Prince Charming

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Prince Charming

Message  Luce le Ven 22 Mai 2009 - 20:27

Par Daisy Garnett (The Sunday Telegraph, 4 juin 2005).
[3 pages scannées, merci à SMM]
Matthew Macfadyen, currently appearing as the heir to Henry IV’s throne at the National Theatre, is next in line for British big-star status. Daisy Garnett meets an actor determined to confine his dazzling to his performances. Photograph by Neil Drabble
Matthew Macfadyen, who is playing Prince Hal in Henry IV, Part I and II, at the National Theatre does not give much away when you meet him. He is an actor's actor, a director's actor - not flashy at all, with no crowd-pleasing floppiness of hair, no self-deprecating mumbles or flashing eye, no calculed charm. Not a Hugh Grant or Jude Law then. Not a Colin Firth. And yet the comparisons will be made, because although Macfadyen is doing what he has successfully done for 12 years, since he was 18, his career, meanwhile, is undergoing a transformation. He is on the cusp of going from being a really good, well-respected actor, to becoming a Leading Man. A star.

You may be familiar with Macfadyen from his role as MI5 agent Tom Quinn in the BBC series Spooks. The series brought him tabloid fame, too. He met his now wife, the actress Keeley Hawes, on set; they were photographed in an embrace. The problem was, at the time, she was married to someone else with whom she had a young son. 'It was messy,’ he says, 'but now, it's fine.’ Even so, he has not yet been high on any collective radar. When people ask who he is and why I am writing about him, the quickest and easiest shortcut is to say that he recently finished filming Working Title's Pride & Prejudice, which will be released later this year. He is playing Darcy opposite Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Bennet. People nod when they learn that. Everyone understands that Darcy is a part that makes a national name out of you.

In fact, the piece was prompted to another film and Macfadyen's performance in it: a startling piece of work called In My Father's Den by a first-time director from New Zealand called Brad McGann (that's another name to remember, by the way). Macfadyen is mesmerising, but more than that, he is memorable - properly so. The roles of Darcy and Prince Hal may be iconic, but it is as Paul Prior, a war-zone photojournalist in In My Father's Den that Macfadyen delivers - and I don't say this lightly - an iconic performance.

The action follows Paul Prior's return to New Zealand for the first time since leaving as a teen-ager, for his father's funeral. The film is about the relationships he abandoned when he left - with his father, his brother, his teenage girlfriend - and now has to confront and about an important relationship he develops, almost in spite of himself, with a schoolgirl, with whom he clearly feels an intense, though not sexual, connection. The drama, for the first half of the film, is created by Paul's unwillingness to engage with anyone. He doesn't talk much, doesn't reveal his feelings, pushes people away, doesn't care if he is liked - not exactly material, then, that most actors jump at. And yet Macfadyen remains intriguing in the film, and more importantly interesting. Certainly attractive.

Macfadyen in life, however, at the stage door of the National Theatre, looks quite different to Macfadyen on screen or, indeed, in the many posters for Henry IV. On screen, he looks handsome and pulled together and fully formed. In real life, he looks younger, and frankly, a bit of a mess - nice looking but a bit soft and squishy and spotty – sort of like any average harried Londoner with room for improvement on a busy working day. A million miles away from heartthrob material, Macfadyen is, after all, working on a marathon scale when we meet. Previews of the Henrys have started, but because the show hasn't officially opened yet, the company is still meeting to rehearse.

'It all happened with alarming ease, really.’
He shrugs apologetically. 'Well, not ease, but you feel guilty if it feels like you're winging it’
A terminer.
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