was subject to the whims of a woman, which in his time, he was in almost a unique situation. I focused on how that would be for him.
What drew you to the character?
When I auditioned for the part, I had two scenes to read, and one of them was with Queen Elizabeth, and one of them was with his wife. It was an interesting proposition right away to see how he behaved differently with two women. He was between the two and had these decisions that he had to make. Immediately there was already rich drama in that.
What can fans expect in this second half of the season?
Well, I think the development of his relationships will be seen more. Something has to give in those situations. I have to choose or find a way to make things work. The circumstances are going to change in one way or another.
You went into this period of history before, so what is your favorite part of a period drama?
I think you get a lot of freebies that help you as an actor when you’re doing a period, especially if the production has realized it well with the costumes, the sets, the props. A lot of the work of building the world is already done and then your imagination can focus on making the character a real person. It’s interesting that the world is so different; society was arranged so differently in that time, but the people are the same. People’s feelings and wants and desires are all the same, you just have to find different ways to navigate the period they’re in.
Is there a show you’re currently binge-watching or keeping up with that you would love to guest on or join?
My favorite TV show is a Sundance show called Rectify, which I think is just the best show. It’s beautifully shot and well-acted and directed, but it has a very small, closed cast. I don’t know if there’s a way into that for me. I’m also watching Deadwood, mostly while on set. I would love to do a Western.
What do you have coming up this year?
We’re going to finish this season of Reign. I’ve got a couple of movies that I did over the last couple of years that are wrapping up their festival runs. One of them just had a Hollywood screening and should be coming to TVs soon. And then another film I did called The Devout. Hopefully that comes out soon. So I have those to look forward to. I’m going to do some traveling over the next couple of months. My girlfriend is doing a residency in Iceland, so I’m hoping I can go visit her for a couple of weeks.
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Charlie Carrick Talks Season 3 of ‘Reign’: Photographed by Lane Dorsey