Aidan Turner Explains Why He Thought Fans Would Hate Him as Ross Poldark

Aidan Turner’s brooding — and occasionally shirtless — performance in Poldark helped turn the romantic period drama into a hit in both the U.K. and the U.S. But the 36-year-old actor has revealed that he had some serious reservations about taking on the role that made him a star. When he joined the BBC show (which airs on PBS in the U.S.) in 2015, he was afraid that audiences wouldn’t buy him as the lead character Ross Poldark.  

Turner thought fans wouldn’t accept an Irish man as Ross Poldark 

Aidan Turner
Aidan Turner | Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Turner was born in Dublin in 1983 and attended acting school in the Irish capital. And he was worried that his Irish roots would be a problem when it came to playing Ross, the Irish Mirror reported

“British actor, British character – would people buy it? Do people want an Irish guy doing that?” he said. 

Poldark, which is set in the English region of Cornwall, is based on a series of novels by English writer Winston Graham. It was previously adapted into a TV series by the BBC in the 1970s. English actor Robin Ellis played Ross in that show. (Ellis also has a role in the new Poldark as Reverend Halse.) 

He thought ‘Poldark’ was a ‘risk’ 

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Aside from concerns that his Irish identity would turn off fans, Turner also wondered if he had what it takes to be the lead character in a show. According to the Irish Mirror, he said he felt “quite young to be anchoring a show” when he first got the part. “It did feel like a risk at the time,” he said. 

“We weren’t sure if the show would have an audience, whether people would remember or care about the books [by Winston Graham] or anything, and it just felt big to be in the center leading this show,” the actor explained. 

While Turner might have wondered if he was up to the challenge of playing Ross, he wasn’t exactly an inexperienced actor. He had a starring role in the 2009 BBC series Desperate Romantics as the poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti and also had a lead role in the British supernatural series Being Human as a vampire who is roommates with a werewolf and a ghost. He also played the dwarf Kili in 2012’s The Hobbit and its two sequels. 

And Turner needn’t have worried about whether people would be interested in a new adaptation of the Poldark books. In June, 4.7 million people in the U.K. tuned in to watch the season premiere of the show, which will end its run this season, and it’s become one of the most-watched dramas on the BBC.

What’s next for Aidan Turner? 

With the end of Poldark in sight, what’s next for the show’s star? He told Radio Times that he’s interested in something other than a period drama, saying that it’s time to “break that mold now and move on to something different.”

One thing fans shouldn’t expect is to see him donning a cape and joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “There’s too much makeup involved, isn’t there?” the actor said.

As for the rumors that Turner might be the next James Bond, there’s no official word on whether he’ll step into Daniel Craig’s shoes. But he’s far from the only actor who is on the short list to play the famous spy. Richard Madden, James Norton, Tom Hiddleston, and Idris Elba are also reportedly contenders.

Poldark Season 5 premieres Sunday, September 29 at 9/8c on PBS.