“He’s not a cold man. He’s sort of blocked emotionally, but he’s a man of his time” reveals Matthew Macfadyen about his role as Henry Wilcox in the Starz limited series “Howards End.” It’s a new adaptation of E.M. Forster‘s classic novel about class and gender politics in the early 1900’s, which was previously adapted into an Oscar-winning 1992 film. In our exclusive video interview (watch the video above), Macfadyen talks about the series’s timeliness, “especially when society is thinking very deeply about men and women, and the way women are treated.”
Macfadyen admits to feeling a certain amount of hesitation about accepting the role, primarily due to his history of starring in a number of period pieces. In television and film he has often played “Victorian or Edwardian gentlemen,” including his roles as Mr. Darcy in the 2005 film version of “Pride and Prejudice” and as Inspector Reid on the BBC drama “Ripper Street.” But Macfadyen claims that it was the script by Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester by the Sea”) that ultimately convinced him to take on the role. “I think [Lonergan] brought a lack of sentimentality towards [the novel], or a lack of reverence,” Macfadyen explains, “and that’s probably quite a good thing.”
When it came to putting his own spin on the character, Macfadyen admits that he found the prospect of “more exciting than daunting” to follow in the footsteps of Anthony Hopkins, who played Wilcox in the 1992 film. Macfadyen argues that exploring the character over the course of a four-hour series starring Hayley Atwell was akin to “painting on a bigger canvas,” and gave him the opportunity to reveal facets of the character that were missing in the film adaptation.
Macfadyen returns to television when his new HBO series “Succession” premieres on June 3. He refers to his character Tom as both “a guy from Minnesota who can’t stop talking rubbish” and “a bit of a dipstick.” Macfadyen sees the role as a departure from all of the “repressed English gentlemen in three-piece suits” that he has played throughout his career, but also admits that he doesn’t have a plan when it comes to choosing projects. “I just try and pick things that are going to be exciting and challenging, and I’ve been very lucky.”
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