Actor Tom Hughes says that he took the biggest risk of his life by playing Albert in Victoria. Created by writer and producer Daisy Goodwin, Victoria sees actor Tom Hughes reprise his role as Prince Albert, alongside Jenna Coleman. Tom explains why he is so fascinated by his character’s rare story. He says, “I was drawn to Albert’s path because of the uniqueness of his experience. There are very less people in the history of mankind who have managed to get his position. The human impact fascinates me, especially when you take these two young people at the heart of it all. We are in the middle of a massive technological revolution right now and it was just as scary, breathtaking and magnificent during the industrial revolution, so there are interesting correlations between then and now.”
Tom discusses what it’s like to grow up with a character and return to the same role some years on. “I never put a character on a shelf while keeping him present. Picking Albert up, off the shelf felt very natural. He is older now and the person he has become is not same,” he says.
Tom adds, “What is interesting and difficult for Albert is that this is all coming at a time when he has actually found his footing. He has got the vision of a path he could take now and the impact he hopes to have while still being committed and respectful of the position he is in. I tried to make him a little heavier physically by putting on some weight so as to age him.”
Huge changes to Albert’s life come in the form of two new and rabble-rousing characters, Lord Palmerston (Laurence Fox) and Victoria’s half-sister, Feodora (Kate Fleetwood).
Tom says that Albert believes Palmerston is going to undermine everything that he is trying to build and goes against everything he sees. Albert has read the Marxist manifesto, he has spoken at Chartist rallies and he very much understands the shifting sands of the industrial revolution and the need for change. The status quo couldn’t continue and he understood the unrest where it was coming from. So when Palmerston says otherwise, he finds it morally corrupt. Laurence plays him effortlessly and not because he is that guy in real life but he is sensitive and they get on really well.
He apprises us, “While Palmerston seems to be everything Albert doesn’t like, actually the queen’s half-sister, Feodora is. She plays him brilliantly, preying on a weakness, she may not even realise he has. She becomes everything Albert is lacking. When the invisible string between them is fraying, he needs that female figure in his life as there are a void and Feodora sweeps in and fills that. She seems to be rational and objective and he dances too but come to the end of the series, there is a begrudging respect for Palmerston as Albert realises that he has sacrificed himself to a certain degree.”
Tom reveals that the audience will see Albert and Victoria at their most distant in this series.
“I don’t think we’ll find them at a point where they are more fractious than this. It is part of their growing ages. They got married at 19 and then add to that weighted responsibility of their day jobs, Albert’s issues of identity and Victoria’s issues of having been mollycoddled. It is evident that they both have a great deal of things to do but there is not always the space needed for both of them to do that. Even when they are together, they’re rarely united or in the same rhythm. They struggle with ideological differences. Albert doesn’t believe she is putting the weight behind, being a parent that she should and Victoria thinks vice versa and so they come to blows.”
Albert takes the biggest risk of his life when he decides to stage the world’s first and greatest collection of art, The Great Exhibition.
“He has an awakening and senses an opportunity where he could help. I don’t know if The Great Exhibition changed a lot politically but as an art exhibition, it exposed people to things they would never have had the opportunity to see and so it was unquestionably magnificent. Once he finds that he is on a single track, even to the detriment of those around him and this is what he consumes his life until the end. The Albert before and after The Great Exhibition is significantly different. The exhaustion and what he put himself through is so extreme that I don’t know if he’ll ever be the same man again. Socially and politically, it is positive but the toll it takes upon him is enormous. The pressure is immense because if he fails at that, he will never recover,” says Tom.
The actor further adds, “We went to Palm House in Liverpool to film the exteriors for The Great Exhibition and filmed in the middle of Sefton park. This is a giant greenhouse which creates the façade. I went to a youth theatre, so going back there was pretty special for me. That was one moment where I could really get some reflection because we were staying in a hotel on the same road. So it was very much going back to the old territory. Also, I managed to get some of my family in. My mother, father and 12 of my friends are all in The Great Exhibition. They’re people I have known since I was 10. That was a really good day.”
Writer & Courtesy: Team Viva