anthony hopkins

6degrees Meets with Angus Macfadyen

by Nick Walker

6degrees met with the Scottish actor Angus Macfadyen, who discussed his role as Lucius in Julie Taymor’s Shakespearean epic ‘Titus’.

6degrees – Had you played the part before on stage?

Angus Macfadyen – “No.”

6degrees – How were you aware of the role?

A.M. – “I wasn’t, actually. It was one of the plays that I don’t think I’d ever read so I didn’t know much about it.”

6degrees Julie Taymor comes from a theatrical background. Were you aware of that?

A.M. “I was aware of it but I hadn’t seen ‘The Lion King’.”

6degrees Is it different working for a director who comes from a theatrical background?

A.M. “It was in the sense that we rehearsed for three weeks, which you don’t get in films. So that was ‘theatrical.'”

6degrees Were you allowed to improvise in that time?

A.M. “No, we were dealing with Shakespearean language, so we weren’t allowed to improvise!”

6degrees What do you feel of Shakespeare adaptations generally?

A.M. “Usually I don’t have time for them because they take you out of the play and make it about some specific period. The interesting thing about this film is it wasn’t just about the Thirties: it seemed to move through history from Roman times, starting with swords, through to slightly more sophisticated weaponry and then guns.”

6degrees The film was very gory but for me was really about betrayal and vengeance. How do you think it will be perceived?

A.M. “I don’t know. It didn’t go down very well in America because it wasn’t as sentimental as they like, but hopefully it will go down better over here.”

6degrees What was it like working with Anthony Hopkins?

A.M. “Madman! He’s a genius and he’s a madman. It’s always very interesting every day.”

6degrees You’re both Celts, so was there a lot of bonding?

A.M. “We did some Marlon Brando impressions and Richard Burton and that kind of stuff. He’s quite a quiet man and tends to stick to himself.”

6degrees What research did you do for the role?

A.M. “Went out and killed a lot of people! No, just imaginary stuff about the father-son relationship.”

6degrees There are moments of real black comedy. What was the shoot like?

A.M. “It was quite absurd. We were also under a lot of pressure because we didn’t have a lot of money and we didn’t have a lot of time. We did a lot of night shoots and were often caked in mud.”

6degrees Where was it shot?

A.M. “Mostly Rome, and we shot for a couple of weeks in Croatia, in a colosseum there.”

6degrees What other Shakespeare have you done?

A.M. “‘The Tempest’, ‘King Lear’. It was such a long time ago.”

6degrees I heard that you once were a clown. Is that true?

A.M. “No, it’s not true. It’s something I put out there!”

6degrees Have you seen ‘Theatre of Blood’ with Vincent Price? I mention it because there’s a scene at the end where he serves a pie made of poodles, which reminded me of the offering in ‘Titus’.

A.M. “Is there? I must look at that again. Yes, I’ve seen the film and it was directed by Douglas Hickox. I know his daughter, who works in Los Angeles.”

6degrees How did you get into the character of Lucius?

A.M. “It’s mostly one big close-up on Anthony Hopkins so you’re there in the background trying not to crack up or fart!”

6degrees There’s a strong family element in the film between the brothers in the story. How did you achieve that?

A.M. “Is there? Well, we were there for five minutes so I guess we made it work.”

6degrees -What’s next in film for you?

A.M. “I’m about to go and do a film in Berlin called ‘Librium’ [‘Equilibrium’] with Christian Bale and Emily Watson.”

Enjoying His Angus Beef

by Natasha Stoynoff, Toronto Sun 

For his upcoming role as Orson Welles in the Tim Robbins film, ‘Cradle Will Rock’ – which is in competition here – actor Angus Macfadyen put on 20 pounds the hedonistic way. 

“I ate three steaks for lunch instead of one, and two pieces of chocolate cake for dessert, and I didn’t exercise at all,” says the Scottish actor of his two months of force-feeding before filming began in New York last fall. 

But then, dear Angus, who played Robert the Bruce in ‘Braveheart’, discovered what most women learn early: “It takes a lot longer to lose it than to gain it,” he confided during a cocktail party at The Majestic Hotel, where he triumphantly turned his back on the fabulous and highly caloric dessert table. 

By the time he began shooting his next role in ‘Titus’, with Jessica Lange and Anthony Hopkins, he still hadn’t shed the extra beef. But that’s because they were shooting in Rome. And when in Rome: 

“You just can’t lose weight in Italy,” he insists. “The pasta, the bread, the wine.” 

The actor has a lot on his plate, professionally speaking, too. With both ‘Titus’ and ‘Cradle’ making appearances at Cannes this year, Macfadyen is bound for fame. 

Like most actors, he thinks he’ll never work again. 

“I’ve already had a three-month break,” he says. “So after Cannes, I have to go back to L.A. and look for another job.” 


The California sun. “I have a permanent suntan,” says the formerly pale Scot, “which is fine by me.” 

Angus Macfadyen: Delivering Truth Through a Lie

(Articles in this section were kindly donated by ‘Fritters’. Misspelled names corrected throughout by Deejay.)

by Christina Nunez 

Angus Macfadyen seems laid-back, on the surface. Although he is playing Orson Welles in Tim Robbins’ ‘The Cradle Will Rock’ and will be seen with Jessica Lange and Anthony Hopkins in ‘Titus’ later this month, his acting ambition is not all-consuming. “I’m not a workaholic,” Macfadyen claims. “I don’t like to work consistently, go from job to job. I like to have a lot of down time, and in that time I do a lot of writing.”

Sometimes he combines the two: The actor says that when a script is bad, he will rewrite all of his scenes. If this sounds troublesome, Macfadyen avers that his help was welcome on 1997’s ‘Warriors of Virtue’. “I had agreed to do this role so long as I was allowed to rewrite it. It was written as a bad James Bond thriller and I rewrote it as a Taoist villain, a character who spouted philosophy. …And it was welcomed, in a way, because it was an improvement on the material.”

Presumably, Macfadyen had less script doctoring to do on his two most recent projects. Though the films were radically different from each other; one a ’30s drama set in New York, the other a Shakespeare adaptation filmed in Rome with ‘Lion King’ musical stage director Julie Taymor; both featured directors who had written their own scripts.

“[For Taymor and Robbins] it was a very personal vision,” says the 36-year-old Scotsman. “Both of them had insisted on a three-week rehearsal period, which was incredibly necessary, considering the films were so technically complicated. So once we got going it was a question of relying on those three weeks in which we’d done a lot of character work, because there wasn’t much time for anything else with all the technical difficulties.”

Macfadyen concedes that the ‘Titus’ shoot was particularly tough, with an intense “heart of darkness of man” theme complicated by the project’s $20 million budget and technical ambitions. Though the Rome shoot stretched from three months into five, the actor says that just meant more time “soaking up the sights and sounds of Rome.”

He also credits Anthony Hopkins for off-camera entertainment. “There are actors, and Hopkins is one of them, who love to joke around. [He’ll] do his impressions of Katharine Hepburn and Burt Lancaster and Peter O’Toole, and you name it. He’ll do them all. Just to try and alleviate a bit of the pressure.”

Playing Orson Welles in ‘Cradle’ was a different kind of challenge. Macfadyen has built a good deal of his career on playing real-life figures: He was Richard Burton in the NBC movie ‘Destiny: The Elizabeth Taylor Story’, Robert the Bruce in ‘Braveheart’, and Peter Lawford in HBO’s ‘The Rat Pack’. But the actor says all of the research can help as well as hurt.

“You can sort of start drowning in it to some extent,” he notes. “…There’s got to be something, you know, like a key, or some little hidden piece of knowledge which you know, which is sort of the secret, out of which everything else sort of emanates.”

That key came a few days before filming, when Macfadyen unearthed a piece of ’40s rehearsal tape revealing Welles’ more playful side. “I was worried about [the role] for awhile, until I found that piece of tape. …At that point I had let go of anything I; I threw it all out the window and had fun. That’s what I heard: a scenery-chewing, intense, huge, generous spirit of Dionysian quantities.”

Macfadyen, who is single and plans to spend his New Year’s Eve on Scotland’s Isle of Skye in “the middle of nowhere,” is slightly more retiring but no less intense. He abandoned ambitions of being a diplomat when he realized “I wasn’t going to be able to go out and have to lie in the real world for a country when I’m sure it would have created some sort of moral dilemmas. So I chose something like acting; in a sense, telling the truth through a lie, through an illusion. The ultimate paradox of life.”

Macfadyen’s next projects are a play called ‘Back When/Back Then’ by Raymond Barry and the role of Zeus in ‘Jason and the Argonauts’, but he hasn’t given up the pen. “I do have my own voice, as it were, and vision of the world,” he says. “I have things I’d like to say about it. So it’ll lead there somewhere down the line, in the next few years.”


“Well, being a Westerner, I’m still prone to all the temptations and distractions which are provided,” admits Macfadyen.