(Written for The National Student)
Alexander Arnold, 19, shot to fame in 2011 after attending open auditions for E4’s British teen drama Skins. Starring as metal-head Richard Hardback in the award-winning series, Thomas Mitchell catches up with the young star ahead of the series finale to talk fans, wigs and E4’s decision to axe the series.
E4 have just announced that they plan to axe Skins after next year’s series, with cast members from previous series set to return. If given the opportunity, would you like to return as Rich for one last time?
I’m interested to see what they do with the old cast members, but as of yet I don’t know anything about what they plan to do with my character. The idea is a great tribute to a fantastic show and I look forward to finding out more as it happens.
We’ve seen you step into the role of Rich for the past two years. What have you enjoyed about playing him?
Now that I’ve finished Skins, I feel like I’ve got to know someone who is very close to me. I’d probably say that Rich is a part of who I am in an odd way. Like me, he tends to get into a mixed bag of quite hilarious antics, along with some fairly heavy-handed drama.
Do you see any other similarities between you and Rich?
Yeah of course! At the end of the day all you have is yourself to draw on. People always tell me that I’m like Rich. He makes me laugh, and I think of him as being a cool and funny guy. Unfortunately I don’t think I have any of those traits!
How do you think your character has been perceived among audiences?
I don’t think I can really be a voice for people who’ve watched the show, and suggest what they think of Rich, because I wouldn’t be able to represent their thoughts! I’ve had some positive things said by fans which are nice. But I guess I just wanted people to be able to understand him. He’s a person like everyone – with strengths and flaws.
Skins was adapted for the American audience – Did you see it?
I didn’t see the American version but I wished the cast well. It’s a shame that America wouldn’t accept it. It’s daft when your hear people who complain and they haven’t even seen the show, I think that would really bug me. I’ve heard it wasn’t even as explicit as the one over here, so I don’t know, it puzzles me.
Why do you think Skins is so popular among its audience?
It’s funny to me how some Americans are also fans of the British show. I’ve always seen the show as a very sort of British programme in a way. But nonetheless I imagine it’s because it’s a look into a culture. It’s a good representative of British youth culture, and I think it really captures the ‘feeling’ of being a teenager. That’s rare for a show to do, particularly on British television. Skins is really a show like no other – Quite cool actually isn’t it?
What is the one memory you will take away from your experience on Skins?
When we all met in Bristol for the first time, we went to the college green. I’d never been to Bristol before, but it was a funny and charming evening. We all got to know each other really quickly, and all made complete fools of ourselves. But I doubt it will be as easy as that in years to come – Oh no!
Have you ever had any strange experiences with fans?
I didn’t really get many experiences with fans last year. I didn’t get spotted because of the costumed wig I wore, which I imagine made me look a bit different, but I’ve been recognised quite a bit since the image change. I’m never really that good with it though. I feel very awkward and don’t know what to do. To me it doesn’t really make sense. I’ve been called at before “Skins!” they would cry and I’d say “Hello” but then they never seem to say anything else, so maybe it’s just me!
What sort of role would you like to do next?
I’d love to play someone who you might have difficulty liking at first; I find those characters quite interesting. I think maybe a character more extroverted and maybe confident would be something that’s different to how Rich was.
Tell us something about yourself that we don’t know.
Apart from really being into my music, I write a lot of stories and poems. I’m also quite fond of drawing, but besides from that I don’t really do a lot else.
Catch Alexander as Rich in Skins this Monday on E4 & see him in action below: