Keeley Saying Something (Nov 2002)

Keeley Saying Something

by Tim Randall (Daily Record - Glasgow, 9 November 2002)

Keeley saying something; Matthew Macfadyen is happy to talk about his burgeoning career just don't bring up the subject of his latest girlfriend.

MATTHEW MACFADYEN is not enjoying this interview. He is pleasant enough when talking about his latest role, but squirms in his seat at any question which even vaguely involves his personal life.

At the mere mention of the name of his girlfriend Keeley Hawes, he immediately clams up.

"To be honest, I don't really enjoy interviews," he says, with a sigh. "I find them a bit more tiring now everyone is more interested in my personal life. I don't mind talking about the show, and it's nice to talk about yourself sometimes, but not all the time.

"I've been talking about myself all day to people I don't know. And then I've got more to do tomorrow. It's quite depressing."

The couple got it together on the set of BBC spy series Spooks earlier this year - only problem was it was just five months after Keeley, 25, had married Spencer McCallum, father of her son Myles, when she was spotted snogging her floppy haired co- star.

Family and friends were stunned when she moved out of her marital home to live with Matthew in north London.

While Keeley has talked about what happened, saying: "It has been a difficult year, a very difficult year...", Matthew has remained tight- lipped.

"I was surprised that we ended up all over the tabloids because you never think it's going to happen to you," he says.

"Some people thrive on all that media attention, but it doesn't appeal to me at all."

The couple will be seen together next year in the second series of Spooks, which is bound to bring even more press attention. So how does the Norfolk- born actor feel about working with his other half?

"I don't want to talk about Keeley," he mutters.

But everything is going well?

"Yes," he sighs, clearly bored with this line of questioning.

To be fair, the RADA-trained actor has got a whopping hangover, so he is bound not to be in the best of moods.

He looks as though he would rather be anywhere rather than at BBC TV Centre, being expected to wax lyrical about life, and more importantly, his new political drama The Project, which begins this week on BBC2.

The two parter - co-starring Naomie Harris (White Teeth) and Shaun Evans (Teachers) - follows the lives and careers of four young Labour activists in the early '90s. Matthew plays Paul Tibbenham, who joins the Labour Party as a press officer before becoming a special adviser at No.10.

Matthew says: "I had to wear a '90s style wig for the part. I didn't really like the look at all, it was all a bit too Michael Portillo for me.

"Basically Paul is one of the good guys - he is an all rounder, he's liked by people, but he wants the passion back in politics. He is very idealistic and cares deeply about the Labour party," says Matthew, who starred in Warriors, the acclaimed drama about British UN peacekeeping forces in Bosnia, which was directed and written by Peter Kosminsky and Leigh Jackson - the team behind The Project.

"However, throughout Labour's first term in government, Paul gradually becomes more disillusioned, as he realises that they are sacrificing their main policies in an attempt to hold on to power.

"The story spans eight years and is about this group growing up. It's about how people change as well as about how governments change."

Unlike his character, Matthew, 28, doesn't especially get off on politics.

"I've never been involved in any politics," he says. "Guys like Paul were quite fired up, our generation are much more apathetic. Now it's seen as a bit naff to be banging on about politics. People would rather talk about Popstars: The Rivals instead. And that's fine by me.

"We are definitely living in a time where younger people are becoming more and more uninterested in politics - but maybe that could be due to a lack of good politicians?"

Politics may not be of interest to the populace, but Matthew is becoming interesting to many of the nation's women - not that he believes a single word of it.

He was recently described in a TV review as the "thinking woman's tasty crumpet". But Matthew says: "It's all nonsense really, isn't it? It's very nice, but I don't believe it at all."

After various roles in award-winning dramas including The Way We Live Now with David Suchet and Perfect Strangers alongside Michael Gambon, it is the much more mainstream Spooks which has brought Matthew to a wider audience.

"I was surprised it did so well, not that I thought it would do badly, but I'd never taken any notice of ratings before. Suddenly we were getting nine million viewers for the first episode, which is pretty high for a new show," says Matthew. "I'm not going to let any secrets out of the bag about the new series, but I suppose I can say that I am still alive and we'll just be saving the world every week for another 10 weeks, looking glam and wearing Nicole Farhi."

After six months filming on Spooks, Matthew has a holiday planned and then there's work to be done on a comedy drama he's written with two college mates called Caravan.

"We've been commissioned by the production company Talkback to do a pilot which is set on a caravan park in Northamptonshire. One of my mates' dads has got a caravan which we used to go and stay in, so we've experienced it first hand. We only wrote it for fun so it's brilliant that it might come off."

Public schoolboy Matthew is not the kind of actor you'll find popping up in Heartbeat or The Bill.

He says: "I've been tempted to do that kind of stuff for the money when I've been really skint. But then you think, I can't really.

"I think it would be madness not to be a little bit canny when you can and think long- term. I've been totally jammy with my career so far - very lucky.

"I know one guy and his first job after RADA was playing a penis. That was his first job. I mean, how do you explain that one on your CV?"

The Project, BBC1, Sunday, Monday, 9.00pm