Actor Michael Obiora, who played nurse Lloyd, left CASUALTY last weekend. He kindly talks to holby.tv about his exit and future plans…
You’ve been on Casualty for two years, why have you decided to leave?
I remember growing up watching shows like Eastenders – I’d dip in and out as viewer. So sometimes I wouldn’t watch the show for a six months, or maybe a year. I started to notice that despite sometimes not watching for a while I’d still see a lot of the same characters. I was a child actor so from an early age I was aware of a certain type of snobbery towards soaps, and I was influenced by it. I’d say to myself, “wow, look at that actor playing the same role for years. He or she is lazy!”
Having just finished a two year stint on Casualty, which is the closest to being a regular on a soap I’ve come so far, I can now completely understand why an actor would enjoy that stability. It’s a regular income, which is rare for an actor, great for your profile, and if you have children, or a mortgage, being a series regular on a long-running show can be very attractive. But I am only 26 years old, and while I can afford to I want to chase as varied a career as possible. I’ve been working as an actor for the majority of my life, so I want to do everything I can to avoid any type of laziness setting in. But having said that, I don’t think it’s necessarily lazy to be on a show for a long time. It’s all about where you’re at. I really enjoyed acting pretty much everyday for the two years I was on Casualty. And I have a huge amount of respect for the cast and crew of soaps – the hours are very demanding.
Being a London boy, was it difficult filming in Cardiff on a permenant basis? Did this have any influence on your decision to leave?
The fact that the show films in Cardiff had nothing to do with me leaving the show. As an actor you have to go where the work is. And more and more projects are shot outside of London nowadays. But I really did miss my city when I was in Cardiff. I am very lucky to have travelled a lot, and I can’t help that this is going to sound biased but London is one of the greatest cities I’ve experienced. I love it so much. My favourite thing about it is the diversity. In London I think you can feel at home no matter your ethnicity, and I love that.
Are you pleased with how your character progressed during your time on the show?
In a word: yes. The show is very fast paced, and because it’s an ensemble sometimes it can feel as if your character is being neglected. But when I look back at Lloyd’s evolution I cannot complain. What a way to bow out of the show!
What will you miss most (and least!) from your time working on Casualty?
I will miss the lovely view of the bay I had from the enormous apartment I stayed in! I will miss the lovely costume and make up ladies we had, but one thing I will not miss at all is the rain! As a Londoner I’m not used to good weather, but it really did seem to rain all the time I was there!
What have been some of your most memorable storylines/ scenes to work on in Casualty?
My final block was one of my favourites – I really enjoyed my leaving storyline.
But without a doubt my favourite storyline was the Holby Riot two-parter. From a selfish point of view Lloyd had a great arc over those episodes. And I think the choreography and the stunts where impressive. I really enjoyed the night shoots, and it was fun to feel like an action hero for a little while!
My favourite scene was when Lloyd told Scarlett that he no longer recognized her after learning of her involvement in the riots. I thought her performance in that scene was brilliant.
What feedback did you get from viewers about your character?
People would sometimes say things like ‘hello, Mr Judgemental!’ while I would be buying groceries. And with social media it’s quite hard to avoid seeing comments that viewers have left, plus I was quite curious too! But things like that don’t bother me – at the end of the day, no viewers, no show. These people don’t know the actors, they know the characters, and that’s who they are judging. I do think that people can get a little carried away on discussion forums, but remembering that these people don’t know me helps me not to take it personally. And I’d much rather play a character that get’s people talking.
Any chance of returning to Casualty once Lloyd has retrained as a doctor?
I’m very excited to look to the future – there are so many roles out there that I want to play. But it’s nice that they have left the door open for a return. They didn’t have to do that.
Did you have a leaving party like Lloyd? What leaving presents did you get?
I had a really great leaving party! Lloyd’s karaoke scene was actually filmed on my last day, so that was a bit of a party itself. Then a large group of us went to a club that included live music, lot’s of dancing, drinking and eating! And I was really touched by the cards, flowers and gifts I got. I was training for the London Marathon at the time, so the cast got me a Nike Fuel Band.
Who do you hope to keep in touch with from the cast now that you’ve gone?
I got on with people in equal measure. You tend to get closer to the actors that you have the most storylines with. But Lloyd could be in a scene with any of the characters, and that’s one of the things I enjoyed about playing him. I swap occasional texts with some of the cast, and in this business there is often at least a mutual friend in common. So it’s not too hard to keep in touch without necessarily hanging out with each other.
Have there ever been any funny/ pranks or embarrassing moments on Set that you can share?
There’s one I’d love to share but I can’t! What I will say though is that it involves Matt Bardock and Jane Hazlegrove (Jeff and Dixie)! They had great banter together, and they made me laugh a lot!
What are your future plans now that you’ve left? Do you hope to continue with acting or pursue some of your other talents such as writing?
In this business it’s not possible to plan. There’s only so much control an actor has. But my goals remain the same: to do good work, and to keep enjoying myself. I’m about to start the second draft of my second novel, and I’m auditioning and enjoying the fact that for a while I don’t have to do anything that doesn’t excite me.
What would be your dream acting role?
The little boy in me says Rocky Balboa, James Bond, and Batman! And the adult in me says a Lawyer, or Stephen Bellamy in the Ides of March. So maybe a combination of a Lawyer who moonlights as a secret agent, and occasionally works as a political spin doctor!
You recently ran the London Marathon, how was it? Would you consider doing future marathon events?
I’m definitely going to do more in the future. It’s all about time. As an actor your schedule can change at the drop of a hat. Working on Casualty gave me a structure so I could actually stick to a training plan. But I may not be in that situation again. I always wanted to do a full marathon, and I’m happy to say I’ve done it now. I got injured a few months before and never recovered, so I didn’t complete the run in the time I wanted. I’m a competitive person so that makes me want to give it another go! But I’m really proud to have experienced that day. The crowd were amazing, and the fact that the events in
Boston only a week before didn’t stop people turning out in their droves is a beautiful thing.
Finally do you have a message for fans of holby.tv who have supported you during your time on Casualty?
THANK YOU SO MUCH. It’s down to people like yourselves that shows like Casualty are still going strong.