Return of the Mac

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Return of the Mac

Message  Matthieu le Ven 29 Mai 2009 - 17:48

Par Shoba Vazirani (Daily Express Saturday Magazine, 28 octobre 2002).
[2 pages scannées, merci à Lady7]
Spooks actor Matthew MacFadyen has every reason to be delighted with his career so far and, as Shoba Vazirani says, a new political drama looks set to make him even more popular
ONE SUMMER'S morning, Matchew MacFadyen was enjoying a quiet coffee in a London café when a total stranger strolled up to him and started shouting obscenities.
"It was weird," laughs the actor, recalling the incident with glee. "He asked me what kind of idiot takes home a laptop with a bomb in it. Then he just walked off."
The man was, in fact, referring to an episode of Spooks, the BBC's MI5 drama in which MacFadyen's character, Tom Quinn, was on the verge of being blown up by a device hidden in his computer.
It was the clifflhanging end to a series that captured the public's imagination and, while he's not exactly a household name as yet, Spooks definitely helped to raise the handsome 27-year-old's profile.
"I don't really get that much recognition, but while the series was on, I did notice a few more stares than usual," he says modesdy.
With his chiselled jaw, tall, muscular frame and cheeky grin, not to mention a steadily growing list of strong roles, MacFadyen is surely not far away from stardom. But he's recently had cause to be thankful that he's not quite there yet, as his personal life over the past few months would have been perfect tabloid fodder.
For not only is he dating his beautiful Spooks co-star Keeley Hawes, but she left her husband of only a few months for him, walking out of the marital home in Surrey with her young son.
"I know, I agree I'm fortunate in that respect," admits MacFadyen a little sheepishly when I point out that he's had a lucky escape.
While the romance has generated a few colomn inches, neither party has been torn to shreds and they've been allowed to get on with their relationship largely away from the glare of the public eye. While the actor is reluctant to go into detail, Keeley has spoken of her new-found happiness with MacFadyen, who is as charming as he is good-looking.
Wearing a white oversized shirt, baggy beige cords and brown leather loafers, he swaps sunglasses for clear-rimmed specs as we sit down to chat. Lighting a cigarette, for which he apologises, he comes across as easy-going and relaxed and reveals he enjoys everything about his job other than the focus it places on him as a person.
"It can get a bit depressing sometimes," he says. "It's not like writing where you can always do another version. Being an actor, it's all about the way you walk, talk, sit. Like doing this interview - it's all about me. It's bizarre; you go home sometimes and think, 'I've just talked about myself all day,' which is not normal, is it?
"I was watching a couple of episodes of Spooks on video the other night and I thought, 'I don't want to watch myself on screen ever again. I don't want to see my stupid face!'"
It's clear MacFadyen is torn between loving his profession and loathing the limelight that inevitably goes with it. But if he's going to last the distance, he's going to have to get used to seeing himself all over the place, although he insists he has no intention of ever becoming a celebrity.
"I don't think it's worth it, but hopefully I'll never need to go down that road. Publicity is one thing but people writing about you when they don't even know you is another."
Instead, he says he intends to pick and choose his roles carefully and the last thing he wants is to be over-exposed.
His latest drama is BBC1's The Project in which he plays a young, passionate, idealistic socialist in a story set against the Labour Party's rise to power. The true-to-life two-parter, which looks set to cause controversy, charts the careers and love lives of four young Labour activists, delving into the inner workings of New Labour's headquarters in Millbank and life at Downing Street. "My character, Paul, is basically a good guy," explains MacFadyen. "It starts off with him and two friends at Manchester University. They then all move to London in 1992 to pursue their careers. Paul gets a job in the Labour Party press office and at first he's in his element, particularly when it becomes clear that Labour has a good chance of winning the next election. He's not without his own ambition, but as time goes on he gets more and more disillusioned.
"Meanwhile, his good friend Maggie [Naomie Harris] becomes an MP. Paul is sort of in love with her, but there's a lot of rivalry too."
MacFadyen says he can relate ro the euphoria felt by many in May 1997, and understands where Paul is coming from.
"I wasn't here on Election Day but I can relate to that excitement and the sense that something had changed for the better."
The Project is written by Leigh Jackson and directed by Peter Kosminsky, the same team that wrote and directed the critically acclaimed Bosnia war drama Warriors, which first brought MacFadyen to our screens after three years of stage work.
He went on to star alongside Michael Gambon in the BBC's Perfect Strangers, then played Felix
in the BBC's The Way We Live Now before landing the part of Quinn in Spooks. Not bad considering he left RADA only seven years ago.
"I'm really delighted with the way my career has gone. I'd be daft not to be," he smiles. "I'm lucky
to have worked with some great people. I remember I used to get a rush writing 'actor' on my passport forms - and now I've been one for seven years, It s amazing.
"But I don't actually get that much work offered to me. I still have to audition and read for things like everyone else. The main difference now is that I get loads of scripts, but lots of them are really dreadful. Now I can just say no."
As the son of an oil company worker who moved from country to country a great deal, Norfolk-­born MacFadyen led a somewhat nomadic early life before going to Oakham School in Leicestershire at the age of 11. He enjoyed school, but admits to being "a bit of a rebel". He blotted his copybook by breaking one of the golden rules: "I was suspended for two weeks for being caught with a girl," he grins. "We were at the back of the sports hall at a Valentine's Day disco and we were caught halfway into it, which was expressly forbidden. It was very embarrassing but at the same time it gave me a certain amount of kudos. My folks didn't tell me off or anything. Even the headmaster had a twinkle in his eye when he suspended me."
Last year he broke up with New York-based Anglo-Indian actress Surira Chowdry after a three-year relationship, blaming the problems of long-distance romance. And now it appears he's serious about Keeley Hawes, with whom he's filming the second series of Spooks for the next six months.
Apart from a love of women, he says school gave him his passion for acting and he often starred in school productions. He was only 17 when he auditioned for, and was accepted by, RADA alongside the likes of loan Gruffudd and Matthew Rhys. "I never imagined they'd take me," he confesses. "I half-heartedly applied to some universities and decided to do one serious grown-up audition for drama school. I got one recall and then another. Then finally I was offered a place and that was it, l was in. I completely loved it and threw myself into college life so I don't have many friends from school any more."
These days, MacFadyen's pals tend to be former RADA classmates, including his two best friends with whom he's started writing. The trio has just been commissioned by Talk Back to come up with a 90-minute comedy drama. They spent a month in the summer putting their heads together.
"I can't believe someone's actually commissioned us," he says. "We sat in this office above Talk Back going, 'Gosh, we're actually writers now. We'd better come up with something!' "
But while he enjoyed his stint on the other side of the camera, MacFadyen stresses he has no desire to do it full time and is only too happy to be back filming. Not surprisingly, the question of whether he will try his luck in Hollywood has arisen a few times in recent months, but he insists he's in no hurry to quit Britain. "I've never been to Hollywood and maybe I should, but the thought of it is a bit depressing," he says. "Sitting around trying to bag a film isn't very appealing. Great if it happened, but if it didn't I'd feel a bit daft. I'd rather do something like The Project on television.
"I think there's a demented kudos about doing films, which is silly. All of the TV jobs I've done have been better than any film part as far as I'm concerned."
The Project starts on BBC1 in early November.
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Matthieu
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Date d'inscription : 17/12/2008

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