The ReTURN of Captain Simcoe

Actor and DJ Samuel Roukin brings his new film to the Richmond International Film Festival—and plays us a set.

Samuel Roukin as Captain John Graves Simcoe in AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies.

In his role as the villain Capt. John Graves Simcoe in AMC’s Revolutionary War thriller series TURN: Washington’s Spies, British actor Samuel Roukin was often seen with his trademark tricorn hat. But in real life, the 37-year old wears many more hats — those of director, music producer and DJ.

This month, Roukin, who spent several years in Virginia on the set of TURN, returns to the Commonwealth to screen his new short film The Break at the Richmond International Film Festival and grace the city’s party scene with one of his rare DJ sets at his pop-up club Voltage at the Hofheimer Building April 26. We chatted with Roukin about his time here.  

It’s been a year since you wrapped up filming for TURN here in Virginia. What have you been up to?

It’s been a really busy and varied time beginning with a move to Los Angeles where I am now based. I jumped right into an arc on Marvel’s Agents of Shield as a very blue (literally) Kree and had the honour of playing former Librarian Darrington Dare on The Librarians. I directed my first music video for Brooke Josephson’s latest EP Sexy and Domesticated, premiered my short film The Break at the Austin Film Festival, edited my next short called Demus and have also ventured into the studio to produce some of my own music. I am about to begin filming on a new movie from one of the producers from Equity, a film I was in a couple of years ago.

Your role as John Graves Simcoe put you on the map internationally. Do people give you the captain salute when you’re out and about?

They mostly meet me with not so much a salute but rather a sneer, followed with how awful a man he was and how much they hate me! It really caught people’s attention and it is so gratifying to meet fans still so into the show. As we journey through the current political climate I think more than ever, people are examining what the country set out to become when it gained independence and for that reason hopefully will maintain its relevance and place in the zeitgeist for some time to come.

You spent several years in Virginia, working on TURN. What do you love most about the Commonwealth and what are your favorite places to go?

So many! Firstly, Virginia is so beautiful and you can just as easily explore stunning mountain ranges and forests, as go to the beach. Such a lush landscape steeped in history — Colonial Williamsburg gets an A+ from me. Living in Richmond, I came to really appreciate all that the city has to offer. It has enough hustle and bustle being the capital but with a way more chill pace than I had became used to in London and New York. I am a runner so I end up exploring wherever I am on foot and inevitably find all the parks. Regular favourites of mine were Pocahontas State Park, Byrd Park and Belle Isle. I have definitely overeaten at every great restaurant in Richmond and I will do it again this month (Edo’s Squid comes to mind)! Gallery 5 has a special place in my heart as do the people in Virginia, particularly in Richmond. I made some wonderful friends who I’m still in touch with. This is a little left field but I also love all the train tracks! I directed my second short film here and everywhere we scouted we came across another part of this amazing railway network, like an alternative river system. Richmond has so much character.

How do you square your work as an actor with DJing and hosting parties?

I was actually spinning records long before I became an actor and despite focusing primarily on acting, it has always been a side hustle. I first ran a weekly party called Fluid with some friends, at a club in the UK in the early 2000s. I really don’t see myself as just an actor. Being a DJ and directing are equally important to me. Dance music has been a massive part of my life for more than 20 years. The feeling of uniting a dance floor through music is so exciting to me and something I take really seriously. 

Poster for Roukin’s new film.

After I made The Break, which was edited at Mad Box in Richmond, I was inspired to start a new party in the U.S. that breaks new talent, so I began Voltage: the Pop-Up Nightclub, named after the fictional club in the film. The first one was at The Hofheimer building in Richmond in 2017. We return there April 26, almost a year to the date, as part of the Richmond International Film and Music Festival, where I am honoured to be a special guest. It’s going to be a massive night with 8 electronic acts from around the world, including Friendly Mosquito, Blacklight and Dario Bianki, some amazing local talent like Reinhold, Mont La Mont, The Barber Streisand—and me of course. Mixed visuals from Charlottesville’s Doc Jim and an original art piece inspired by the music will be created live in front of the crowd by local artist Junious. We are also running a DJ competition for a local unknown DJ to have their own “break” at Voltage in RVA. This party is going to be our biggest to date for sure.

Is your return to Richmond a homecoming for you?

In a way it is. One of my sons was born here, I have family in Northern Virginia and my father in law is buried at Quantico. I made so many friends here and have so many people that I have had the privilege of collaborating with in the city, be it on TURN, the short film I directed or indeed in the music scene. I am absolutely thrilled that The Break was accepted into the festival. Heather Waters, the festival director, is an amazing ambassador for the city and has elevated the festival to a place where it is now recognized as one of the key film and music festivals of the year. To have The Break in the film category and to be hosting Voltage in the music category, all on the same night, is something I am incredibly pumped about and cannot wait to return to the city that has wedged itself firmly into my heart.

The Richmond International Film and Music Festival will be held April 23-29. Tickets $12-$375.

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Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum