A show about audacious young women in search of British husbands in 19th century England set to modern pop music and dressed up in vibrant, contemporary attire might sound familiar, but Apple TV+’s period series The Buccaneers isn’t a Bridgerton spinoff.
Despite parallels to the popular Netflix series, there’s a different tone and charm to The Buccaneers, which should be at least partially credited to the emotion and charisma 28-year-old British actor and model Guy Remmers brought to the series.
Derived from Edith Wharton’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning book of the same name, Remmers portrays the roguish Duke of Tintagel as the series follows a set of intrepid American socialites on the hunt for an aristocratic British husband at the height of debutante season. Set in 1870s Cornwall, this contemporary reinterpretation mixes novel’s sophistication and tension with a tantalizing new love triangle centred around Nan St. George (Kristine Froseth), Guy Thwarte (Matthew Broome), and of course the Duke of Tintagel.
Fresh off the season finale of The Buccaneers, Guy Remmers sits down with 1883 to speak about what led him to land the part of Theo, he and the cast’s dance parties, and what he hopes for his character in the upcoming season two.
Thanks for taking the time to chat today! Now that all episodes of The Buccaneers are out in the world and you’re actually able to talk about it, how does it feel to have it out?
It feels amazing. It’s quite a strange feeling, putting so much time and effort and so much of your life into creating something and then almost a year after finishing it, it comes out and you kind of, you relive the project through the eyes of how viewers are seeing it. So yeah, it’s been very, very, very cool, very surreal and really special.
We’ll come back to The Buccaneers, but I wanted to go back a little bit – when did you first decide you wanted to become an actor?
I would say it was probably in secondary school, which was a time in my life when I wasn’t very good at many other subjects. I’m quite badly dyslexic, so I wasn’t very good at English, Math, History or Science. One of the few projects where I had a teacher that really inspired me and gave me the belief that I was decent at something was drama. And so that was my first introduction to it. I remember being encouraged to audition for a school play. We did a rendition of Bugsy Malone and I played a small part– one of the policemen. I think that was my first ever time in a stage play. And then from there, I joined an after-school drama group.
Then, from there, when I went to six form college, I enrolled in the performing arts course. I found out about an open or an audition happening at the Bristol Old Vic, which is where I’m from. I’m from Bristol, and the Bristol Old Vic is one of the main theatres in Bristol. I got lucky– I was in the right place at the right time and got a role in this play called The Grandfathers, which was very successful and did a long run at the Bristol Vic and transferred and went to the National Theatre. I think that was my first professional paid acting job, that job. And that was the moment when I knew I wanted to tell stories and and actually for the rest of my life, that moment at the National Theatre was, that was the, that was the moment where it turned from something I loved to something I loved and something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Obviously theatre is very different from film and TV – were there any specific types of films, TV shows or characters that made you want to pursue this career path?
There were definitely, I think one of my favorite plays of all time I’ve seen was Mojo at the Harold Pinter Theatre written by Jess Butterworth – Ben Wishall, Rupert Grint and Daniel Mays were in it – and it was just me and my friends. We still talk about it to this day. It was incredible. So that was a play that I often think about and have been inspired by massively. I took one of the monologues that Ben Whishaw does as the character Baby, and I did it in my drama school edition. So that was a big inspiration for me, that specific play with that cast. And then for TV and film– it’s a bit of a classic cliché one, but Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction was an early one that I watched. I was so inspired by the characters and how full of life they are, and colorful and funny, but so rich with emotion and depth. And then for television, Armando Iannucci’s The Thick of It and In the Loop, specifically Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker which he does in the series and the film was a huge, huge inspiration for me. Just that quick, witty… humour, lots of swearing, it was just the sharpness, I think, of his delivery and his commitment. So those are some plays and films that definitely inspired me.
Tell me about the events that led you to audition for the role of Theo in The Buccaneers. What was it about his character that made you want to go for it?
So I originally auditioned for a different part. I originally taped for the role of Miles Dawnley, played by the incredible Shobhit. And so that was my first introduction to the project and I remember really, really loving the tape. I then got asked to come in and do a recall for the role of Theo, and that all happened quite quickly. I think sometimes when you audition there are characters that you need to do quite a lot of research and work – really think about who that character is and how they sound, and how they move. But for some reason, when I got the audition through for Theo, it was one of those ones where everything just kind of sat into place naturally. And there were these other things that I added on as layers, like how he holds himself as a Duke and other things that are very different to Guy Remmers, but his kind of soul and his core felt quite in line with my own. And so that was something that really drew me to him, I could feel him in a way. I don’t know if that sounds really pretentious, but I could kind of get into who he was without thinking about it too much.
I feel like despite his title and position, there’s a lot of emotional depth to Theo. What did you do to prepare to take on this role?
Yeah, I think that massively. I’ve spent a long time trying to imagine what it would be like to not only be born into that life but also to despise it and to feel like it’s a kind of a shadow over his personality, who he is and losing his father and being an only child – feeling the responsibility of his family’s lineage on his shoulders. Yeah, a huge amount of pressure. Now, I think for me, I was very lucky with the cast that I was surrounded with. And actually, there were things I would do on a day with a particularly emotional scene– I often sing the Māori national anthem. My dad’s from New Zealand and he taught me the Māori national anthem when I was younger, and whenever I sing it I get really emotional, I don’t know why. So that’s something I sometimes do. But I was surrounded by such an incredible cast that often it was just the actor I was in front of, whether that be Kristine Froseth or Matthew Broome or Amelia Bullmore. When I was in front of them, all the emotion was there in them and I just needed to lock in with them and be present with them and it kind of came. I was so lucky to work with people who could get that out of me.
It is clear that the cast has an enormous amount of on-screen chemistry, which I’m assuming would translate well off-set. What was it like being in Scotland with the cast when the cameras weren’t rolling? Do you have any off-screen memories you can share?
Yeah, it was such a beautiful, tight-knit group of people and we all got on so well. I’m really pleased to hear that it translates ’cause we were all such good friends and we hung out all the time and we’d go dancing together and we were friends. Me and Matthew Broome, we got quite into photography and both bought second-hand cameras and we’d go to the photography store together and get a new film and talk about the scripts and the episodes. All of us– Josh Dylan, Barney, Shobhit, we would go and have a Nepalese curry every week together. Josie Totaht– her flat kind of became the flat that everyone would hang out in, so there’d be times when all of us would be in Josie’s flat hanging out. As a cast we all love to dance so much that we would go out dancing – I have friends who sometimes when they’re out dancing they’re quite reserved, and I think everyone has friends who are reserved – but for some reason, our whole cast would go out and dance the night away. The Buccaneers love to dance [laughs].
This is obviously a period piece, but the show touches on a lot of modern issues, including equality, domestic abuse, sexism and more. How does it feel to be a part of a show shedding light on those subjects?
Oh, it’s amazing. It’s a privilege. I hope that it continues and I hope more shows and projects continue to shed light on those topics you mentioned. I think it can always be more. The creative team that we all worked with were so great and so delicate with those subjects. But we’re very truthful. I could say nothing more than it was a privilege.
There’s also a lot of modern music in the show. I always find it interesting when actors make playlists for their characters. Did you have a playlist for Theo to help you get into character? If so, can you share some of the songs that were on it?
I didn’t have a specific playlist for Theo, but I definitely had songs that I would listen to. I think I found myself listening to a lot of Grime. A lot of Skepta and Ghetts and Kano. I find that Grime really helps me focus and feel ready to kind of do something with all my being and all my effort. I feel like Grime is very motivating for me.
So Grime and the New Zealand National Anthem [laughs].
Yeah [laughs]. It’s a weird, weird mix.
In the season finale, we see that Nan chose to follow through with her marriage to Theo as it was the best decision to make sure she could take care of her sister. Do you think this was the right decision for her?
I think so. I think I think under the circumstances, the situation Ginny is in with Seadown, my love for Nan and Guys’ love for Nan, I think that those types of things take a back seat under those circumstances for sure. So yeah, I think given the circumstances that Nan and Ginny were under, I think it was the right decision. That’s not to say I’m not gutted for Theo, and who knows what might happen, and of course he doesn’t know everything that’s just gone on. But someone’s life and well-being trumps a lot of the romantic storylines.
I know it was just announced that the show is being renewed for a season 2 – congrats! What do you hope for your character?
Thank you so much! So I’m just so happy that we will get to be back together and continue. He’s left in quite a sticky situation. I tell you what, this sounds like a very unrealistic answer, but I hope that he and Nan can both be happy. I don’t know how that can work, but I also really hope that Guy and Theo – they were such good friends. They were almost like brothers and it’s so sad that That seems to have been quite badly jeopardized. So I hope Nan and Theo can both be happy, and I hope there’s a world in which Guy and Theo don’t become complete strangers to each other, but I’m not sure how that can all work, but that’s why I hope. I mean, I think that’s what anyone would hope for these characters.
Where do you hope your career takes you next? Are there any types of films or series you’d like to tackle?
Yeah, I really hope I get to continue telling these types of stories that resonate with myself and viewers and people who watch them. In terms of specific things, The Buccaneers is obviously a period piece set in 1871. So I think it would be really cool to play someone who lives in the modern day in, in current times, or in a spaceship – you know, a different period would be really cool. But I think any story that I connect to, any character that I feel like I can find their voice and portray them and embody them truthfully is a project I want to be a part of. I mean, it would be a dream to work with Tarantino or Martin McDonagh or Armando Iannucci – those are some directors that I’m a huge fan of. But essentially any character that I really connect to.
The Buccaneers is streaming now on Apple TV+.