Chat with Corey Mylchreest

Corey Mylchreest is one of the UK's most promising up and coming actors, who can be seen as the young King George in 'Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story', the prequel to the hit Netflix series 'Bridgerton', which was released in May. In 2023, we will also see Corey on 'Fantastic Friends', the travel and magic show hosted by James and Oliver Phelps.

Corey Mylchreest is one of the UK‘s most promising up and coming actors, who can be seen as the young King George in ‘Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story’, the prequel to the hit Netflix series ‘Bridgerton‘, which was released in May. In 2023, we will also see Corey on ‘Fantastic Friends’, the travel and magic show hosted by James and Oliver Phelps.

Corey, we’ve been able to watch you as young King George in ‘Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story’, the prequel to the hit Netflix series ‘Bridgerton’. How was it being cast on a series that is following up on the success of ‘Bridgerton’?

The experience in totality was just an absolute joy. I met people and I will remain friends with them hopefully for life. In terms of coming off the back of ‘Bridgerton’, it was great to know that people would probably watch it, so that’s an immediate stress that I imagine a lot of people have with their projects that they pour their heart and soul into. We didn’t know how much it be watched, but we knew that it would be watched. But to be honest, me personally, I didn’t feel that much pressure because it really feels like it’s its own thing. It’s a slightly bit darker and it spends more time with less characters, so there’s more time for character study, which as an actor is always really exciting. And George doesn’t seem like he really follows this sort of archetype of a male romantic lead. So as an actor, that’s a brilliant character to play. All in all, it was some of the best months of my life really.

The series tells the story of the rise of Queen Charlotte and her love story with King George. How would you describe their love story, that we got to see develop from episode to episode?

I think one of great gifts of the series is that there’s that beautiful meeting and then they are married instantly. There is no time wasted, they are immediately together, so the entirety of the series is an exploration of that relationship. And yet you also get to see them getting to know each other, which is quite a rare thing. I think that in general the love story, the romantic story is one of the birth of unconditional love. It’s all about acceptance, both of oneself and of another. And I think George and Charlotte, they are so desperate for that kind of love because it’s not something necessarily that they’ve experienced. They’re both victims of different types of oppression. Charlotte’s is a much more systemic, societal oppression and George is definitely experiencing oppression from his family and from the Crown. And both of them are desperate trying to be free from those things.

George meets Charlotte and he is just this man who is adamant that he’s not your Majesty, he is just George. And George meets Charlotte as this person who is so desperate to be free. All she’s thinking is “I’m in this wedding dress, I’m in a country that I don’t belong in and I’m just gonna go over this wall”. And I always find that quite funny, it’s indicative of how desperate she is. What the hell is she gonna do after she goes over that wall? She’s just gonna be in a field and she has nowhere to get food or an any way to get back, so there’s something really beautiful about how they’re both trying to be free from both oppression and their duty. And they meet each other in that moment. And I think that’s something that even subconsciously, they both see in each other. It’s the first time that they’re being seen as a person and are seeing someone else who wants to do the same. They’re not playing the game, neither of them in that moment. And although they have struggles along the way, I think that’s the initial spark and that’s sort of the soul of the two of them together. They have their obstacles along the way, but it’s about accepting your own faults or not even seeing them as faults. Nothing’s perfect, but there’s so much beauty in that imperfection and that ultimately, if you let your guard down, if it’s the right person, they’ll love you in your entirety.

King George is dealing with a mental illness and we get to see him undergo some grueling treatments. How challenging was it to film these scenes?

It’s more difficult if you don’t do your preparation as an actor. I can’t remember who it was, but I think a drama school teacher told me it’s like a ship setting sail. And if you are even five degrees off, it will be 300 kilometers that you miss your objective by. I spoke to a specialist, read the script and I did so much of my own research that I had an idea of what I wanted and so I felt free in the moment when we were filming to fully commit. Sometimes you feel more there as an actor and sometimes it’s a struggle to try and you have to welcome it all. It was difficult, I found music really helpful. I have an entire character book that’s still sitting there for some reason, that looked like the scribbles of a mad man.

Tom Verica was instrumental in that because I think as an actor, if you have to go into that place, you are sacrificing a little bit of control in order to get to that place, as it is very emotional, very frantic and also physically challenging. You have to throw yourself in and what that requires then is an objective view and someone who can then mold that moment into different things. It’s very hard as an actor to be in that specific space, commit 100 % and also have an objective view of what everything’s looking like. And that’s where Tom came in. I would just throw myself at it and then he would tell me to either make it bigger or smaller or different or less painful or more invigorated, more obsessive or electric. This is the brilliant thing about Tom, he’s an exceptional actor in his own right. He would give me these brilliant notes and then I’d be able to dive completely in and trust that he had my back as an actor. And the back of the story, he had everything in place. I would say George’s illness is an amalgamation of all that research and speaking to this specialist and commitment to its degree.

‘Queen Charlotte’ is set in the 17th century. From what you’ve filmed on the set, what would you say is your favorite thing about that era?

Very boringly I would say that the lack of phones. No one had these things and people could be so present. Although George, I would argue that he didn’t want to be so present most of the time.

I have a little sister and when kids are about five to seven, their understanding of the world is sort of developing, but magic still exists, there’s still a little bit of mystery. I feel like in that kind of period, or maybe going back to the 15 hundreds even, the science started to lean forward, but in some places magic still existed. We didn’t understand everything. Not that we understand everything now, but we are closer to that. There’s a romantic mystery to that period of time that I quite like.

Prior to landing the role of King George, you played an integral role in Netflix’s ‘The Sandman’. The series follows Dream, who escapes the imprisonment of a mortal wizard and goes on a journey to reclaim his lost possessions. Tell us more about your experience on this show, which was one of your first TV roles.

That was my first gig. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that my role was integral, but it was very useful and I’m very thankful to everyone who gave me that opportunity. It might not look it on screen, but it was a big day, it was a big shoot. I was only there for one day, but we were filming in Ian Fleming’s mansion, the guy who wrote the James Bond novels. It’s this enormous place, there was like a hundred extras, everyone’s done up in these twenties ball gowns and tuxedos and there were these antique cars that had been restored just for that.

There were these enormous cranes doing the camera action. There were these enormous lights that were sort of echoing the moonlight. And I think for me, coming out of drama school where I’m used to acting in almost like a cell with nothing and where you have to imagine this pair of headset is a gun or your phone is a baby, that everything was suddenly real and you could react to the world brilliantly was incredibly overwhelming. I was really nervous on my first day of ‘Queen Charlotte’, but I would’ve been even more nervous if I hadn’t done that day. It was a real baptism of fire, both my first day on ‘Queen Charlotte’ and that day on ‘The Sandman’. I am very grateful for it because it gave me a little window into what life is like on set, especially on a big day.

You graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Acting from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. What made you passionate about acting in the first place?

When I started, I didn’t know really. There was one day when there was something in my heartbeat that needed to do this. I had this brilliant teacher at drama school and he was one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met. Really transformative in terms of my work, but also changed my life, taught me to meditate when he saw that I was struggling with some stuff.

I remember one day, there was maybe nine of us in the class and he said “I want to go around and I want to ask each one of you why you do this? Why do you wanna act? ” People, including myself, were like “I want to tell stories, I want to see the effect of what we do in someone’s face, in a live audience”. And he would just go “That’s not why you want to do this. Next, next, next”. And then I went and I’d say something about loving it from an early age or it’s the only time I feel confident. He’d be like “No. What else? ” And I remember it stayed in my head for the entire lesson and I cried because I just didn’t know what it is that makes me want to do this, but it is the only thing that makes me feel like I’m breathing, it is the only thing that makes me want to wake up, it’s the only thing that makes me feel like my heart’s beating. I can’t explain it to you, but I just need to do this. And he just said that’s it, that’s enough.I think that’s the brilliance of teaching, it invigorates just enough in you that you discover something. And even in that moment, all I discovered was that I didn’t need to know why I wanted to do it, I just needed to do it.

What was the most memorable experience from your time at RADA?

I would say there’s another brilliant teacher. He is also a brilliant actor in his own right and was sort of like protege. In my first year at drama school, at RADA, he was just starting up. It was his first time doing the lesson and we had these things called object exercises. think lots of actors that have trained will know what that is. Basically you pretend you’re in a room and then you have to have three things that you do. Whether it’s make your bed, making yourself look like a million dollars, clean my room, whatever. Just three practical things. And it’s all about getting into the mindset of acting is doing. It’s not pretending, it’s not feeling, it’s not emotion, it’s not thinking, it’s just doing.

And what I was doing was coming back from a night out and I’d just been in a fight, and I was making myself some baked beans. I opened the can of baked beans and I think I was brushing my teeth at the same time. I went down to pick up the baked beans and I heard everyone in the classroom gasp. And I thought “Wow, I didn’t think I’d done it that well”. And then I looked down and there was just an enormous pool of blood on the floor and blood running down my hand. There was so much blood that I didn’t know what had happened, but I couldn’t see it. The water bottle that I was using for the toothbrush, to wash my mouth out, I just poured it on it and I saw my bone in my finger and then immediately it disappeared in another wave of blood.

As an actor in the first year, I was so obsessed. I wanted to be the best actor in the world. I wanted to be a really intense actor, I really wanted to do everything. So I was like “I’m going to keep going”. And he was like “No, dude, you have to stop and go to the hospital”. So I went and I got some stitches, and I came back and I met everyone at the pub. That whole thing was a great lesson. The teacher actually took me aside about a week later and said that I need to stop being an actor that needs to be in pain. This is meant to be fun. You’re meant to love it. You’re meant to be passionate about it, but you don’t need to put yourself through agony every time.

Upon graduating, you got cast in open-air productions of Shakespeare plays ‘Romeo & Juliet’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. How was it being on an open-air stage and experiencing that live audience reactions?

Really lovely. There’s something really special about theater. And that was in the middle of Covid, so we were sort of desperate for any work. I remember we were doing ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ as one of them and that is set in a forest. It’s very rare in theater that you can get to do something as immersive as doing a play that’s set in a forest, in a forest. That’s something that would happen on screen usually. So that was great.

I was playing Demetrius, which is one of the four lovers. All the four lovers have been put under a spell by Puck and so they fall asleep. And so for the whole interval, the half an hour interval, we were asleep on the stage. The first time I was too nervous to actually fall asleep, but as we began doing the run and we were doing two shows a day, I started to actually fall asleep. The second half stopped with trumpets, so I would always wake up. In the first few days, I remember hearing some kids in the front row arguing about whether they thought I was asleep or not. I can’t remember exactly what they said, but they argued for half an hour about different twitches in my face and my fingers. I just love that they’re that engaged during the interval. Then you know they’re probably having a good time during the actual piece. Little bits like that make you realize what you are actually doing. There are these brilliant things about it, giving someone some escapism or some entertainment or a different view on something and that’s always really lovely.

What are you most looking forward to for the future of your acting career?

It’s been one of the best things so far and I really hope that continues, working with and meeting really amazing, brilliant, beautiful people. There are loads of filmmakers and actors that I love, that I haven’t met and I’m closer to work with them than I have ever been or maybe than I will ever be. And that’s something that’s really exciting.

This year we’ll also see you on ‘Fantastic Friends’, which is part adventure-travel series, part magic infused challenge show and part a celebration of friendship. What can you share with us about it at this point?

Without giving away too much, I would say there’s going to be lots of competition. There will be some slipping and sliding and some falling from some people that did not happen on purpose. There may or may not be penguins. There is some really bad wipeouts. I think we insult the entirety of the surfing community by attempting that. It was amazing and fun filming it. James and Oliver Phelps are so wonderful as people, but the entire crew was just so lovely. We had a great time and I really hope that people have a great time watching it.

Talent: Corey Mylchreest
Photographer: Kosmas Pavlos
Stylist: Laurent Dombrowicz
Hair: Stefan Bertin @ The Wall Group using Oribe
Make-up: Liz Daxauer @ Caren Agency using Embryolisse
Digital imaging: Alexandra Heindl
Photography assistant: Luke Johnson
Styling assistant: Reza Zhiani
Editor: Timi Letonja
Special thanks to Tapestry London

This interview was done for Numéro Netherlands by Jana Letonja.

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