when we were modern

Hot Scot

by Margot Dougherty, L.A. Magazine, January 2000

Angus Macfadyen was the last actor to audition for the role of Orson Welles in ‘Cradle Will Rock’, Tim Robbins’s quasi-comedy about the Depression, censorship and a drama troupe. “After Tim had seen everyone in town, my agent said, ‘Now’s your chance,'” Macfadyen remembers. So he laid his best Welles down on a cassette and sent it off to Robbins in New York, thinking, “‘Aha, at last’ In a weird, arrogant, insane way, I knew it was mine.” Robbins was less sure. “It turns out he had designs on the role himself,” Macfadyen chuckles. “So for 10 days, he’d listen to his tape, then to mine, to his, to mine.” The Scottish-born actor prevailed and can also be seen playing Anthony Hopkins son in ‘Titus’, an update of one of those grisly Shakespeare revenge tales, grandly told by Broadway ‘Lion King’ director Julie Taymor. 

Mayfadyen, who played Robert the Bruce in ‘Braveheart’, Peter Lawford in HBO’s ‘The Rat Pack’ and Brendan Fraser’s antagonist in ‘Still Breathing’, grew up all over the world – from Switzerland to the South Pacific, thanks to his father’s job as a doctor for the World Health Organization. His acting bent was apparent even as a wee bairn in Kenya. “I’m told I spent a few years running around with no clothes, thinking I was Tarzan,” he says over tea and poached eggs at the Four Seasons. Now he’s thinking he’ll be a director and hopes to sell his new screenplay about Jung and Freud. “It’s a musical called ‘Hamlet Gets Therapy’,” he says. “It’s also got Picasso, Einstein, Sarah Bernhardt, Buffalo Bill and Geronimo. They’re on a boat and sitting at the captain table.” All aboard. 

“Angus Right for Triangle” from The West Online

Los Angeles-based Scots actor Angus Macfadyen has just signed to star in ‘When We Were Modern’, the cinematic saga of the Heide love triangle of John and Sunday Reed and Sir Sidney Nolan. 

Macfadyen, best known for his role as Robert the Bruce in ‘Braveheart’, has most recently played the key love interest in the box office hit ‘Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood’, also starring Sandra Bullock, Ashley Judd, Ellen Burstin and James Gardner.

Macfadyen’s ‘Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood’ hit the third spot in the US box office last week, having earned $64.8 million in just 12 days.

In ‘When We Were Modern’, Macfadyen will play John Reed. 

The film, directed by Paris-born and Melbourne-raised Philippe Mora, will also feature Rachel Ward as Sunday Reed, Susie Porter as Joy Hester and Marcus Graham as Sidney Nolan. Mora’s brother, Tiriel Mora (‘The Castle’) will play writer Max Harris. 

During the 1940s Heide (the nickname for the Reed’s home in Heidelberg) became a hotbed of creativity. 

‘When We Were Modern’ explores the somewhat bizarre and tumultuous world of the birth of modernism in Australian art in the 1940s.

Heide became a focal point for Nolan, Joy Hester, Arthur Boyd, Albert Tucker, John Perceval, and Philippe’s parents, Georges and Mirka Mora.

‘When We Were Modern’ begins production in Melbourne in November.