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Paul McGann Interview with Garth Pearce - 1989

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:47 pm    Post subject: Paul McGann Interview with Garth Pearce - 1989 Reply with quote

From the EZ Board Library
1989 Paul McGann Interview with Garth Pearce
Posted by Estelle (03/21/04 20:13:43)

Paul McGann doesn't leave much to the imagination in his forthcoming film The Rainbow. But in Dealers, Britain's answer to Wall Street, he reveals why he kept his shirt on!
Interview with Garth Pearce 1989

Paul McGann was taken aback at the personal wardrobe for his new film Dealers, released next week: Giorgio Armani suits, Gucci shoes, crisp, striped, cotton shirts and silk ties. Today, McGann relaxes in more familiar attire: jeans, T-shirt and trainers. "I haven't owned a suit since I did ballroom dancing at seven," he reflects. "Even my own family don't recognise me now when I wear one."

Dealers could be Britain's answer to Wall Street. Set in the foreign exchange dealing room of a bank, McGann plays whizz-kid dealer Daniel Pascoe, who gets his big chance after a trading loss. But he's reckless and brash, so the cool-headed Anna Schuman (Rebecca DeMornay) is appointed over his head. The two are rivals, but also attracted to each other.

In one sense the Bohemian McGann who tends to take off to back-pack around India between films, is a strange choice to play yuppie Pascoe, who owns a country mansion and has a private seaplane to bring him to work. Pascoe is the epitome of everything McGann rejects. "These people start at the crack of dawn in offices with strip lighting and a stale atmosphere, and burn themselves out all day. What are money and possessions if you aren't happy?"

On the other hand, the versatile McGann is a natural for the wheeler-dealers and manipulators--Pascoe, and Percy Toplis in The Monocled Mutineer--just as much as he is for the innocents he's played in Withnail and I and Cariani and the Courtesans.

As one of the four good-looking, talented brothers--the others are Joe, Mark and Stephen--growing up in Liverpool when the city was the centre of the universe for everything that really mattered (music and football}, McGann can be said to have had a charmed life. In fact, the McGann brothers always knew they were going to the top. "We were all deeply committed in our family to the notion that each and every one of us was going to be terribly successful," Paul has said. This did not, naturally, make them popular with their peers. "We were all called bighead at school, in turn. There were kids who couldn't wait to have a pop at us." At home, though, there was nothing but encouragement. McGann talks with such warmth about his background and parents, that it is a surprise to hear him say that they divorced. A surprise, too, to find out there is a fifth McGann--sister Clare, who is a nuclear physicist.

However, it's the brothers who are in the public eye, Paul in particular. And it is Paul who always seems to have had luck on his side. When an English teacher recommended he try to get into RADA, he arrived at the audition ill-prepared. He was supposed to deliver one modern speech coupled with his classic choice from Richard III, but all he could find was a copy of Stanley Holloway's speech from My Fair Lady.

"The selection panel pissed themselves laughing," he recalls. "I think the only thing they remembered about me was I'd got the nerve to deliver it."

He's always been able to "get away with it". "I assumed I would feel out of place at RADA, but I felt at home right away. It was a rave-up for me. I never worked hard," he says of his time at drama school, where fellow students included James Wilby and Kenneth Branagh. "I was always the one who'd be pissed right after half five. I'd have a pint in my hand and walk past a rehearsal room and Ken Branagh would be in there doing extra, extra, extra work."

The work paid off for Branagh and he's rarely out of the public eye, but then neither is McGann. After a spell in rep, he came to London as a skinhead in Oi for England and soon after appeared in the stage musical that has become the apotheosis of McGann-ness Yakety Yak, in which he appeared with his brothers. "It was brilliant, we just loved it. We'd always sung and played music together since we were little kids in Liverpool." The McGanns become very visible all of a sudden.

For Paul, a string of television roles, starting with Mo in Give Us a Break, seems to have shaded effortlessly into films, with Streets of Yesterday, based on a Joseph Conrad story, and The Rainbow, Ken Russell's version of D. H. Lawrence's classic story, following straight on from the banking drama Dealers.

"The Rainbow is about sex," says McGann simply, when questioned about Russell's version of the tale, not surprisingly raunchier than the one we saw recently on BBC. "That means by definition it is sexy. All I know is that I had my shirt off and I tried my best."

There's a fair amount of frank goings-on in Dealers, too. But in one scene, at least, McGann and DeMornay put the temperature up by not taking their clothes off. McGann, after spending so long without his trousers in The Rainbow, wondered if a love scene could be done without stripping off. DeMornay, who had suffered as much over-exposure in And God Created Woman, backed his instincts. That is why, in their key love scene, which takes place in the elegant hallway of DeMornay's apartment, they are fully-clothed, with just a glimpse of her legs. "It was enough," smiles McGann. "You don't always have to show everything. It fitted the scene, in that they are two people who can't wait to get at each other."

His career seems to have been such a breeze, one wonders whether his private life has had to suffer to compensate. But here, too, he has been very lucky. For the past seven years he has been with stage manager Anne Milner, and he says, "We have become the best of friends. Anne's got no time for that actor's ego rubbish. Rightly so."

They now have a baby son, Joseph, and have just bought a house in Bristol. McGann is currently suffering the broken nights and joys of fatherhood. "When you meet blokes who have just had their first kid, you find that they've become desperately well-behaved," McGann says. "They're frantic for the world to be this peaceful place for their newborn."

McGann is growing up. "I'll be 30 before the year is out, yet it's taken me until just a few months ago to be good company for a woman," he says. "I don't know whether it's due to my Catholic upbringing or what, but I've always had the preoccupation with sex. It's only been recently that I've actually been able to sit down with a woman and not think about going to bed with her." And as for his public image, he says, "Being a sex symbol has always been way down on my list of priorities."
"Listen carefully. This is the secret of how to live: fire your gun before somebody else does." ~ Scribble, Vurt
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