5 minutes with: Tom Rhys Harries – 'Strindberg is a headache, but a good one'

With credits including ”Mojo” at the Harold Pinter and ”Hotel” at the National, the Welsh actor continues his flourishing theatre career in ”Creditors” at the Young Vic

I played loads of Rugby growing up. I’m from a very musical family in Cardiff in Wales; my dad was in a band, my mum used to be a writer. My siblings are both very musical. I was really keen on music growing up, but not musicals, just writing music and I played a lot of guitar. It transpired that I wasn’t big enough to be a rugby player and I wasn’t good enough either.

I started doing plays in high school and I quite liked that. So I applied for Welsh College in Cardiff, I didn’t know anything about drama schools, I didn’t know what RADA or LAMDA was, and I didn’t feel like I wanted to leave Wales. So I left school and went to Welsh College and started acting there, it’s an amazing college.

The acting world was so alien to me. When I was in my first year, a casting director came round. I didn’t have an agent at the time – not many people in drama school do – I had no idea what I was doing. They were casting for this film called Hunky Dory and I did about six rounds of auditions. I think my naivety held me in good stead as I didn’t really think much of it. But I got cast in that and luckily we were shooting in the summer so I didn’t miss any college. That was with Minnie Driver, which was really good for me because off the back of that I signed with Minnie’s agent. I loved it, it was amazing, it was just a cast of young people and it was my first taste of being on set.

When I was in third year I auditioned quite a bit in London, but obviously I was based in Cardiff, so I spent thousands of pounds on transport. I used to really beat myself up if I wasn’t able to go to one. I had one when I was really really ill, and I came up to meet a director who I really loved and I was just so out of it, flu I think, I came up to London at 6am on the train – that was a bad audition. But on the whole I quite like auditioning.

We’re doing a Strindberg play at the Young Vic called Creditors. It’s a three-hander and I’m playing Adolph who is a young, very successful artist who has become very disenfranchised with his work. He’s in a very fragile state when we meet him. The play is interesting because Strindberg is a fascinating writer, philanthropist, painter – he’s very abstract. He’d sit down and write these plays in one draft.

It’s very difficult to learn because my part doesn’t necessarily follow a stream of consciousness, so it’s a bit of a headache – but a good headache.

I’m just trying to decide what I want to do [with my career]. If I’m in a position where I can choose whether I want to do theatre, film or TV, I quite love trying to hop between all three mediums. I have a TV series called Jekyll and Hyde coming up in the Autumn, then I have a feature coming up called Crow where I play a feral gypsy kid called Crow. Part of the joy of acting is that you can do not only different scripts but different mediums too.

Tom plays Adolph in Creditors directed by Genesis Future Directors Award-winner Rikki Henry at the Young Vic from 9 – 19 September.