Posted on May 17th, 2015 by admin

‘Everyone thinks Hollywood exists, but the glamour isn’t real’

Matthew Macfadyen is sitting on a chaise longue in a tweed coat and paisley scarf, looking reticent. In that moment he is the epitome of the brooding Matthew Macfadyen we’ve come to know so well in Spooks, Ripper Street and of course as Mr Darcy in Pride & Prejudice. Buttoned up and straight-laced, but with a hint of boyish vulnerability, a sensitivity that kicks in with a subtle widening of his eyes.

And then the camera stops, Macfadyen visibly relaxes and breaks into an unexpected deep-barreled laugh. This is the other side of Matthew Macfadyen. Underneath that British reserve is a warm man, with a wickedly dry sense of humour. ‘You do a role like Tom Quinn in Spooks and it sticks for years,’ explains Macfadyen,. ‘And then the industry goes, “right, he’s the guy for serious, buttoned-up and repressed Englishman”,’ he says, snapping his fingers several times to emphasise the point.

We’re here to talk about his next role, that of the equally serious, paranormal investigator Guy Playfair in the adaptation of Playfair’s book, This House Is Haunted. He took the role, as he does with most parts, because it was a ‘good script, really – and the chance to work with Tim Spall and Juliet Stevenson. It fitted very nicely’.

Fitting very nicely’ could well sum up the actor’s life. Macfadyen, the older of two brothers, was born in Norfolk, of Scottish and Welsh descent. His dad was an engineer in an oil company; mum was an actress and then a drama teacher, his grandfather was into amateur dramatics.

Talking about his childhood in his rich voice, Macfadyen says, ‘I feel very loved and I hope my kids feel loved, too. I’ve definitely handed down a sense of humour. We giggle and there’s lots of messing around and silliness in our house.’ His formative years clearly had an impact on his career choice, too. ‘I’ve loved acting, from as far back as I can remember,’ he enthuses. When the time came he applied to university, but also, ‘quietly auditioned for drama school, too’. He got a place at RADA and his path was set.

A number of TV roles followed (Wuthering Heights, Stephen Poliakoff’s Perfect Strangers) but it was playing Tom Quinn in Spooks that put him centre stage and where he met his wife Keeley Hawes, 39. The papers had a field day and for a while there were paparazzi loitering on their doorstep. But, after 11 years together they are virtually off radar. Part of that could be the absolute ‘normality’ of the couple’s existence. They live quietly in leafy London with their children, Maggie (10), Ralph (8) and Matthew’s stepson, Myles (12).

‘I’ve never thought to myself, ‘right, stay grounded’ as I’m just a normal person who happens to do something that puts me in the public eye,’ says Macfadyen. ‘But I do the school run and heat up the spaghetti hoops like any other person.’

Of the intense internet scrutiny actors now face, he’s philosophical. ‘I’ve googled myself a couple of times and gone “aaaargh”.’ Does he get spotted on the Sainsbury’s run? ‘Irregularly; occasionally people recognise me on the street, after I’ve been on the telly. I can’t imagine not being able to walk down the street,’ he says letting out his breath, and then starts to laugh. ‘Actually, I was in a café having breakfast with my two little ones and I got asked for my autograph by this mum and her kid. Turned out she thought I was a musician! She said “Oh right… Can I get your autograph anyway?” I said, “Yeah!” My kids were looking at me like, “you fucking sad, sad, old man.”’

He glows with pride when he talks about his kids. I wonder if they’re showing signs of the creative gene? Macfadyen throws back his head and laughs. ‘I’ve seen creative accounting where my daughter was using my Apple iTunes account, but let’s not go into that. They do sort of skits and they play and play, it’s wonderful watching them as they’re totally in their world and they’ve created characters.’

Would he be happy for them to follow in his footsteps? ‘I don’t mind. It’s a pretty difficult career but all I can do is encourage them and make sure they feel happy and confident. What they want to do with their lives is no business of mine to an extent.’ At which point Macfadyen arches an eyebrow, ‘unless they’re chronically bad at what they want to do, like if they wanted to apply to art school’. He then illustrates his point by colouring wildly in the air with a heavy-handed fist. ‘I’d probably say, “you know, darling, maybe don’t.”‘

Having a partner who works in the same industry can be heaven or hell. But MacFadyen says he and Hawes often use each other as creative sounding boards. ‘We’re quite harmonious as actors. We’re sort of faffing around with a script and she’ll say, “read this” or I’ll say “read this and see what you think”.’ He adds, ‘It was just wonderful watching people rave about Line Of Duty [Hawes’ celebrated turn as psychotic cop Lindsay Denton], because I knew she could do it.’ And what did he think about her strikingly different look? ‘Well, I suppose she had quite a serious fringe…’

As well as Spooks, the couple acted together in Ashes To Ashes, which Macfadyen describes as, ‘Great fun!’ He smiles again, ‘It’s lovely to act with your other half. Everyone knows when you’re having a row, that’s the only thing!’ Do they give each other notes, as Burton did to Taylor? ‘”Darling, take it down a notch and do something with that fringe, would you?’” No, we don’t do that!’

They do, however, support each other with big decisions about the scripts that land on the doormat. ‘I know if something’s grabbing Keeley, but I’ll also know that maybe she feels the pressure to work, and I’ll say “you don’t need to do that”. And you know what it’s like to fall in love with a part and for it not to go your way. Sometimes it’s good to have someone go, “it’s all right, fuck ’em”.’

If Macfadyen’s career has had any ‘fuck ’em’ moments it doesn’t show. Instead, he has steadfastly built a 20-year portfolio as a character actor and leading man, which also includes theatre (Henry IV, Private Lives with Kim Cattrall). He’s also unstarry enough to take supporting roles, in films like Incendiary, with Ewan McGregor, and Anna Karenina with Jude Law. This year he’s started filming new TV drama series The Last Kingdom with Rutger Hauer. He also reveals he enjoys comedy as much as his more serious roles. ‘In drama school I did all the silly parts,’ he explains. ‘That’s why it’s such a joy to do things like Jeeves And Wooster [on stage, with his good friend Stephen Mangan] it feels much more like me.’

Macfadyen rarely gets a bad review (he was nominated for a BAFTA for his portrayal of a paedophile in Secret Life), although those pressures are ever present. ‘All actors know we’re not saving lives, but you’re still taking a risk. You’re setting yourself up for failure because you’re going, “this is what I’ve done”, and people can go, “well, that’s crap” or, “you look fat”. Or you’re showered with praise. It’s a crazy kind of hyperbole.’

Hollywood though, did come knocking with Joe Wright’s adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, where he played Mr Darcy opposite Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Bennet. The scene in the film, when a rain-soaked Darcy declares his love for Elizabeth has become nearly as iconic as the scene where Colin Firth takes a swim in the lake. Many thought the film would catapult him on to the A-list – but that’s not what he wants from life.

‘Everyone thinks Hollywood exists, but the glamour isn’t real,’ he explains. ‘Hollywood could mean you’re bored out of your mind in the green-screen studio in Babelsberg. I think telly has always been my favourite; I adored doing Ripper Street. We were on set in Dublin and it was a really blissful experience. I do think, if you’re happy like that, that’s it, that’s as good as it gets.’ Any plans to play James Bond? ‘Christ, no!’ – cue another belly laugh.

Last October, Macfadyen hit a personal milestone when he turned 40. What life lesson would he impart to his younger self? ‘To stop smoking earlier,’ says MacFadyen, dodging my question somewhat. And when I probe a little deeper: ‘I was a different person then. You look at your 24-year-old self and it’s quite right that you’re totally different. That’s the wonderful thing about life, you know, you see your friends changing and you still have these touchstones that you share. But I had vastly different relationships with my friends at 24 than I do now. Your attitude and your thoughts about life change.’

His ‘gorgeous wife’ threw him a big party to celebrate. ‘We had lots of friends in a restaurant, it was really lovely.’ Was it a surprise party? ‘I’m quite shy, so I got sort of nervous and annoying and then Keeley said, “Okay, I’ll tell you.” She also gave me a wonderful book in the morning – filled with photos and personal notes from my best people – it was fab. Then after breakfast I took the kids to school.’ He chuckles. ‘The pressure’s on for me now, for Keeley’s 40th.’

I wonder if the milestone made him rethink his life at all? ‘I still really love acting. It’s about telling stories. You sort of leave yourself behind, there’s a great freedom in that. Of the roles I’ve done, Oblonsky in Anna Karenina was one of my favourites,’ he says of the jovial, larger-than-life character, ‘because he was more like me!’ He was a man of great appetites and he was silly.’ He pauses, before adding, ‘He was like a big baby really, but a very kind baby.’

Source: RedOnline


Posted on May 8th, 2015 by admin

Actor Matthew Macfadyen, 40, is best known for his roles in TV series such as Spooks and Ripper Street. He won a Bafta for his performance in Criminal Justice in 2009, and appeared as Mr Darcy in the 2005 film of Pride & Prejudice.

What was your childhood or earliest ambition?

To be in the school play. It was the Nativity and I wanted to be one of the kings. I was cast as Melchior and I was really pleased with that.

Public school or state school?

University or straight into work? I went to a bunch of schools, in Scotland and Lincolnshire, until I was nine, when I went to an international school in Jakarta because of my father’s work. From there, boarding school in the Midlands — Oakham School. It was a very happy place, co-ed, with fantastic sports and theatre. I had a good time and did oodles of plays. I went from there to Rada. I applied secretly and couldn’t believe it when I got in — I thought, at 17, that was my life sorted. After Rada, I went straight into work, doing a tour with the Cheek by Jowl company.

Who was or still is your mentor?

If I get stuck in an acting rut I think of Declan Donnellan and his wise words. He’s a wonderful director but I don’t have an actual mentor.

How physically fit are you?

Fit enough to work and be healthy.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Talent. And then perseverance and, most importantly, luck.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

No, I haven’t.

How politically committed are you?

Not terribly, in any sense.

Do you have more than one home?

I don’t.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

A Roger Smith Series 2 wristwatch.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

Lovely food and wine in lovely places. Nipping off with my wife [Keeley Hawes] for quick breaks without the children in fabulous hotels. And watches — I really love watches.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

I don’t consider it with any deep conviction — a slightly shaming answer. Being environmentally aware is common sense — but things like flying I don’t know what to do about, so I feel a bit powerless.

In what place are you happiest?

Wherever my wife and kids are.

What ambitions do you still have?

To keep acting and working and playing fantastic parts, especially in the theatre.

What drives you on?

The love of what I do. I’m still making a fist of it as an actor because I love it — it’s my raison d’être — but it can be a hard business, so I’m pleased to be keeping the show on the road after 20 years.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

I am inordinately delighted and proud of my children and how funny and kind and lovely they are.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

There’s nothing that stands out.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?

He’d raise a quizzical eyebrow and say, “Lose some weight, you fat, lazy bastard.” He’d be pleased that I’d stopped smoking.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

I would probably have a big cry and then carry on. But I don’t know what I would do apart from being an actor. I’d probably go and be a ski instructor somewhere, though I’d have to get better at skiing.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

I do.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Not really. Although I don’t mind surprises.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

An eight or a nine.

 

Source: Financial Times


Posted on April 28th, 2015 by admin

Matthew Macfadyen on his Jim Morrison obsession, juggling family life with Keeley Hawes – and why he was rude to Anthony Hopkins

When I was 16, I was at boarding school in the Midlands, close to my grandparents. My folks had just moved back from the Far East. We’d moved there when I was nine.

I was secretly plotting to audition for drama school. I didn’t tell my mates or teachers. I did about 18 plays at school, to the detriment of my exams. I felt happy making people laugh. I have always been quite shy – at my sixth birthday party I hid from my friends. But there was something tremendously releasing in being able to say someone else’s words.

I look back at my younger self affectionately. I was never one of the lads but I was a fairly sunny individual. I wish I had worried less about what people thought of me. I would get paroxysms of anxiety, but actually people don’t really care. It takes a while to learn it is not a good idea to drink five million glasses of white wine and smoke yourself to death to feel less nervous.

I would tell my younger self he should stop smoking. He wouldn’t have listened, though. You feel invincible at that age. I really smoked a lot. When I stopped properly in my early 30s it was so hard.

My shyness manifested in aloofness. I auditioned for Manchester Poly and afterwards this lovely lady pulled me to one side and gave me a mini bollocking: “You should become an actor but you can’t come in with this attitude.” I was shocked. My nerves turned into seeming rude. At RADA, when casting directors and agents would come for the final showpiece, the first years used to pour the wine. I was on the drinks station and was very rude to Anthony Hopkins because I was crippled with nerves.

I am amazed by how callous I was about relationships in my teens.. I think you have a natural selfishness at that age, that is part of being a teenager. But it is fascinating and horrifying looking back.

I was obsessed with Jim Morrison. He was so fucking cool and sexy. There was terrible music snobbery at school and if you listened to the wrong band you were slagged off quite openly. I am now listening back to a lot of music I liked then – the Sundays, Smiths, Cure, Pixies. I play them to my kids in the car when I take them to school. My 14-year-old heard A Forest by the Cure, and he was like, “What is this? This is cool.” I felt pleased about that – good parenting.

Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Daniel Day Lewis were big heroes. I auditioned for De Niro once, which was a peculiar experience. Never meet your heroes, they might turn out to be weirdos. It is nicer to imagine them in your head and admire their work.

I would remind my younger self of the wonderful phrase “this too must pass”. The bad stuff will pass, but so will the good stuff. It is about trying to be present, enjoy things as much as possible, because it is all fleeting and transient.

My younger self would have enjoyed knowing I would be Tom Quinn in Spooks. I never imagined I would do film or TV, let alone play a spy. All I wanted to do was work in the theatre. On tour with Cheek By Jowl theatre company a few years out of drama school, travelling the world doing a show – to be an actor, making people laugh, was exactly what I’d always wanted.

You would never get turned away from drama school if you didn’t have money. I was one of only three in my year who went to independent schools. It was not all public schoolboys. To single out actors, like Eddie Redmayne or Benedict Cumberbatch  is nonsense because it is really fucking hard to be successful in this business. That is not to say drama funding doesn’t need to be looked at – it is a serious situation if there are barriers to people coming through.

I worried too much about playing Mr Darcy. [in 2005] I didn’t think I was good-looking or sexy enough. It probably bled into the character, because Mr Darcy is also cripplingly shy. I would tell my younger self to be less fussy, take a punt sometimes. Because six months down the line, the film can bear little relation to the script you read. It is out of your hands. You are just a cog in a process, and that is a lovely thing.

How lucky I am to be able to go from Mr Darcy to something like Secret Life on Channel 4, playing a recently released paedophile trying not to reoffend. I didn’t think I would do another TV series after Spooks. But Ripper Street came up and you long for the security every now and again, especially with three kids. I thought, “Here we go, another tortured policeman.” But it has been such a pleasure.

Michael Gambon made a big impression on me. He played my dad in BBC Two drama Perfect Strangers in 2001. He was a hero since my teenage years, so it was like a dream. We were doing a night shoot at Claridge’s, and I remember standing outside with him, smoking and chatting all night long. I was in heaven!

My wife Keeley [Hawes] is flying at the moment, she’s up for a Bafta. It is so exciting – about fucking time! Trying to keep our careers going and focus on our family is tricky, but that is part of the fun. How do we make this work? Will we traumatise the children if we are not there for a few weeks? But when one of us is working away, the other is usually at home.

Turning 40 felt like a relief. I adore my wife and my kids are just hilarious and fascinating and infuriating, but in all the right ways. So I am very happy now. And my younger self doesn’t feel that far away.

Source: The Big Issue


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