To prepare for this role, the 21-year-old Doherty actually trained on mountain bikes to get a feel for what his character Sean does. In one episode, Sean and Ben compete in the regional mountain bike qualifiers.
Before this episode airs on Friday, October 21, at 5 p.m. ET, Doherty spoke with SI Kids about what training was like and how it helped his performance.
What was it like to train on a mountain bike for the show?
It was incredible. I had never mountain biked before. I have friends who do it, but I had never done it. When I got this role, I obviously had to learn how to mountain bike. Luke Newton, who plays the character of Ben, and I — for six weeks every couple of days — we went out just outside of London to amazing mountain biking parks. We started to learn and gradually built up our skillset. By the time we got to filming, we felt pretty confident. In Northern Ireland, there are some of the most amazing mountain biking tracks, and it was an amazing experience. It’s something that I’ve really fallen in love with, so I go regularly still.
Were there any mishaps during training?
There were, yeah. I mean, you gradually get better, but we fell off quite a few times. It’s just about getting back up on the bike and trying again. It’s definitely one of those sports that you need to feel falling a lot to get the grips of it. Luke and I both fell a lot, but you grow as a mountain biker!
Have you done any other sports while acting?
This is the first job I’ve ever had to do where I had to learn a completely new sport. I am kind of athletic in general. I used to play a lot of soccer, and I wanted to be a professional soccer player when I was growing up. A lot of my life was dedicated to that until I fell in love with acting. I also played tennis, badminton, football, and swimming. I was quite an active person.
What made you fall in love with acting?
I guess it was just a gradual thing. I started when I was five or six years old, and it was almost like a second hobby, just trying new things and not just being stuck in sports. That’s really something over time I fell in love with. It just took over, and it’s something that became a passion.
How do you think actually training makes the show and your performance better?
With acting it’s getting that realness, being genuine, into what and who you're trying to be and having that knowledge of and developing that character. Mountain biking is such a large aspect of the character of Sean. You can’t lie to the audience. The more committed you are to a role, the more believable it is.
I found out on the first day of rehearsals. They obviously knew I was sporty, but it wasn’t until we got the script in rehearsals that we were told we’d have to be like professional mountain bikers. So it was a shock, but a fun shock. I’m always eager to try new things.
What would you tell kids about mountain biking, since it’s not a mainstream sport?
I am very conscious of that. It’s definitely a growing sport in Britain. I really encourage it to kids. Try something new you’ve never done before. I never knew how much I’d like it, and now it’s a sport I love so much. You get to be in nature, and the tracks are beautiful, so I’d encourage people just to try it, as it keeps you active.
What do you hope kids take away from your show?
I’d like to inspire children to do new things. Follow your dreams, follow your passion — whether it be mountain biking like me, or singing and dancing, or just anything. Just try new things, and get out there.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photograph courtesy of ©DISNEY CHANNEL