Tom Hughes, 29
After graduating from Rada, Hughes (right in picture) was named one of Bafta’s Brits to Watch in 2011. He has appeared in TV dramas including ‘Silk’, ‘Dancing on the Edge’ and most recently the BBC Cold War spy thriller ‘The Game’. His film credits include ‘Cemetery Junction’ and the Ian Dury biopic ‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’. He lives in north London
With some people you know you’re going to be mates. We were both at a final audition for a place at Rada; we spent the whole day together auditioning and I struck up a kinship with him. Afterwards we clasped hands and gave each other a quick hug and I remember thinking, if nothing else, I’ve made a friend. When I got the call to say I was on the list, I looked down at the others in my year, and there was Kyle, and from that day on we’ve been tight.
When he came to London it was his first time in the UK, and he was living on his own in a flat. His knowledge of what England was like was based on TV and books. I told him a lot about Chester, where I’m from. He seemed interested, so I asked him to stay at my parents’ house. We walked along the canal, and I took him into Wales, to show him how beautiful it is. If you take a man north, you’ve got to give him a pint, and he had his first ale, too.
Drama school was great, my ticket into that world, but you need someone to kick back with. The thing I loved about Kyle was that we never talked about work: we’d talk music and whiskey, but we never bonded over the love of a certain film. And I think that was valuable as we were going through intense training.
We got a flat together with a couple of other lads. It was meant to be a little sanctuary, but it turned into our little hell. The day we moved in, the first goldfish died in the garden pond. And within a week, all the fish were dead. We then had a spider infestation, followed by a dead fridge for a month. It was a nightmare: these two kids down in London not knowing what do about it. Eventually we had to do a runner, and our big plan to live together didn’t pan out.
I’m one of those guys who tells himself everything is all right: I’ve never had a soul-searching moment. Kyle does that for me. He stops me, stands me still, as I’m always on the go, and says, “How you going, how are you feeling?” He’s good at pacing me.
We watch each other on stage: it’s moral support. It’s difficult to be an American actor in England. Making a go of it is almost an impossible challenge. But [playing Francis in] Poldark is testament to how hard he works and his acting ability. I’ve had three or four people say to me, “I had no idea he’s not English!”
We always go out for a pint and a catch-up. The last time we did that I saw him two days later, as I was going into an audition as he was leaving. I didn’t even know he was auditioning for the role. And a few days after, when we met for a pint again, neither of us even said, “What were you doing there?” We just don’t talk about work at all.
Kyle Soller, 32
A Rada-trained American actor, Soller is best known for playing Francis in BBC period drama ‘Poldark’. He has also appeared on stage in productions including ‘The Faith Machine’, for which he was awarded the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer, ahead of his wife, the English actress Phoebe Fox. They live in north London
Tom has a great northern sensibility. There is a directness about him, and he’s very open and honest, which is extremely appealing in a friend, as it’s pretty rare where I grew up in the northern Virginia suburbs.
We met during the last round of auditions for Rada, 10 years ago. He had a massive smile and great positivity, and we gravitated towards one another. Towards the end of the group-movement audition, we were all instructed to recreate an airplane with our bodies. I didn’t know what I was doing, I was just lost, until I saw Tom at the back standing up straight and pretending to be the tail. His eyes motioned me to join him, so I ran over, jumped on his back and became the tailplane.
The moment we left the room, we looked at each other and hugged and I said, “See you in September!” It wasn’t presumptive; I just knew I’d met a kindred spirit.
It was my first visit to England and he was new to London as well, so we navigated it together. At Rada we played similar parts, but we were never in the same productions. Though we shared exercises: there was one about repetition and getting rid of habits – one person says one word and the other says it back at you, and the process can last 30 minutes. There is this one word we can say to one another that even now has us in hysterics.
We’ve had a similar upbringing of listening to music, playing sports and acting, and he’s someone who matches my rhythm to a tee. He feels like a brother. We have these music-sharing parties at his place, drinking the whole day and playing music on our guitars. We always said we wanted to form an oldies group together – though I was more Rolling Stones than Beatles, so he gave me their back catalogue. And he has got me into stuff I never got into in America, such as the Stone Roses.
If I’m spending time with Tom, I’m learning about myself, too, as he shares my outlook on life: he’s energetic, driven and kind, but he likes a laugh. But he can be more extroverted than me. Like dancing: I’ve seen him boogie and he’s a good mover. The only thing that might upset his rhythm is his hair, which he has a thing about.
‘Poldark’, co-starring Kyle Soller, is out now on DVD. His series ‘Apocalypse Slough’ will debut on Sky 1 later this year. ‘The Incident’, starring Tom Hughes, will premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival and will be released in cinemas later this yearReuse content