Monday, 24 March 2014

Paul McGann: "The class divide is even stronger today. I wouldn’t get a start"

As per a new interview with the Independent (to publicise his upcoming performance in Chekov's "Three Sisters", at Southwark Playhouse), McGann doesn't think he'd have been able to break into acting these days.

“The Monocled Mutineer [his big break] was directed by the late, great Jim O’Brien. I got the part because I sat in a room with him for an hour and we just chatted. Nowadays you have to send in a reel of yourself....I struggle with it. I come across as serious rather than off-the-cuff. We’re all having to practise selfies all day long to try to get parts.”

He continued, “the class divide is even stronger today. I wouldn’t get a start today. There’d be no grant money, no place at Rada for the likes of me...We seem to have stepped back as a country. Do people want that? Maybe they do, maybe deep down there is something in the British psyche that we believe we’re better led by blue bloods, that they’re the natural officers. It must be something like that, because otherwise, why do we keep returning to the same class of people to lead us?”

“By definition, we’re denying openings to generations, to the children of half of the population; we’re denying chances for all that talent to flourish. Me, my brothers, we would struggle to get started. It’s 10 times harder today. We’re denying so much hope to so many people.”

He also spoke about how the Tory government used "The Monocled Mutineer" to attack the BBC back in the '80s. “They were mad days. The unions and the left were doing their thing, Mrs Thatcher was in power, it was all crazy. The BBC in particular was getting a lot of stick from the Tories. It was the second or third time Mrs Thatcher had a go at them. She went for the Today programme as well.”

(DWM writer Graham Kibble-White did an excellent write-up of the controversy, if you're not familiar with it - essentially, McGann played the leading role of a mutineer during WWI. The government accused the BBC of indulging in a left-wing bias - par for the course then as now.)

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