Spookie Nookie (Nov 2002)
Charlotte Moore, Marie Claire Magazine - November 2002
Matthew Macfadyen had mixed emotions when spy show Spooks hit the news last year, as glowing reviews were replaced by gossip of his affair with co-star Keeley Hawes. Here, he employs his best MI5 training to evade the topic with Charlotte Moore. Photographs by Antony Crolla
"God, Im really sorry" shouts actor Matthew Macfadyen, weaving his way through a crowd of empty tables outside trendy East End restaurant Smiths of Smithfield. "I'm so hungover, God, I'm really hungover" he grins. "What do you want to drink? I'm afraid I'm going to have to have a pint.
Its midday and we're meeting for brunch to talk about Spooks, the superbly slick MI5 drama which made 27 year old Matthew's name, as well as his next starring role in The Project, another cool contemporary BBC series about New Labour spin doctors. He lights up a fag and wanders over to the bar. " I went out to dinner with my girlfriend and some of her friends last night, and you know what it's like, too much red wine and ..........." His polite, sexily posh voice trails off as he catches the eye of the bargirl. The 'girlfriend' is sultry starlet Keeley Hawes, his co-star in Spooks. The couple scandalously fell in love on set only a few months after Keeley married cartoonist Spencer McCallum, with whom she has a two-year old son.
At the time, critically acclaimed Spooks was whisking newspaper coumnists into a tizzy, first because of its gory plotlines (most notoriously when co-spy Lisa Faulkner's face was shoved into a sizzling deep-fat fryer just before she was shot dead - ('deep-fried Faulkner' is how Matthew cheerfully refers to the incident), and second because of the programme's model-ishly good-looking Helmut Lang-clad cast of characters.
When Matthew and Keeley's burgeoning romance was cruelly paparazzied, it all made for great tabloid gossip. But today looking deceptively clean-cut in suity black trousers and a cornflower-blue Paul Smith shirt, it's his hangover rather than the gossip-mongers which is his major concern.
Did the sixteen-year-old Matthew ever fantasise about becoming a spy?
No way. I'm not clever enough. I've always loved John Le Carre novels and me and my mates were all intrigued by the SAS, but you have to pass exams to be a spy. To get into MI6, you have to go away for the weekend and talk about Ghana and foreign policy for hours and hours, and that just really isn't me.
So what is you?
My mum trained as a drama teacher and my father had directed plays, so theatre was always in my life. And then at boarding school it was the thing I did that made me the happiest. My dad worked for an oil company and my parents were always moving all over the place - we lived in London, Scotland, Lincolnshire and the Far East, so I didn't really have any roots. I think all that made me quite outgoing. I went through the motions of applying to University, but when I got into RADA in the middle of my A levels, that was it - I was going to be an actor.
Are any of your RADA friends or classmates celebrities now?
Yes, Ioan Gruffudd. But out of the 28 people in my year, only about 10 of them are still working as actors.
Have you become a tortured artist?
No way, not at all. I just worry about ridiculous stuff, like when people tell me to shut up.
What's the greatest compliment that someone could pay you?
Saying 'I love you' is pretty good. But I bet that will sound really terrible in print. Lisa Faulkner said in one interview that I made her laugh, and that was quite a compliment.
How do you deal with criticism from the press?
Badly. I get one poor review and I feel crushed and cross, and then someone says you;re fabulous and it goes away again.
Everyone loved Spooks, though?
Yes, although one critic described it as nonsense.
Nonsense, in a good way?
Well, yes, but they all went on about it not being 'real' enough. But I wanted to say 'of course it isn't'!' What, three of us trying to save the world every week? A A Gill was very funny when he wrote 'Britain's national security is being looked after by a department from an advertising agency'. I liked that.
What was it like when the papers began to write about your developing relationship with Keeley Hawes?
It was awful. But more for her than me.
Are you still together?
Was it love at first sight?
Look (shrugs apologetically), I really shouldn't talk about it.
OK, lets change the subject. What are you like on the dancefloor?
Shite! (laughs). Terrible. And the awful thing is I've become really scared of dancing now.
Do you ever go out clubbing?
No, I'd rather stab myself in the eye.
Might we spot you at the Met Bar?
No way. I like good old-fashioned honest pubs. Me and my two best mates search them out all the time. I've discovered there's lots of little ones tucked away near where I live in Shoreditch. I'm writing a pilot for a comedy drama with my best mate, Bohdan Boraj, about a caravan site, and that was all dreamed up sitting around having a couple of pints in a pub.
How are you enjoying your new celebrity status?
I'm not really aware of it. Although after the England-Brazil game in the World Cup, this guy came up to me while I was having a cup of tea in a cafe, and just said 'what kind of idiot sets up a bomb in a laptop and leaves it in his home with his wife and child?' He was referring to the ending of the last episode of Spooks. And then he walked off. He seemed really angry, like it was real.
You seem pretty easygoing. Is there anything that makes you turn nasty?
It depends what I'm drinking, but whisky makes me cross.
When was the last time you had an argument?
I'm really quite placid, but last weekend I argued with my girlfriend because I was drunk and tired. It was over nothing and it was all fine in the end.
What bit of your body do you hate the most?
I put weight on easily, so it depends on how fat I am. I couldn't say which bit I hate, but I quite like my shoulders and my plan is to start going to the gym really soon.
Do you have any regrets?
Not really, but I regret that I started smoking. I smoke a packet a day.
Who or what is the love of your life?
God, if this wasn't for a magazine .... it would be different. But .... God, this sounds awful. But my life is made up of lots of loves. OK, my family and the girl I'm in love with. And my work ... when it's good. And my flat ... I love my flat.
Are you the prowd owner of a bachelor pad?
Well, it's a warehouse conversion and it's near Old Street. So I don't now.
What's the last meal you cooked?
A steak sandwich last night, before we went out for dinner. I was starving, it was nice and I love cooking. It relaxes me. I'm like my dad in the kitchen, quite dogmatic and territorial. An arsehole basically - I don't like people asking 'what can I do?'.
Describe your morning routine.
I used to drink espresso, but my machine broke, so I've gone back to coffee. Coffee and cigarettes is what I do first thing, and this morning I was listening to the soundtrack to Bridget Jones Diary, of all things.
What's your favourite item of clothing?
I do love clothes, and I go shopping a lot. I have bursts when I spend lots of money. My most treasured item of clothing is a pair of jeans from Diesel: I bought two pairs because I loved them so much. But I can't wear them at the moment because I was a stone slimmer when I bought them. I'm sure it's my fucking washing machine that's shrunk them.
Can you describe your most embarrassing moment?
Once, I remember my mum decided to pick my brother and me up from school after she'd been out for a boozy lunch with her friends. I was about ten, and Jamie, my brother, was eight. She flounced into the school wearing this bright pillar-box red boiler suit - like a sky-diving suit. This was in Jakarta and she wore them quite a lot. I always thought they were fantastic, but my friends just thought she looked ridiculous. Jamie and me were so mortified by her behaviour, we just ran away from her and hid in the loo. My mum was so upset because we wouldn't come out. Poor mums - they always get in in the neck.
What do you order in a Chinese takeaway?
Do you use predictive text-messaging on your mobile?
No, it's a complete mystery. There are people who do and people who don't. I can't be doing with it at all.
When was the last time you felt sexy?
Where's a woman's G-spot?
What's the G-spot? (Laughs). Finsbury Park?
*Transcribed by MMOnline