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Portrait of the artist: Paul McGann, actor

 
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:08 pm    Post subject: Portrait of the artist: Paul McGann, actor Reply with quote

Portrait of the artist: Paul McGann, actor

Interview by Laura Barnett
guardian.co.uk, Monday 3 August 2009 22.30 BST

[This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 22.30 BST on Monday 3 August 2009. It appeared in the Guardian on Tuesday 4 August 2009 on p23 of the Arts section. It was last updated at 22.30 BST on Monday 3 August 2009.]

What was your big breakthrough?

Meeting Jim O'Brien, the director of The Monocled Mutineer [the 1986 TV drama, and McGann's first major role], when I was about 24. I'd just got back from India, and he'd been there working on The Jewel in the Crown. We connected over India and then that was it, I was up and running.

What one song would feature on the soundtrack to your life?

Purcell's Hear My Prayer, a great crescendo of longing. Or an old country tune called If the Phone Don't Ring, You Know It's Me.

Do you ever get mistaken for one of your brothers [the actors Joe, Mark and Stephen]?

Constantly. If someone's raving about something one of them was in, I can always say: "Thank you, so glad you liked it." Or if they didn't like it, I can say: "Oh, that was Stephen, actually." Apparently Mark and I were both up for Doctor Who when I got it and last week Joe and I were sent to the same audition. But we never discuss work. Only our mum knows what we're all up to.

What is your biggest challenge?

Staying fresh. As an actor, you get hired to repeat yourself. It wears you out.

What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?

[Withnail and I director] Bruce Robinson once said to me that the only publicity you'll ever need is good work.

What's the greatest threat to acting today?

I don't know that I see one. When we went into this big recession, my mum said: "Well, they'll always need storytellers, lad." I think she's right.

Stage or screen?

Stage. You get to rehearse, it's more sociable, and you develop a technique which you can then take back on to film sets. For some reason it doesn't work the other way round.

What advice would you give a young actor?

Question whether you really want to do it, because without it, it's too hard. You won't take the daily rejection.

What work of art would you most like to own?

Lorenzo Lotto's Portrait of a Gentleman in His Study. I'd stand in front of it, imagining it's me in the painting.

Which other living artist do you most admire?

I admire artists who are ageing and still retaining their edge. Like Patti Smith I saw her play live a few weeks ago and was moved to tears.

Why has Withnail and I become such a classic?

Because it's really, really good. And because most of us have lived like that, if only briefly.

In Short

Born: Liverpool, 1959

Career: Best known for roles in the film Withnail and I (1986) and as the eighth Doctor Who. Performs in Euripides's Helen at the Globe Theatre, London SE1 (020-7401 9919), until 23 August.

High point: "Being in my first movie Withnail and I. My only ambition was to be in a picture."

Low point: "Injuring my leg [during the filming of Sharpe's Rifles in 1993]. I couldn't work for a year."

Links:

Purcell - Hear my Prayer, O Lord

A version of If the Phone Don't Ring, You Know It's Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkVE4oEGxV0 [If Your Phone Don't Ring Than You Know Its Me -The Bluesbusters]

Lorenzo Lotto's Portrait of a Gentleman in His Study:



(Paul has occasionally used this portrait as his profile pic on facebook.)

Estelle
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Tegan



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thought I recognised that painting! Thanks for the article Estelle
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is the image accompanying the article above. Photo by David Levene.


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