He’s spent three quarters of his life growing up on screen. So Doctor Who guest star Maxim Baldry has a long history to excite fans ahead of Haunting of Villa Diodati
At only twenty-four, Maxim Baldry has had a career longer than many actors twice his age, and yet is still a talent very much on the rise. And he’s one who will be instantly familiar to those who follow the work of Doctor Who’s great creative minds. After all, it was only last year that his fate transfixed millions in Russell T Davies’ Years and Years. And in this week’s The Haunting of Villa Diodati he makes the leap to Doctor Who itself. He plays the real historical figure of Dr. John Polidori – author of the first modern vampire story, predating Bram Stoker himself.
Baldry was first seen on screen opposite Rowan Atkinson in the gentle and whimsical Mr. Bean’s Holiday
Born in Surrey to an English father and Russian mother, Baldry was already well travelled by the age of seven, having lived in both Russia and Poland. Setting finally back in the UK, he soon got his first on screen acting role aged just twelve. And it was no minor cameo or background appearance. As the lost little French boy Stephan in Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Baldy’s role was one on which the whole film hung. Within the epic misadventure from Paris to Cannes undertaken by Stephan and Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean, he had to provide both the grounded straight man to Bean’s tomfoolery and also the film’s sentimental core without being cloying or mawkish. Oh, and do it all with a minimum of dialogue; with what dialogue there is not in his first language.
The result was easily the most affecting of the iconic Mr. Bean’s appearances, and the foundation for arguably Atkinson’s most rounded and cinematic jump to the big screen yet. But it wouldn’t have been possible without the perfect casting of Baldy as Stephan.
From Rome to Hollyoaks, Baldy’s career has seen him growing up on camera
The same year Baldry once again displayed sophistication and maturity beyond his years with his appearance as Caesarion in HBO’s groundbreaking adult drama Rome. The alleged son and heir of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, and a threat to Octavion’s rise as Caesar’s successor. It was a part that required Baldry to inhabit the correct mix of arrogance and vulnerability. For Caesarion had to become the unexpected focus the series pivoted around in its final stages. The dash to protect him after Caesar and Cleopatra’s falls ultimately decides the fate of major Rome characters. In many ways his fate is what defines the capstone of the entire show. And it only worked thanks to Baldy playing on the same level as the rest of the top class cast.
His first major self-reinvention came almost a decade later, when he burst onto the streets of Chester as a new trouble maker in popular daytime soap opera Hollyoaks. In the finest soap tradition his character, Liam Donovan, ultimately leaves England only to return as a completely different actor. But Maxim Baldry’s original Liam was a charming, thrill seeking womanizer. With his Eighth Doctor hair and sheepskin jacket, Liam spent eighty episodes across two years chasing, or being chased by, a succession of beautiful women.
In Years and Years, Baldry more than earned his place among one of the finest casts of 2019
Two years later a balance was struck with his casting as Viktor Goraya in near future drama Years and Years. Now taking major roles in high profile dramas Baldry’s transition from gifted child star to mature artist was complete. And once again, he impressed in an essential part of the puzzle which required him to be central point around which the rest of the plot subtly orbited. Because it’s Viktor’s status as both the new lover of Russell Tovey’s Daniel Lyons, and as a refugee escaping homophobic persecution in the Ukraine that provides the engine for the events that drive the entire Lyons family’s actions.
It was a complex task. It required him to be not only someone Daniel could believably take extreme measures to be with. But it also called upon him to provide an intimate portrait of someone in need. And it’s in portraying Davies’ brilliant characterization of a man with both the guilt about the lengths people will go to to help keep him safe, and his absolute need for them to do it, that Baldy’s gifts as an actor truly shone.
Next up for the actor after Doctor Who is a journey to Middle Earth for one of the most anticipated shows in the world
It would be difficult to imagine Chris Chibnall neglecting to keep up with the post-Doctor Who work of his predecessors. And it’s even harder not to imagine him being impressed by Maxim Baldry’s Viktor. So it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise for Baldry to now join the Doctor’s adventure at Lake Vienna. And he certainly seems appropriate casting as Polidori, one of the romantic young beautiful people of Lord Byron’s inner circle. But what horrors will he face on Sunday night? We’ll have to wait and see.
We do know that he already has his next big project after Doctor Who lined up. He’s among the stars for Amazon’s huge new The Lord of the Rings series. There he’s billed as having a “significant” but currently unnamed role in the retelling of the battle for Middle Earth. As is so often the case with Doctor Who, thanks to the continually exciting work of casting director Andy Pryor, the show seems to have caught a rising star right as they prepare to make the jump to household name status.
‘Nobody mention Frankenstein. Nobody interfere. Nobody snog Byron.’ Should be easy, right?
The Doctor and her gang arrive at the Villa Diodati at Lake Geneva in 1816 on the night that inspired Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The plan is to spend the evening soaking up the atmos in the presence of some literary greats, but the ghosts are all too real, and the Doctor is forced into a decision of earth-shattering proportions.
Series 12 stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Bradley Walsh (Graham), Mandip Gill (Yaz) and Tosin Cole (Ryan), with Chris Chibnall as Showrunner and Matt Strevens Executive Producing. The Haunting of Villa Diodati guest stars Lili Miller (Mary Shelley), Jacob Collins-Levy (Lord Byron), Lewis Rainer (Percy Bysse Shelley), Maxim Baldry (Dr John Polidori). It’s written by Maxine Alderton and Chris Chibnall, and directed by Emma Sullivan.