A stand-up guy – Actor Eros Vlahos talks about having 15th century hair and how he never really grew out of playing dress up

A stand-up guy – Actor Eros Vlahos talks about having 15th century hair and how he never really grew out of playing dress up

At only 19, London-born Eros Vlahos has racked up an impressive list of big-deal acting gigs – and it all started with a talent for comedy. Sent to try stand-up at Soho’s Comedy Academy 4 Kids at nine (in an attempt to channel his class-clown ways) led to writing his own material for a show at the Edinburgh Fringe six summers ago (he was 13!). Fresh from the Fringe, without any training, he started acting and learnt on the job. Those jobs included playing Cyril Gray in Nanny McPhee And The Big Bang, Jake Farley in Summer In Transylvania, Lommy Greenhands in Game Of Thrones and Nico, da Vinci’s eager apprentice in Da Vinci’s Demons. With a third season of Da Vinci’s Demons due for 2015, we saw a bubbly and happy Nico become a little bit darker – and Eros is thrilled, he tells Glass: “I really like it when I get to be a bit more conniving and meddling.”

In interviews there always seems to be a lot of banter between yourself, Tom Riley (who plays Leonardo da Vinci) and Gregg Chillin (who plays Zoroaster). Do you always have that much fun with each other?
Yes, we do. It feels like we’re kind of filming a comedy.

We’ve heard you play video games in your PJs with Gregg Chillin, is that true?
We live in the same apartment block [during filming], so it’s our way of preparing for the day ahead. I’m not in my PJs now – it’s 1pm, so I’ve been dressed for at least half an hour. [Laughs]

Eros Vahlos A stand-up guy £

You’ve said that you don’t “seriously” prepare for your scenes. Do you find it easy to get into character?
We’ve been doing Da Vinci’s Demons for so long now and that’s the benefit of doing a series: you do all your prep work and find the character to begin with. My character is a historical figure, so I read all of his work. The good thing with David Goyer’s writing – especially the first two episodes – is it’s so very clear and well-written that you immediately find the character on the page. For me I kept reading and then asked myself how the character gets from where he is in the script to where he ends up historically. Now, the minute I put on the leather trousers that’s it, I’m ready to go.

So you don’t often wear leather trousers outside of work?
I don’t make a habit of it. Don’t get me wrong, they’re comfortable, but they’re not really my style.

Do you watch your scenes back afterwards?
Yes … well, through my hands. You know how when you see yourself in a photo it’s like, “Oh god, is that what I look like?”

Are you drawn to period scripts?
I think it’s the hair. People see it and think, “This guy’s definitely from the 1400s.” But yeah, I enjoy period pieces. There’s something really childlike about getting all dressed up in period costumes; it’s like fancy dress, which makes it a lot more fun in a way. It’s got that charm to it. You don’t get that same feel when you’re just wearing jeans and a hoodie. The whole dressing-up thing as a kid, I never grew out of it.

What does it mean to you to be a central character in a show of this magnitude and popularity?
It’s great! When I first started I had about 300 Twitter followers – it was just me shouting random things to nobody – and now, two years later, I’ve got more followers and people are telling me how much they love the show. I’ll wake up in the morning and there’ll be a tweet saying, “Loved you last night” and I’m like, “Wow”.

Does it ever feel weird to think that you have an audience and it’s not just you filming on a set?
It’s so strange. When we’re filming in an old abandoned warehouse for six months, we mess around and it’s like our own little playground. We do all these action scenes, and we film it all, but we don’t get much interaction with the outside world. It does feel like we’re doing our own thing, and then suddenly it airs and you realise that other people are seeing it – it’s really strange.

Talking about your Twitter feed (@Eros_V)… it’s a gag a minute.
It’s some really bad jokes, I do apologise for that. But I can’t help it, that’s just what I do. I read Twitter all the time and I got bored of doing the ‘promotional thing’ and I thought, ‘Hell, I’m just going to tweet every random thought that comes into my head’.

Are you always thinking in punchlines?
Yeah, yeah, too much… really, too much. It ruins many social situations. There are lots of terrible one-liners that go on between me and my friends.

Is Twitter the only outlet for your comedic side these days?
Writing is something I’ve always enjoyed – the whole comedy side. But I enjoy Twitter because while I’m working, anything that comes into my head I have an outlet for it straight away. That’s the joy of Twitter for me. Also, being able to respond to people and interact is great.

You were introduced to stand-up comedy when you were nine. How did you get into that? Its not like swim club or Little Kickers, it’s quite unusual.
[Laughs] it is a bit unusual. A guy called James Campbell started this comedy academy for kids [in London]. The idea was that he’d do stand-up just for kids. Then he started a club where kids could go along and tell jokes. My mum thought this would stop me from getting into trouble at school – I used to be a class clown. She took me there and was like, “ ”Look, tell all your dumb jokes here, in this padded room, and then go to school and behave.“ ” I really enjoyed it and one thing led to another and I ended up in Edinburgh.

How did stand-up lead to a career in acting?
After my stand-up show in Edinburgh, people started calling up my mum. She asked a friend of hers who ran a tiny performance arts agency to put me on their books and deal with the calls. Then they were like, “ ”Hey why don’t you also go in for this film.“ ” When I started acting I thought it was way more fun than stand-up.

You’ve never had any formal training, does acting come naturally to you?
All the actors in Da Vinci’s Demons are trained actors, in a way that’s been a great help because I haven’t needed to go to drama school, I’ve had a few years surrounded by really talented actors who’ve been open to sharing what they’ve learnt. In amongst that wealth of experience I feel like it’s work-related school. And I also think there are some things you can only pick up when you’re on set.

Which are your favourite characters to play?
I kinda like playing awful characters – like the real dicks. They’re so fun; you can just take all the evil thoughts you have in real life and just throw them out.

by Natalie Egling