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COMMITTED EXCLUSIVE: An Interview w/ Dragon Crusaders' Simon Lloyd-Roberts!

With Mark Atkins' Dragon Crusaders bowing on DVD for The Asylum this coming Tuesday, here at Committed I've been taking a closer look at some of the creative personnel behind this fantasy epic. Today, an exclusive interview with actor Simon Lloyd-Roberts, who plays the character "Maldwyn" in the film. Dragon Crusaders marks Mr. Lloyd-Roberts' third feature film, all three of which have been for The Asylum: Merlin and the War of Dragons (also a Mark Atkins' film), Sherlock Holmes and now Dragon Crusaders. Today also happens to be his birthday. Best wishes!

COMMITTED: Tell us a bit about where you’re from, and how you got into acting.

Simon Lloyd-Roberts: I'm born and raised in North Wales all of my [almost] 27 years now. If I had to describe where I live in the simplest terms, I would simply say there's lots of mountains, lots of green fields, and lots of castles. But that's why North Wales appeals so much as a location for making films, especially the kind of sword and sorcery epics Mark Atkins has made over here.

As for how I got into acting...the honest truth is I believe I simply turned round one day when I was about 10 years old and suddenly had this idea that I'd quite like to be an actor, and unlike most ideas I get into my head I actually stuck with this one. I took up training opportunities wherever I could find them, and just kept at it as the years went on. I'm glad to say I've finally started getting somewhere with it in the last few years.

C: Who were some of the actors you looked up to as an aspiring thespian?

SLR:  As a fellow Welshman, I would have to say Anthony Hopkins. I've always felt he brings a brilliant subtlety to all his work, and that he always blends it with just the right amount, and style, of charisma depending on the type of character he plays. I just think it's a bit of a shame that his success is almost always (in my opinion) based solely on the Hannibal Lecter films, because he's been in the business a long time, and he has done so much more stuff just as great as Silence Of The Lambs.

C:  You’ve made three films, all with The Asylum. How did you come to work with the studio?

SLR: It's really as a result of them coming over to North Wales to shoot some of their movies. Back in 2008 Mark Atkins came over to shoot Merlin And The War Of The Dragons, and he was already in contact at that time with Dylan Jones (my Merlin and Dragon Crusaders co-star), because he's an accomplished stunt horse rider as well as being an actor, and he wanted to get his stunt team involved in the film, and then with our agent Helen Pritchard, who was given the responsibility of helping to cast the film. I was just lucky enough to turn out to be exactly what he was looking for when auditioning the role of Merlin. It was undoubtedly my first really big break.

And since then I've also worked with Rachel Goldenberg very briefly on Sherlock Holmes nearly two years ago, and more recently I'm glad to say Mark Atkins was obviously happy enough to work with me again, because I was lucky enough to get one of the principal roles in Dragon Crusaders.

C:What’s it like working with Mark Atkins?

SLR: It's cool, really. Without doubt I owe him a lot because, like I said, he gave me my first big film break with Merlin three years ago, and at a time of my life when I'd begun to suffer a lot of self-doubt to the point where I was briefly considering packing in the acting dream, that gave me the lift I needed, and a new belief in myself.

I've always believed he has a lot of love for the stuff he films; the whole fantasy, myth and ancient legends thing. I think he has expressed an affection for North Wales as a film location ever since he was first there three years ago - I was always expecting him to eventually come back here to shoot another movie at some point. And he always manages to get the job done, often well and truly against the odds, so that's impressive enough in itself. It's even better when it's him and Scott Wheeler working together, as has been the case both times he's come to North Wales. They're a good partnership!

C: Those two Atkins’ films are also both fantasy films. Is that an area you feel particularly drawn to? What other sorts of genres or types of roles are you interested in?

SLR: Definitely! If it's something that combines fantasy with plenty of action and sword fighting then it gets my interest. I would be a happy man if I could spend the rest of my life working in films like that.

But one of my big interests, besides acting, is history. In the last few years I've also been lucky enough to land major parts in a National Geographic documentary series called Mystery Files, in which I've played a Russian prince involved in the killing of Rasputin, a Roman senator, and more recently got to portray Adolf Hitler during his German Army days in World War 1. They were all great, and challenging, projects to work on, and definitely the sort of film work I enjoy most - anything historical or period.

C: Without spoiling anything, what can you tell us about Dragon Crusaders, or your character, “Maldwyn?”

SLR: Honestly, the synopsis of the film on the Asylum website really tells you most of what you need to know. It's about a band of fugitive Knights Templar - all of them good men - who accidentally fall under a magical curse that dooms them to turn into evil monsters unless they can destroy the source of the curse. It's a fairly simple plot point that sets in motion all of the action that takes place in the film, and there is a lot of action to be had in this one. It has this element of "The evil that men are capable of" that I like a lot.

My character, Maldwyn, is the young member of this group of Templars. Despite his youth, he has a hardness and an edge to him, and has no hesitation rushing into danger and putting his life on the line to defend the innocent, and displays an athletic ability in battle to defeat his enemies - at least I THINK this was something like the character synopsis I was given for the audition, and it's what I've tried to go for in playing the role. How much of that I've actually managed to pull off, and how well, is another question (especially the whole "athletic" bit). I can only hope and pray!

C: Any projects on the horizon you’d like to mention?

SLR: Right now I'm waiting to hear word on a project I worked on back in March which, I believe, is nearing completion, and I'm very excited about, although I can't really give away very much about it. Also, there's a short film I worked on a couple of years ago, written by Helen Pritchard, which hasn't really seen the light of day until just recently, but has turned out really well and is now being planned as a pilot for a potential series of six short films.
Other than that, I'm just eagerly awaiting the release of Dragon Crusaders at the end of September. It will be good to see the whole cast and crew's hard work on display, hopefully for a lot of people's entertainment. Fingers crossed!

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