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.”

The First Film You Saw at a Cinema

Interview by Justina Hart

What was the first film you saw at the cinema?

“‘Isadora’, by Karel Reisz. I am still disturbed when Vanessa Redgrave is strangled as her scarf gets caught in the wheel of a Bugatti.”

What’s your favourite film?

“‘Midnight Cowboy’, a film about brotherhood between two of the strangest characters to have graced the screen.”

When did you last walk out of the cinema and why?

“I walk out often nowadays. Maybe I’m jaded but films aren’t what they used to be. I walked out when Ben Stiller got his penis caught in his zipper in ‘There’s Something About Mary’. That was enough for me.”

What’s the most erotic moment in a movie?

“The feast in ‘Babette’s Feast’.”

What’s the most annoying habit in a cinema?

“Staying because you paid.”

When was the last time you snogged at the cinema?

“Never. Films get my undivided attention. Until I walk.”

Which actor would you most like to be?

“I am what I am.”

Which actress?

“Liv Ullmann.”

What’s your favourite snatch of film dialogue?

“The silence between the Tramp and the blind flower lady in ‘City Lights’, when she recognises his touch and says: ‘It’s you.’ Chaplin smiles and nods with eyes lit up by tears.”

When was the last time you cried in the movies?

“‘There’s Something About Mary’.”

When was the last time you hid under your seat?

“Also ‘There’s Something About Mary’.”

What do you make of Greg Wise’s success, seeing as he was in the same theatre club as you at university?

“Not only Greg Wise, but also Hamish Clark. In fact, the three of us had a stand up routine called ‘The Thunderbunnies’ back in the mid-80s, which we may resume in the near future.”

An Interview With Miracles HQ

“Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”

“He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven” by William Butler Yeats

A dreamer, an artist, an actor and a gentleman: these are but a few simple terms to describe Mr. Angus Macfadyen. From his early works as Philip in The Lost Languages of Cranes, to his more recent guest turn as Mac on the ESPN series Tilt, Angus Macfadyen has continually shown his ability to take a character and make it his very own. Whether portraying men like Richard Burton, Peter Lawford, even Orson Welles, or intense fictional characters, such as Dupont in Equilibrium, Mr. Macfadyen can easily bring a writer’s dream to life with his complete attention to detail. As Alva Keel, the complicated and sometimes broody paranormal investigator of Miracles, Mr. Macfadyen came into our living rooms for an all too brief period of time, while showing us that believing in the unbelievable perhaps was not as strange as we had been taught as children. As Alva Keel, he gave us justification to be afraid when the lights go off and darkness prevails.

So what goes on in the mind of such an accomplished, 21st Century Renaissance Man? Miracles HQ recently had the unique opportunity to ask Mr. Macfadyen some questions on his acting, his art, and on things in general. He was gracious enough to take time out of a very hectic schedule of filming to answer them all.

For this, you have our deepest gratitude, and we thank you, Mr. Angus Macfadyen.

Laurel “Sailorhathor” Wilson: “What has been your favorite role to date?”

Angus Macfadyen: “My life.”

L.W.: “What are your favorite types of roles to play?”

A.M.: “Variety is the spice of life, in all things, or boredom ensues.”

L.W.: “Do you prefer playing ‘good guys,’ ‘bad guys,’ or ‘gray area’ characters, or do you enjoy playing them all for different reasons?”

A.M.: “Each character teaches me something new about who I am, it’s like tuning into different wavelengths on the radio, each a different thought process, thankfully I have this job or they’d have locked me up long ago…. (I think they’re still after me….)”

Lara Giesbers: “What do you feel has been your most challenging role?”

Angus Macfadyen: “Each is a new challenge…have to learn to ‘act’ anew each time.”

L.G.: “You’re in so many different projects, and always come off so versatile. I’d like to know what you think is the biggest challenge for you as an actor?”

A.M.: “Getting up at 4 am on Monday morning.”

Heather “Rekka” Link: “Miracles – related: How did you see the relationship between Alva Keel and Paul Callan? Was it more brotherly or sort of fatherly, too?”

Angus Macfadyen: “Fatherly, somewhat that of Freud to Jung.”

H.L.: “What did you think of Alva Keel compared to other characters you have played in the past?”

A.M.: “Well, it being serial tv, I couldn’t really get a bio from the writers because they had no idea either where the whole thing was going, which was rather alarming to say the least, means you have to do as little as possible so as not to contradict yourself in the future…fear based character driven choices, not me cuppa tea.”

H.L.: “Was Alva Keel unique, or were you able to relate to the character in some way?”

A.M.: “I related to the obsession with paranormal events, as I have experienced quite a few of these from another dimension….”

H.L.: “If the series had continued, where do you think the story of Alva Keel and Paul Callan would have gone?”

A.M.: “No clue what they had in mind, I had my own script, which I think I’ll put on line actually….”

H.L.: “What was your most memorable moment while working on Miracles?”

A.M.: “Finishing at 3 am on Saturday morning and being able to finally go to bed.”

H.L.: “What is your favorite episode, and why?”

A.M.: “The pilot. It was dark, it was mysterious, it was hope and fear in one gripping hour….”

Sherri “devisun” Washburn: “Out of acting, writing or painting, if you had to choose only one to do, which would it be?”

Angus Macfadyen: “Please don’t make me choose!!! Oh well, acting pays the bills and I just love it when they call action because it sounds like freedom to me.”

S.W.: “You have worked with many directors. Who has been your favorite, and who would you like to work with again?”

A.M.: “Andrzej Sekula. Tim Robbins. Robert Dornhelm.”

S.W.: “Snide and Prejudice was both hysterical and terrifying. How did you come by that role, and how was it working with Rene Auberjonois?”

A.M.: “It was offered to me a week before shooting, and I had more lines than Hamlet, and 10 days to shoot a 4 hour movie (since cut to 2). Rene is a very witty, fearless man, and generous to a G.”

S.W.: “Do you like working more on movie or television sets?”

A.M.: “Movies…playing the same ‘karakter’ every day week in and out year after year doesn’t appeal to the gypsy restlessness in me.”

S.W.: “How do you go about getting ready for a particularly intense role (i.e. Lanai-Loa and, especially, Snide and Prejudice)?”

A.M.: “I eat cockroaches.”

S.W.: “Do you enjoy making ‘Big Budget’ or ‘Indies’ more?”

A.M.: “Indies shoot faster so the energy carries you with it, big budgets are whales that tend to get beached and suffocate the creative flow.”

S.W.: “Would you rather be a character actor/supporting actor, as in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, or would you prefer to carry a film?”

A.M.: “Someone said I am a character actor in a leading lady’s body. I had them tortured then shot.”

Angela “Paramitch” Mitchell: “When did you know you wanted to be an actor?”

Angus Macfadyen: “In the womb perhaps.”

A.M.: “What were your favorite movies or plays as a child?”

A.M.: “My childhood dream was to play 007.”

A.M.: “What training did you receive that has proven most valuable to you as an actor?”

A.M.: “Bette Davis once advised actors to ‘always take Fountain’ which is a street in Hollywood that never gets traffic jammed. I have followed her advice unflinchingly.”

A.M.: “You’ve done a lot of Shakespeare. Which role was your favorite, and why?”

A.M.: “Hamlet. Modern man. The conscience. Struggle between doubt and surrender to the inevitable. To be or not to be.”

A.M.: “Who do you, yourself, admire most as an actor?”

A.M.: “Anyone who hangs in there long enough to catch a break, because you will catch it.”

A.M.: “Your career has encompassed both Shakespearean and very modern or experimental roles. Do you approach modern or ‘Indie’ roles differently than Shakespearean or more classically theatrical roles?”

A.M.: “Nope. I stay up all night before the first day and get hammered. Then the rest of the shoot, I get a good night’s sleep.”

A.M.: “What was it like to work on Braveheart? Did you have any favorite moments while working on the film?”

A.M.: “Well, it’s special because it was my first Hollywood movie. Shot the last scene on the first day, and the horse was so jittery I had to get on Mel’s shoulders for the charge.”

A.M.: “What was it like to play Orson Welles in Cradle Will Rock, and how did you meet the challenges of playing such a well-known personality? Did you enjoy working with Tim Robbins?”

A.M.: “I ate 2 steaks and chocolate cake, and drank 2 bottles of wine a meal.”

A.M.: “What drew you to the role of Alva Keel in Miracles?”

A.M.: “The promise of mystery.”

A.M.: “Alva Keel always seemed like such a wonderful enigma. What little mannerisms or moments did you bring to the character that you didn’t find on the written page?”

A.M.: “Slammed that table in the pilot on ‘who said it was God?’ just to scare y’all. You should have seen Skeet’s reaction, which they cut. He jumped out of his pants!”

A.M.: “What did you do to prepare for playing the role of Alva Keel?

A.M.: “Learned my lines and turned up on time.”

A.M.: “What was your favorite thing about working on the Miracles set?”

A.M.: “Going home. I didn’t like the 16 hr grind of tv production. Didn’t like getting the script 1 day before starting the next episode.”

A.M.: “Did you actually pick up any Aramaic from playing Alva Keel?”

A.M.: “No, couple of Greeks though, and a Latino.”

A.M.: “Do you have any aspirations toward writing or directing yourself?”

A.M.: “Too damn lazy.”

A.M.: “How does it feel to be a thinking woman’s sex symbol?”

A.M.: “You think therefore I am?”

Laura “Tooky” McDonald: “What was your most difficult role?”

Angus Macfadyen: “Waking up each day and having a sense of humor.”

L.M.: “What was the easiest, in terms of preparation/performance, role for you?”

A.M.: “Well, Keel, because I didn’t have time to prepare, just say the lines.”

L.M.: “Were there any disappointing parts, as it relates to the finished work?”

A.M.: “Just finishing is disappointing, as Orson Welles said, by its nature, film acting isn’t fresh, it’s in the can as it were, it’s yesterday’s news.”

L.M.: “What role was the most fun?”

A.M.: “A certain schizophrenic who took himself for that fellow who looks like Charlie Chaplin.”

L.M.: “What character’s personality most reminds you of yourself?”

A.M.: “They all do. I can only bring myself to each role, it’s all I have.”

L.M.: “Will you be entertaining roles in more ‘Mainstream’ films, by that I mean Braveheart and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood?”

A.M.: “Question is, will they have me to the banquet, may I sit at the table, or shall I scurry beneath feeding off the crumbs that tumble from the orbit of the stars?”

L.M.: “In regard to your artwork: What or who inspires you?”

A.M.: “They say the soul is 99% outside us.”

L.M.: “What medium do you prefer to work in?”

A.M.: “Whatever comes my way.”

L.M.: “Though I dislike pigeonholing, what style would you consider your work to be?”

A.M.: “That of an earthbound creature taking flight.”

L.M.: “Does your work tend toward sending a message to the viewer or simply a reflection of how something makes you feel?”

A.M.: “Well, if I feel it, won’t you? And if I don’t, will you? Or is it all just illusion? Smoke and mirrors? A con job?”

L.M.: “Are your political/religious views reflected in your art? I ask, because I am intrigued by your few religious works. They seem very deep.”

A.M.: “Buddha says the secret of freedom is to act well without any regard for the consequences. That is the extent of my religion. And I don’t vote because I happen to think it doesn’t matter at this point in history. Has anyone noticed that the Sixties have returned?”

L.M.: “Did you receive formal training in painting and drawing or did you study on your own?”

A.M.: “I was a lonesome dove.”

L.M.: “When you are drawing or painting, what is your state of mind at the moment?”

A.M.: “IN the moment.”

Palakika “KeelFan”: “I’m just wondering, how the heck did Sherwood Hu get you for Lanai-Loa? And, hopefully, do you have good memories of working in Hawai’i?”

Angus Macfadyen: “Most of it was shot in Hainan, China. We were low budgeting, and checked into a slum brothel. The experience was far more eye-opening than the product which sits to this day gathering dust.”

Deejay “AlvaFan” Driscoll: “You are elected President of the Planet Earth. What is the first thing you do?”

Angus Macfadyen: “Resign.”

D.D.: “Do you associate a song or a piece of music with a particular time or place in your life?”

A.M.: “The Beatles and the Sixties maaan.”

D.D.: “If you were a song, which one would you be?”

A.M.: “Freebird.”

D.D.: “What was the last dream you vividly remember?”

A.M.: “There she goes, trying to get inside my head again.”

D.D.: “Which historical figure would you most like to have met?”

A.M.: “Well, I met Jesus a while back, and he told me it’s easier for an SUV to pass through the eye of a needle than for an oil baron to enter the kingdom of heaven, because it is within and you gotta love your neighbor as yourself to get there, which doesn’t seem to be happening at the moment, does it?”

D.D.: “What has been the best year of your life?”

A.M.: “It gets better all the time.”

D.D.: “Describe your favorite meal – appetizer, main course, dessert and beverage.”

A.M.: “Must we really? Alright, like Kissinger, I’d start with Cambodian noodles, then I’d move like Reagan into Grenada juice, then for my main course I’d have a good ol’ whoppin’ GW IrAquiburger, and for dessert, well, how ’bout some Kim Il Jung lychies.”

D.D.: “What physical attribute do you a) least, b) most like about yourself?”

A.M.: “You’re starting to sound like the Hollywood Dental Quiz. Do you like your smile? It’s the only one I have.”

D.D.: “What do you think will happen to you when you die?”

A.M.: “There will be no more me. Just the dream, or God, for want of another word, actually the word is That. I am That I am.”

D.D.: “Most embarrassing moment ever?”

A.M.: “Well, coming out of the womb looking like that must have been pretty damn embarrassing, but luckily I’ve successfully blocked it out.”

D.D.: “Read any good books lately?”

A.M.: “Krishnamurti.”

D.D.: “Is there anything you regret that you have never found time enough to do?”

A.M.: “Well, the dentist says I still don’t spend enough time brushing my teeth in the morning, just can’t seem to stand there for longer than 15 seconds flat.”

D.D.: “What is the worst thing you are willing to make public about yourself?”

A.M.: “That I’m a truly decent human being, really, I am.”

D.D.: “How do you spend a day off at home?”

A.M.: “Answering bloody long questionnaires.”

D.D.: “What other career would you like to have had?”

A.M.: “Disposal expert sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it?”

D.D.: “When was the last time you really cried?”

A.M.: “I don’t cry. There is only love in the universe…we just need to focus a little harder folks.”

D.D.: “Do you have a hero or heroine?”

A.M.: “The fool on the hill sees the world spinning round.”

D.D.: “Where is your favorite place in the whole world to go when you want to be alone?”

A.M.: “I swim with the fishes.”

D.D.: “If you could go back in your life and change just one thing, what would it be?”

A.M.: “Oh, why change a thing? The world is gloriously imperfect, it’s a stage as Billy said, and we are but players, and our little life is rounded with a sleep. Now stop fucking waking me up with all this niggling questions, I need to dream.”

Angus Macfadyen’s Personal Fan Club (Now Defunct) Interview from 1997

Fan club: You were born in Scotland and raised in France, what are your impressions of growing up in France?

Angus: “Le chat est dans la maison.” 

Fan club: What age in your life did you want to become an actor? 

Angus: “As I child I worked as a clown in the circus. Laughter was my substance abuse.” 

Fan club: Was there a certain actor that inspired you?

Angus: “Gerard Depardieu.” 

Fan club: You have been in a lot of theatrical plays, which one is your favorite and what part did you play? 

Angus: “Topaze by Marcel Pagnol; It’s about the corruption of innocence.” 

Fan club: “You won the Questors Award for your play ‘1905’. Could you give us an idea what the play is about?

Angus: “A sequel to Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’ set in the first Russian revolution.” 

Fan club: “All the fans want to know where did you learn to ride a horse so well? 

Angus: “In the circus.” 

Fan club:What type of parts do you enjoy the most in movies? 

Angus: “Characters who ask themselves: ‘Is there something worth dying for?'” 

Fan club:Do you research the parts in a movie before accepting them or follow your instincts? 

Angus: “Follow your instincts and try not to bump into the furniture.” 

Fan club:Who are some of your favorite actors? 

Angus: “Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Gerard Depardieu, Spencer Tracy,Harvey Keitel, Marlon Brando, Peter Sellers, Jack Nicholson, Jack Thompson, Tom Towles, Jack Lemmon, Jessica Lange, Monty Cliff, Ian Bannen, Luke Mullaney, Luke DeLacey, Geoffery Rush and David O’Hara.”

Fan club:What do you enjoy doing when you have time off from work? 

Angus: “Getting another job, painting, loving friends, and trying very hard to understand my enemies. Not arguing with God.”

Fan club: Were you surprised when you found out about the fan club? 

Angus: “Flattered.”

Fan club: Could you tell us what your impressions were when you were chosen to play the part of King Edward II in ‘Braveheart’? 

Angus: “A desire to end it all.” 

Fan club: What was it like making the movie ‘Braveheart’?

Angus: “I was terrified. Always am.”

Fan club: Which scene in ‘Braveheart’ was your favorite? 

Angus: “When young William drops a single tear at the graveside of his father. My hair stands on end every time.” 

Fan club: What is something that you would most want your fans to know about you? 

Angus: “The only demons in this world are in our own hearts, where all our battles much be fought.’ Gandhi.” 

Fan club: All parents like to talk about their children’s accomplishments. What do your parents think about your work, now that things are really happening for you? 

Angus: “They wish for me what all stable parents wish: An understanding of those inner conflicts which leaves us an ability to live at peace in a world quite mad.” 

Fan club: Now that the movie ‘Braveheart’ was your launch pad into Hollywood, will you be staying there or going back to London to further your career? 

Angus: “Stay in Los Angeles. The weather here suits the clothes I like to wear.” 

Fan club: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans? 

Angus: ‘The glory of God is to seek out. The glory of kings is to conceal.’ (I’m not sure of the exact words. Re: The Bible.)” 

Fan club: Angus, on behalf of the fan club and the officers, we wish you the very best in your wonderful acting career and look forward to seeing you in your new movies. We thank you so much for this interview and will always support you in all that you do. 

Angus: “Thank you, Bonnie, Kristine, and Karen. (The shortbread was, in short, delicious) X Angus Macfadyen” 


“Fear is the enemy of all people, especially actors,” says Macfadyen. “Mel’s good at making a set relaxed by telling jokes and being crazy. He’s an actor, he understands the horror.”