Jake Maskall Is TV’s Best Baddie In E!’s The Royals

Nighttime’s Juicy Soap Returns And Is As Dirty As Ever!

Jake Maskal Kellie Freeze
In the new War of the Roses, Cyrus is the ultimate thorn.

The world’s most outlandish royal family returns and reigns supreme in E!’s juicy soap The Royals. In the shocking Season 2 finale, viewers learned that Prince Robert wasn’t dead, as previously thought. The rightful heir to the British throne is alive and surviving on a deserted island, and actor Max Brown joins the cast as the formerly presumed-dead prince.

Season 3 picks up two weeks after the public, mob-led killing of King Simon’s murderer — the royal family’s head of security. Prince Liam (William Moseley) falls into a spiral of destructive behavior over the betrayal by this trusted ally and the guilt from his own role in the vengeance killing. Expect the playboy prince to indulge in a little “physical” therapy in the vein of Fight Club.

Elsewhere, Queen Helena (Elizabeth Hurley) has love (or is it lust?) on her mind, and finds raunchy romance where she least expects it. And the world’s most stylish queen doubles her efforts to prove her children’s royal parentage and return them to the British throne while ousting King Cyrus (Jake Maskall) from his ill-gotten crown. But Cyrus is neither interested in abdicating nor comparing his DNA to that of Prince Liam and Princess Eleanor, and to keep his facilities and follicles in check, Cyrus hatches a few “hair”-brained schemes of his own.

Also this season, Hurley’s son Damian will make his TV acting debut when he joins The Royals cast as the crown prince of Liechtenstein.

To get the scoop on The Royals, we headed to the king himself, actor Jake Maskall.

Jake Maskall
Jake Maskall as Cyrus James Dimmock/E! Entertainment

Jake Reveals All

Channel Guide Magazine: Hi Jake! Thanks for taking time to chat with me about The Royals. I really enjoyed my interview with Elizabeth Hurley before the series premiered, and think that Cyrus is one of TV’s great Machiavellian characters.
Jake Maskall: Yes, absolutely.

Why is it so good to play someone so bad?
Well, I guess in everyday life, you have to love thy neighbor and be gracious and all these things. But as an actor, I get to play someone who does these nefarious things and gets away with being naughty. It’s beautiful. Playing a goodie, it’s just dull. I guess in a way it’s almost like my therapy. Instead of paying a therapist, I get to exorcise all my demons by being wicked. Also, Mark Schwahn — our creator, and the writers, they love writing for Cyrus. They really push the story lines and how naughty he’s going to be. It’s great. When we get the scripts, I get very excited. In Season 3, I got to do some really silly things. Fun, but silly things, and of course be naughty again.

He’s got a great sense of humor. He’s got a very dry sense of humor. He kind of revels in rocking the boat, if you like. I think that’s it. He gets his kicks from other people’s misfortunes, I guess. I love it. I absolutely love it. When I read the pilot and went to audition for it, I just was so in love with the character that I was like, “There’s no one else who could play this. I have to play this.” Fortunately I got the audition and we’re in Season 3. When we’re filming I wake up very excited about going to work.

Ballsy

Can you tease one of the Season 3 scrapes that Cyrus gets into?
Basically the queen is trying to get some DNA from Cyrus to prove that Prince Liam and Eleanor are blood heirs of Simon’s. Simon’s body can’t be found, and so I’m the closest thing to Simon. I share the same DNA, so she goes to lots of lengths to try and get some hair or something to prove the DNA. Well, I also go to extremes. At one point I am in a nice-sized human hamster ball, so nobody can actually get to me. That was quite fun. That was quite silly filming that, being in this giant see-through beach ball. The practicalities of it, you can only be in it for four minutes before the oxygen levels go down or it will start misting up. At one point, one of the cameramen, Rob, he was in there with me with a Steadicam whilst I’m walking, the ball is rolling around. It was very hard to keep a straight face.

In the first episode of Season 3, you go a little Taxi Driver and give yourself a bit of a haircut. What was that like?
Oh my god! Just before we started filming, I phoned up hair and makeup and I said, “Look, I want a really good haircut this season. I’d like to go to an established hairdresser in London.” They were like, “Okay, great.” Then basically I had Mark Schwahn phoning me up saying, “Jake, come down. Let’s go for lunch.” I said, “Hmm, this sounds suspect. What’s going on here?” He sent me the script early, and I was like, “Okay. I’m not going to get that haircut. I’m getting a different kind of haircut.” Anyway, we did meet up and before we started filming he said, “What do you want to do? There are two options. Option number one is we bald cap you every scene that you’re in, which would basically take four hours to do each time. Or you cut it off yourself.”

Actually, I totally embraced it. I thought, “This is my Travis Bickle moment. This is my Taxi Driver moment.” In a weird way, it was one of those things on my bucket list, to shave a mohawk on-camera. So I did. I totally embraced it. I had no idea what I’d look like. I thought, “I might look a bit like a freak.” Weirdly everybody on set sort of warmed to it and was like, “It’s actually really cool.” I think maybe that’s pushing the boundary, that’s going a bit far. I did get very used to it. In makeup, it was shaved every day. The feeling, it’s such a lovely sensation. Have you ever felt a shaved head?

No. I mean, I’ve touched a baby’s head.
Right, okay. It’s a little bit soft but spiky at the same time. It’s really weird. I had everybody saying to me, “Can I stroke your head?” I had a lot of that to deal with. People wanted to stroke my head. Also, I got slightly obsessed with it. It became a bit of a tick where when I’m learning my lines and everything, my hands would just be going the opposite direction to the hair follicles because it felt … I don’t know, there’s something about it. It felt really nice.

Also, we could only do it one take as well. Once it’s gone, it’s gone kind of thing. It was a fun scene. Mark has got me doing lots of silly things like that. Yeah, I did not want to sit in the makeup chair four hours every time we were going to be filming. It was a no-brainer, really. I was like, “Well I haven’t actually got a choice. We got four months filming, let’s take it off.”

Dressing the Part

Everything about Cyrus is so peacock-y — his wardrobe, just the depths of debauchery, drinking, drugs. Is there any part of his wardrobe that when you pit it on, you feel like you’re finally Cyrus?
Totally! I think it’s so important for me, the character, because when I’m in my dressing room and I’m getting dressed, it really helps with the transformation. The clothes. They’re not clothes that I would wear or shoes that I’d wear. They are kind of out there. Some of the suits I’ve gotten to wear are amazing — designers like Alexander McQueen, and John Varvatos, and Vivienne Westwood. The costumes, they’re all tailored made to me so they fit perfectly. It’s all the little details with the cuff links. The costume department, A, they love dressing me and buying for me. Or Cyrus, I should say. They can have so much fun.

The one thing — and this is from day one — that is the icing on the cake for me, and really makes the transformation, is the signet ring that I wear on my little finger. For me, that really gets me into the zone. When I’m playing Cyrus, he is often touching it and fiddling with it. That’s the last thing that goes on. That’s when. Also the accent as well because he’s obviously much posher than I am. The voice helps with me. I look in the mirror in my dressing room before we go on set, and I’ll have a little Cyrus moment in front of the mirror.

Jake Maskall
Bling, Bling! Cyrus’ ring. E! Entertainment

I have noticed that ring before! I’m so glad to know that that’s something that when you put it on, it becomes your touchstone.
That’s exactly what it is! It is, yeah. It was a choice that I made. You know how when you’re thinking about things, you tend to play towards his scheming ring.

I like that, the scheming ring. Like it’s one of those old antique poison rings that’s got something really nefarious tucked within.
Yeah. [gives a hilariously wicked, Cyrus-like laugh]

He Lives!

Jake, in Season 3, we know that Robert is alive. For fans it’s like OMG; how will Cyrus take the news?
For Cyrus, it’s the worst news in the world. He’s got this dream that he never thought achievable, and there he is on the throne. It’s what he always dreamed of as a child, but he’s there. Suddenly, a threat arrives who is very nice to Cyrus. Probably the only person who is nice to Cyrus. The teaser is that there will be a battle of will because Cyrus, he’s going to go to every extreme to hold on to the throne, take his crown. He doesn’t want to go back to what it was before, being the spare heir. Yeah, it’s going to be a battle of wills.

It’s always so juicy to watch scenes with you and Elizabeth Hurley; and Cyrus and Helena. That is always juicy, to see you and Elizabeth just going toe to toe…
And sparring. Yeah, we’ve had some brilliant scenes. I love working with Elizabeth. She’s just such a trooper. That what I love about their relationship, sort of this hot/cold, hot/cold. They’re as ruthless as each other. That’s the thing.

At the end of season 2, they’ve both done things to each other which basically that’s really driven the stake into the heart kind of situation, where it’s revealed that he’s the one behind Alistair Lacey and she’s the one behind Violet and Prudence and his son, his first born son. Season 3, there’s a lot of baggage between them.

We love the baggage.
Of course! It’s what makes the show. That’s the great part of it. The writers are brilliant. Mark is a genius. None of us know what’s going to happen. I’ll tell you what, season 3 is so good. It ends where you will be begging for season 4. I know I am.

Let’s hope Santa brings some good news about season 4.

Yes Jake! Absolutely. That’s the prefect ending.
It’s been an absolute pleasure, Kellie. Thank you very much.

The Royals > E! > Sundays at 10pm, beginning Dec. 4