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Soap star Tristan Gemmill reveals his love of baddies as Twelve Angry Men arrives in Aberdeen

Despite Twelve Angry Men being released nearly 70 years ago, Tristan Gemmill - playing the bad guy Juror 3 - said the show speaks into a lot of today's issues.

Cast of Twelve Angry Men coming to His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen with Tristan Gemmill standing up who plays Juror number three.
Trsitan Gemmill plays Juror Number Three in the production Twelve Angry Men. Image: Jack Merriman

How can 90 minutes of watching 12 blokes arguing and crammed in a room be interesting?

These were Tristan Gemmill”s first thoughts before watching the 1957 legal drama film Twelve Angry Men as a child.

However, as the credits rolled, it appears its three Oscar nominations were not misplaced.

“The film is so masterfully done,” Tristan said. “You don’t notice those things, you just get completely caught up in the story.”

Twelve Angry Men cast
Twelve Angry Men takes place in a jury room in New York. Image: Jack Merriman.

The great storyline, attention to detail and keeping a small set interesting are some reasons it has been hailed as a masterpiece in time.

So much so, that playing the bullying Juror 3 was added to Tristan’s career bucket list.

One he is now busy ticking off as he tours in the UK in the stage production Twelve Angry Men.

Tristan Gemmill
Tristan Gemmill. Image: Aberdeen Performing Arts.

What is Twelve Angry Men about?

The courtroom tension is being brought to His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen until Saturday February 24.

It follows the story of 12 male jurors in New York in the 1950s who retire to the jury room to determine a teenager’s fate who has been charged with murder.

Everyone is convinced of his guilt and it seems like an open-and-shut case. The decision, which has to be unanimous, is put to a vote within five minutes but only 11 hands go up.

Jason Merells
Jason Merrells as Juror 8. Image: Jack Merriman.

That is when Juror 8 – played by Jason Barrells – says given the high stakes, they should all at least discuss the evidence.

On the other side of the debate Tristan’s character, Juror 3, becomes Juror 8’s antagonist.

“Mine is a guy that holds out until the bitter end,” he said.

“He is one of the most insistent at the beginning that the accused is guilty.”

Some of the jurors in Twelve Angry Men fighting.
Tristan described his character as stubborn and bullying. Image: Jack Merriman.

The secret to playing the baddies

Describing his juror as “unpleasant and boorish”, Tristan said he enjoyed the challenge.

He added: “It’s always good to play the baddie. The way to do it is to try and find something human and vulnerable or something that people – even if they loathe him – they can still identify with.

“And he is a pretty loathable character.”

Over the years, Tristan who played Robert Preston in Coronation Street, has got used to cashing in the boos after embodying a range of shady characters.

Tristan Gemmill playing Adam in Casualty holding his cheeks with both hands in a hospital.
Tristan as Dr Adam Trueman on Casaulty. Image: BBC

The soap star has played Frank Mooney in the series London’s Burning, corrupt Detective Sergeant Peter Cork in The Bill, Dr Adam Trueman on Casualty and also Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Enjoying them all in their own way, he said while the world of acting has its difficulties, it is exciting to play more intense characters: “You get a chance to be people that you would never be yourself and to explore sides of human nature that you would never imagine doing yourself.”

Story still relevant today

It could be said the plot of Twelve Angry Men is very unrelatable in the UK today such as having the death penalty or an all-man jury.

But Tristan said there are many messages that ensure the story is still relevant.

He added: “It deals with how we’re all coloured by our backgrounds and where we come from, but at the same time, how it’s possible to reach a level of mutual understanding.

“One of the things that comes up is what one person’s idea of a truth or fact is compared to another person’s idea.

Twelve Angry Men cast taking a vote.
The clarifying of facts and truth is a big factor in Twelve Angry Men. Image: Jack Merriman.

“And I think that is actually quite comparable with where we are with social media bubbles, facts, so-called experts being called into question and people believing what they want to believe.”

With the cast being on stage for the whole time, it can be a tiring performance.

However, Tristan said the widespread love for the piece and the dream cast help make the group effort of pulling it off a lot of fun.

Last in the north-east in Ballater for the Highland Games as a child, he said they were looking forward to seeing how Aberdeen audiences react to the show.

Tristan added: “It seems to be something that people are are really chiming with.

“It makes it a pleasure to be on stage every night….We’re hoping the same goes for Aberdeen.”

Twelve Angry Men is at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen from Tuesday February 20 to Saturday February 24.