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Blood Lines - Interview with Julie Nightingale - 2002?

 
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:43 pm    Post subject: Blood Lines - Interview with Julie Nightingale - 2002? Reply with quote

From the EZ Board Library
Blood Lines--interview with Julie Nightingale
Posted by Estelle (03/21/04 21:32:51)

Blood lines
Words by Julie Nightingale

Fame can make public life a bit of a trial for an actor, but if you're Paul McGann--with three brothers who are not only physically very similar to you but also in the same profession--the recognition factor quadruples. "I know when they have been on the telly, because loads of people come up to me in the street thinking I'm one of my brothers," he laughs.

Still, of the four Liverpudlian McGanns, Paul is probably the most successful. Not that the others are faring badly: Joe currently stars in ITV's Night and Day, Mark was seen recently in Channel 4's Shackleton, and Stephen was in Emmerdale. But Paul has rarely stopped working since leaving RADA , with a string of credits from The Monocled Mutineer to Our Mutual Friend on TV. And, of course, the cult 1987 film Withnail and I.

"That was great," he says. "You could work forever and never be in something like that, and there we were in a classic, first off. Most actors, when asked what their best film was, will say the first one because they were so excited. It was just great to be doing a film, it's why we become actors. We didn't become actors to play King Lear, we wanted to be movie stars."

Now 42, and looking lean and gym-fit, McGann is back on TV playing a detective in ITV's Blood Strangers, a dark two-part drama about the murder of a 14-year-old girl. He plays David Ingram, a family liaison officer responsible for keeping the bereaved mother, Lin (Caroline Quentin), informed of the police's progress as the sordid truth behind her daughter's death emerges. As he grows closer to the distraught mother, he finds his own assumptions challenged about what makes a good parent.

McGann was reluctant to play a police officer, but gave in after reading the script and sensing that this wasn't a flash, car-chasing role, but one that dealt with an unexpected aspect of modern policing. "Family liaison officers are trained to deal with shocked, distraught, bereaved or potentially bereaved people," he says. "The writer was interested in describing how the job sometimes goes against coppers' macho streak. Someone's got to do this kind of work and they can't all be female, so these fellas end up doing it. It doesn't fit David like a glove either, so he's getting on with it but it's not easy for him."

As the story unfolds, it poses a question that eventually confronts every parent: however close and loving your relationship with your son or daughter appears to be, how well do you know them? As McGann and his wife Annie have two sons, Joseph, 12, and Jake, 10, does he ever wonder what they hide from him? His children, he says, talk freely to him now but he sees it as inevitable that, as they grow older, they will conceal more.

"My kids talk to me, and I think if that ever stopped it would hurt. But as a parent, you just want your kids to feel secure enough not to be imposed upon. When we're kids we all get pressure from mates and supposed mates to do things. I remember that feeling of wanting to fit in.

"One of my sons says, 'It's so good you and mum are so cool,' and long may that continue. Next week or next year, he might start to feel embarrassed about me making a show of him. You know, he might say, 'Drop me off at the corner, don't come in.' I love it, though, being a parent; I've always loved it."

When he was approached to play Doctor Who in 1996, it was the likely consequences for his family that guided McGann. It was a high-profile role in a made-for-TV movie collaboration between the BBC and Universal Pictures that most actors would kill for, yet it took a year to persuade him to do it. "The idea had to be really sold to me because I wasn't into it at all. I didn't think I was right to play Doctor Who. I couldn't picture myself sashaying around with the scarf.

"Plus, it was a big thing for the family. When you sign to do something in America on TV, you sign a long contract. If it goes ahead, you're theirs for six years. It would have meant relocating to Canada, so it was a serious thing."

So why did he give in eventually? "I was skint! It just hadn't happened for me that year, things had been a bit lean and they were talking millions of dollars if the series went ahead. Life wouldn't have been the same again. And in the end, your family's your family, you do what's best for them."

As it turned out, although the film was a success in the UK, the US pilot was less well received and television bosses pulled the plug on plans for a series--so the million-dollar lifestyle never materialised and McGann returned home to Bristol. "Part of me was disappointed, of course, but a huge part of me wasn't.

"Why is it so exceptional to put your family first? For every actor that leaves his wife and kids and goes to America to be a movie star, say, there are 100 who stay put and wouldn't dream of putting themselves into that situation. Some performers are absolutely driven at the expense of everything else, but they're rare. The reality is we've all got families that we work to support. I'm fairly typical in that respect."

His family is obviously his rock. In 1994 a story appeared in some newspapers suggesting McGann was having a relationship with Catherine Zeta Jones. The story was entirely bogus--McGann and Zeta Jones had worked together and she was a friend of both McGann and his wife, Annie. The intrusion into their private lives enraged Annie and led to her taking an active role in PressWise, the organisation that helps ordinary members of the public caught up in press coverage,

McGann says: "These things are scary enough for people who work in TV or whatever, but for people not used to that world it must be terrifying." Of the furor itself he says: "Of course you are chastened by these things, but it was always a non-story and has run its course."

He hasn't seen Zeta Jones for six years. "She's in America, and how different must her life be now! She was the nation's sweetheart, then left because of all the hassle she was getting, and now she is the nation's sweetheart again. It's all silly, really. These things go full circle."

You sense McGann is firmly grounded. At RADA he was one of the few students with a regional accent. Considering their background (the McGanns' father was a factory worker and their mother a nursery teacher) it's highly unusual that all four brothers became actors. They appeared together in The Hanging Gale in 1995 and would like to work together again, but the problem is lack of time.

"When we did The Hanging Gale, we devised the production and the whole process took nearly five years. After a couple of years the Beeb came in, then another two years passed before we finally knew it was going to happen. If we were to try it again, we might decide to do something tonight but you wouldn't see it until 2007!"
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