Welcome to David Morrissey Fan. A website supporting the career of English actor David Morrissey, most known for his role as The Governor in The Walking Dead and as Sam Webster in The Missing. The website will provide you with the most up to date news, projects, images and so much more on David's career, appearances and charity work.

Posted on July 5th, 2019 by admin

I have added some wonderful rehearsal and production photos from The End of History to the gallery.

  
  
You can view the rest here


Posted on July 5th, 2019 by admin

In his four-decade stage and screen career, David Morrissey has played everyone from Mark Antony and Gordon Brown to a hangman and the villainous governor in a zombie drama. Now about to appear at London’s Royal Court, he tells Tim Bano about choosing and preparing for a role – and his twin passions for politics and Liverpool FC.

A long while back, there was a period when David Morrissey began to question whether a career as an actor was worth anything. “At the time I was in a bit of a place.” He laughs a bit awkwardly. “And I was wondering about the value of what I was doing. But I have no doubt about the value of what we do now.”

“TV’s most underrated leading man”, as a Sunday Telegraph critic once described him, grew up in a working-class suburb of Liverpool. His dad was a cobbler, his mum worked for Littlewoods. He hated school, failed his 11-plus and dropped out at 16. What saved him, he reckons, was Kes.

Watching Ken Loach’s seminal film about a boy and his pet kestrel made him want to be an actor, and he found an outlet for that desire at the Everyman Youth Theatre: “I was pretty much bitten and I wasn’t going to be put off.”

What enrages Morrissey now is the fact that access to the arts for young people is increasingly restricted, particularly in state education. The arts are a fundamental part of the human experience, he argues, which is why he works with children in state education and in schools for excluded children.

“I think that idea of good citizens being academically well educated is so limiting because the arts by nature make you empathetic. They ask you what it’s like to be someone else or to think in terms of other people. And that’s a big quality that I feel is lacking in our society. What drama, music, art, all those creative aspects of education can deliver – I think that is being eroded in our society. And now I see the value of art and the creative arts massively. I have no doubt about the worth of what we do.”

‘The arts by nature make you empathetic – that’s a big quality that I feel is lacking in our society’

After a few years at the Everyman, where he came across Willy Russell, Morrissey auditioned for One Summer, a television drama Russell had written about two kids from Liverpool who run away to Wales. Although it was almost 40 years ago, One Summer remains the role Morrissey is most recognised for – particularly in Liverpool. “And it’s not just people of my generation,” he says. “Young people are still watching it too.”

Since then, Morrissey’s credits on TV, film and on stage have been non-stop. His choice of roles is always surprising, and has astonishingly few critical flops (though it’s best to draw a veil over Basic Instinct 2 – the reception was so bad it set his career in America back by years and made him seriously consider quitting acting altogether).

The breadth of roles Morrissey has tackled is astonishing. He’s as convincing playing real people such as Gordon Brown in Peter Morgan’s Channel 4 drama The Deal – for which he gained two stone – as he is in sillier roles like the villainous Governor in zombie drama The Walking Dead.

He has been described, variously, as a leading man, an everyman, a character actor and a chameleon – even the ways people define him seem to defy definition. He certainly gets critics’ juices flowing as they find endless ways of describing his blend of intensity and sensitivity. That unpredictability feeds into our conversation: at points he is animated and expansive, but those moments are matched by periods of quiet and caution.

We meet as he has just finished the first run-through of The End of History, a new play at London’s Royal Court. It is written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany, the team behind Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and he looks a bit knackered. The cast members are dispersing, some heading off to the pub, while we are led into a little room stuffed with costumes on rails.

At 6ft 3in, Morrissey is way too tall for the primary school plastic chair in the room. Twisting and squirming to get comfortable, eventually he slides right down until he’s almost horizontal.

Q&A David Morrissey

What was your first non-theatre job?
Bar and restaurant work.

What was your first professional theatre job?
Appearing in Nigel Williams’ WCPC at Liverpool Playhouse in 1986.

What is your next job?
The End of History at London’s Royal Court and The Singapore Grip on ITV.

What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
To remember to enjoy it.

Who or what was your biggest influence?
When I did One Summer, the lead adult actor was James Hazeldine, who is sadly no longer with us. He became my mentor. I would phone him up and run things past him when things weren’t going great. I still miss him very much.

What’s your best advice for auditions?
Don’t take it personally when it doesn’t happen. There are so many reasons a job doesn’t happen and it’s very rarely about the fact that you’re not talented enough.

If you hadn’t been an actor, what would you have been?
I would have been involved in the arts world in some way – in theatre’s technical side or something.

Do you have any theatrical superstitions or rituals?
No, not really.

Preparing for a role

Morrissey is well known for the meticulous background research and reading that goes into preparing for his roles. In order to play a chef in the 2000 film Some Voices, he shadowed the head chef of a Kensington restaurant and chopped veg for two hours a day. He shadowed prison officers when he played a prison officer, arcade owners when played an arcade owner, and Peter Mandelson when he played an MP in the superb thriller State of Play.

His head is rarely out of a book, plenty for pleasure, but often in preparation for a part: Austen, Dickens, biographies of Alberts Speer and Pierrepoint, novels by China Miéville and David Nicholls. If he’s starring in an adaptation of a book, it’s usually because he has already read it and is a fan. If he isn’t familiar with the source material, he laps it up.
But when it came to preparing for The End of History, charting a family’s leftist ideals over three decades from 1997, very little of that background research was necessary. “I lived through a lot of it, so I understand it. You’re really just using your memory of what it was like to go through that time yourself.”

He and Lesley Sharp play David and Sal, a politically active Old Labour couple who have repeatedly seen their dreams of socialism fail to come to fruition. Despite their own activism, their kids have different political leanings, a situation that creates tension.

As well as sharing a name, the character of David matches up to Morrissey’s own views quite squarely. “I was around those marches, I was there during the miners’ strike when there was lots of political activism going on. It’s in our DNA.”

Morrissey has always been politically vocal. Although he still identifies with the Labour Party, those allegiances have squirmed slightly as left-wing politics have changed. “I have issues with the party’s stance towards Europe. Big time. I don’t feel they tackled anti-Semitism at all, and I thought that was a disgrace. Really I was very disappointed and let down by it and angry about it. So there’s two big things that are shit. But then there’s a lot of other stuff that I’m really in favour of. And I’d still rather live in a Jeremy Corbyn world than a Boris Johnson world.”

So the research for this play has been more about familiarising himself with the timeline of Labour politics – when Clause 4 was abolished, when inheritance tax came in, when various New Labour policies were enacted. Besides, he explains, all that method stuff isn’t actually necessary. He’s played parts where the research he’s done has been minimal, “but that’s usually because someone has said something to me like: ‘Can you start on Monday?’ It’s not essential for me to do all that research. I just like it. It’s something that I enjoy.”

How much of it does he think actually ends up on stage or screen? “I would hope very little. Because you don’t want to see someone’s research. You don’t want to see all the books they’ve read. You just want to be in the character. For me it’s just about exercising my energy. I like it. I like to read around a subject. I like to not take things for granted. I guess that’s the way I work.”

The lights in the costume store suddenly switch off with a loud click. Morrissey barely raises an eyebrow, and instead slinks further down into his chair. We carry on talking in darkness.
Besides some cracking TV roles – the wonderfully odd The City and the City, based on Miéville’s science fiction detective story, Jez Butterworth’s off-the-wall Roman period drama Britannia, the second series of Harry and Jack Williams’ harrowing drama The Missing – Morrissey has returned to the stage with more regularity in recent years.

Back to the theatre

Morrissey was reluctant to take on too much stage work when his kids were younger as he didn’t want to be away from them for long periods, and since the turn of the century his only theatre role was in Neil LaBute play In a Dark Dark House at the Almeida in 2008 and Macbeth at the Everyman in 2011.

Then came Hangmen at London’s Royal Court in 2015, followed by its West End transfer in 2016; Nicholas Hytner’s promenade Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre in 2018 and now The End of History. And if we’re entering Morrissey’s ‘stage age’, who’s complaining?

But he says none of it is planned. There’s never been a goal. “I was never at a point where I took anything, even as a young actor. Not through arrogance but just because I knew I wouldn’t be any good in anything I didn’t like.” Although he has admitted that, among the endless advert voice-overs he’s done, he does regret doing one for McDonald’s.

So his rule for choosing roles is, first, whether he likes it and, second, whether it’s going to challenge him. Looking at his endless list of credits no one could accuse Morrissey of seeking an easy ride. Nazis, murderers, politicians, villains, detectives, nobles, normal blokes – there really is nothing that unites his CV except the strength of his performances.

“I have to choose things that I know will challenge me. I mean really frighten me. I’m still in that place where, if I read something and it doesn’t shake me up, I’m slightly like: ‘Well, do I need to do this?’ It’s a good thing to feel. It means you’re on your toes, you’re challenged, you’re living off your wits and you have to back yourself.”

What he worries about least these days is the finished product, and the reception to it by critics and audiences. “That’s sort of slightly not my concern. Where it ends up is not my responsibility. Somebody else takes that and they do whatever they want. I used to get very frustrated about that. Now I think: ‘Okay, I’ve done this today, how do I feel in the car going home? How do I feel about the day?’ And in the theatre I think: ‘This bit didn’t work, this beat needs more.’ ”

“It’s not that I don’t care about the audience, of course I care about them, but I’m not so much doing it for them. I’m sort of selfishly doing it for me and my fellow actors. It’s like thinking about your destination when you’re on the journey. You have to really be in the middle of it and enjoying it here, rather than thinking about whether they’re going to like it.”

That must be especially true of film and TV, I suggest, in which the actor has so little control over the end result, but is it different in theatre? After all, the audience is right there – the instant reaction is right there every night. “The interesting word that I want to just flag is ‘control’. I’m not trying to control something. I’m more trying to discover. To play. The main thing is play. I want to play.”

David Morrissey on…

… arts in education
Schools became under pressure because they’re in a marketplace. As soon as they’re in a marketplace they have to have certain sort of grades because they’re in competition with everybody else. That means that so-called – and I hate this term but it is a term that’s used – ‘soft options’ suffer. This idea of a soft option as an easy subject is taken by people who have no idea how hard it is. When access to the arts becomes limited, young people who want to follow those careers have to start by doing a whole load of unpaid work. It becomes about the bank of mum and dad, when early-career artists are asked to work for nothing for the first two to three years. So you have to be supported, and ipso facto it becomes a middle-class profession.

… working with Sheridan Smith and Olivia Colman
I was doing a two-part drama by David Nicholls called The 7.39, with Sheridan Smith and Olivia Colman. There was one Sunday night when they were both going to the BAFTAs while I was at home having a fucking TV dinner. And they both won and on the Monday Sheridan had her award on the table, I was like: “Okay, great.”


Keeping a show fresh every night

The longer a run goes on, Morrissey says, the more a sense of play becomes important. Every night he will hear a line differently, for every performance each of the actors “brings their day” on stage with them, there’s a different energy, “and you go: ‘Okay let’s play with that for a bit, let’s have a look at that’.”

Spontaneity is key. It’s a skill he has learned from the stage, and one that has come in useful in his many TV performances. “When I’m in big movies, you get so many takes, and you think: ‘I’ve lost this.’ And then you don’t get it back really until you’re getting into take 40 or 50, because you’ve got to forget about the 10s and remint it somewhere down the line.

“Those big movies give you that time. But when you do TV or independent film, in a scene you’ll get five to seven takes. So because I’m a British actor brought up on British television, where you don’t have that time – you’re living off your toes, which I like. And I do think that’s why a lot of British actors tend to do quite well in America – we have been brought up to say: ‘Let’s go.’ You’re part of a team that is going at a pace. And it probably brings a kind of energy which is more like the liveness in a theatre.”

Sometimes finding that energy is easy. When he was playing Mark Antony in Hytner’s immersive Julius Caesar at the Bridge last year, the entire audience became the Roman rabble, and listening to Morrissey perform the ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen’ speech was like being at a political rally.

“What happens usually is during that speech Mark Antony will be doing it to four extras trying to be 400 guys. I actually had 400 guys. I had a live audience who, when I stood up there, were slightly like: ‘You can fuck off.’ And then as I was doing the speech I could see them go: ‘Well, hang on a minute…’ That was my job, to bring them around.”

An added treat in that production was seeing Morrissey singing in a post-punk band. Maybe a future in musical theatre beckons, I joke. He sits upright in the too-small chair. “I’d love to do that,” he exclaims. “Get that out there.” He saw Marianne Elliott’s Company twice and “thought it was fucking brilliant”.

Morrissey also decided that, since Antony is a man of the people and a bit of a rabble rouser, he should wear an FC Roma football shirt. He went off and got one printed with Mark Antony on the back. But then during the run the Italian side Roma happened to be playing his beloved team Liverpool in the Champions League quarter final. He refused to betray Liverpool. “I said I can’t wear that shirt. The stage manager was like: ‘You’ve got to, it’s part of the show.’ I just couldn’t do it.”

Nor was that the last time Liverpool’s football fate has had an impact on his acting: earlier this year, just after he landed the part in The End of History, Liverpool made it to the Champions League final. Morrissey found himself negotiating to get one of the first days of rehearsal off so he could go to the match in Madrid. “At first they said no, but I was like: ‘No. I’ve got to go.’ I think John Tiffany, for the first time in his life, was watching a football match, going: ‘I hope Liverpool win.’ ”

Three and a half decades on from his debut role in One Summer, nothing’s ever really slowed down for Morrissey. He’s just back from Malaysia shooting The Singapore Grip for ITV, an adaptation of a JG Farrell novel by Christopher Hampton. He’s produced and directed his own films. And, as ever, he’s nose deep in several novels: “I’ve just devoured Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet.”

And as for the point of it all, whether that’s his work with the UNHCR Refugee Agency, or in bringing the arts to state schools, or simply pretending to be someone else, he has no doubt now of the worth of what he does. “When I was a younger actor, I felt like I had to suffer and to feel pain. It had to cost me. And I slightly forgot to enjoy it.”

Source: The Stage


Posted on July 5th, 2019 by admin

Full casting for the world premiere of the end of history… at the Royal Court Theatre has been announced, ahead of the show’s opening next month.

Set in 1997, the end of history… follows Sal and David, a middle-aged couple whose eldest children have come home from university for a family weekend, as they continue to teach their offspring left-wing political ideas.

Award-winning actor David Morrissey will play David, delivering critically-acclaimed performances in television series including The Walking Dead and The Deal. His stage credits include Peer Gynt at the National Theatre, Three Days of Rain at the Donmar Warehouse and In a Dark Dark House at the Almeida.

Lesley Sharp will play Sal, previously starring in Royal Court productions including The Woods, Top Girls and Our Country’s Good. Further stage credits include The Seagull at the Lyric theatre, Ghosts and Little Voice.

The cast is completed by Zoe Boyle, Laurie Davidson, Kate O’Flynn and Sam Swainsbury.

the end of history… will mark the latest play written by Jack Thorne, with recent productions including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre, an adaptation of A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic which will play its third consecutive Christmas season and King Kong on Broadway.

The creative team includes John Tiffany as director, joining Jack Thorne after directing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Design is by Grace Smart, lighting by Jack Knowles, sound by Tom Gibbons and movement by Steven Hoggett.

the end of history… is at the Royal Court Theatre from 27th June to 10th August.

Source: London theatre


Posted on January 4th, 2019 by admin

 

This unusual BBC2 murder mystery drama is adapted from the novel by China Miéville and features two overlapping – but completely separate – cities
“I think the world is fantastic, it’s trippy as anything,” says David Morrissey of new BBC2 drama The City and the City. “It’s such a weird, trippy place.”

The world in question is actually a fictional European city-state – or rather, two cities existing in exactly the same space. But this is no science fiction; we’re not talking about alternative realities. These are two actual cities in one…

In The City and The City, Morrissey’s character Inspector Tyador Borlú lives in the dilapidated, chaotic, vibrant city of Beszel. But Beszel overlaps and mingles with an entirely separate city: the rich, slick and sterile Ul Qoma. The inhabitants of each city must consciously “unsee” the inhabitants of the other, or they will be punished by the all-seeing secret service Breach.

As Morrissey concedes, “It’s a difficult show to describe. But once you embrace it and get in the world, you’re really in it.”

A citizen of Beszel may not visit the shop next door, because it’s in Ul Qoma; a man in Ul Qoma cannot pick up a stray frisbee that has come from a child playing in Beszel.

“You don’t acknowledge it, you don’t have any interaction with that place at all,” Morrissey explains. “And that’s how it is. And it’s sort of always been that way.”

The concept comes straight from China Mieville’s novel The City & The City, and adapted for TV by screenwriter Tony Grisoni. This four-part drama tells the story of a murder investigation that stretches across the two cities after the body of an American student who was living in Ul Qoma turns up on a street in Beszel.

Inspector Borlú is determined to find out who killed her, and why.

“I get sent a lot of cop shows,” Morrissey says. “It’s great that I’m six foot three and I get sent a lot of options, and cop shows are our staple, aren’t they? So you get them and sometimes go, ‘Oh, I think that’s OK.’ But this one I thought, ‘Thank god for that! This is totally different.’”

But while it might be a totally different sort of cop show, Mieville’s world contains a certain truth about our reality.

“What I like about [author] China, and I think there’s something a little Black Mirror-y about it, is the fact that he takes things that you totally understand, are totally familiar with – and just exaggerates it”

He adds: “I don’t think anybody who lives in any metropolis has to look too far to recognise that we deny people who live in our streets and our cities all the time. We don’t look at the things that are going on. We live in high rise, or even on the street we walk past people all the time.

“So he’s using that idea but militarising it, and putting it into a structure.”

However, this “trippy” world is particularly hard to put on screen. How do you visually represent the idea of “unseeing”; how do you show two cities with completely invisible boundaries?

“I did start thinking, how the hell are they going to do this?” Morrissey admits. “And then I met [the director] Tom Shankland, who I’m a huge fan of, and he had a vision, and you just jump in. Any job is a leap of faith.”

Production took place in Liverpool and Manchester, using the Victorian gothic buildings of the industrial revolution for Beszel which sit “cheek by jowl with these big glass structures” used to represent Ul Qoma. “Unseeing” is represented by a blurring of everything but the city our characters are currently in.

 
 And, in an echo of the division between East and West Berlin that is still visible from the air – with one side lit up in warm orange and one in cold blue, a relic of Soviet vs Western street lighting systems – Beszel and Ul Qoma are bathed in different coloured light. It’s a useful visual distinction.

Grisoni has however taken one liberty with the novel: he has given Morrissey’s character a wife.

However, she is only introduced to us in flashbacks, because Katrynia (Sherlock’s Lara Pulver) is missing. It seems she tried to illicitly cross from Beszel to Ul Qoma; now her whereabouts is uncertain.

“What Tony Grisoni has done is he’s added something to the narrative, an emotional heart to it,” Morrissey says.

“What I like about China’s writing actually is there’s something detached in his writing. He’s slightly on the outside looking in.

 “What Tony has done is he’s given my character a real emotional heart that means that this case that he’s investigating has a personal element to it. Why is he doing this? Why is he following this case so passionately? And it’s to do with his ex-wife.”

Source: Radio Times


Posted on November 5th, 2018 by admin


Posted on July 13th, 2018 by admin

The Bike Project, based in Deptford, takes second-hand bikes, fix them up and donates them to refugees and asylum-seekers.

The charity is through to the final seven of the charity category of the National Lottery Awards which recognises the achievements of charities across the UK.

London Live spoke to David Morrissey about why he has given the charity his backing.


Posted on April 20th, 2018 by admin

Follow the link to read the web chat with David here.

You can read some of the questions and answers below:

I loved your portrayal of The Governor in The Walking Dead. Is there any chance that you’ll ever play the role again? An adaption of the Rise of the Governor novel would make a wonderful prequel!

I would love to play the role again, however there are no plans to do it. Not to my knowledge anyway. He was a character that I felt had great depth and complexity. Not just a cardboard baddy. A lot of my inspiration for the role came from the books written by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. I think these books are fantastic and I think it would be wonderful to do a mini series of them.

What advice would you give to a young person now without any means or support but who is really burning to go into acting?

I am very worried about the lack of support for people from low-income backgrounds trying to get into the creative arts. It’s always been a difficult profession to break into but I feel now with drama and the visual arts being taken out of school curriculum it’s even harder. My advice is never give up. Join amateur dramatic groups. Get your friends together to read plays and scripts, make your own film on your phone, it’s about knocking on doors writing letters and believing in yourself.

How was your experience of playing Mark Antony in Julius Caesar at the Bridge theatre? How did your characterisation of Antony come about?

It was a wonderful experience all round. Great cast, great crew and brilliant audiences. I think The Bridge is a very special theatre and I will remember the experience for a very long time. What is amazing about Shakespeare is how even now he is relevant to us and can give us insight into human behaviour that illuminates the very situations and times we are living in now.

I admire your work with refugees. What first inspired you to work with them and do you see yourself continuing to do that for a long time?

I am a goodwill ambassador here in the UK for UNHCR. I have been doing work with them to highlight the plight of refugees for a number of years now and I will continue to do that for as long as I can. I feel that the refugee crisis and how we handle it is truly the challenge of our age. Reaching out to people, helping people who are fleeing murderous circumstances is a no brainer to me. We’ve seen in history what happens to people when the world turns its back on them and it’s up to us in the 21st century to ensure that that doesn’t happen again.

Which one of your characters can you relate to the most / who’s most like your personality in real life?!

There’s always different aspects of myself in all my characters but the character that was most like me was Billy in One Summer, which was the first job I ever did about a 16 year old kid in Liverpool, which I happened to be at the time. It was a very relatable to me at the time.

 

Source: The Guardian


Posted on April 19th, 2018 by admin


Posted on April 16th, 2018 by admin

 

WE last saw him putting the wind up ancient Celts as Roman general Aulus Plautius in the bonkers historical drama Britannia. Now David Morrissey has returned to our screens in the equally baffling but possibly brilliant The City And The City. You never know quite where he’s going to turn up next.

Though he’s flown under the awards radar (the only notable gong he’s won in his Rada-trained, 35-year career is a Royal Television Society Programme Award for 2003’s The Deal), Morrissey, 53, has a fair claim to being Britain’s most underrated TV actor, certainly in terms of his versatility. It takes some acting chops to jump from Britannia’s woozy past to the unsettling future of The City And The City’s dystopian mystery without pausing for breath.

‘Yes, I went straight from Britannia to The City And The City,’ he says. ‘It took a bit of adjusting. But I was a big fan of China Miéville’s book, on which The City And The City is based, and I was intrigued to see how writer Tony Grisoni would turn it into a TV adaptation.’

If you’ve yet to catch it, be warned: The City And The City is a bit of a head-scratcher. Set in two fictional cities that border each other without interacting, episode one was like entering a labyrinth with no clues to an exit. But as the smoke has cleared, what has emerged is an intriguing and timely study of an issue central to life, circa 2018: our divided world.

Filming Blackpool, David Tennant and I looked at each other and said, ‘We’re never going to work again!’

Morrissey plays the grizzled, seen-it-all Inspector Borlú, whose beat is the grubby streets of Beszel. He’s got a lot on his plate: a murder mystery to solve, a wife who’s gone missing and a world in danger of collapsing in on itself.

‘The idea of a divided world is not a new one,’ says Morrissey. ‘But it’s one that’s pertinent to what’s going on now. ‘That idea of being in a city where you don’t know the half of what is going on, where you can be totally blinded to the plight of other people. This show pushes that to the point where people are literally invisible to each other.

‘It’s TV that pushes people, we need that don’t we? And yes, it’s asking a lot for people to get their heads around it. But I get sent a lot of scripts which are all so similar — and this is really different.’

Given the impressive range of his credits, asking what he most gets recognised for could produce a list as long as your arm. But he skips over big hits The Missing, State Of Play, The Deal and Red Riding and gets straight to the point.

‘That depends where I am. If I’m in Liverpool, where I’m from, it’s still One Summer, the first thing I was in on TV, which was set there. I was in Italy not long ago and there it was all, “You’re that guy from The Walking Dead”.’

He long ago gave up trying to predict which shows would strike a major chord — he’s had his fair share of highs (Nowhere Boy) and lows (Basic Instinct 2) on film — and rolls with the punches.

‘I did a show called Blackpool and they showed us a reel of scenes we’d shot and I remember getting into an elevator with David Tennant afterwards and we looked at each other and said, “We’re never going to work again!” But the finished version turned out to be one of the shows I’m most proud of. So you never can tell — you just have to do it for yourself.’

He’s delighted to be getting another crack at Aulus Plautius, as Britannia’s mix of Romans, Druids, warrior women and historical mayhem proved a hit for Sky Atlantic — it got the green light for a second series.

‘Jez Butterworth is a writer I’d wanted to work with for a long, long time’, says Morrissey. ‘We had great fun doing it. Jez has got a real respect for that time, the pre-Christian era in Britain, he really knows his stuff. But he’s got a very modern take on it, which is what I loved.’

Hang on a minute — by ‘had great fun’ would that be a reference to, how to put it, enjoying the odd ‘druidical’ moment? The mystical mischief-makers were much given to the odd trip?

‘I know where you’re going with that — but no,’ he says. ‘I wouldn’t have been able to get the lines out properly. But I think Jez may well have had a few of those moments while he was writing it!’

Source: The Metro


Posted on April 5th, 2018 by admin

 
David Morrissey arrives for our interview at his publicist’s Soho office dressed in a sharply- tailored, Teddy-Boy era suit, his instantly recognisable features dusted with a fine, grizzly stubble. His 6ft 3in frame is entirely ‘metropolitan man’; he is affable, firm of handshake, and resoundingly apologetic for being a little tardy. Blame the late nights involved in his current theatre role – playing Marc Antony in a highly-praised contemporary version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Weird hours notwithstanding, “it’s nice for me to work in London because I could as easily be in Outer Mongolia or anywhere that the work takes me,” he laughs. “I keep a packed suitcase in the hallway.”

When he is home, Morrissey embraces the busy life in the capital that he shares with his novelist wife Esther Freud, daughter of painter Lucian. Yet Liverpool, the city of his birth, still tugs at his heart and continues to announce itself in the undertow of a Scouse accent. The recent passing of comedy stalwart Sir Ken Dodd, another of the city’s favourite sons and Morrissey’s former neighbour, struck a chord.

“I used to see him on my way to school and sometimes he’d be loading his props into the car,” the 53-year-old recalls. “I’d shout, ‘Alright Doddy?!’ He was the first celebrity I ever saw. So when he died, apart from being upset that a great legend had gone, it threw me back to the good and bad times of that period of my life, living with my mum and dad and growing up in Liverpool.”

Same thing, too, he says, during recent filming of the new BBC drama The City and The City. Morrissey stars as Inspector Tyador Borlu in the upcoming adaptation of China Mieville’s weird and wonderful thriller, playing a man who must solve the brutal murder of a young woman while confronting his own troubled past.

“On the surface the viewer’s lured in with the familiar trope of a noir, murder investigation but, on a deeper level, The City and The City is about a lot of other things – divisions in our society, [and] the tendency of those who have to ignore the have-nots. It’s very recognisably a tale for our times,” Morrissey explains.

Rather like his character, whose memories are intimately connected with his locale, walking the streets of Liverpool during filming reawakened Morrissey’s past. The youngest child of Joe, a cobbler and Joan, who worked for the Littlewoods catalogue, his two older brothers and sister still live in the city – “a stone’s’ throw from each other” – as did his mother until her death two years ago.

Joan influenced him hugely, he says, not least because she became the sole parent after his father’s death at the age of 54, following a long battle with a blood disorder. “My dad became ill when I was seven and died when I was 15,” the actor says, “and my memories of those years are of us having a very ill person in the house and having to walk around on eggshells, which was hard as a kid.

“After his death, I felt quite rudderless and full of questions and regrets and later I was just sad that he wasn’t around to know my kids or to share the times when maybe I’d had a bit of success in my career. His death also distorted my view of mortality for a while because I thought, ‘if he died so young, so could I.’ But, this year, I’m 54 myself and it’s easier because I think, ‘Well, I’m all right. I don’t have what he had. I’m much less concerned now.”

He is concerned, he says, that these days working class kids don’t receive similar encouragement. “My problem isn’t at all with ‘posh actors’ like Benedict (Cumberbatch) or Damian (Lewis) who are mates of mine.

“[It’s] with the idea that acting is somehow not for kids from the working class and that drama now is seen as something extra curricular and unnecessary in state schools. So if you come from a low-income background, then your chances of being introduced to that world are constantly diminishing, as is your chance of seeing yourself represented in the dramas that are being made. That doesn’t feel right to me.”

Morrissey himself trained at RADA before joining the RSC. Since then, he’s worked constantly in top-notch roles on both sides of the pond, playing good guys and bad – an MP in State of Play, an arrogant arcade owner in the seminal BBC series Blackpool and an authoritarian antagonist in US zombie hit The Walking Dead. You can still catch him in the Sky drama Britannia, playing a chilling, but oddly humorous Roman General, Aulus.

It helps that Morrissey looks after himself. He hasn’t had a drink for years, doesn’t smoke and found himself dismayed by the recent Beast from the East because it prevented his daily running and cycling. Contentment helps too, he adds.

“The only thing I ever wanted when I started out being an actor was to work. And I have that. And then, after that, was choice. And I have that too. I pinch myself every day because I know how lucky I am.”

Many of the roles, including his turn in The City and the City, you wouldn’t take home. “It’s important to surround yourself with people who’d kick you up the arse if you did,” he laughs. Which brings us to Esther.

The couple met at a mutual friend’s dinner party over two decades ago and married in 2006, when they already had their three children; Albie, now aged 23, Anna, 20 and 12-year-old Gene.

Was he ever intimidated by his wife’s ancestry? The family tree, after all, not only includes her father and grandfather, Sigmund; her sister is fashion designer Bella Freud, cousin, Emma…

“Quite honestly, at that time the word ‘Freud’ meant as much to me as the word ‘sellotape’,” he says of their first meeting.

“It was about falling in love with her. And that’s the way it’s remained. The Freud dynasty is not something we discuss or have even consciously spoken to the kids about. They’ve always got to where they are on their own merits.”

He is proud of and devoted to his wife – whose play, Stitchers, is about to open at the Jermyn Street Theatre. He hopes her success will inspire his own daughter, Anna, for whom he wishes only “the freedom to find who she is in the world.” As a parent, he has found himself inheriting his mother’s trait of being a “terrible worrier”; “I’m one of those dads who always insists that my kids text when they’ve got to where they going and who freaks out when they don’t. And that’s definitely my mother coming out.”

He still thinks about her often, goes to call her before realising she’s not there. Recently, he found himself “considering a role that might involve me taking my clothes off and my immediate thought was, “I wonder what my mum would say?”

He can probably imagine. A few years back, he appeared nude in a play in Liverpool and, unnervingly, she was in the audience.

“I met with her afterwards and she just looked at me and said, ‘Have you been eating properly?!’. It made me laugh so much.

“Once a mum, always a mum,” he concludes. And, like her son, once a Scouser always a Scouser too.

The City and the City is on BBC Two on Friday at 9pm

Source: The Telegraph


Recent Projects

THE SINGAPORE GRIP
Character: Walter Blackett
Status: filming
 


THE END OF HISTORY
Character: David
Status: Theatre play currently at The Royal Theatre
 


GOOD OMENS
Character: Captain Vincent
Status: Released 2019
 


THE CITY AND THE CITY
Character: Inspector Tyador Borlú
Status: Series 1 DVD available on amazon. Series 2 being filmed
 


BRITANNIA
Character: Aulus
Status: Series 2 to be aired in 2019
 

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