In the new British crime caper The Rise, Luke Treadaway plays Harvey, a young man released from prison after serving time for a stitch up job. Whilst inside, he learns of a stash of money kept at working man’s club run by the man thug who put him inside. Back on the streets, he and his three best mates hatch a plan to get revenge and start a new life for themselves as owners of a cafe.
Actor Iwan Rheon plays Dempsey, Harvey’s best mate who convinces the rest of the lads to go all-in with the potentially dangerous scheme. You may recognise him as Simon from the Channel 4 sci-fi programme Misfits or for his squirm-inducing role as Roose Bolton’s bastard son in the HBO series Game of Thrones.
In between those hit shows he’s also found time to record three EPs and appear in the studio sitcom Vicious with stage legends Derek Jacobi and Sir Ian McKellen.
We spoke to Iwan last week on the release day of The Rise:
Iwan Rheon: I think [The Rise] is great, basically. I genuinely think that. I think [director Rowan Athale] has done a great job, I’m really proud to be in it.
Blinkbox: There must be close to a hundred British Crime films that come out every year but The Rise is one of the rare exceptions: there aren’t any guns or glamour involved – the ‘big heist’ isn’t actually a huge amount of money.
Yeah, yeah, I think the charm of it is that they’re not trying to make millions of pounds. It’s sixty grand they’re after in order to start working– it’s not like want to go off and live on a yacht. It’s so they can start a business. There’s a Robin Hood style moral vibe. I think that’s the really great thing about it. It’s about mates; it’s about trying to overcome obstacles or all that other pretentious stuff I could keep on talking about [laughs]…
The four of you [Treadaway, Gerard Kearns and Harry Potter’s Matthew Lewis] really manage to capture the feeling being a young group of mates, with all the arguments and piss-taking. Were you given time to get to know each other beforehand?
Yeah, we had a couple of days before and that’s it. I came up a couple days early to Leeds and we went out and had a couple of beers. I kind of knew Luke before anyway, but not particularly well
The great thing is that all the boys just knuckled down. It was really hard work, it’s a really low budget film, and you can’t just piss about. You have to turn up and know your s— otherwise you’re going to hold everything up.
It was a real honour to work with people that have that real work ethic. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case.
The film’s second half takes place over one the span of one evening. Did that mean you guys had to pull a load of all-nighters?
Towards the end we did have a few night shoots. The last scene we shot was the last scene in the film and it was starting to get light and got back to base and it was just getting light and they were like “it’s a wrap for you guys”. The crew were carrying on but we were all finished. There was this weird anticlimactic vibe to it. Night shoots can get a bit mad…
The film is set in Leeds, but most of you aren’t from the area. On bigger pictures, I guess there would be dialect coaches on set. Did you…
Oh yeah, we had one too. I had two sessions!
Wow, two whole sessions?
It was brilliant. I basically brought in what I come up with and she gave me notes on it. It’s all about specificity, isn’t it? I guess my Northern accent, if I were to do one, would be more of a Lancashire one because my friends and people I worked with just happened to be from that side of the Pennines. But basically I just nick [Misfits co-star] Joe Gilgun’s accent. He’s from Bolton, like Chorley.
I don’t particularly think my accent’s that great it in but it has its moments [laughs].
Between your roles in Misfits, Game of Thrones, Wild Bill and now this, you seem to be avoiding any sort of typecasting.
That’s something I’ve been very conscious with. It’s the most important thing: to be versatile. I’ve been fortunate enough to pick jobs –or they’ve picked me, rather- that are really different. I just want to things that are interesting. If you end up doing the same part all the time, it’s going to get boring.
Well, you have to pay the bills sometimes…
[laughs] Yeah, maybe in ten years’ time when I have 3 kids and I need the money. But for now, I’ve been really lucky.
Working on Vicious must have been an intimidating experience. What was your first day with Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi like?
It was really scary. It’s just surreal. We went out for a meal to meet each other and I was like what’s going on here? I’m sitting next to Sir Ian McKellen. It is bizarre. They were really nice to me and supportive and helpful and kind.
The jobs I’ve done so far have predominantly been with younger people. People of my age. So to work with – well, they’re legends in their own right— just to work with them is just a dream come true.
To see how they conduct themselves on set, how they treat people on set. There’s no grandness about them, they’re theatre boys. They’ve come through the rep system that used to exist. What you hear about Hollywood starriness: they’re just really nice blokes.
Did you learn anything from them on set?
Lots of little things. It’s not just little things, you’re learning new things every day. There’s loads of things that you get by working with people who know their craft so well. They want to rehearse all the time. Their energy is immense – they’re just amazing blokes.
I want to do it again.
Is there going to be a second series?
It’s been commissioned, yeah.
So what are you doing next?
I’m doing the fourth season of Game of Thrones… we’ve only a few days left on that.
We’ve read that the production on that is spread over something like 4 or 5 locations every episode [in countries as far flung as Iceland, Morocco, Croatia and Northern Ireland]. How does that even work?
There can be three units. And the director and the DoP [Director of Photography] just come in and join that unit. There can be a lot of downtime for us. There are just so many characters in the storyline. Even if you’re a huge part of it, you won’t be doing so much filming because there are so many plots going on.
There are probably loads of actors on the show you’ve never met.
Yeah, most of them. I’ve probably met only a quarter of the cast. It’s weird. It’s really strange doing a job like that, you don’t get to know everyone. It’s not like The Rise where it’s a really small unit, you get to know everyone on set, in every department. It was full-on, shooting for five weeks – I did four. And there were four days of Luke doing interrogation scenes [with a police detective played by Timothy Spall]. It was full on!
(Check out Iwan’s YouTube channel, where he’s posted tracks off his latest EP, titled Bang! Bang!)
The Rise is now in selected cinemas and to buy at blinkbox.