He may look like a simple potato farmer, but there’s a lot more to Torberry than meets the eye. We caught up with actor Alan Hay to find out what it was like to play this intriguing character.
How did you get into acting?
After moving to England (from Scotland), I needed a hobby to help settle into the new place, and joined some local community theatre companies working mainly on musicals. Some 14 years later, I’m now one of the producers of a theatre company and one of the creative directors of a comedy improv group, working on productions in Cambridge, London and Edinburgh.
What attracted you to Ren and the role of Torberry?
I was a huge fan of Kate’s previous work and had a short cameo as an Orc in one of the early scenes in Born Of Hope. I was hugely excited by the Ren project, and was delighted when I was approached as a potential auditionee. I was sent some script extracts for Torberry and auditioned over Youtube, whilst working on a number of theatre shows at the Edinburgh Festival during casting.
From the audition material, Torberry had a wonderful mix of father-figure and intrigue about him, and I was delighted when the offer of the role arrived.
What was it like to put on your costume and step onto the village set on your first day?
For me, once the costume is put together, the character really finds its home. It affects how you stand, walk and move, and I always find everything comes much more alive once you look the part. Miriam did an amazing job on all the costumes, and I thought Torberry’s costume was spot on.
On my first day on set, I spent several hours getting dirtied up (Torberry is a potato farmer so needed to look the part) and then the rest of the day seemed oddly rushed. There was a full complement of villagers who had been there all day and knew exactly what was going on. The first scene I was involved in involved me shouting from off camera while a small army of supporting artists who knew exactly what they were doing ran around me 🙂
I was blown away by both the simplicity and intricate detail of the set – so many volunteers were involved in construction and painting of the village, and the scene was dressed extremely well. It looked so convincing, and it was extremely strange to think that the entire thing was built on the car park of an industrial vehicle company.
My first scene on camera was with Sophie [Skelton], playing Ren. It immediately hit me that Sophie was quite extraordinary as Ren, and a joy to act with. I am very much looking forward to seeing the final result!
What was your favourite thing about working on Ren?
I had a great time throughout filming, and it was a little disappointing to be finished filming with so many more days of shooting still to go…
Around 2 weeks after I thought I’d wrapped, I got an email to say that an extra scene had been written involving Torberry. It was a delight to get an unexpected chance to return to the set and the character and the amazing Ren team, and I relished every moment.
But I think the highlight was meeting and working with the amazing team of people – a superb cast, from whom I learned tons, a hugely talented and dedicated production team who worked like trojans for months on end. Every day on set was an inspiration.
Can you sum up in a sentence or two what viewers can expect from Ren when it’s released later this year?
A completely unique and original, independent web series with extremely high production values, guaranteed to raise the bar and set the target for web series for a long time to come!
What else are you working on at the moment?
Currently performing with comedy improv groups in Cambridge and London, and discussing some new filming projects shooting in the next few months.