Meet the new Plebs cast member | Interview with Jonathan Pointing on joining the ITV2 comedy

Meet the new Plebs cast member

Interview with Jonathan Pointing on joining the ITV2 comedy

Jon Pointing, who has something of a word-of-mouth hit at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, has joined the cast of ITV’s Ancient Roman comedy Plebs. His new character, Jason, replaces Stylax, after actor Joel Fry quit after two series. Here Ponting talks about joining the cast, turning up for work naked, and being good at drinking…

Were you aware of Plebs before you joined the show?

I was aware of it but I’d never watched it. Obviously when I got the job I binge-watched it all to bring me up to speed. I thought it was great, it’s not what I expected. It’s quite cartoony but so well written and I was instantly into it, it’s right up my street.

Were you nervous coming into a show like this?

The nerves come and go to be honest. The great thing is I got on really well with the other guys quite quickly, so that really helped. I’ve never been on a set for this long, so when I start thinking about how it’s going to be received, that’s when the nerves creep in a little bit, but it’s best to try and not overthink that stuff because it stops you enjoying what you’re doing in the moment. 

What is Jason like?

Jason’s quite a happy-go-lucky person who really lives in the moment. When I read the part it was when Love Island was on so I instantly thought about all those kinds of people, and then people like Joey Essex. Those people who are quite infectious, just floating through life and happy to be there. So Jason’s very much like that, he’s enthusiastic about everything.

How do the other lads react to him?

Very quickly they just accept him! Also, because he’s relentlessly enthusiastic about things, things don’t affect him as much, so he’s just happy to be around them regardless of whether they think he’s an idiot! 

Everyone always ends up naked at some point during this show, was that something you were worried about before you started?

I tried not to think about it too much! Obviously you do worry whether it’s going to be a bit awkward, but then it’s like anything, it’s the job, you just get on with it and quite quickly it feels like any other scene that you have to do a bunch of times. 

Did you hit the gym beforehand?

I had all this time before I started and I kept saying that I would go to the gym, but no. It never really happened! When I first got out here I got into a really good routine, I was exercising but as time went on I got more exhausted so I stopped going and things started to wobble a bit more! I wonder whether I am going to look different in every episode and will suddenly look like I’ve ballooned by the last episode! 

Tell us about your naked scene….

Well, I’ve had to do quite a few… It actually feels like I’m naked all the time. The first one was with all three of us, we were naked walking through town. I think it actually makes it easier when we’re all naked.

 It was a really nice day and there were loads of extras there but no one was really bothered about the fact everything was hanging out.It’s just another day at the office for them, everyone’s used to it. It is the thing that people have nightmares about, turning up to work with no clothes on, but it’s all in the spirit of the silliness of the show. 

There’s no point me worrying about how good I look because it’s not really the point, I just throw myself into it. 

What else does Jason get up to this series?

The boys start running a bar together and his goal is to use that to get with as many women as possible! That’s his main objective and the bar is a good hunting ground!

Is he good with the ladies?

I wouldn’t say he’s the new heartthrob of Rome! He’s a bit goofy at times, I think he’s a bit too eager! There are times when I’ve read something in the script and wondered whether he’s a bit creepy, I didn’t want him to come across as gross. But you just have to trust the writing because when you film the scenes and when what he does is in context, it’s actually really funny, Jason’s just a bit keen. He does have a couple of successes in the love department. With one there’s a hint that there are more feelings involved and it’s not just sex.

So you have a few sex scenes?

Oh yes! It’s never really straight-forward in Plebs though! It was actually quite tiring. It was me and Kathryn Drysdale who plays Cleo, it was quite difficult because the position they had us in meant I had to hold her up for an hour. 

It was a bit silly, it’s not like you’re going to see this really raunchy, passionate sex scene, in Plebs it’s always a bit awkward or something weird is going on. I think it’s actually going to be a pretty funny scene because while they’re having sex Grumio is sliding in the back of shot trying to steal something while they’re not looking. 

How’s it been being the new guy on set, have the others pranked you?

Oh they’ve been so mean, they’ve been bullying me! Nah, it’s been great! There was part of me to begin with that felt a bit awkward because you’re totally new coming into something in its fourth series, but I feel like I’ve slotted in comfortably quite quickly. Everyone has been really supportive. It’s been so nice to have the time to socialise with everyone.

Apparently you’re a machine when it comes to drinking…

I knew Ryan would blurt out potentially damning information! I guess I can hold my drink, shame he can’t! I don’t want to say that I am the best drinker because it’s not a competition. But if it was then yeah, I’d win! It’s nice having weekends off, especially if you’ve had an intense week, it’s good to blow off some steam. 

What’s been the best night out?

Well we were shooting during Halloween so we went out clubbing and fashioned our own fancy-dress costumes while we were out. At one point we were like: ‘We’ll get some stuff from costume and get out’, but that didn’t happen. So we went to the club and everyone was dressed up so we went around the club picking up anything we could find to make an outfit from. 

We’ve had some really good nights out, it’s been great, no one’s been kidnapped or anything so not as wild as some might think, but a lot of fun nonetheless. 

Plebs butts

And since nudity is something of a theme for the show, the other two main cast  members also pitch in...

Ryan Sampson, who plays Grumio:

Oh it’s so naked this year, that’s the theme of the series! It’s so embarrassing because we only get these pasty little white things to cover our bits. One end has a sticker on it which sticks just above your bum crack and then it goes underneath and has a sack at the front to hide your bits. 

There’s a scene where there’s all three of us naked walking through town. So we’re all standing there on set looking like weirdos who have just wandered out of a hospital. It’s just horrible!

Did you compare bums?

Oh yeah, when you look at the shot from behind, it’s quite funny because we all have very different sized bums. It’s really weird, you don’t often get to see three bums in a row. Obviously I’ve got the best bum, but it’s rather miniature, which I’ve never realised before. I always thought I had a normal sized bum in relation to my body, but actually I think it’s even too small for me. 

I think I’ve got the bum of a small child, an 11-year-old girl’s bum stuck on my body! It’s really weird.

Have there been any funny naked moments?

Well, there’s a scene in a gym when we’re naked in this plunge pool, which should sound like the best day on set ever, but it was awful! 

They filled this plunge pool with water from a local hot spring near set. It comes out of the earth just under boiling temperature. It was full to the brim and there’s no way of getting cold water into it so we just had to get in. It was the hottest water I’ve ever been in! 

I looked at myself in the mirror afterwards and I looked fucking weird! Half my face was really red and so was my body. It was basically a Plebs soup, or boy gravy. It sounds like I’m being a wanky actor saying the bath was too hot, but it was.

Tom Rosenthal, who plays Marcus:

There’s always a lot of naked action. Jonathan’s had the worst of it. He had to climb backwards down a ladder while naked. While I’ve always done naked scenes, I’ve always been able to cup my penis, to protect people from having to witness that horrific mess between my legs! But Jonathan didn’t have any of that, it all hung out!

Are you bothered about the naked scenes?

It’s just a part of Plebs really, I’ve never lost sleep over any of the scenes we’ve had to do. 

There was one scene where all three of us were naked and we realised we have three very different flavours of bums. It depends what you’re into, Ryan’s is very small but packs a punch, it’s well contained. Jonathan’s is a very good bum but he has a builder vibe going on and my bum is like a Renaissance painting, a woman lying on some grass! It’s very rounded, it almost looks like you could lay your head on it for a nice night’s sleep.

 So it depends what you’re into, but there’s a bum for everyone! Maybe we should have a vote on social media when that episode goes out!

•  Plebs series 4 starts on ITV2 on Monday April 9 at 10pm

Published: 28 Mar 2018

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