Five Bedrooms actor Roy Joseph is savouring it all

By Indira Laisram
Roy Joseph. Pic supplied

Roy Joseph’s desire to act orbited from a young age. As a 16-year-old growing up in Perth, he would do the rounds of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) with his best mate just to look at the schedules and how long the days were like over there. “I thought it was so cool,” he says.

But it was only after he finished high school and moved to Melbourne to study a business degree called Entertainment Business at a private arts college that Roy’s plans on becoming an actor firmed up.

Although his initial plan was to work in the music industry, while always wanting to be an actor, he didn’t think he could do it. “And then I decided that I would be an agent for actors. Then I realised that I didn’t want to do any of that, all I wanted to do and be—was an actor,” he says.

Roy knew he needed to have three years of training to become an actor. That’s when he looked at acting schools and got accepted into WAAPA.

Five Bedrooms star cast L-R Doris Youane, Stephen Peacocke, Roy Joseph, Kat Stewart, Katie Robertson. Pic supplied

Roy was 22 when he got into WAAPA but had no idea how to get an agent. However, as luck would have it, while still studying, he auditioned for an ABC comedy series called Back In Very Small Business. It would be his first break.

“This was before I graduated, which was incredible as that used to happen to some people every now and then while I was at WAAFA, but never to people who look like me in short,” says Roy with a laugh.

By the time Roy graduated in 2017, the same casting agent Nathan Lloyd, who he had become friends with, got him again to an audition for Five Bedrooms. “That led me to where I am now,” he says.

Roy plays the role of Harry, a dutiful gay doctor in Five Bedrooms, the hit Australian comedy drama television series, which first screened on Network 10. It tells the story of five people at different times of their lives.

Still from Five Bedrooms featuring Roy Joseph. Pic supplied

Harry faced the greatest challenge of his life in season one, coming out to his mother, and it was every bit as traumatic as he’d feared it might be. In season two, his Indian mother adjusted, somewhat, as she continued her search to find Harry’s perfect match, and her relentless campaign for grandchildren.

Harry enters season three feeling completely and utterly stuck, that is until Harry is presented with the option of becoming a surrogate father. Season three of Five Bedrooms is dropping on Paramount+ on 1 January.

It was a dream come true landing the role for Roy who shares screen alongside an ensemble of esteemed Australian actors such as Kat Stewart, Doris Younane, Stephen Peacocke, to name a few.

Roy, who is not yet 30, was supposed to play a 40-year-old. Evidently, the casting team ended up being so impressed with Roy that they decided to make some changes to the character in order to cast Roy. “The line as it was originally written for Harry was, ‘I am almost 40 and I still live with my mother’ and they changed it to make Harry 30 in the first season. I passed as a 30-year-old very easily at 26 because I have a big voice and a beard. It’s such a compliment and I am glad that they chose me,” he says.

Roy Joseph with the cast of Five Bedrooms. Pic supplied

In total, Roy absolutely loved playing Harry. “He is such a delight, we don’t often see men who are soft and sensitive and close to their mother in lead roles especially in Australia. In season two, I loved getting to explore and tell the story about Diwali. My family is Indian Jewish and we don’t celebrate Diwali but I’ve known about it because my parents, often over the years, would go to Diwali events with friends in Perth where I grew up. So that was a special experience getting to tell that story.”

Asked if playing a gay man was a hard character for him to get in touch with, Roy says, “Not at all. What I had to look at was his personality traits, who he is at his core and the rest of it is how he has evolved as a person. And so, what I did is play every truth of every moment understanding that Harry tends to be anxious and, for a part, at odds with himself. I just connected that with my experiences—of being unable to figure out who I was at a young age and trying to grow and take ownership of myself and my life. And that’s what it takes to tell stories truthfully and honestly.”

Indeed, Roy’s dedication strikes as impressive especially in the part where he breaks up with his partner Xavier, played by Josh McKenzie. Roy calls it a memorable scene that was simple and beautifully written of the two of them sitting at the table talking. “I loved the experience of playing that. It’s about being authentic to the moment and to the character and it can be incredibly difficult and rewarding.”

Still from Five Bedrooms featuring Roy Joseph. Pic supplied

Roy is basking in the positive feedbacks from friends and family, “who are incredibly supportive” and from people “who really appreciate seeing themselves reflected in a character like Harry, and also from people “who just connected with Harry and his story”.

With the shooting of season three of Five Bedrooms over, Roy says he doesn’t have anything lined up just yet. “I feel perfectly fine with that. I am taking the time now to relax and enjoy my life and we are really hoping we will get to do a fourth season.”

But no actor can evade the quintessential question of a dream role. And Roy does make a declaration. “Very specifically, I love the idea of playing a villain because it is so theatrical and as I have always loved the James Bond films and always loved the villains. That’s my dream. Whenever I tell people that, they ask, ‘don’t you want to play James Bond’ and I say no not at all. I would like to do films like that, yes, but one of my dreams is to play a Bond villain.”

Born to Indian Jewish parents who moved from Mumbai to Israel and later to Australia, Roy believes the industry has a fair way to go in terms of brown representation. “In my humble opinion, it is starting to happen. I think it’s amazing how Netflix is recreating Heartbreak High and with a brown girl as the lead role, which is incredible. It is happening but I like to remind people that the work isn’t done yet, but there are people who are making all of the right moves and creating opportunities for people like us.”

Encouraging times!

Five Bedrooms season three is dropping on Paramount+ on 1 January

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