Welcome to Macfadders. A website supporting the career of Matthew Macfadyen. A wonderful British actor most known for his roles in Spooks, Pride and Prejudice and Ripper Street. The website will provide you with the most up to date news, projects, images and so much more on Matthew’s career and appearances. Follow us on twitter @onlinecasino65. Many thanks, Sarz.
admin / April 28th, 2020   Interviews,Quiz,Succession

The British actor, who broke through as Tom Wambsgans in HBO’s Succession, stars in ITV drama Quiz as Charles Ingram, the former army major who cheated his way to the top prize on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Matthew Macfadyen is getting to grips with herd immunity over the phone. “I read in the paper today that they’re hoping everybody gets it so you create that herd immunity thing, but not in such a way that it’s a big surge, like Italy, so the health service isn’t overwhelmed.” It was the week that the World Health Organization confirmed the coronavirus (Covid-19) was a pandemic, the day after Britain moved from the “contain” phase of the crisis to “delay”, as the global death toll increased.

The 45-year-old British actor, who broke through in Succession (after starring in Ripper Street and as Mr Darcy in 2005’s Pride & Prejudice opposite Keira Knightley), talks through the situation calmly. “It’s just unsettling because it’s new and it’s not one of those things you can say, ‘Don’t worry. Everything will be all right,’ because nobody really knows and it’s not all right.”

Macfadyen’s next project, set 19 years ago, feels so far removed from the chaos of today’s world, and yet strangely becomes connected through a key symptom of the virus: coughing. In ITV drama Quiz, Macfadyen plays Charles Ingram, a former army major who won £1 million on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and was later found guilty of cheating (it was said in court that Ingram listened for coughs from Tecwen Whittock, who sat in the audience to steer him to the correct answers).

Originally a play by James Graham (writer of Brexit: The Uncivil War), the TV adaptation directed by Stephen Frears (A Very English Scandal and The Queen), leaves Charles’ guilt more open, suggesting he was dragged into cheating by his quiz obsessed wife, Diana, played by the brilliant Sian Clifford (also seen as Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s sister in Fleabag – and, yes, Macfadyen is a fan of the show: “I gobbled Fleabag up before I worked with her. It’s sort of perfect telly”). Michael Sheen as Chris Tarrant, meanwhile, is remarkable. Upon seeing Sheen in character for the first time, Macfadyen recalls laughing. “Everyone went ‘Ah’ when he opened his mouth and started speaking because it was so uncanny. It was so brilliant, I sort of forgot what the real Chris Tarrant looked like after a week of sitting opposite Michael.”

The journalist Jon Ronson, who reported the trial for the Guardian, was also divided as to whether Charles cheated. In 2006 he wrote an opinion piece titled “Are the Millionaire three innocent?”, which took into account details from the trial, as well as conversations with other quizzers. After filming, was Macfadyen any clearer on whether Charles did cheat? “No. It left me just as completely bewildered as when I started,” he says, adding, “What happened to them was extraordinary, as well as horrific in many ways. They were really vilified publicly and sort of aggressively after the events. They suffered quite a lot, I’d say.” The coughing scandal was one of the first TV contestant backlashes of its kind, having now become commonplace among Love Island stars on social media. “We’re sort of used to them now, with Twitter pile-ons and all this stuff,” he says. “But then the tabloids were much more powerful than they are now.”

For Macfadyen, getting into character meant false teeth (which he’s kept) and studying documentaries and YouTube clips, including the episode of Wife Swap with Jade Goody. He was keen not to do an impersonation, but more of an impression of Charles. The strangest moment was when Macfadyen met the real Diana and Charles on his last day of shooting. Macfadyen describes the experience of meeting them in one word: “Odd,” he says, laughing. “It was sort of lovely, actually. They were really just great. They were really pleased to be there. It was a very quick conversation, shook hands, said hello. Laughed about, you know, that I had on sort of a version of his clothes.”

What did they talk about? “He just sort of laughed and chatted, I think he’d been watching Succession, he was quite complimentary about that.”

Charles Ingram is just one of the many fans of the hit HBO show, created and written by Jesse Armstrong (alongside a Marvel Avengers team of comedy writers, which includes Lucy Prebble, Tony Roche, Jonathan Glatzer and more). The show now coming up to its third series follows the ageing head of a Murdoch-like media dynasty, who reluctantly has to hand over his crumbling empire to one of his terrible children. The scale of the show’s audience has become so broad that, unbelievably, even Elisabeth Murdoch is a fan.

Macfadyen is perfect as the ludicrous tragic-clown figure Tom Wambsgans, an outsider to the family, who marries Siobhan Roy, one of the heirs to Waystar Royco. At times, Tom feels purer than the rest of them – after being told Shiv (Siobhan) wants an open relationship on their wedding night, Tom sits on it for a whole series before telling her, “I wonder if the sad I’d be without you, would be less than the sad I get from being with you.”

While other times he flaunts the same Machiavellian levels of toxicity as the Roy family (in series two when cousin Greg asks to go to another department, effectively breaking up with Tom, Tom ferociously pelts Greg with water bottles – stopping the security guard from intervening, claiming it’s “executive level business”).

Due to the pandemic, the resolution from series two’s cliffhanger will take more time. “We’re supposed to come back and do more in April, so I’m sort of hoping… well, I don’t know. I think it’s all a bit up in the air… but that’s the plan,” says Macfadyen. HBO recently confirmed the delay, “We are looking forward to resuming preproduction when it is safe and healthy for everyone working on our shows to do so,” HBO said in a statement. “Where possible, our writers are continuing to write remotely.”

When series three begins filming, Macfadyen doesn’t know what’s coming for his character (they often get scripts a few days before filming episodes), but he has high hopes for Tom and Greg’s relationship. “I think Nick [Braun] and I both said we’d be kind of dismayed if they had less to do with each other than before.” He talks through their dynamic like a pundit doing a post-match analysis. “It looks like Greg has sort of gone over to team Kendall a bit, with the papers, and also Tom has sort of treated him pretty badly. It’s a complicated relationship.”

In between series, Mayfadyen says the cast have kept in touch through message groups – and while he doesn’t have a favourite character in the show, he is a fan of Connor. “I do have a soft spot for Connor, so ridiculous. [Actor] Alan Ruck is so brilliant and so funny. When he’s trying to borrow $100 million or something from his dad, he’s just pathetic in the true sense of the word.”

Succession’s popularity doesn’t stop at its numerous award wins (Golden Globes, Emmys and a Bafta) or its countless memes. It filters through to the way we’re dressing. “It’s a real sort of Davos, Sun Valley, casual-bro billionaire look, apparently,” says Macfadyen. “And it’s ubiquitous. They wear Moncler gilets and they all look the same.” The gilet-puffer look became so big that Moncler’s revenue jumped 27 per cent last year (vests made up 14 per cent of outerwear sales in 2019, up from eleven per cent in 2018). Jeremy Strong, who plays Kendall, had the most luxe clothing on set to reflect his billionaire status. “Though Tom is extremely wealthy, I weirdly ended up in Brooks Brothers, which is very nice, but it’s not Loro Piana,” says Macfadyen.

When it comes to playing darker roles, Macfadyen readily admits how easy he finds it to switch off. “I mean, the nasty characters to play, it’s quite therapeutic.” He adds, laughing, “Get all this horrible, awful shit out, you know? And you can indulge that side. We’ve all got that in us.”

His darkest role yet comes in the form of The Assistant, in which Macfadyen plays the character Wilcock, an HR manager in a company regularly turning a blind eye to the continual abuse of women. As Weinstein starts a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault at a New York state prison, has Macfadyen seen a change in the industry after Me Too? “Yes,” he says. “For example, you now have intimacy coordinators, which has happened quite recently. And it sort of makes perfect sense. It’s a really sensible thing, because so much goes under the radar. You know, people are coerced into things they aren’t especially comfortable with, to varying degrees, and that cannot happen. I think that’s great. It can’t be a bad thing.”

What comes across strongest when speaking to Macfadyen is his British sense of no-nonsense optimism, a brand that strengthens as he tells me an anecdote about his family. “We had a power cut where we live a few weeks ago, for like seven hours. Keeley [Hawes, his wife] and I lit candles and the kids came downstairs. They were like, ‘Where’s the internet?’” he shouts in a mock Kevin & Perry voice. “They came out of their rooms because they didn’t know what to do and we played Boggle and messed around and it was like, ‘Oh, wow. This is nice.’”

Despite all the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, he can’t help but be positive. “Everybody’s in the same boat, so I think hopefully it’ll be a collective. It’ll be a good thing. We’ll stop being so individualistic, maybe. I know that sounds trite and silly, but you know what I mean? If there’s ever a chance to have a sort of collective, communal bit of work, then this is it, I suppose.”

Source: British GQ

admin / April 28th, 2020   Quiz,Succession,TV

I met Matthew Macfadyen on one of those days in ancient history, a couple of weeks ago, when we were still not quite sure whether to make silly jokes about elbow-touching greetings, or to fear for civilisation’s immediate future. In many ways, Macfadyen is the archetypal actor for this kind of moment, a master of shifting and ambiguous tone, whose frequent bursts of laughter often threaten to turn hollow. One of the many joys of his portrayal of the bullied and bullying son-in-law Tom Wambsgans in the HBO show Succession – arguably the defining contribution to the defining TV drama of our times – is his winning ability to switch from empathy to psychopathy in a heartbeat.

If I’m honest I hadn’t really expected to enjoy the miniseries, which I watched in preview. I felt I knew the story of the major, who was eventually convicted of the deception, along with his wife Diana and their coughing accomplice Tecwen Whittock, in a widely publicised court case, but I was wrong. Graham’s script and Frears’s direction – but above all Macfadyen’s characterisation – brings unexpected humanity as well as fabulous observational comedy to the events. It takes you back to a curious time when the whole nation was in thrall to the quiz show – audience figures peaked at 19 million – which was the first of a string of British TV formats to be sold to the American networks. Major Ingram emerges as a fall guy to the feverish obsessions of a different era. His million-pound appearance came the day before 9/11.

Macfadyen was sent the script when he was filming the last episode of the second season of Succession onboard a superyacht off the coast of Croatia. “I’d known about the story,” he says, “but I thought I knew more about it than I did. And I knew that Sian Clifford was playing the wife – and I was a big fan of hers from Fleabag – and Stephen Frears, of course, and it was quite different from Tom Wambsgans so I immediately said yes.”

One of the things that makes the drama so watchable is that it maintains some reasonable doubt about the scam itself right to the end.

Even Macfadyen wasn’t quite sure what to think. “Sian and I kept sort of grabbing each other during filming going: ‘They did it! Guilty! Yeah.’ Then, five minutes later: ‘No, no, no, they didn’t!’”

In some senses, I suggest, Ingram adds to Macfadyen’s gift for playing that kind of contemporary everyman who finds himself suddenly in the midst of events way beyond his control.

“Yeah,” he says. “But I think we all are like that, really. We are all living by the seat of our pants to greater and lesser degrees. Even majors in the British army.”

When I later speak to James Graham, who wrote the script, he describes his idea of it as “Mission Impossible, but set in a village in Wiltshire”; it gave him the licence to explore a curious middle-England mix of reserve and wild-eyed obsession. He and the producers and Frears knew they had to persuade Macfadyen to take the role. “Coming from the theatre, I’d known Matthew as one of our great stage actors, but vastly underappreciated,” Graham says. “But then like everyone else, seeing him appear, or emerge, in Succession was a revelation. That is the most extraordinary performance, both buffoonish and terrifying simultaneously.”

Macfadyen finds a way to play the major as both a quite conventional military man and a genuine enigma. “The real Ingram has been lampooned to a degree that I think is out of proportion to his alleged crime,” Graham says. “I think Matthew is perfect because he does have this dashing aura of a Hollywood star, but also looks and feels incredibly nice. You just like him, everyone does.”

Sitting talking with Macfadyen it is hard to disagree with that impression. Nothing he says is quite in earnest, and he has a habit of laughing at your lamest joke. You can’t help thinking some of this is performance, but then feel guilty for doubting his sincerity.

Macfadyen is married to Keeley Hawes, who he met when they made Spooks together. They have two children in their teens, along with a 19-year-old son from Hawes’s first marriage. The thought of actors off stage and at home, particularly when they are married to other actors, is always intriguing. Both he and Hawes can convincingly inhabit any shade of emotion. How do their arguments go?

He laughs. “I am really not good without a script. I’m an absolutely hopeless fibber in real life. But even when I’m acting I never feel I am inhabiting any emotion. You are just doing what the character does.”

He puts it down mostly to a determination to keep working.

“I think the trick is keep doing good work while you wait for those roles where everything comes together,” he says. “I think Keeley had that with Line of Duty. And perhaps me with Succession.”

In that philosophy, I suggest, he no doubt found a kindred spirit in Stephen Frears, who once told me he had made his remarkably varied directorial career by following the principle of simply always doing the best script that came through his letterbox.

“I think so. I mean, if you’re lucky enough to get sent things and they sort of blow your hair back then, great. Quite often though my immediate thought is ‘Well, I wouldn’t cast myself as this’. Or, you know, ‘Why didn’t they ask Damian Lewis?’ But then there are some parts you think: ‘Yeah I know what makes him tick.’”

And that was the case with Charles Ingram?

“Yes. He’s a very particular kind of Englishman, self-effacing and traditional, a wearer of slacks.”

And apparently fantastically corruptible?

Macfadyen did not find it hard to remain agnostic. “You are just playing incremental moments, so you can’t add a wash of guilt or innocence anyway. Now and again Stephen would say, ‘Let’s turn the dial a bit one way on their culpability and then not so much’ – just so he had options in the cutting room.”

It is a tribute to Macfadyen’s skills that he could make every gradation of those reactions believable. I asked Lucy Prebble, one of the scriptwriting team on Succession, what it was like to write with his character in mind. “I remember once half-joking [to Matthew] on set about a particular take: ‘Yes, but Tom would feel 7% less shame,’” she says. “The next take, on the monitor, there it was, not eight, not six, but 7% less shame. And completely true. It is the most exciting thing for a writer, because it gives you a completely open field in creating. It’s what they mean when they say of an actor that there’s nothing they can’t do. There is nothing Matthew can’t do.”

Macfadyen discovered he might have that talent quite early. His mother trained as an actor and later taught drama. They did a bit of am-dram together, including Oh! What a Lovely War, and whenever there was mention of a school play, he recalls, “my heart was immediately banging away”.

His upbringing also supplied those elements of dislocation and hyper-observation that seem at the heart of his best performances. Macfadyen’s father was a physicist who became an engineer in the oil industry. They lived in places as varied as Great Yarmouth, Aberdeen, London and Jakarta. “There was a lot of me standing next to a teacher announcing ‘Say hello to Matthew, children’,” he says.

He was something of a prodigy, accepted at Rada at 17, and then into Declan Donnellan’s acclaimed Cheek By Jowl touring company at 21. He credits the latter in particular with opening his eyes to that magic potential of “really standing in someone else’s shoes”.

“Declan is a big proponent of the idea that everything that feeds you as an actor comes from outside,” he says. “The audience pays not for you to feel things, but for you to see things. You are not summoning emotions, it is all out there in front of you.”

He and Donnellan have remained friends. When I speak to the director, he recalls how he had never had such a young actor in the company before; Macfadyen starred in productions of The Duchess of Malfi and Much Ado that took them all over the world together.

“The thing that young actors often don’t realise,” Donnellan says, “is that if you want to get on, the first thing you need to look after is the group. Looking after me me me, on stage or off, never pays out. You have to give full attention to who you are acting with. Matthew always understood that.”

Donnellan is, like everyone, addicted to Succession. “What is really wonderful about the series, is how they all are about the vacuousness of all that wealth,” he says. “It makes you want to go down on your knees and thank God that you are not rich.”

It seems a telling coincidence that the cast of Succession did their first read-through of the script on the day of Donald Trump’s election victory. It felt something like an omen, for their tale of power and its discontents. “Everyone, all the Americans, kept telling us, you know, the election will be fine, he can’t win,” Macfadyen recalls. “Then we went to the producer Adam McKay’s apartment that evening to watch the results come in. There was that truly terrible moment when it became clear what was going to happen. And everyone went a bit quiet and disappeared into their phones.”

Since that night, it has often appeared that something of the barely credible character of Trump’s America has been feeding directly into the two seasons of Succession almost by osmosis. No comic excess or private humiliation seems beyond either drama. “I hope so,” Macfadyen says. “There does sometimes seem some feedback. Like a horrible loop of shit, you might say.”

The Roy family in the drama seem most directly based on the Murdoch dynasty, but in the nastier moments of their familial struggles they also seem to reference Trump and his dreadful sons. It captures what Brian Cox, speaking of his patriarchal role as Logan Roy, has called elsewhere, “the horrible last gasp of the alpha male in America”, the extended death throes of all that concentrated wealth, which still exerts its global influence. “It is the Bible salesman arriving in a private jet,” Macfadyen says, “and people queuing up to say: ‘Yeah, I’ll buy one of those off you’.”

“I agree,” Macfadyen says. “The Roy children are all terrified. There is an awful absence of love from the father that has taken away all of their confidence. They can never talk about their feelings, though they want to.”

On the very edge of that orbit are Tom and his sidekick, cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun), who understands even less of the vicious world in which they find themselves. The pair of them have become a kind of contemporary Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, tragically unsure of their roles, but scheming like everyone else.

“The thing is, however badly they behave,” Macfadyen says, “they still think they are heroic, or doing their best under very difficult circumstances. Like all of us, Tom is in a film of his own making called Tom Wambsgans, his trials and tribulations.”

Some of the collective angst comes from the way the series is filmed.

“We shoot these great long scenes, often with three cameras. And you are never sure whether the camera is on you. It feels like a play and it is liberating because you are forced to listen all the time, like you would in real life. I think we are much more affected by other people than anything inside us. That is the great thing about playing Tom – he is a totally different person with everyone he is with.”

He never knows what to feel?

“Except a sort of panicky ambivalence always.”

Again, that seems to capture a quite contemporary sense…

“Yes, I think we know life is quite scary but our vanity tells us we are in control – of our bank accounts and our careers and our relationships – until one day we are not.” He pauses for a moment. “It’s like, you know, my father died in November, quite suddenly, and when that happens the world tilts and changes for you. Everything goes off, somehow. And it’s like a lot of the world is like that now.”

When we speak Macfadyen is due to head out to begin six months’ work, mostly in New York, filming series three of Succession, though no doubt by now some of that schedule has been changed along with everything else. Inevitably, we move from talking about panicky ambivalence to the current crisis.

Did he have a sense of things falling apart?

Source: The Guardian

Recent projects

Character: Mr. Stahlbaum
Status: Released November 2018

Character: Tom
Status: Series 2 broadcast on Sky Atlantic

Character: Henry Wilcox
Status: Currently available on DVD

Character: J.P Morgan
Status: Released Jan 2018 (UK)/Dec (USA)

Inspiredby Sites

Site Stats

Site Name: Macfadders
Web Mistress: Sarah | email
Established: July 2017

Site privacy policy: Macfadders is an unofficial website dedicated to Matthew Macfadyen. This is a non profit website that is ran by a fan to support Matthew’s career. All media content used belongs to their respective owners unless stated otherwise. If you see anything on the site that has been used and you want taken down, please contact me first.

Macfadders respects Matthew’s privacy and his day to day life. Pictures of him whilst not working are not posted on this site. The only candid pictures posted are of those that are taken on the set of his projects providing he appears to be comfortable with it. Any personal information that has been made public can not be found here along with rumours or gossip of any kind. The site is committed to publishing only news and images that are relative to his career.

Macfadders © 2017-2020 | All Rights Reserved.