Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 12:46 UK
Fame is all in the name for Owain
Owain Yeoman
Owain is the new Welsh kid on the block in Hollywood

Chepstow-born actor Owain Yeoman is the latest Welsh face to find success stateside - even if his name confuses.

Alongside Ioan Gruffudd and Matthew Rhys, he's a member of the Welsh contingent taking Hollywood by storm.

Owain made his movie debut in Troy playing Lysander, captain of the Trojan army and currently appears as cop Wayne Rigsby in hit US TV show The Mentalist.

He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Lucy Davis, whose father is the comedian Jasper Carrott.

Owain's path into acting wasn't a straightforward one. He worked as a banker in Canary Wharf before going to drama school.

He describes himself as "probably the world's worst banker" but is glad he can draw on his life experience for his acting roles.

The job provided Owain with the money to fund his drama studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA).

After graduating from RADA he appeared in stage productions of the Shakespeare classics Othello and As You Like It. He also appeared in an episode of ITV drama series Midsomer Murders.

Owain admits that the casting process is bizarre, as he found in his first professional audition for Troy.

"I got picked up and taken across town to meet director Wolfgang Petersen at Shepperton Studios," he says.

"I was an hour and a half late. He turned around to me in his thick German accent and said 'So look - you're like really late, I'm going to get some soup now. Grow your hair down to your ass and I'll see you in Malta!' and that was it."

For a young actor, landing his first film role in a major Hollywood blockbuster felt like a dream come true.

He recalls his first day on set standing next to Peter O'Toole thinking: "It doesn't get bigger than this... you're on a set that's two and half miles long and pretending that it's normal."

Owain Yeoman and Lucy Davies
Owain is married to Jasper Carrott's daughter, actress Lucy Davis

Owain got married in 2006 to the actress Lucy Davis, famous for her role as Dawn the receptionist in Ricky Gervais' award-winning mockumentary series The Office.

As she's the daughter of comedian Jasper Carrott, Owain admits he was a bit nervous about following his father-in-law's speech at the wedding reception.

"I started with the words 'Jasper Carrott as a warm up man...that's not a bad gig!"

He thinks that Jasper might have experienced some nerves too that day as the wedding guests had high expectations of a hilarious speech from the comedian.

Owain is now living and working in Los Angeles, a world away from his native Chepstow.

However home is where the heart is and his heart is still firmly in Wales, and he says Cardiff is one of his favourite cities in the world.

Taffia in Tinseltown

However, should the 'hiraeth' or homesickness get the better of him, Owain isn't far away from fellow Welshmen Ioan Gruffudd and Matthew Rhys in Los Angeles. They all live within a mile and half of each other.

"We recently mourned the loss to the Irish in the rugby in Ioan's garage, the Gruffudd Rugby club," he laughs.

"We call it the Taffia - there's a little Welsh mafia takeover going on in Hollywood and I don't mind that."

But how do the Americans cope with his Welsh name? Owain admits he does have to anglicise it to Owen as the Welsh pronunciation can prove problematic.

"You hear people saying 'Dwayne Yeoman?' 'I'm like, no, it's Owain.'

"Wine?' 'No, Owen will do, it's fine.'

He says his friend Ioan Gruffudd has a similar problem and is sometimes referred to as John.

TV triumph

Living and working in Los Angeles has paid dividends as Owain is currently enjoying success playing Wayne Rigsby in hit US TV crime drama The Mentalist, currently being shown on Five in the UK.

Owain Yeoman
Owain plays Wayne Rigsby in US TV series The Mentalist

He describes the show as a return to basics, something different from the complicated series with a huge array of characters and multiple plot lines that have been on our screens in recent years.

"It harks back to a Columbo, Murder She Wrote type feel where you can watch an episode and it wraps itself up in a simple whodunnit formula."

Owain admits that TV executives in America can be ruthless and cancel shows if they don't perform well and build a large audience in a short space of time.

He believes the success of The Mentalist lies in the fact that it's captured people's imagination in a short space of time and is easy to relate to.

In addition to enjoying TV success Owain is currently showing off his toned torso fronting a poster campaign for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) promoting vegetarianism.

He says he's not a soapbox vegetarian and was a meat-eater for many years. He gave up meat for nutritional reasons in the first instance but says he finds it very satisfying knowing that he's made an ethical choice too.

Future plans

So, what does the future hold for Owain? He currently has ongoing commitments with The Mentalist and is working on the series for nine months a year. His aim is to work on feature films and he has a couple of projects in the pipeline for next summer.

The success of The Mentalist has undoubtedly placed Owain well and truly on the casting agents radar, however he remains level headed.

"Every job that I get I always think that there's been some mistake and someone will come in the room two days later and say 'I'm so sorry, you looked exactly like the other guy who we thought we were casting, please get your stuff and go.'

"If I ever lose that fear I think it'll be a bad thing because it keeps you motivated."

Audio: Owain Yeoman Part 1
17 Jun 09 |  Arts & Culture
Audio: Owain Yeoman Part 2
17 Jun 09 |  Arts & Culture
Office star marries at St Paul's
09 Dec 06 |  Entertainment



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