“I fucking screamed with happiness,” Omar Rudberg says of the scandalous – let’s repeat that for dramatic effect, scandalous – storylines in the long-awaited second season of Young Royals, “like, give me some drama!” The championed Swedish series, following the forbidden romance between his character Simon and the fictional Prince Wilhelm of Sweden (Edvin Ryding), will undeniably cause pandemonium within the fandom when it makes its grand return on Netflix next month with the aforementioned characters engaging in – as Edvin puts it – “problematic” and – as Omar puts it – ‘indefensible’ storylines that result in an even more confident and outrageous new instalment for the hit drama. “I was pretty anxious beforehand because I had a long period of time where I didn’t understand why [Wilhelm] did what he did this season,” Edvin tells GAY TIMES. “I thought, ‘How will I be able to defend this, as an actor?’”
Cracking the top 10 of various English-language countries around the world, the first season of Young Royals became a monumental success for the streamer and subsequently catapulted Edvin and Omar to global prominence with a combined Instagram following of – wait for it – four million. Since its premiere, Omar has launched his bid for pop superstardom with his acclaimed debut studio album, OMR, while Edvin has been yo-yo-ing across Europe for the upcoming disaster film, The Abyss. In-between their various projects – “My life is pretty fucking boring whenever I’m not working!” Omar insists – the actors sat down with GAY TIMES to discuss the ‘challenging’ second season of Young Royals, the “beautiful” response from viewers and how their lives have transformed over the past year. Make sure you read until the end; the stars embrace their inner producer slash writer as they pitch an idea for a Young Royals and Heartstopper crossover. You hearing this, Netflix? Make! It! Happen!
GAY TIMES: Omar, it’s going in the interview that you were 10 minutes late because you were doing your laundry. I’ll let you off, because Edvin introduced me to his dog Otis.
Edvin: Yes! You should.
Omar: [Laughs] Okay!
GAY TIMES: It’s just under a month now until season two is finally out there, how are you both feeling at this current moment in time?
Edvin: I’m pretty nervous, but excited. Omar, what about you?
Omar: I would say that I’m also super excited, but I’m even more nervous than season one…
GAY TIMES: You should not be nervous, fans will go berserk over these new episodes.
Edvin: Thank you! That’s good to hear. I feel like it’s a double-sided nervousness because I’m nervous to see what they think. I don’t think they’re prepared for what’s coming! I can’t say how they will interpret this season and the way the characters act but I’m also nervous, but excited nervous.
GAY TIMES: What does life look like for both of you, leading up to the release of the show?
Omar: I’m actually doing a writing camp this week, so I’m going to write a lot of new music and then we’re going to do a lot of promo for the season. I’m doing some other projects as well. Mess, a hot mess. What about you, Edvin?
Edvin: I’m doing a movie right now called The Abyss. We’ve been shooting it since the beginning of August. We were in the most northern city in Sweden called Kiruna, and in two weeks time I’m going to Spain to shoot the rest of it. I’ll do that for two weeks, which is kind of nice to get away from it all and I’ll do some promo stuff. Then once I get back, it’s the premiere!
GAY TIMES: Your lives sound very boring, very regular.
Omar: My life is pretty fucking boring whenever I’m not working!
Edvin: Yeah, it is. We love our job.
Omar: I feel like our lives are our job. Like, Edvin is just with his dog in his room and I’m doing laundry. That’s basically it!
GAY TIMES: The first season of Young Royals was a bit of a success, just a little bit. Not just in Sweden, but around the world. Why do you think the series has connected so deeply with viewers?
Edvin: I think that our honesty telling the story is what people connect to because when we meet people and when they write to us and see what they’re posting online… They feel seen and like they’re being listened to and embodied in a fictional story about love. That was our goal; to tell the story as authentically as possible. With the cast and the crew that we had, we managed to do that. I think that’s the main thing that made it different from other stuff coming from Sweden at least.
GAY TIMES: It helps that you’re not 35-year-old’s playing teenagers, too…
Omar: [Laughs] Yeah.
Edvin: Yeah, exactly! Casting, they did a good job. And I don’t say that because I got the part! I think we’re very competent actors and we look like our age.
Omar: Well, I’m turning 24. It’s fine, it’s okay, I’m 16 in my soul.
GAY TIMES: If I shaved the beard off, I’d look 12, so…
Omar: Then you feel me!
GAY TIMES: Can you both remember the moment you realised the show was such a big success?
Edvin: Oh, good question.
Omar: Me and Edvin have a few of those moments, we’ve been looking at each other and we’re like, ‘Do you actually understand that we’re here right now?’
Edvin: My first moment could have been the premiere. I remember sending a picture to Omar and to our director of me in my bed crying because I read the first messages and people reacting to it, and I just thought it was so beautiful. That was my first moment. I remember actually taking a step back last Christmas to go on a break from social media, just calm down a bit because it had been very intense. But I realised, ‘Wow, what on earth have we experienced?’
GAY TIMES: Now combined, you have almost four million Instagram followers together. How are you managing that side of your fame? If I get two new followers in one day I’m like, ‘No cameras! No press, please!’
Edvin: [Laughs] ‘Please, please!’ I feel like… It’s a hard question, we just go with the flow. I don’t think too much about it. You sometimes look at the number and the statistics to see how much you’re growing like, ‘What kind of effect does this thing have?’ and all of that. But I’ve never felt like that’s like a unit of success.
Omar: Like it matters.
Edvin: Yeah, it doesn’t measure how well it’s going, I think.
Omar: It is also pretty fun, watching the statistics and all of that. It’s just interesting, you go in there like a real nerd like, ‘This day got that much?’ Yeah, all of that.
Edvin: We’re not going to sit here and lie and say, ‘Oh, I don’t care. I never look at statistics.’ We do. Of course, everybody does. I appreciate it, but it doesn’t feel that important.
GAY TIMES: How have you both found the reaction from the fandom, has it overall been quite positive?
Omar: It’s been quite positive for the most part, for sure. We get so many beautiful letters every single day with people writing down their whole life stories and telling us how we’ve helped them. And all of the comments on Instagram, ‘You’re so hot!’
Edvin: I never get those! What are you talking about?!
Omar: I myself have given you comments, Edvin, saying you’re hot. But yeah, Instagram is a fun place with the fans but there’s also the other side where people are bitter and saying weird and stupid stuff. We’re pretty good at just ignoring and never answering those people.
Edvin: I think so too. Me and Omar communicate a lot about what we see on social media like how people are, what kind of messages we get. Like Omar said, it’s mostly very nice and beautiful and people are very sincere. But you’ll always have those teeny tiny people who are being mean or salty or whatever.
Omar: They’re just annoying, like flies.
GAY TIMES: It’s somehow been a year since the first season of Young Royals. What kind of impact have you noticed the series have on, not just audiences, but television in general?
Omar: Wow, that’s a good question.
Edvin: That’s a very good question. We had the honour of getting this Swedish television award, it’s like a Swedish Emmy. It’s actually in the back in my room over there…
GAY TIMES: Well come on Edvin, I want to see the Swedish Emmy!
Edvin momentarily leaves the room to collect two Swedish Emmy’s…
Edvin: Here they are! They’re pretty right? Let’s just have them standing here for the interview. We had the honour of getting these two and one of them is the award for Best Young Drama and one of them is for Show of the Year, which is like the finest thing you can be awarded. I talked to the jury afterwards and they said, ‘This is a future classic’, which is very beautiful. I think and I hope that we’ve had an impact on the way we told this story and I hope that other shows are able to implement that kind of storytelling. Maybe in the US too, like casting 20-year-old’s to play 20 year old’s – not 35-year-old’s! We see a lot of what the audience interprets from it, but I hope that the industry is learning from it. We’re learning from the rest of the industry, too, so it’s give and take.
Edvin holds up one of the Swedish Emmy’s…
GAY TIMES: They are very funky Edvin and I would like you to send me one.
Edvin: Of course. Yeah, sure. It’s really heavy, but it’s fine. I’ll send it to you. One of them actually… Want to know a secret? The audience is going to want to hear this. Okay, so one of them has a little crack and a friend of ours who was at the afterparty posted a video saying we broke the statuette, but we didn’t. I want to say this right now! We didn’t break it. It has a little crack and it’s supposed to because we partied with it.
GAY TIMES: Okay, so there are two important things I need to include in this interview: one, Omar was late because of his laundry and two, you didn’t crack the Swedish Emmy. End the interview here, I’ve got everything I need.
Edvin: Perfect. Thank you, Sam. Thank you.
GAY TIMES: Season one ended rather dramatically, with August leaking the video of Wilhelm and Simon and Wilhelm denying that it was him. How would you both describe the status of their relationship at the start of season two?
Edvin: It’s very distant. Omar, you go on. I want to hear your take on this.
Omar: It’s very distant, I would say so as well! I also think it is very curious in the beginning. There’s a lot of – wait, that’s a tongue-twister – curiosity. It’s very innocent, but real and honest. What would you say, Edvin?
Edvin: I agree with you. I think you said good things. They’re also on very different platforms at the beginning of season two. Wilhelm has been alone all Christmas break, spending a lot of time in his late brother’s room, not talking to his mother nor his father. He’s been very lonely and heartbroken. Correct me if I’m wrong Omar, but I think Simon has been very lonely and heartbroken too because neither of them wanted it to end like that. I think the difference is maybe one of them still has hope, or maybe both, but it’s very different because Wilhelm is motivated by revenge or desperation. He wants to punish August and he wants Simon back. That’s his two main targets. It’s very complicated and I think the audience will see that as they watch the show.
GAY TIMES: Because Wilhelm is out for revenge, he’s a lot more feistier and colder than we see him in season one. Edvin, did you have fun bringing this new side of him to life?
Edvin: I had a lot of fun during season one and, ahead of season two, I was pretty anxious beforehand because I had a long period of time where I didn’t understand why he did what he did this season. I thought, ‘How will I be able to defend this, as an actor?’ But then I realised I shouldn’t defend this. This is Wilhelm, he’s coming from this place and this is the way he reacts to it. Once I figured that out, it was super fun; especially towards August like the line, “You should address me as Your Highness,” or when he’s doing the voting thing at lunch. That was a lot of fun, just staring into August’s eyes and being feisty!
GAY TIMES: As a result of that video, Omar, Simon’s life was invaded by the press and he felt betrayed by the person he loves. He wasn’t having a good time, let’s just say that…
Omar: Oh yes, he was pretty mad about everything, for sure! That’s a really scary thing to go through. I feel like everybody in the whole world would die if a nude got leaked, you know what I mean? I just had to get in there. I love working with the people that we work with and our directors who help us a lot on set. It was a challenge, but it was so much fun!
Edvin: Omar, I think I’ve said this to you – Omar was brilliant last season – but this season, he really stepped it up. I mean, he’s done such a good job this season.
Omar: Thank you! Really?
Edvin: Yeah, I really think so. You can see in your eyes, there’s something different about Simon. And I think that’s nice.
GAY TIMES: Omar, I feel like Simon sings more this season?
Omar: He does! Yeah.
GAY TIMES: And you’ve just released an album! Moving Like That is such a motherfucking bop, by the way. I love. Has being on Young Royals impacted your songwriting and artistry?
Omar: In my artistry, maybe a little like whenever I’m in front of the camera I feel more safe and more confident. I’m more confident enough now to show myself a bit more. I’ve grown as a human being and my confidence has been a lot better since Young Royals. But music wise, though, I haven’t had time to be in the studio as much after Young Royals. Everything takes its time and it’s like a little puzzle, but I also feel like Young Royals has given me a lot of new opportunities, not only in music but in other industries as well. I mean, me and Edvin were just in Milan for Fashion Week and one of my bigger dreams is to work in the fashion industry because I love clothing. So yeah, Young Royals has definitely given me and us and everybody a lot more to grab onto.
GAY TIMES: Edvin, the first season saw Wilhelm struggle with his duties as a prince and how his relationship with Simon complicates that. What do you think Young Royals says about the monarchy and its outdated approach to modern relationships?
Edvin: Good question. Actually, I like to say that it’s not his sexuality that complicates his position in the monarchy. It’s the opposite: his issue is that he’s a prince, not that he’s queer. I don’t think it says too much about monarchies’ relation to queer relationships because this is a very fictional story and it’s showing one way of how it could be. It’s not based off of any real life events, we’re just showing that in a world where you have centuries of tradition of heterosexual relationships and that being the norm, what happens when you tweak that?
GAY TIMES: What are you both most excited for viewers to see this season?
Omar: Just the story! This is the baby. I love Young Royals so much and I just cannot wait for everybody to see it.
Edvin: We’re the biggest fans!
Omar: I was the number-one fan of this series. When I read the script I was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’ I was freaking out when I read it the first time. I’m just so freaking excited. What about you, Edvin?
Edvin: I’m most excited for people to see Wilhelm’s actions this season because he does some pretty… problematic stuff, things he shouldn’t be doing. But, I understand why he’s doing them. We also have some candy for the audience.
Omar: For sure.
Edvin: There’s a big section in episode four, as you’ve seen, with different kinds of costumes and I think episode six is great. There’s a lot of good stuff happening in episode six. I’m very excited for people to react to that one.
GAY TIMES: I would describe season one as dramatic and season two as… scandalous, right?
Edvin: Exactly. For sure, yeah.
GAY TIMES: Since the first season of Young Royals, another teen show has arrived on the scene: Heartstopper. I noticed that you both follow Kit and Joe and vice versa, so I have to ask: would you be down for a crossover in the future?
Omar: Of course! Is that even a question? It would be fucking iconic. I don’t know how or what kind of crossover, but it would just be amazing to get to know them and the whole cast.
Edvin: They are much alike in various aspects, but there’s also two very different kinds of stories. If Nick and Charlie travelled to Stockholm… Maybe this is like season eight of Young Royals and Simon is a successful singer and the biggest one in Sweden. Charlie’s a big fan, so he takes Nick to Stockholm to see Simon sing. You see where I’m going here?
GAY TIMES: We have the story right here. Netflix, you listening?
Edvin: Let’s call Alice [Oseman] and Lisa [Ambjörn], make them write something together.
GAY TIMES: I’ll sort it out, don’t worry. We need the queer teen equivalent of Avengers: Endgame, and we need it now!
Edvin: Oh my god, yes. Perfect, thank you Sam.
Omar: Thank you so much. We’re really excited to see this whole issue. It’s a dream come true.
The second season of Young Royals premieres 1 November on Netflix.