There's never been any game plan or thread through my career. It's just happened that I've ricocheted from one interesting character to another.
Ultimately it's a leap of faith and a leap of imagination to put yourself back in time into those conditions and situations and see how you would react.
We started filming in 1993 which was only four years after the fall of communism. The difference in Budapest over the last five years has been remarkable.
You have to get through the Hamlet hoop as a young actor. Your classical qualifications are based on the quality of your Hamlet. And then, as an older actor, you have to get through the Lear hoop. And I'm approaching the Lear hoop.
I would like to be as fit as I've always been. I've been blessed with good health, I've been blessed with stamina. Particularly for those great classical roles, you need an Olympian stamina. I, fortunately, have that.
One of the last episodes was all about a flood. We were working in the rain till all hours, and it was muddy and it was cold and it was damp, and it was hours under the hoses. That was not pleasant. That was not pleasant.
He was somebody who made me think, I suppose, about the contemplative life. I've always been a city fellow, but I've often had vague thoughts about 'checking out' and perhaps going into a monastery and just seeing what it was like.
Actors, I don't think, ever really grow up. I'm hoping that that rejuvenating process applies to me, too. It has so far. I've been very lucky.
I don't think he's permanently affected me except in the sense that I miss him. I miss being him. Or trying to be him. He is one of a gallery of characters that have had an impact on my career and therefore my life.
I am an actor and I live in the world of pretend in my working capacity. I live in the world of my imagination.
It's often difficult to slough off all that we've acquired, all the comforts and safety nets modern life provides for us, and realize that in those days, people were living very much on the edge - life was incredibly hard!
What was so good about it was that the set that they originally built stayed there, and weathered over the five years. It got five summers and five winters of weather. It became more and more authentic as we worked in it, and they added bits to it.
Ellis Peters's historical detail is very accurate and very minute, and therefore is not only interesting to read but good for an actor to acquire a sense of the period. And the other thing I think is that an actor lives in the land of imagination.
I'd gone into that restaurant and sat down and the waitress had taken my order and everybody else had seen me with this what must have looked like this creature, this animal, sitting on the top of my head!
I think that each character has fascinated and interested me enough to want to play him.
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