Interview with BRITANNIA star GERSHWYN EUSTACHE JNR, who appears as Vitus. He talks about learning to ride a horse, the power of Rome and his time on series Fortitude.
Britannia is a historical epic, set in 43 AD. It shows the wild warrior women and powerful druids of The British Isles trying to stop an oncoming Roman siege. The show is now available to pre-order on DVD.
Gershwyn says he was impressed by the size of the show. “I loved the ambition of the project. Telling a story like this on such an epic scale. It gave me an excuse to read up and learn more about Rome, such as the transition from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire, and just how much they managed to conquer.”
“It was also great to learn more about the history of Northern Africa. Places with such rich histories like Ancient Carthage, Numidia and Mauretania.”
“I got the part in Britannia a few months before the cast were gathered, so it was nice to know early on and be prepared.”
Aaron Pierre, who performs as Antonius, recently described the show as crazy, addictive and an unmissable trip – Gershwyn agrees. “The show although stemming from real events in history, has taken full license to tell the story. Whether it’s getting trippy with Veran, Divus and the other druids, primal with the warring tribes or loving the might and power of the Romans.”
The actor performs as Vitus. “He introduces himself as an Optio, which is second-in-command of a century, after the Centurion. He is very content with being a fellow legionary among his brothers in arms, but he quickly finds himself alone and tested in ways he couldn’t have imagined.”
“As the series progresses, you will see Vitus trials leave him with valuable information which could aid Aulus in gaining the upper hand.”
In a previous interview, Eustache Jnr said he learned horse riding and archery. So how challenging was this? “Learning to horse ride was difficult for me, such as putting my trust in the horse and believing in what the instructors were telling me. I couldn’t help but think about stories of people being hurt from riding accidents, which just caused me to tense up and not relax into it.”
“All of the set locations were stunning and reminded me of how lucky I was to be on the show. We were in Prague in the heat at the start of the summer, to the cold of winter. It was amazing to see how the landscape morphed around me. Prague has such an interesting history and great architecture, the night life is always a buzz with music and it felt like a city that never sleeps.”
Nordic Noir fans may also recognise Gershwyn for his performances in Fortitude. “It was fun to be a part of the second season. I had seen the first season, so had to pinch myself. It was incredible to walk onto the set and see the interior of the bar I had seen on-screen and to then make myself at home among the bottles and pumps. I loved that a lot of the taps actually worked.”
“Spending the day filming in the shower with Robert was a definite new experience, I hadn’t shared a shower so intimately in my life and suddenly I’m there in front of a camera crew! Eventually I got over myself and got on with it.”
Currently the British actor is appearing in Pinocchio at the National Theatre. “You should come down and see it if you haven’t already. We are also waiting on a release date for The Yellow Birds, which will hopefully be pretty soon.”
Telly Binge spoke to Gershwyn Eustache Jnr in February 2018. Follow him on Twitter for updates on his current projects.