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TV Interview

Paddy Considine 'Suspicions of Mr Whicher' Q&A: 'I love acting now'

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Paddy Considine is perhaps best known for his film work - in 2011, following a string of explosive acting performances in the likes of Dead Man's Shoes and In America, he released his first full-length directorial effort Tyrannosaur to widespread acclaim.

But in that same year, Considine also took a rare sojourn into television for ITV's period crime thriller The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and this Sunday night, will reprise the role in a follow-up film from writer Neil McKay.

In an interview with Digital Spy, the 39-year-old actor, writer, filmmaker and musician reveals why he decided to reprise the role of Whicher, and how his attitudes towards acting have changed over the years.

You've reunited with your Tyrannosaur lead Olivia Colman here - did you play a part in her casting?
"I'm gonna tell the truth - a little bit, yeah! It wasn't my idea at all, I wasn't in that way of thinking. I met with Neil [McKay], the writer, and Mark Redhead, the producer in Nottingham and asked them who they were thinking of for the part of Susan. Neil said he was thinking of Olivia Colman - not because of my film or anything.

"I hadn't seen [her in the part] but as soon as he said it, I thought, 'That's great', so I sent her a message. She'd seen the first one, so I said, 'Somebody's mentioned you for this, have a look at it and see if you like it, but don't feel obliged to do it'.

"I mean, I've directed her, but I've never acted with her. I know we did Hot Fuzz together and we did a little improvised film [2009's Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee] with Shane Meadows a few years ago, but I wouldn't call it 'working together' - we didn't have scenes together.

"On Whicher, it was a different kind of discipline, so I just wanted to work with her."

Paddy Considine as Jack Whicher in 'The Suspcions of Mr. Whicher'

© ITV / Hat Trick Productions

Paddy Considine as Jack Whicher



I guess it felt different because Hot Fuzz was more of an ensemble piece and Le Donk was improvised…
"Yeah, but this felt like a different kind of work. When you're directing, it's different - you're extracting things. Whereas acting is different - you're giving in a different way. [Tyrannosaur actor] Eddie Marsan said that when he acted with her, it was just amazing. He said, 'You want to give her everything', and I wanted to know what that felt like - and I got the chance.

"I was not freaked out about working with her as an actor - she was more freaked out than me… I don't know if she'd admit it! But she was - on the first few days of this, whenever Chris [Menaul] gave her direction, she'd give me this guilty look - like she was cheating on me or something!

"I think she honestly found it weird - she was looking to me after takes, for me to tell her if I thought it was alright or not. It was strange. She looked at me for approval, and I'm going, 'I'm not your director, dude, we're in the same boat here!'

"But she is a great actor - I love her. Post-Tyrannosaur - like what happened to me with Dead Man's Shoes - there's a tendency to want to give her a lot of tough drama and have her breaking down... but she's already done that better than anybody could ever do it. So when I see her in Hyde Park on Hudson - that's what I'm really interested in.

"She's got such range as an actor. She's always believable, she looks like she's enjoying it and the bottom line is… she's incredibly talented and has innate personal qualities. People just like her. Kathy Burke has the same thing… Alison Steadman… they all have this quality that you just instantly love them and want to watch them. Olivia's of the same school, for me."

Paddy Considine as Jack Whicher in 'The Suspcions of Mr. Whicher'

© ITV / Hat Trick Productions

Paddy Considine as Jack Whicher



Your TV roles have been few and far between, so what brought you back to The Suspicions of Mr Whicher?
"I think the older that I'm getting, the more I'm understand what a privileged job I have, and what an opportunity I have. Now I'm directing films and I'm getting my first movie in America off the ground, and you start to understand how the system really works.

"When you're having conversations about actors, you realise these same conversations have happened about you. If you want to make a film for $5m, then you cast A, B and C, but if you want $20m, you won't be able to cast them, you need X, Y and Z.

"The more I find out about the dynamic and how it works, the more I realise how lucky I am to have ever got anything. Like… there was no need to put me in Cinderella Man - there was no need. Why? Just get an American actor - it would've been cheaper, probably.

"How the hell did I get the lead in Jim Sheridan's In America? I look back now and I don't know how that happened."

Paddy Considine as Jack Whicher in 'The Suspcions of Mr. Whicher'

© ITV / Hat Trick Productions

Paddy Considine as Jack Whicher



I think you're being modest - you are a very good actor…
"But I'm not marketable, and that's how these people talk. If you're making a film for £1m, you can probably say to the financier, 'We've got Paddy Considine', and they'll say 'Great' - but the numbers go up and you get squeezed out of it all.

"That's the dynamic of it all, so I'm lucky that Whicher came around again. I'm lucky that they were interested enough in me to want me to do it again. The first one got a great response - it got good viewing figures and people enjoyed it. Aunties and uncles enjoyed it and that's fine by me - you can't always play to the indie film crowd.

"But also, it was a chance for me to play the character how I really wanted to play him. I don't think I played him right the first time."

How so?
"I just didn't get it right. There were too many distractions - I was doing this accent and it didn't fit the character that was on the page. The whole mission became about keeping up this Cockney accent and I hated it. I'm pretty good at accents, but I resisted it in that terribly and you can tell that I'm uncomfortable with it.

"So I thought, 'Okay, I'll do this second one, but I'm not doing that accent again. I'm playing him how I wanted to play him the first time'. They say you shouldn't read press and negative online comments, but I did read a couple of comments… I think it was on Amazon.

"They'd said, 'This guy's not like he was in the book - he's not very friendly with people and he doesn't smile…' and I thought, 'In a way, you're kind of right!' Sometimes you read things [like that] and it resonates far more than how any reviewer could write it, or any friend could tell you.

"It was so very formal [the first time] - I couldn't just be pleasant, it was all too tight. So for this one, I was able to play him how I wanted to play him. I felt stronger in myself and more committed. I enjoyed playing it a lot more this time."

Paddy Considine as Jack Whicher in 'The Suspcions of Mr. Whicher'

© ITV / Hat Trick Productions

Paddy Considine as Jack Whicher



Is there scope for a third Mr Whicher film?
"I really think so, yeah. If they want to and everybody feels compelled to do it, I'd do it. [We'd need] a good story - it's got to be a new landscape and it's got to open up for Whicher a little bit more. That would be the challenge. But I really enjoyed him as a character this time - I learnt to love him.

"Years ago, I met with Anthony Minghella and I was at odds with acting, because I didn't really understand it very well. He had a character in a film - the part was already cast, but he kept bringing me in and working with me.

"He said something to me, he said, 'Do you love this guy, Paddy?' and I said, 'No, I don't really like him', and he said, 'Well, you can't play him then - you have to love him'. It wasn't until years later that I realised he was right. Even if it's Hannibal Lecter, you've got to love him… and it's a really liberating thing when you do like a character.

"I think I understand Whicher now and I like him, and I'm comfortable with him."

Paddy Considine as Jack Whicher in 'The Suspcions of Mr. Whicher'

© ITV / Hat Trick Productions

Paddy Considine as Jack Whicher



You mentioned being 'at odds' with acting. There were rumours that you might quit acting to move into directing full-time - was that ever a possibility?
"It was, for a long time. I sounded like a broken record, because I kept toying with it and then thinking, 'Well, I can't - financially, I can't quit' so then I started to hate the game. And it was all purely because I was so ill [Considine was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome in 2010] - I didn't realise how ill I was. But since I've got better, I realise what an opportunity I've got.

"I love acting [now] - I don't think I ever loved it [before]. I had to learn technique and study acting, because I'd never done that. I started to work with an acting coach and it's been the best thing I ever did.

"I always loved actors and was always compelled to watch films, but the condition I had was forcing me not to engage and I was going further and further into myself. It was hard to interact, let alone act.

Paddy Considine as Jack Whicher in 'The Suspcions of Mr. Whicher'

© ITV / Hat Trick Productions

Paddy Considine as Jack Whicher



"It was just too harsh under those lights - acting felt like walking through treacle to me. A lot of that's changed now and I think there's room for all of it. I'm directing again and I'll always direct films, but I don't think I'd quit acting. I would not want to offend any actor - aspiring or established - by rubbishing this thing that we do. It's not a bad gig, y'know?

"Now I've got the tools in place and it's a lot more comfortable. Whicher was the first job I'd done, from top to bottom, where I felt like I was getting back on my game again. For the people watching, I have no idea [if they'll notice a difference], but I just felt better within myself."

Some of your early acting performances are fantastic, so it's not as if the acting itself suffered…
"But there's an inconsistency - I've done some not very good performances. I did a film when I was editing Tyrannosaur and I don't know why I did it. Well, I know why I did it - because I had to do it, financially.

"Again, that's so disrespectful to the people that worked on that film and I'll never do that again. It won't happen in a million years, because it's not fair - this is too privileged a job to be disrespectful about it by being ashamed of it."

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: The Murder in Angel Lane airs this Sunday (May 11) at 8pm on ITV.

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