Interview: Revolting’s Jolyon Rubinstein

8th February 2017

We sat down with British actor, writer, producer and director, Jolyon Rubinstein to talk about his latest projects, favourite fashion designers and his love for La La Land.

Rubinstein and Heydon Prowse co-created the Bafta-winning series The Revolution Will Be Televised which screened on BBC Three in 2012. 

The duo went on to produce the extremely popular Brexageddon?!  – a one-off which screened on BBC Two in the autumn. This was followed by five part series, Revolting, which recently finished screening on BBC Two and is now available to view on BBC iPlayer.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Can you tell us a little about your background and what encouraged you to pursue acting?
I guess like most of us I was an attention-seeking performer as a child!  I had one experience when my grandparents took me to see Oliver! at the theatre when I was 12.  It just looked like so much fun.  The next year I got into the National Youth Music Theatre and I guess after that I was hooked.  There is something so positive about collaboration and that sense of community that happens with creative endeavour.  It’s quite addictive!
I knew I wanted to be an actor and go to Drama School but also wanted to have the university experience.  I went to Sussex and studied Politics and then went to Drama Centre to study acting afterwards.  I guess that’s why we make satire.  It combines the two perfectly.

Who are your favourite fashion designers?
Oliver Spencer, the team at YMC, Christopher Bailey's last collection was magnificent and I'm a big fan of Tom Ford.
How would you describe your style?
Very London, an urban gent.

Photography by Rich McIver

Would you say your style has changed over the years? 
Absolutely, there was a time when I was sure I would never rock a pair of skinny jeans.
Have you had any fashion faux pas?
When I started university – I thought a double denim twisted Levi look was strong. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

Tell us about your recent projects. You co-created Brexageddon?! and it was a huge success. Did you anticipate the programme being so popular?
Why thank you!  With satire I think you kind of get bonus points for topicality.  It was always the intention to push production so hard that it could come out within a month of the vote.  Credit to the BBC; we spoke to them the day after and they went for it.  I woke up at 5am on the day of the result.  We were supposed to fly to Scotland that morning.

Photography by Rich McIver

As soon as I saw the result we changed tack and by 9am we were outside Parliament getting the gold.  That all said I was stunned when it was up at 3rd most popular on iPlayer.  It’s always difficult with comedy to get cut through but we seemed to manage it with Brexageddon?!  Hopefully Revolting will do as well.

Tell us about your new TV series, Revolting?
Revolting is a satirical sketch show that mixes fully scripted sketches with hidden camera stunts.  We spent the whole of last year writing and filming it.  I think it’s our most ambitious project to date.  We deal with everything from ISIS to Southern Rail.  Nothing is off the table.  We treat everyone and everything with the same satirical sabre and acerbic wit.  No one is safe and the star as always is the Great British Public who I have enormous respect and trust in.

You’ve starred in a lot of high profile roles. Which character did you most enjoy playing? 
Well I don’t know about that!  My first job was in Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris’s classic Nathan Barley.  It was amazing being around these men I’d idealised in my teens.  So many people started out in that show.  Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt, Ben Whishaw, Richard Ayoade and of course Benedict Cumberbatch.
I suppose in our work my favourite characters are Dale Maily and James Twottington-Burbage.  I love the tension and drama they create; whether it’s about the Occupy movement or with Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Boris Johnson and David Cameron.  My personal favourite moment?  Trying to get Marine Le Pen to give me her number so we could go for a bottle of red was an insane moment I’ll never forget!

Have you always been interested in fashion? If not – have you become more interested since being in the limelight?
I've always been quietly interested. But being able to go to a number of sample sales does help. *I am sample size and am open to offers * #FashionWhore

You’ve had a successful year and 2017 is looking just at bright. What are your plans? 
We are in development with two projects, which I can’t tell you too much about now.  This year is going to see us pushing our audiences to come with us as we break taboos and social conventions.  We live in unprecedented times and we want our comedy to reflect that.

Finally, tell us something about yourself that no one would expect?
I loved LA LA Land.  That’s right, I can appreciate an original musical as much as the next cynical satirist. Oh yeah, and I’m a MASSIVE Wiley fan.  His new album is pure fire.
You can watch Revolting on BBC iPlayer now

Interview by Sophie Exton

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