Rory Wilton Interview
Rory Wilton is a Cornwall based actor who trained at the Hub Theatre School graduating in 1992. He went on to join Bedlam Theatre Company of Cornwall, of which he became Co-Artistic Director with Emma Spurgin Hussey in 1994, nationally touring new writing productions. He also followed an independent stage career. He started working in film and TV during the late 1990’s, has appeared in TV shows and features and joined the cast of Doc Martin in 2009 as regular character Chippy Miller. You can also see him in BBC’s Poldark.
DMO: How did you get cast in Doc Martin?
RW: Back in the 90’s I was a busy touring theatre shows as co-artistic director of Bedlam Theatre Company of Cornwall (with Emma Spurgin Hussey, my partner and new addition to the cast of DM this season!) and independently following a career as a jobbing actor in film and TV. I was regularly appearing in shows such as Wycliffe and Unsuitable Job for a Woman (the first time I worked with Ben Bolt!). Towards the end of the decade my agent closed up shop and I was so busy touring theatre and running workshops that I didn’t bother finding another one. A few months later I realised what a huge mistake I had made. So, when Doc Martin arrived in Cornwall, almost on my doorstep, with an open signing for locals to be SA’s (Support Artist = Extras), it was clearly an opportunity to get back through the door. By season 3 I was a regular part of the Doc Martin script reading team and Ben was giving me the odd line here and there on set. But it was during season 4 that I finally became Chippy Miller, the lobster fisherman! I had a new agent by season 5, Toby Whale cast me properly and I’ve been a regular member of the cast ever since!
DMO: What do you love most about playing the role of Chippy Miller?
RW: I really enjoy the fact that for some completely unfathomable reason Chippy Miller REALLY irritates the Doc, but Chippy always tries to be reasonable with him! He keeps giving him the benefit of the doubt, but repeatedly gets shot down in flames. My favourite Chippy trait though is his dynamic side – how many times has Chippy actually saved people’s lives BEFORE the Doc gets there? I also love the fact that we film in such a beautiful part of Cornwall.
DMO: What thought and work went into the creation of the character?
RW: I’ve tried to develop the nuance of the character over the years, but with Chippy playing such a minor role in such large stories, usually it’s a case of, get the shot done quick and don’t knock the scenery over!! I would really love an episode storyline one day – but that all depends on whether there will be more Doc Martins in the future and if the writers, Martin and the producers feel that Chippy is a useful character. Let’s see what Phillipa, Martin and Sandy think once season 7 has finished eh?…… They always listen to the fans!!
DMO: What has been your proudest moment while working on Doc Martin?
RW: I think my proudest moment has to be that three of our students at Bedlam Youth Theatre, St Austell and my partner Emma Spurgin Hussey have been cast on the show in season 7. Emma has been part of the reading team for years, but now she’s finally in front of the camera! Sometimes Emma and I are able to help our youth theatre students take their first steps into professional work, through our involvement in the business, and this season Finn, Kim and Sahana all managed to make it into the Doc Martin cast – we’re very proud indeed!
DMO: What is it like to work with each of the cast?
RW: Working with Martin is always a joy. He is always inventive, charming, he’s a very giving actor and a consummate professional – even when he’s exhausted and has a mountain of technical medical jargon to remember! People always ask what he’s like, and even though it’s a terrible cliché, he’s actually a really lovely man! Caroline is wonderful and always greets you with a big smile, a hug and a kiss. Jess is brilliant and very funny, it’s been a joy to see her career flourish. Jo is a great bloke, he’s the cast member I see most often as we don’t live very far away from each other down here in Cornwall and the one I’d love to do more with. Eileen is wonderful and a brilliant actor to learn from, an extraordinary admirable lady, Celina is hilarious in real life – I’m very disappointed that our scene together in season 5 got cut! John is a sweetheart, he’s actually very quiet when out of uniform and a really very lovely chap. But Ian is really special, I hugely admire him and his work and I’m very honoured to have made it into several of his legendary photo books – and he was very complimentary about my work in Poldark. I play Richard Tonkin on Poldark you know – filming season 2 now!
DMO: How did you become an actor? Do you love it?
RW: I actually started out as a fine artist. I went to art school in Bath and didn’t get into acting until my early twenties. Now, after twenty three years, I have to say I still absolutely love it. In what other job do you get to show Martin Clunes your bottom, make googly eyes at Aidan Turner, meet Sigourney Weaver before breakfast and get paid for it!!!!!!! I was so chuffed to be working on one of the days that Sigourney was with us. She’s a wonderful woman, and even more beautiful in real life than on screen!! I was so thrilled that she knew me and who I played on DM and also that she’d seen my work on Poldark. It was a real fan moment, meeting an actor that I had been inspired by for years.
DMO: Can you think of any fun anecdote about being part of Doc Martin you’d like to share?
RW: Season 6 The Tameness of a Wolf. My scenes with Martin and Jess in the surgery were actually filmed on a Friday in the middle of the night, as everyone had been filming night shoots all week for the ‘lost on the moor’ scenes from Sickness and Health. But the thing I remember the most was our poor director Nigel Cole. He was so exhausted he had to direct us from a makeshift bed!
DMO: Is there anything about the character or being a part of the show that fans might not be aware of?
RW: I did mention a scene earlier that I regret we lost in season 5 where Chippy Miller was running a kissing booth in Mother Know Best. Martin and I had a nice scene together, but I was lucky enough to share a saucy moment with Mrs Tishell!! It all got edited out due to time constraints. Hrmph.
DMO: Do you have a favourite episode? If so, which is it and why?
RW: Sickness and Health – beaming all through the wedding scenes slap bang in the middle of the shot between Martin and Louisa, and then trying to get my leg out at the wedding reception. It was a really lovely episode to shoot and I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time chatting with Eileen.
DMO: Any parting message for the fans of the show?
Thank you all so much for your support of the show, I really hope we get to continue for many seasons more – and if you want to see more Chippy on the show, please mention it to Martin and Philippa! Oh yes, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for my return in the new year in Poldark season 2 as Richard Tonkin!! And please feel free to follow me on twitter too – @RoryWilton
Rory is a keen cook, musician, horse rider and artist and lives in an old mill on the edge of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall.