Keep an eye on British actor Aaron Cobham who is knocking it out of the park in the Starz series “The Spanish Princess” playing the character, Oviedo, a striking, regal, and principled African-Iberian crossbowman who came over in Catherine’s retinue from Spain.
The STARZ Original Limited Series “The Spanish Princess” is the second installment of the limited series follow-up to the Golden Globe® and Emmy® award-nominated STARZ Original Miniseries “The White Queen” and the critically acclaimed STARZ Original Limited Series “The White Princess.” Produced by Playground and All3 Media’s New Pictures, the 8-episode drama is drawn from the global best-selling novels, The Constant Princess and The King’s Curse, written by Philippa Gregory.
“THE SPANISH PRINCESS” is the story of Queen Catherine (Charlotte Hope) and Henry VIII (Ruairi O’Connor) and her struggle to produce an heir which places her marriage and position in the court at risk.
In season two, Oviedo has married Lina in a union that crossed class boundaries for love. Oviedo, a devout Muslim with powerful principals grows increasingly uncomfortable with his position in the Spanish court, even as he rises in rank.
His loyalty to his family and his principles are at odds with the direction the monarchy is heading, and England is becoming an increasingly dangerous place for them to be.
Via Zoom, I had an opportunity to chat with Aaron Cobham about his role as a soldier and all-around hero in the powerful “B” story that keeps the “Spanish Princess” robust and interesting.
Born and raised in Manchester, England the curious and ambitious Cobham studied theater arts and soon racked up an impressive list of credits on stage and screen spanning across comedy and drama. After living and performing in Spain, he gained an array of credits including parts in well-known TV series such as “Midsomer Murders,” “Cold Feet,” “Stella,” “Josh,” “Coronation Street” and “Cucumber.” Along with his passion for his art, he is a family man to his bones. He’s also an avid sports lover and fitness enthusiast with an ear for languages.
Here is what the impressive actor Aaron Cobham had to share about living in the character, Oviedo’s skin, family and why his late grandfather is so special to him.
LOS ANGELES SENTINEL: I’m enjoying these Zoom press junkets. I’m in New York, Harlem and sitting in my bed interviewing you. Since you can’t see me, I am going to say that I have a full face of make-up on and I look flawless. Where are you?
AARON COBHAM: (laughing) I am here, the sunniest place on earth. Manchester England. I rarely see the sunshine. I’m pretty sure it’s raining outside.
LAS: That’s funny. I’m glad we had an opportunity to chat. I like your work. You are a very good actor and what you have done with your character, Oviedo, is just first-rate. How did you get this juicy part?
AC: Thank you. Like most people, I had to audition for the part. It was an important point in my life. I had different kinds of ideas and plans. Due to personal issues, I was not sure what to do with myself. I thought I would go back to acting, give it another go. I had four auditions in the space of two weeks and one of those was for “The Spanish Princess.”
LAS: Wow. I hear this story so often. The never give up part. The darkest before the dawn part. Sorry. Please, continue.
AC: I thought if I could do one part in my life this would be it. It’s not every day that you get to be in a period drama as a Black person and also get to tell a story from the perspective of a guy who is a positive character.
LAS: Sad but true.
AC: Studying wise. I studied in Manchester in media and performance. I remember watching a documentary about [actor] Al Pacino about how it’s good to understand both sides of things. So, I learned about the camera side and the acting side. I love telling stories, so I thought that I will give it a go.
LAS: Where are your people from?
AC: That’s a complicated and long story.
LAS: Short version.
AC: Well both of my parents are born in England. My mums’ parents are Jamaican and my dad’s parents are half-Nigerian and half-Irish. My grandmother was recently here and she was telling me that her grandfather was from Cuba …. but that’s all she knows.
LAS: Aaron, you should dig deeper. We have such rich backgrounds and we need to see those stories.
AC: The next time I am in Jamaica, I will dig deeper to learn more about my family’s history and to see who they are.
AC: I agree. I asked my grandma questions but you know, in Jamaica, especially the period that she grew up, a lot of people were given pet names. So [she] gave me the names of the person but not their surname. So much was not documented before. But you are right.
AC: There are not enough stories about people of color and about where they come from and their history. I’m currently reading a book about Black British history.
LAS: That’s what’s up!
AC: And I was [also] reading a book about Jamaican history. Not everything started about Christopher Columbus.
LAS: (gasp) Please. Don’t get me started on that genocidal, misguided maniac. The Spanish were particularly cruel in their march through the world and that’s saying something. The most heinous, in my opinion, because they bullied, tortured, and killed in the name of God. Sorry. Back to you. What did you learn in about yourself in season two?
AC: About history?
LAS: No. What did you learn about yourself as an artist?
AC: I learned to just enjoy myself. To let the story breathe.
LAS: What’s next for you.
AC: I did a part in a television show in the U.K. There are a few things in the pipeline. Fingers crossed. Being in “The Spanish Princess” has been a dream and an honor. A lot of things that I read have a Black character and at [first] they seem lovely and well-rounded but then they do something really bad. Why?
LAS: Why, indeed!
AC: Why? What’s the need [to have the Black character] to have him do something bad? I was reading a script once for a popular show and I asked the director why the character was only in season one. He told me that because [in season one] he sells some drugs.
LAS: Are you familiar with the film director Steve McQueen?
LAS: Have you seen “Lovers Rock” yet?
LAS: McQueen goes to church! I mean he just goes to church!
AC: Have you ever listened to lovers rock music?
LAS: No. I confess. I didn’t know about it until this film.
AC: I grew up on it. My mum listened to it. Growing up on a British, Caribbean household you get a lot of those influences. I have a little one now and when I’m struggling to get him to sleep, I play [lovers rock music] for him. My grandfather recently passed.
LAS: Sorry for your loss. [God, Bless the dead]
AC: Thank you. He’s been on my mind lately and he loved lovers rock [music] and my son just goes straight to sleep.
LAS: Wait. I thought you were going to say, and my son just starts dancing.
AC: Well, the trick is to get him bopping, and then he goes out like a night. He’s 16-months-old. He’s a whirlwind of energy. It’s the best thing. He’s so much fun. He brings joy to me every day. [He’s ] part of the reason [that] I learned to just let go and enjoy the experience. When he came along, I realized that a lot of the things that were [formerly] focused on and worrying about are not important. What’s important is looking after him. Being a good father to him. Being a good role model for him. Being that kind of guy. Appreciating every moment because you won’t get it again. Every stage that he’s going through. Each age. I want to be able to cherish those moments.
LAS: Amen! I’m sorry for the loss of your grandfather.
AC: He was a massive influence in my life. My grandparents taught me that I could do anything that I want. If it wasn’t for him there is no way that I would be where I am today. He was a very positive man. Fun. Full of life. He was one of the most fun and loved persons that I’ve ever met. He taught me to be me. I won a writing competition when I was small. I wrote about my best friend, that was my grand-dad. I am honoring him in the best way that I can. Talking to you about him and him being up there, like this, is a wonderful thing for me and my family as well.
LAS: What is your grandfathers’ name?
AC: Uriel. Uriel Henderson.
LAS: Thank you, and thank you, Uriel Henderson.
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This interview has been edited for clarity and length.