Entertainment & Culture

Actor Jules Robertson on living with Asperger’s and rising to fame in Holby City

Jules Robertson is a 27-year-old actor from London, best known for playing autistic character, Jason Haynes, in the BBC medical drama, Holby City. Jules himself has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, a neuro-diverse disability that causes difficulties in social interactions and repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests. With a desire to act, his parents – author Kathy Lette and human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson – discovered a theatre company called Access All Areas. It transformed his life.

Emma Purcell had the opportunity to interview Jules and find out more about what life is like with Asperger’s and his successful acting career so far.

Jules Robertson on living with Asperger’s

When were you diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome?

I was around three, I think. I don’t really like labels. Mum always says that they’re nothing more than something on the side of a jam jar. But having a diagnosis did help to point me in the right direction to get a better education and more understanding from teachers. However, during most of my time at school, I still just tried to make myself invisible.

Jules Robertson with his mum Kathy Lette
Jules Robertson with his mum Kathy Lette

What was it like growing up with Asperger’s? 

Well, I didn’t really notice it. I didn’t necessarily know that I had a condition because we didn’t talk about it very much until I was quite a bit older.

But, when we finally did, it became challenging. Nobody ever talks about the upside of Asperger’s syndrome. For me, the best thing about it is having a really good memory and remembering specific dates. For instance, when I meet people, I remember when it was, what day of the week it was, what they were wearing and what we talked about.

Because of my memory, mum doesn’t even have a diary, she just asks me: “So, where was I on January 1st, 2007?”

It also means that I have a lot of passions – which tend to become obsessions – and drive to pursue. I love the theatre, tennis, cinema and music, and have numerous lists relating to them and remember detailed facts about them. Mum says that I’m like Wikipedia with a pulse.

I remember the formats of tennis matches and know all the tennis numbers and scores, from any game in the world. I used to dazzle teachers with my ability to write down the Wimbledon Final scores from memory. Remembering dates and numbers is always very comforting to me.

Then, later on, my obsessions grew to interests, I particularly like Shakespeare, the Beatles and now movies and actors. This special gift of memory is something that I’ll be proud to have for the rest of my life. I’m not ashamed of it in any way – I don’t think I should be.

I wish people would stop trying to make autistic people act normal and just let us be our best autistic selves.

Jules Robertson actor laughing

What is the most difficult thing about living with Asperger’s?

I think the difficult thing is socialising and communicating with people. I sometimes feel socially awkward,  or don’t know what to say, so end up saying the wrong thing. It can be really hard to be independent as well as everyday tasks, such as cooking and cleaning, are tricky.

Also, sometimes, when I don’t see someone for a while, I can get silly thoughts about them that aren’t true, so I like to keep myself occupied.

Jules Robertson as an actor

What inspired you to become an actor?

Probably watching movies with great actors. I used to think: “I’d like to be able to do something like that one day.” So I enrolled in drama classes and really enjoyed the liberating feeling of being able to play someone else. It’s a very exciting being able to play a character that isn’t you.

When you think about it, autistic people are acting every day – acting at being ‘normal’, to fit in and not be anxious.

How did you feel enrolling in the Access All Areas theatre company and what was your highlight of being there?

I did a year-long course there in 2015 and, at the time, I thought it was really hard. But I had no idea that it would lead to something so great as Holby City and that my life would become more exciting from there.

There were some really fun things we did in the workshops. I did my Steve Martin show there, which was called ‘Steve Martin and Me’. He’s another obsession of mine. I had loads of posters of him on my wall as a child. I actually used to think he was my biological dad!

I have also always thought that Steve Martin looks a bit like a dolphin. So I had a pretend tennis match against an inflatable dolphin – marrying two of my obsessions. I’m such a good actor that my mum now wonders: “Gosh, I’m not sure! Did I have an affair with Steve Martin?”

Overall, I think that Access All Areas has been really helpful to me and without it, I wouldn’t have got my Holby City audition or job. The way in which I have progressed and worked up to where I am now has been a very interesting journey. (Scroll to the bottom or click link above to find out more about Access All Areas)

Jules Robertson and Holby City

Jules Robertson acting in soap Holby City

How did you get the role of Jason Haynes in Holby City?

Through Access All Areas. It’s really incredible actually. It’s all thanks to the producer, Simon Harper, who fought for an autistic actor to play the autistic character. Otherwise, it would have been another example of a non-disabled actor playing a disabled role, like Dustin Hoffman playing Rain Man. 

What do you enjoy most about being in Holby City?

I really like the other actors and the people behind the scenes. The makeup team and camera crew are brilliant. We laugh a lot. It means that I love being on set. I love everything about it, actually. It’s such a fun place to work.

Also, Catherine Russell, who plays Aunty Serena, is my true inspiration. She’s a great actress and so good to work with. I’ve learnt a lot from her and I think our scenes have real authenticity and poignancy. I was nominated for a BAFTA, thanks to her.

What is it like playing a character with your disability and do you think you have similar characteristics to Jason?

It’s really interesting playing a guy with the same condition, but with a different sort of Asperger’s to myself. In some ways, we’re very similar. I think we’re both very matter of fact and straightforward. But, in many other ways, we’re not. I think he’s a bit more nerdy and geeky than I am.

I also wouldn’t be able to hold down the responsibilities that he has; the baby, the wife and the difficult porter’s job. I wouldn’t be able to handle any of that myself. Mind you, Jason can’t make as many jokes as I do or entertain the crowd with my superb renditions of Chicago and Jesus Christ Superstar. Clearly, he’s not as humble either!

Actor Jules Robertson Holby City

Do you think perceptions of autism have changed since you’ve been on Holby City?

Yes, I think Jason’s character in Holby City has done more to take the stigma out of autism than a hundred dry documentaries. The audience sees Jason’s real emotions and can relate to his problems. It makes them feel sympathetic, but also amused and intrigued by the way his brain works.

I even think that people working on Holby City have changed their mind about the abilities of people with autism. I’ve been able to show them that we are able and capable, as well as being fun and clever.

Does Jason have some exciting storylines coming up soon?

Yes I believe so, we’ll be seeing how his marriage with Greta develops.

Jules Robertson’s other acting roles

You also appeared in an episode of the ITV drama Endeavour. What was that experience like?

That was also really fun. My character was completely different from Jason. He was the president of the Oxford Union. We didn’t see a lot of him, but it was still exciting. It was great filming in the Oxford debating hall.

I also had no idea that I’d work with Marcus Griffiths from Holby City again. We’re clearly doing a trilogy together – Holby City, Endeavour… and I don’t know what’s next. We might do a movie together next time, a bromance comedy with lots of wisecracks.

Also, I just want to say thanks to the casting agent, Susie Parris, who was brave enough to think outside the neurological box.

Have you ever considered performing on stage or on the big screen?

Yes, of course. I’d love to be Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar – a very misunderstood man – and Billy Flynn in Chicago – the baddie you love to hate. Maybe Javert in Les Mis as well!

Do you plan to appear in any future roles this year?

I don’t know what, but I would like to. I’d like to play the first autistic Hamlet. Clearly, Hamlet was on the spectrum, but not diagnosed. He’s obsessive, anxious and emotionally stunted. He doesn’t even notice that Ophelia is suicidal. I would love to play him as autistic.

Jules Robertson on employing people with autism

What would you say to employers about the benefits of employing people with autism?

Only 15% of people with autism are in the workforce, which is a much lower inclusion rate than other disabilities. With the right help and encouragement, autistic people can give back to society in the most enthralling and innovative ways, if people would just give us a chance.

What advice would you give to other disabled people who are seeking a career in acting?

Always believe that you can do it. There are going to be tough and challenging times, but just be yourself and do your best.

To find out more about Jules Robertson and get up to date news, follow him on Facebook

By Emma Purcell – follow her blog Rock For Disability.

UPDATED May 2024

Jules Robertson’s Continued Success in Acting

Since the original article about Jules Robertson was published in 2019, he has continued to make strides in his acting career. After his successful run playing the autistic character Jason Haynes on Holby City from 2016 to 2022, Jules has taken on several new roles in popular British TV series.

In 2021, he appeared in an episode of the detective drama Endeavour as the Debating Society President. He also had a role in the short film Love that same year, for which he won Best Actor awards at the Rome International Film Festival and London Rocks International Film Festival in 2023.

Most recently in 2022, Jules guest starred in an episode of the long-running crime drama Midsomer Murders as the character Charlie Cabot. He reprised his role as Jason Haynes for the emotional final episode of Holby City in 2022 as well].

Advocating for Representation and Inclusion

Looking ahead, Jules has expressed interest in continuing to break barriers as an actor with autism. He hopes to one day become the first neurodivergent actor to play the role of Hamlet, noting the character’s anxiety, OCD tendencies and difficulty reading emotions. With his talent and determination to increase representation, Jules Robertson is definitely an actor to watch in the coming years.

As an ambassador for Ambitious about Autism, Jules uses his platform to raise awareness and advocate for his peers. He has spoken out about the need for employers to give people with autism a chance, highlighting that only 15% of autistic adults are currently in the workforce.

His mother, author Kathy Lette, has also shared her pride in Jules’ accomplishments. In a recent article, she expressed hope that his success “gives heart to other parents” of children on the autism spectrum who are constantly told they are “wrong or stupid.” She advises parents to nurture their child’s interests, as you never know where it may lead them.

The Importance of Authentic Representation

Jules Robertson’s groundbreaking role as Jason Haynes on Holby City marked an important step forward for authentic representation of autism in media. As the first autistic actor to play an autistic character in an ongoing BBC drama[5], he brought a unique perspective and lived experience to the role.

Writer Gemma Harvey, who worked with Jules on the short film Love, emphasized the importance of casting neurodivergent actors in an interview with The Unwritten: “Having disabled actors to play those roles means they come with their own lived experiences, which people without those disabilities can’t get.”

Despite progress in recent years, Hollywood still largely excludes autistic actors, even from autistic roles. Jules Robertson remains a rare example of authentic casting. As he continues to take on new projects and challenge stereotypes, he is paving the way for greater inclusion across the entertainment industry.

More Information about Access All Areas

Access All Areas: Empowering Actors with Disabilities

The theatre company Access All Areas played a crucial role in launching Jules Robertson’s acting career. This innovative organization is dedicated to creating opportunities for learning disabled and autistic artists in the performing arts industry.

Supporting Actors and Promoting Inclusion

Access All Areas offers a range of programs to support actors with disabilities, including drama workshops, training, and professional development. They work closely with TV, film, and theatre companies to make their productions and workplaces more accessible and inclusive.

As Patrick Collier, executive director of Access All Areas, explained in a recent interview, “Access All Areas believes that, with proper training for the industry, nuanced support for talent, and meaningful inclusion in the creative process, learning disabled and autistic voices can be at the heart of this drive.”

Getting Involved and Supporting the Mission

There are several ways to get involved with Access All Areas and support their mission of empowering actors with disabilities:

By supporting organizations like Access All Areas, we can help break down barriers and create a more inclusive performing arts industry that celebrates the talents of all actors, regardless of disability.



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Emma Purcell

Editor & Writer at Disability Horizons. Blogger at Rock For Disability. Loves live music, comedy, acting, chocolate and is a Harry Potter fanatic.

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