DAAF interview, Mr Darcy turns comic (Oct 2007)
A new interview of Matthew Macfadyen has surfaced. Thanks to kls010 for the information. You can read the full interview at the Brisbane Times.
Mr Darcy turns comic
Matthew Macfadyen is a reluctant leading man. He impressed us with his sensitivity in the New Zealand film In My Father's Den and then as the dashing Mr Darcy alongside Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice, but he was not about to go to Hollywood.
"I don't have any designs to be a film star," the 32-year-old says, "at least not just for the sake of it."
Instead, as a kind of antidote to Darcy, he took to the stage as Henry IV in Nicholas Hytner's London production and then played a self-mutilating Protestant minister in the little-seen Irish film Middletown.
He made a few babies along the way with his wife and former Spooks co-star, Keeley Hawes. Now they play husband and wife in the British comedy, Death at a Funeral.
They didn't have to hire a babysitter, then? "No, this is it. Ha, ha, ha. We'd worked together before and it's actually really easy. You just slip into actor mode."
Macfadyen's character Daniel, the son of the deceased, is the straight man amidst the mayhem at a family funeral, where his hotshot brother (Rupert Graves) returns from New York to rub Daniel's nose in his success.
"Daniel's a guy who's quite hapless really," Macfadyen says. "He's just trying to bury his father, trying to have this day at the funeral and it all goes terribly wrong, as farces do."
The film marks the return to England for British-born comedy maestro Frank Oz, who made a splash directing Hollywood hits, including Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, HouseSitter and In & Out, and the Nicole Kidman flop, Stepford Wives. He is, however, best known to audiences as the voice of Yoda from Star Wars, Miss Piggy and several Sesame Street puppets.
"Frank said that in America he hadn't shot anything for less than six months and nothing for under $20 million," Macfadyen says. "Filming a British story, he felt like he was coming home so he was really enthused. His enthusiasm was infectious."
For Macfadyen, after all the fire and brimstone in Middletown and his Shakespearean torment on stage, a comedy was "bliss".
"I don't think of myself as one kind of actor. In fact after my studies [at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts] I was known more for comic stuff, like Much Ado About Nothing and The School for Scandal on stage. I certainly wouldn't think of myself as too serious.
"Inevitably I was reading more scripts after Pride & Prejudice but it's kind of a bit more wobbly because you read more mediocre stuff and you start to think you're missing something.
"With many of the really good scripts it's heartbreaking because you know some other f---er's going to get it and then you panic because you've got to pay the mortgage somehow. It was a funny time, not a nice time, to sort of work out how you want to play it and not be boxed."
Colin Firth, who left such an indelible mark as Mr Darcy on television, has suffered such a fate. "Oh, he's such a wonderful actor," Macfadyen says. "But, yeah, it's kind of more personal on the telly, somehow. That's why I didn't want to carry on with Spooks. I did two seasons but then I kind of extricated myself from that, too."
Macfadyen left the hit British series at the height of its success, having been a charmer in his role as MI5's guardian of national security. The series hasn't been quite the same without him.
The surprisingly shy actor does not admit it today, yet his departure must have also been linked to the intense tabloid scrutiny of his relationship with Hawes, who had been married for only five months and had a young son when they fell in love on the set. Now the subject invariably creeps into the few interviews he gives.
"Film companies insist that you talk about where you live, where you do everything, but that doesn't sit well with me," he says. "Besides, the more you know about an actor the less interesting it is to watch them. As much as I want to know what Daniel Day Lewis has for breakfast, I kind of don't, because I want to watch him without any preconceived ideas."