As we continue to face adversity on individual and worldly scales, we are presented with different choices every day: overcome them or let them consume us. This is where mental health comes in, something we must continue to acknowledge and feed positive light to as everyone is affected by it one way or another. Actor, father, and husband, Rudi Dharmalingam, understands its effect and his role in WAKEFIELD allowed him to truly look within and channel all emotions.
Playing the role of Nik, a psychiatric nurse whose character has quite the arc, Rudi dedicated all his time and effort to “do justice to the brilliance of Kristen Dunphy’s story.” Thrown into a 6 week tap dancing course as well as regular meetings with his dialectic coach, the talented actor lived and breathed an Australian accent throughout the filming process. A bit of a perfectionist himself, Rudi had “to build a framework, a life, building blocks of an imagined life,” for his character who he fully merged with for six months.
“He’s innovative, playful and intuitive. What the audience sees is a character excelling at his job with all of his patients getting better,” Rudi shared with a warm heart, “but he’s unravelling in ways that he cannot comprehend. He’s losing his grip on reality.” In order to truly do his best at representing Nik, the actor limited his hours of sleep at night and tapped into his childhood memories which related to some of the scenes at hand, something he could channel. Playing the role of someone going through a mental breakdown all the while learning to tap dance, sing, tango, and perfect an unfamiliar accent for that character can seem overwhelming and, despite it being so at times, Rudi excelled!
It took patience, dedication, and passion to achieve this role and he did so, oh so beautifully, as well as look beyond the entertaining aspect of the series. “ It is trying to remove the stigma around mental health. We all walk that line of sanity and we all experience some level of mental condition, whether it be depression, anxiety, addiction, irrational fears…” opened up Rudi. “Mental fragility is a universal theme and what makes this drama so compelling is that the platform we walk of sanity can be disrupted so surprisingly easily. It can happen to anyone at any time.”
As we make our way to the end of the year, it is important to be reminded of this as we ride the roller coaster of emotions. Whether it be on TV or in real life, dramatic moments follow us everywhere and what we choose to do with them is what matters. And accepting that it is part of life! “It’s important now more than ever to prioritize mental health especially as technology starts to move forward so quickly,” added Rudi. “It’s going to be hard to process this change. It’s okay to feel broken and defeated. It’s okay to not be okay.” Take a moment to think about what truly makes you happy…and go do it!
It may take time but there is always an opportunity to work on yourself and your mental health, no matter the outlet. For some it is athletics while for others it is the arts, just as it is for our dear Rudi. When his father passed away he was only nine years old, a very difficult reality to face at such a young age. It was at that point that a child in deep pain chose to throw himself into table tennis as a way to deal with his trauma. More than that, his father and table tennis coach were both massively influential people to him. As he shared with a warm heart, “both were staunch disciplinarians who taught me the importance of a strong work ethic and firmly believe that I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for these two individuals.”
After some time, Rudi’s attraction to table tennis died down whilst his attraction to drama came alive. “I was not hugely academic, but I found myself getting A’s in drama and that’s when I started to look at acting more seriously in the view of becoming an actor,” he opened up. “It begun as a dream and I always feel so fortunate that it’s become my life as an adult.” Having starred in a variety of plays before turning to TV, it is safe to say that he has a few tricks up his sleeves! Never afraid to face challenges head on, his experience playing in The Events by David Greig is an example of this. “ I played about 8 characters in that show and was on stage for the entirety of the 90-minute show,” he explained. “Again, it was a mountain to climb, which made it extremely satisfying to find the ability to scale it.”
Despite his love for plays, entering the TV world was refreshing and allowed him to tap into a deeper side of himself and his skills. “When I’m doing screen work, I’m able to be so much more intimate and nuanced than being on a stage. You can be really detailed and really subtle. Good screen actors that inspire me have this poetic versatility, they inhabit a character so deeply it’s magic,” Rudi expressed with stars in his eyes. Without a doubt, filming on set brings on a much more relaxed Rudi! Of course, stage acting will always have his heart…he is just waiting for the right project to come along, HAMLET being at the top of the list!
Acting is not only a career but a fascination for Rudi. Being able to tell an untold story or getting people to think differently is “hugely satisfying.” Seeing how one can convince themself that something is true or how something imagined in your head can have a physical effect on the body blows his mind. “I suppose I’m interested in the psychology of acting and how I can blur the line between what’s real and what’s imagined in my head,” he explained. “On Wakefield I reached a level of belief in the story that I didn’t think I was capable of doing. It was surprising and scary, but thrilling at the same time.” Talk about truly becoming your character!
And speaking of that, we dug a little deeper into this fine line between reality and imagination. Whenever presented with a new character, Rudi explores it profoundly and his character “Nik” was the first one he took home with him. “I just wanted to do justice to the script, it was my responsibility to bring this character to life but the complexity of what he’d been through was something I had to get my head around.” This level of strong ethic is something that he also guides his children with. Realizing how much parents are at the center of formulating and molding their children with a beifew system, it is “our responsibility to instill attitudes that they can use to create a positive and successful life of their own.” Father of two kids who work “insanely hard,” there is no doubt that they mirror their father in many ways!
Rudi Dharmalingam has found his passion in acting whether it be on stage or on TV. Channeling every character and digging deep into each of them, attempting to better understand the psychology of it all, the actor reminds us how important mental health is. Entertainment is a way to help others whether it be the actors or audience as they continuously experience a variety of emotions and scenarios which may or may not hit home. Working on an 8-part drama called Extinction coming out early next year on Sky One in the UK, written by Joe Barton, and season 3 of The Split airing next year on BBC one and Sundance/AMC, there is a lot more of Rudi on the way and we love it!
Talent RUDI DHARMALINGAM
Photography TIMOTHY FERNANDEZ @timothyfernandezphotographer
Styling EVAN SIMONITSCH
Grooming SIMONE @simonegrooming for Exclusive Artists using Jaxon Lane / Kevin Murphy
Interview ALEXANDRA BONNET @alexbonnetwrites
Production @bellomediagroup x @maisonpriveepr_la x @alexbonnetwrites