Check out our exclusive interview with Model/Actor Toby Sandeman!
An English born fashion model, actor and sprint athlete. Toby has modelled for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and has even worked the with the legendary Naomi Campbell for Vogue magazine. Toby is now playing Prince Sebastian on Season 3 of the E!’s hit show the The Royals we sat down with model turned actor to discuss the his new exciting role.
The Knockturnal: So you’re on The Royals, on the E! Channel. For everyone who doesn’t know, tell us who your character is and how he gets involved in the mix, because it’s already a pretty crazy mix.
Toby Sandeman: It is a crazy mix, so Sebastian Idrisi a Moroccan prince and I come in a time when the princess, Princess Eleanor, has broken up with her boyfriend the bodyguard.
The Knockturnal: Yes I remember that saga, it was very much drama and messiness.
Toby Sandeman: Oh yes, and it happened one episode before and I was, ‘cos I didn’t know when it happened; I arrived having not seen the previous scripts.
The Knockturnal: Did you watch the show prior to coming on the show?
Toby Sandeman: I hadn’t watched the show prior, so immediately I got caught up to date, but I didn’t know it was literally the next episode, and they have a huge following so I was nervous to say the least.
The Knockturnal: So tell us how you got the part and what that process was like.
Toby Sandeman: I auditioned for the part, it’s a UK production so I sent a tape over and it was a direct booking; one of the easier ones. They were looking for that guy, a Moroccan Prince, British accent, they knew what they wanted and I kind of fit the mold as such.
The Knockturnal: The show is pretty big here in the US.
Toby Sandeman: It’s huge here.
The Knockturnal: Is it just as big in the UK?
Toby Sandeman: No, because we don’t buy into the royal family the same way Americans do. I think you guys enjoy it because it’s everything that you want it to be.
The Knockturnal: Right, we don’t have royal people here.
Toby Sandeman: Exactly, and especially not ones who are the party princess and the queen sleeping with everyone.
The Knockturnal: Well I mean we have Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian
Toby Sandeman: They get around.
The Knockturnal: Yeah, that’s as close as we get.
Toby Sandeman: So I’ve heard.
The Knockturnal: Yeah, so we’ve heard, allegedly.
Toby Sandeman: Allegedly, as reported by TMZ.
The Knockturnal: Exactly, “fake news.”
Toby Sandeman: “Alternative facts.”
The Knockturnal: So you guys aren’t into The Crown?
Toby Sandeman: The Crown has been given its due accolades just because it’s The Crown and, it’s very somber and British and what we like, but I love The Royals because it’s fun. It’s fun to watch, you know sometimes you just need to come home, turn on the TV, and see something that takes you away from that, what’s currently going on.
Toby Sandeman: Cough, cough. There is a lot going on. It is a trying time for a lot of people.
The Knockturnal: So talk about the progression of your character throughout the season and what we see him go through.
Toby Sandeman: So initially he comes in as, a love interest obviously, and I say obviously in the sense that: they’ve just broken up and in swoops this other prince. But what seems to happen is that a friendship is forged and he starts inspiring her to do other things with her life other than just party. He sees something within her, he sees a “fire” as he describes it, a talent, within her and he wants her to go forth and explore those.
The Knockturnal: Do you guys, ‘cos I know she’s just getting over the bodyguard, do you kind of fall into a love triangle?
Toby Sandeman: Well it’s definitely set up that way for season four; there is a triangular look at, well, Jasper looks at the princess and then she looks at me and then I look at Jasper and there’s all of that going on but I don’t know how it’s gonna develop. They’ve got me in the dark just as everyone else … I know that they have a deep love and I think Sebastian has good intentions, and he wants the best for the princess so we’re gonna see, I don’t know-
The Knockturnal: That’s saying a lot for the rest of the cast ‘cos there’s very few people with good intentions on that show.
Toby Sandeman: Fact. Very true and it’s just, with the brother coming back and Prince Robert coming back and causing so much … chaos within the family, it’s definitely gonna be a, a war is brewing as they’d say.
The Knockturnal: Now so let’s talk your cast mates because you have some really good ones, you know the legend Ms. Elizabeth.
Toby Sandeman: Elizabeth Hurley, wow. As a model, you know, I’ve walked into quite a few makeup trailers and makeup rooms, but walking in there and there sitting the pin-up lady for my childhood, you know, Elizabeth Hurley I mean she’s stunning at 50 I mean have you seen her body-
The Knockturnal: Is she 50 now?
Toby Sandeman: She’s 50 now.
The Knockturnal: Oh my god, I would never believe that.
Toby Sandeman: Her body is absolutely phenomenal, I mean she looks fantastic. But, you know, so down to Earth and you know I love all the cast and I’m not just saying that like, they’re really good to me, it was my debut on the TV screen and they greeted me with such a love and help, they really guided me through the process.
The Knockturnal: Obviously you guys are having fun on the show, is it just as much fun in real life?
Toby Sandeman: Absolutely. I mean we’re always having a good time … the work ethic is there and everyone is there to do a job and that job is definitely done but, I mean, cracking jokes continuously and, no I loved every minute. It was really was a dream, I’m not just saying that. It was … You know I’m not really one to say that the right one is the right one and you get things at the right time but I honestly don’t think there are many other productions that I could have walked in as my first ever job on the set of, to film and it be that good of an experience. It was just, it was amazing.
The Knockturnal: Talk about modeling and how that’s helped prepare you for acting.
Toby Sandeman: There definitely is somewhat of a comfortability in front of the camera. It’s different in quite a few aspects but … I’ll talk about being on set. On set what can happen, which I find happens, when you’re on a good shoot, on a good modeling shoot, the rest becomes background; everything else going on, other people, things that when you’re shooting, I can be there with the photographer and no one else exists and that similarly happens with your co-star hopefully. There’s an awful lot going on on a film set but once they say “action” … Having modeled for more years than I care to admit, there’s a comfortability there where things drift away.
The Knockturnal: You did a short film not too long ago.
Toby Sandeman: “Conversations of Ed-Dick-Shawn”, which if you run it together it’s “Conversations of Addiction.” It was a very avant-garde and a very ultra-low budget, I didn’t know what I was doing. I wrote something because it came to me and I wanted to showcase … My hope and my dreams but also there was something going on at the time, it was actually when Philip Seymour Hoffman had just passed away and he’s an astounding actor, I can’t even get in to how much I love him but … There was a man who was in his 40’s who was one of the best actors who has ever done it, won academy awards, countless other awards, has a family. From the outside, he had everything and yet it wasn’t the shiny apple for him. There was still this draw away for him, and for him it was drugs and I wanted to explore what would make someone go back, you know, into addiction and a friend [was] within the throes of his addiction, which was gambling for him, he committed suicide. I wanted to know what was going on so I created this film noir, black and white film, and I tried to go inside the mind of addiction. With a little success.
The Knockturnal: For those who want to see this film, where can they see it and how?
Toby Sandeman: You cannot find it. I have hidden it forever.
The Knockturnal: Okay, we have to dig that up.
Toby Sandeman: No. Well, it got accepted into Sundance, we didn’t get nominated but we got accepted into Sundance and when that happened I got a manager off the bat and it’s very weird. When you put something out there that you’ve written, that you directed and for me like I said I know nothing about either two and you know the level I know in acting, this is your baby. It’s your absolute baby and it’s out there for the world to see and everything that comes with that.
The Knockturnal: This is why I have not put my project out yet.
Toby Sandeman: It’s tough, I commend anyone who does that. But for me it served its purpose and I took it down off the world wide web but I’m sure someone has it now. So many great African American projects out this year, between Hidden Figures and Moonlight and Fences … I actually got into my acting agency because I auditioned for Moonlight. Oh, and let me tell you, I read this script and I was actually given the sides for the beach scene. I don’t know if you’ve seen it?
The Knockturnal: Oh yeah, I think three times.
Toby Sandeman: Right, oh wow!
The Knockturnal: Yeah.
Toby Sandeman: (Laughter) The beach sides, yes. Yeah I was reading the sides and you know at the time I didn’t know anything, because this was my way in to getting an agent, I didn’t know about Moonlight … it hadn’t floated past me before-
The Knockturnal: Well how do the sides come to you? Sorry.
Toby Sandeman: Exactly, my agent gave them to me and then it was an audition to get into the agencies, into the acting agency.
The Knockturnal: Wow, okay.
Toby Sandeman: So I read these slides and, and I was like okay.
The Knockturnal: How long ago was that?
Toby Sandeman: They were casting for the film late Summer of 2015. Late, late Summer, I want to even call it Autumn. So I read them and I was like “okay, why am I getting these sides?” Because on a first glance here’s these two kids getting high on the beach in the hood, and low and behold reading it and re-reading and reading it, and suddenly it clicked and I was like “oh my god, they’re in love.” Here is a boy who has immense feelings, and he can’t show them for fear of circumstance, for fear of friendship, for fear of love and it just, it was an amazing, once I understood that it completely changed. Actually what was even more amazing than that was we did, I sent in a tape and that’s how I got signed, but they actually forwarded that tape to casting because though it was for the young, I think he’s 14 or meant to be 14.
The Knockturnal: Yes, well it’s in three stages. At that point he’s meant to be in High School around 14/15.
Toby Sandeman: Right, so it was very much “Toby Sandeman could not play 14 years old.”
The Knockturnal: Right, cause…
Toby Sandeman: That is a big 14. Right. I mean what was funny is I didn’t even put two and two together actually until not too long ago, and it wasn’t even me who put it together; a good friend of mine, she was going through my computer and she said “oh, you auditioned for Moonlight?”
The Knockturnal: You didn’t even realize.
Toby Sandeman: Because it was so long ago, I hadn’t even put two and two together
The Knockturnal: Oh wow.
Toby Sandeman: I mean, of course it had to do what it did and it’s an amazing. So that was my little piece.
The Knockturnal: That was a great story.
Toby Sandeman: One amazing film, how beautifully shot it was, how beautifully and artistically it was done, but what a shame that we haven’t responded as a people to that film the same way we did with Brokeback Mountain … Where the budget of Brokeback Mountain, if I’m not mistaken, was somewhere around fourteen million and it made, if I’m not mistaken, somewhere around one hundred and seventy-eight million, and I believe so far if I’m not mistaken, I could be mistaken, but I think it pulled in twenty million Moonlight and it’s … I don’t know how far it is now, but it’s not the numbers it should be for that type of quality of film.
The Knockturnal: I think as a community, African Americans are still figuring out how to embrace the LGBTQ community so, it’s gonna take a while but I’m glad all the attention of Moonlight is getting and bringing up the conversation.
Toby Sandeman: And more than the conversations actually, I’m happy that people are going out there and doing their part and not letting anyone or anything come in between the unity and the progress that we’ve had over the years.
The Knockturnal: Are you inspired to maybe write again or write and produce and direct something again of your own?
Toby Sandeman: I eventually definitely want to work with people in that aspect of writing, I don’t think directing just because it seems like the largest headache of all time. The amazing thing is: the work that’s being put out there now on film, TV though is at such a quality that I’m like “I want to do other people’s work.” I want to be on a Shonda Rhimes Show you know.
The Knockturnal: Right!!!??
Toby Sandeman: I mean, the way that things have been written now. The stories that are being told, they’re just amazing.
The Knockturnal: And there’s so many mediums now between Hulu and Netflix and Amazon.
Toby Sandeman: I mean, so much choice. So much choice. I love acting, I love being a part of film in that way for right now and I want to explore that avenue.
The Knockturnal: Amazing. Well congratulations on all the success.
Toby Sandeman: Thank you so much.
Photos: Sean Kilkenny