Posted from bad Wolf:
Just passed along to me on Tumblr. Chris' dad passed on December 19th. Services were held after the holidays. Here's the obituary:
Condolences to Chris & his family.
Posted from bad Wolf:
Just passed along to me on Tumblr. Chris' dad passed on December 19th. Services were held after the holidays. Here's the obituary:
Condolences to Chris & his family.
Tom Baker, David Tennant and Patrick Troughton are to feature on a special set of Royal Mail stamps in 2013.
The collection marks the 50th anniversary of sci-fi show Doctor Who, with all 11 Doctors getting their own first class stamp.
Four of the show's most notorious villains, including the Daleks and the Cybermen, star on the second class set.
The show first ran from 1963 to 1989. A successful revival returned it to Saturday night schedules in 2005.
Andrew Hammond of the Royal Mail said the commemorative selection "pay tribute to the brilliant actors that have played the Doctor over the years, as well as the adversaries that helped make the show so popular".
The time travelling adventurer is currently played by Matt Smith.
Joining him for the 50th anniversary year is new co-star Jenna-Louise Coleman, who played Clara in the Christmas Day episode, and will be the Doctor's new companion in the 2013 series.
The show's head writer, Steven Moffat, has promised "tremendous surprises" for the golden anniversary, but says he will be keeping them under wraps.
"They wouldn't be surprises if I accidentally said them now, would they?" he said at a preview screening of the Christmas episode.
"But I promise you, we're going to take over television," he added.
The writer has even kept the secrets safe from his leading man.
"We're as much in the dark as the majority of other people," Smith told BBC Radio 1. "I imagine I'll get to read something in January, February time."
However, the actor promised: "We'll make it the biggest and the best year, hopefully in the show's history."
The Royal Mail stamps will be available in March.
This is a scene from the then nine-year-old Orla Hill's first day's filming on Song for Marion, or any other movie. Previous professional experience: one voiceover for a pre-school children's TV show; one TV commercial for Argos. Orla is the little blonde thing, squinting in the sunlight. The other children and the grown-ups whose faces you can't see are people from the neighbourhood on the edge of Newcastle where the filming was taking place. The grown-up whose face you can see is, of course, Christopher Eccleston.
Partly, Christopher was doing what actors on film sets have to do quite a lot of - waiting for the director to be ready to ask him to act. But mostly he was doing something else he seems to do very well - being good to people.
In Song for Marion he plays James, the son of Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) and Arthur (Terence Stamp), and the father of Jennifer, played by Orla. When we rolled up - Mummy, Daddy and the small debutante in pink leggings - he wasted no time demonstrating that he is as generous and thoughtful as you somehow expect him to be.
The dark blanket you can just about see wrapped around Orla was his idea, to prevent her getting cold on what was a blowy day, despite the sun. His hands placed lightly on her shoulders as he talked to the other kids - about Doctor Who, mostly - demonstrated just the right, low key protectiveness towards the child with whom he would shortly walk towards a camera.
If Orla, though far less nervous than her parents, had needed a little no-fuss reassurance as she too awaited the director's call, Christopher was providing it. And when that call eventually came - it was a complicated shoot that day, not helped by the erratic weather - he told the other kids and their mums and dads not to go away, he'd be back in a few minutes to answer all their remaining questions and sign all the autographs they wanted. And he was, of course, as good as his word. Top man.
He and Orla got on very well throughout the making of the film, which included his teaching her how to play table tennis - speaking of which, this blog hopes in the future to provide exclusive video footage of a titanic, sci-fi ping-pong encounter between the heroic erstwhile Doctor and dastardly former General Zod. Bet you can't guess who wins.
Dir: Paul Andrew Williams; Starring: Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Eccleston, Gemma Arterton. PG cert, 93 min.
Nothing raises the stakes in a British film like the prospect of public embarrassment. From The Full Monty to Billy Elliot and Calendar Girls, comic dramas about everyday people risking humiliation for a good cause seem to strike a chord with cinema goers, both here and abroad, and Song for Marion is the latest film to pop up in the sub-genre.
Paul Andrew Williams’s picture is a softer, slighter work than those mega-hits above, but at its heart there are three performances so precisely, even mercilessly calibrated to get the tears flowing that the narrative fumbles soon vanish behind a gauze of sobs.
Terence Stamp is Arthur, a prickly congenital grump whose beloved wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) sings in an amateurish community chorus who are preparing for a choir of the year competition. Marion has cancer, and singing brings her a great deal of enjoyment in what both she and her husband tacitly acknowledge are her last days. Arthur, however, can’t bring himself to join in. “You know how I feel about enjoying myself,” he snaps at their semi-estranged adult son James (Christopher Eccleston), only half-joking.
Marion’s choir are called The OAPZ, “with a Z at the end to make it street,” as their ever-chirpy conductor Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) explains. Much like their name, The OAPZ’s repertoire is laboriously offbeat, and hearing a band of pensioners crooning Ace of Spades by Motörhead and Let’s Talk About Sex by Salt-n-Pepa is funny precisely once per song.
By now the direction in which Song for Marion is headed should be clear, although if you are yet to connect the dots, it takes in heartbreak, redemption and reconciliation via a touching on-stage solo from Stamp.
Williams, whose past films include the crime thriller London to Brighton, a couple of grungy horrors and nothing even slightly like Song for Marion, sometimes plays it too broad for his own good. Few emotional moments are allowed to pass without a prod in the ribs from a tinkling piano, a trick that begins to grate as much as Marion’s cartoonish fellow singers; and the grand finale is marred by a last-minute setback too engineered even for The X Factor. But the emotional bonds between the three leads are so plausibly knotted (Eccleston, in particular, is unquestionably his screen father’s son) that it’s tempting to forgive the film the occasional off-key honk.
Award winning actor Christopher Eccleston has lent his weight to the upcoming Greater Manchester Film Festival.
Eccleston's illustrious career has spanned stage and screen, with film credits including Shallow Grave, Gone in 60 Seconds and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. He has also been cast to play a lead character in the upcoming Marvel superhero film Thor: The Dark World.
"I'm proud to be a part of The Greater Manchester Film Festival, a great event for the city and the industry, may it grow and grow" said Eccleston, adding that "...the festival has a really special programme, with some unique and exciting things being shown. It will be a great few days in the city."
Watch our preview on all the top sights and sounds of GMFF with Festival Director Simon Powell
Born in Pendleton, Eccleston has a life-long link to the region.
"The North West is a really special place," said Eccleston. "I was born and raised in Salford, in a very normal family environment. I never thought then that I be where I am now, but I followed my passion and took advantage of every opportunity to act and engage in the industry"
Christopher Eccleston's journey into acting wasn't smooth. After graduating he worked in a supermarket, on a building site and as an artist's model - all the while pushing hard to follow his dream. He is a strong believer in encouraging young people to enter the industry.
"It's so important that we inspire the next generation into the creative industries," said Eccleston, "there are incredible opportunities in fields ranging from film, TV and radio to gaming and more."
"We're humbled by the support we've received from many of the UK's most successful and talented people" says Simon Powell, Festival Director.
"Christopher's journey mirrors that which many go through as they follow their dreams of getting into film, TV and stage. We hope that his association with the festival will inspire many more people to follow his footsteps and achieve amazing things."
Interview with Christopher Eccleston
For more information on the festival visit GMFF
The first Greater Manchester Film Festival runs at MediacityUK and the Odeon Printworks in Manchester from 5th-7th October 2012.
John Lennon was a writer as well as a musician. It was entirely natural for him to put pen to paper whenever he had an idea, a thought, a reaction or a desire to communicate.
He lived - and died - in an age before emails and texts. Pen and ink was what he turned to. John wrote letters and postcards all of his life; to his friends, family, strangers, newspapers, organisations, lawyers and the laundry - most of which were funny, informative, campaigning, wise, mad, poetic, anguished and sometimes heartbreaking. For the first time, John's widow, Yoko Ono, has given permission to publish a collection of his letters. The Editor is the Beatles' official biographer, Hunter Davies, who knew John well.The audio version features a recorded introduction by Yoko Ono and is narrated by former "Doctor Who" actor Christopher Eccleston.
John's letters are in a way something of a mystery - where are they all? Over the years many have come up at auction, then sold to dealers and collectors. Or they have been kept by the recipients, locked up safely. It has been a wonderful piece of detective work tracing many of these 250 letters, postcards and notes, which are arranged in chronological order, so that a narrative builds up, reflecting John's life. It will be visual - in a sense that many of the letters are reproduced as they were, in his handwriting or typing, plus the odd cartoon or doodle. THE JOHN LENNON LETTERS is fundamentally a book to read and study, providing a unique insight into the mind of one of the great figures of our times.
I’ve just uploaded an interview with Chris from “Time Out/London” magazine, dated 3rd-9th June 2011 to my website, it can be found on the ‘Interviews’ page & is entitled ‘Lennon Reimagined.’
At nearly 9:00 p.m. last night, Deadline revealed that Christopher Eccleston ("DOCTOR WHO", "SHALLOW GRAVE", "G.I. JOE: RISE OF COBRA") has been cast as none other than Malekith The Accursed for the sequel (http://www.deadline.com/2012/08/we-have-a-thor-2-villain-christopher-eccleston-to-play-malekith-the-accursed/). In the Marvel Comics, Malekith is the leader of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim (one of the nine realms of Asgard) who is vulnerable to iron and has vast magical powers. He is best known for appearing in Walt Simonson's career defining run on THOR in the 1980's and has also wielded the Casket Of Ancient Winters, which can literally freeze the earth. The villain appeared in an episode of the first season of "AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES" last year. "Thor 2" will star most of the key actors from the previous film such as Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster and Jaimie Alexander as Sif. Also returning is Rene Russo as Frigga, Thor's mother, who has told Variety that she's brushing up on her comic book lore to prep for the sequel (http://www.vulture.com/2012/07/rene-russo-wants-to-brush-up-before-thor-2.html). The sequel will be directed by "GAME OF THRONES" director Alan Taylor.
An audio has been uploaded to my Chris site, a radio play entitled ‘A Day in the Death of Joe Egg’, I’ve also added the approximate playing time for all the audios on the page.
I’ve added information about two new roles & a couple of pictures to the filmography page. Currently though one of the roles is unconfirmed but this is mark as so.
Christopher Eccleston talks to Al Senter about his recent role in Antigone as well as his stage, film and television career. This is a live recording from July 2012.
You must have i-tunes in order to listen/download.
Larger versions available @ the above link.
For Christopher Eccleston, small is always beautiful, whether it be TV thriller Blackout or Greek tragedy Antigone on the stage. He reveals why making films just doesn't compare
A haunted, devestated place ... MyAnna Buring and Christopher Eccleston in Blackout. Photograph: Matt Squire/BBC/Red Productions
He strides across the polished tiled floor, past imposing columns and heavy, intricately carved doors. Outside, the Manchester winds are furiously buffeting the redbrick walls of this grand, turn-of-the-last-century university hall. There seems nowhere more appropriate to meet Christopher Eccleston: he has a face to fit buildings like this, an on-screen intensity that is the match of the architecture. But even so, his latest TV role looks set to stretch him: an unflinching, uncomfortable, three-hour examination of addiction and corruption, in which Eccleston goes from rock bottom to hero, as Manchester politician Daniel Demoys.
Written by Bill Gallagher, who adapted Lark Rise to Candleford for the small screen, Blackout puts alcoholism under the microscope in the course of its three episodes. The title refers to the lost hours after a particularly heavy night for Demoys – and his gradual, horrifying realisation of what might have happened during them. "He's an idealist," says Eccleston. "But something got stalled along the way and that's curdled in him. He's disappointed about where he is and what he does. There's an element of Macbeth in there."
Muddled in with the politics is a portrait of family life soaked in booze, as those around Demoys – including Dervla Kirwan as his wife – try to negotiate his drinking and attempt to square his destructive behaviour with his once good intentions. "We take him to a haunted, devastated place," says Tom Green, the show's young director, who has brought a highly distinct visual language to Blackout. Although the accents are northern, the setting is never specified: Green has instead taken the great Victorian architecture of Liverpool and Manchester and turned it into a place that seems to have fallen out of a graphic novel: buildings loom from the gloom, huge monuments dwarf the humans scurrying about below. This is definitely not the stuff of recent BBC primetime thrillers.
"The idea has been to create a modern British Gotham city," says Green, who created a similar world for Misfits, the award-winning E4 drama about young offenders with supernatural powers; this he directed just six weeks out of film school. "It's not that the piece is comic-book," he says. "But for me, Demoys felt like a comic-book hero: what happens to him is like the birth of a superhero."
British dramas about local politicians do not tend to look as if they were set in the US; but that's what we get with Blackout through the locations and the carefully un-British details scattered throughout the plot and visuals. The police, for instance, have American-style uniforms; Demoys's flat is dark and industrial; we see rows of parked cars, all black, all the same model; and the rain sheets down with even more force than is usual for the north-west. I'm not at all sure what audiences will make of it, or even if it entirely makes sense, but it's great to see a BBC1 drama that looks so different.
"We could do a social-realism version of these three hours set in Manchester," says Eccleston. "But I don't think that would work, because the politics of the piece are very much the politics of a graphic novel: very broad-stroke, very black and white."
On the long, dark afternoon of my visit, Eccleston is rarely off camera: clattering up and down echoey stone staircases, delivering impassioned political speeches. It is unrelenting and very un-local politics (although, brilliantly, the issue of bin collections is central to the plot). Blackout, says Eccleston, is more a morality tale than a political one, however. "We certainly went into the production with the idea of politicians as loathsome, self-serving animals. We are as a culture preoccupied with politicians' motivation, so he's very much part of the 21st century."
A little later, we meet again. Away from the demands of playing Demoys, Eccleston arrives with a broad grin and a charm that sometimes gets lost behind his brooding screen presence. He is rehearsing for Antigone on the National's main stage, for which he has since received enviable reviews. At 48, the boy from Salford is finally realising a lifelong ambition. "I was an usher at the National," he says. "I ushered Ian McKellen doing Coriolanus, Anthony Hopkins in Pravda. In my dreams, I would one day play a classical role in the Olivier." What's the allure of theatre? "It's what I trained for. Everything we did was for the stage. As a kid growing up on that council estate, I read Gielgud's biography, Olivier's biography, Richardson's biography. And when I read these stories as a 17-year-old, they were amazing figures. They seemed like rock stars to me."
Eccleston didn't grow up watching them, however. The first professional Shakespeare he saw was The Tempest at the Barbican in 1983, with Mark Rylance and Derek Jacobi. "Not bad, is it?" he jokes, still struck by their performances. For three years after drama school, he couldn't get an acting job. He was on the bottom rung, playing understudies with one line, he says, when he was cast in Let Him Have It, the 1991 film about British teenager Derek Bentley, who was hanged for the murder of a police officer. "Fluke!" he says now of the film that launched him. "It was a fluke. They needed someone unknown, without any baggage, so that when I appeared the audience would just go, 'It's Derek Bentley', not, 'That's the bloke out of Casualty.' The more you do this job, the more you realise luck is a huge factor."
Last year, Eccleston appeared in The Shadow Line, by Hugo Blick, an almost defiantly challenging BBC2 conspiracy thriller that rather split critics and viewers (many abandoned the show mid-run). "I remember Hugo saying to me as he was in the edit, 'This piece really has its own pace.' And I think that was one of the problems." Eccleston is quite frank about his own on-screen shortcomings, too, later alluding to criticism that he can sometimes semaphore his characters' development.
"I think we're used to kinetic pacing now. If you look at 70s American films that were a huge influence on The Shadow Line, things like All the
Eccleston hopes to do more theatre, having had a career that has been mainly film and TV, most memorably in 1996's Our Friends in the North. He even has plans for a one-man show: a version of Nikolai Gogol's Diary of a Madman that he's hoping writer Frank McGuinness might get involved with. He is so obsessed with the story, at one point typing a section of it out and emailing it to friends.
Despite his current focus on theatre, he still loves the small screen. "There's a snobbishness about TV," he says. "Some film actors, thank God, won't do television. Which is great! I've done feature films, but the best scripts I've ever had have been in television. When you're writing for film, you've got a wider canvas and you can concentrate on the visuals. With television, you really can't get away with that much."
• Blackout starts on BBC1 on 2 July.
Date: 15.06.2012Last updated: 15.06.2012 at 12.19
Interview with Christopher Eccleston, who stars in new BBC One drama Blackout.
Can you tell us about Daniel Demoys and his role in Blackout?
Daniel Demoys is an interesting figure in that he was once a very idealistic young man who got drawn into local politics and slowly allowed himself to become cynical and disillusioned, and he lost his ideals. He has an addictive personality and started to indulge himself personally, being addicted to alcohol and drugs.
At the beginning of episode one he meets a man (Henry Pulis played by David Hayman) who holds a mirror up to him, and he sees his reflection of who he really is and tries to destroy it. The drama then becomes a why-dunnit rather than a whodunit.
Daniel’s a contradictory character because he has a deep love for his wife and for his children, but he has pure hatred for himself. So consequently he ends up treating his family disrespectfully because he has no self-respect in the way he indulges himself. He’s probably got more in common with Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment, or Macbeth, in terms of what he’s done and his battle with his conscious and imagination, which is used stylistically by flashbacks in the film itself.
What is Daniel’s home life and relationship with his wife (played by Dervla Kirwan) and children like?
Daniel and his wife, before the children came along, were probably a very successful, hedonistic couple of the Nineties. There was a great deal of hedonism and they were very much part of that, while being bright, shining political lights. The kids have come along and he’s carried on. There’s an element of mid-life crisis with Daniel, as well as everything else. He’s carried on that hedonistic path but it has stopped being enjoyable. It’s probably fair to say that his wife has been in denial about his addictions. It’s the only way she can deal with it, particularly while attempting to raise children.
What we’ve got within the film and with the three characters (Daniel’s two sons and a daughter), you see the differing impact on children if a parent is an addict, and it manifests itself in different ways in the children. The impact of the addict on the family is a very major strand in the drama which sits alongside the thriller element. It is very much a thriller, and not just about the politics. The politics are the politics of a graphic novel, quite simplistic. If you examine what Daniel is expounding it’s probably communism but what’s foregrounded is the thriller element and the family element. Those are the two things that are primarily the motors of the three episodes.
Daniel finds himself opening up to a nurse, Donna (played by Branka Katic). Would you say she acts as his subconscious?
She definitely serves as a conscience figure. You can say that she’s possibly taking him through the 12 steps, if you analyse it, looking at responsibility and humility. Donna allows him to confess to everything that he’s done. She is his friend more than anything. She gives him tough love and it’s an interesting relationship. She’s brilliantly played by Branka because it’s very easy to make a character like that purely a mouthpiece. Branka has humanised and grounded Donna, and given her humour, delicacy and subtlety.
Can you tell us about Daniel’s relationship with Sylvie (played by MyAnna Buring)?
MyAnna’s character and Daniel are both playing roles when they meet. It’s role play. He’s in an altered state because of the alcohol and drugs, and she, like him, is an addict and is addicted to danger and sexual danger. It’s very clear. You see her as a mum and then you see her in a noir-ish wig, and then there is her husband (played by Andrew Scott) who is also an addict and an obsessive. This theme of addiction is shot throughout all of the characters. What is interesting about Sylvie is that Daniel instinctively, in his alcoholic state, understands what she needs to fulfil her fantasies. So psychologically they’re wired up for each other in a very dangerous way. Two addicts together, bringing hell down on themselves.
You have worked with Andrew Scott before (Lennon Naked, BBC Four). What was it like working with him again?
It was great working with Andrew, he played McCartney when I played John Lennon and I think he’s an excellent actor. I was really pleased when I heard he was going to join us on Blackout. He’s an actor I really love working with and admire. It’s a fantastic performance and his character (Detective Bevan) is similarly an addict. There’s a kind of brilliance to that character’s detection of what is going on and a brilliance to his doggedness. Bevan’s after the truth like a holy grail and he’s very decent in that way, but his obsession with his wife is the flip side of it. It’s the shadow side of him and his doggedness with finding who she is or isn’t sleeping with is very damaging to her and her children. So he, like Daniel, has a shadow side.
What made you want to be involved with this drama?
It’s always very interesting to be asked to play a character who on paper is unsympathetic. Characters who do the kind of things that Daniel does don’t scare the audience. Audiences are very bright, and those of us who make great television continually underestimate the audience. They’re always ahead of us and they’re always willing to take difficult characters into their hearts because they know how difficult their own lives are. For example, Raskolnikov fascinates people because he does something that we all have nightmares and fears about doing. Macbeth does the same and that’s why go and watch those people and why we follow those characters, and Daniel does a similar thing. There’s a fascination in watching somebody trying to wriggle out of what they have done and that’s what we do with Daniel.
Can you relate to Daniel?
It’s that Dennis Potter quote that I’ve used before and I love. When he writes his characters he used to write them as half ape and as half angel, which is probably what you could say about human beings generally. So I can tell you that I’ve never been an addict and I’ve never murdered anybody but I can still relate to Daniel Demoys.
My dear friend Penny Noble who is a psychotherapist & counsellor has had an article published in Universal Film magazine, entitled “Scenes of the Method-ological nature” it can be found here: http://issuu.com/ufmag.org/docs/ufm_issue_2_cannes_edition & is a very interesting read for all who are interested in the performing arts.
Her article begins on page 55.
I’ve just updated Virginia’s Christopher Eccleston Website with an interview entitled “Acting Tough” from Sunday Times magazine December 2001. It can be found on the Interviews page here: http://www.bad-wolf.info/interviews.html there’s also a lovely black & white photo.
With his new play, Antigone, previewing at the National’s Olivier Theatre from next week, former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston tells Dominic Cavendish why theatre means so much to him.
Christopher Eccleston will appear in Antigone at the National’s Olivier Theatre
By Dominic Cavendish
7:00AM BST 16 May 2012
Were he to suspend me by the ankles off the concrete battlements of the National Theatre, crying “For the love of Larry, I want to do more theatre!”, I couldn’t get the message more loudly and clearly from Christopher Eccleston.
Though we know him best for his high-calibre British TV and screen work – whether it’s his breakthrough performances in Jude, Shallow Grave and Our Friends in the North or, more recently, as the first in the new batch of Time Lords on Doctor Who – the man himself is quite adamant. Eccleston won’t be happy with the way his career has panned out unless he treads the boards a lot more.
“I’ve neglected theatre,” he says, quiet certainty matched by emphatic vigour, his Salford accent pressing flinty personality into the words. “That’s a shame. It’s why I went to train as an actor. And for the next 20 or 30 years I’m going to do more and more of it. That’s the plan. I’m determined!”
He flashes me the sort of determined look I imagine will come in very handy when he plays Creon in Polly Findlay’s new NT production of Sophocles’s Antigone. The autocratic Theban king refuses to hear the pleas and humane arguments of his niece when he refuses burial for her treacherous dead brother Polynices and sets on punishing her.
There’s a quality of steadfastness about Eccleston, 48, both in person and as exhibited in many of his performances, that looks like the perfect fit for a ruler who invites gathering outrage at his remorseless intransigence, conducted in the name of the state. “I’ve played a lot of conflicted men,” the actor says, with some understatement.
For all the willing and wanting to get back into theatre – his last major outing was 10 years ago as Hamlet at the West Yorkshire Playhouse – the National job came out of the blue. It might almost have been heaven-sent, because this was the theatre where he started out. He appeared in fleeting roles in a Shared Experience show, Abingdon Square, that transferred to the Cottesloe, and Martin Sherman’s Bent, at the Lyttelton, in the 1980s. Earlier in that decade, he was a young usher. The job helped him pay his way through drama school, and opened his eyes.
“I was an impressionable student and I’ll never forget seeing Anthony Hopkins as Lambert Le Roux (in Pravda) and Ian McKellen playing Coriolanus,” he says. “I had a really extraordinary experience of seeing Hopkins dominate the Olivier then eat beans on toast in the canteen. That was fascinating – seeing the transition, the quietness of him, then the hugeness of him in the same day. What solidified in my mind was the thought, 'If you play a big classical role on the Olivier stage, you can go no higher in British theatre.’ The Olivier was where I always wanted to work.” He gives a grin. “Thirty years later, that’s been realised.”
Although he only set upon becoming an actor while retaking his O-levels, he displayed early thespian leanings, he reveals. “I was a real mix as a school-kid,” he recalls. “I was obsessed with playing football, but I also spent a great deal of time on my own being Sean Connery’s James Bond. And I used to be a character called Old Man in the Rain. When it rained, I’d sit on this old fishing basket, and pretend I was this old fellow looking out over his life.”
His parents – his father worked as a warehouseman – backed the youngest of their three sons when he announced that he wanted to become an actor. “They were mightily relieved, because they had no idea what I was going to do – it was so left-field, they said, 'That actually makes sense.’ ”
Having discovered his vocation, he read everything he could about “the greats – Richardson, Gielgud, Olivier. For me on a council estate they were larger than life. The way they voraciously played the classical roles – that’s what I wanted.”
There’s a warmth to Eccleston in person that sometimes hasn’t translated to public perceptions of him. In conversation, he often cracks open wide smiles – and declares a secondary unfulfilled ambition to do more comedy. He’s in awe of the way Olivier could play Oedipus and Mr Puff (in Sheridan’s The Critic) on the same day.
Some of his facility for comedy was evident in the grinning eccentricity he brought to Doctor Who. But that only lasted a series. And puzzlement continues as to why he left before he had a chance to own the role.
When prodded to speak further about this, he is amicably terse. “I know what went on and the people who were involved know what went on – that’s good enough for me.”
He half-smiles, half-grimaces. “My conscience is completely clear. I’ve lived my life, particularly my working life, on the basis that I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror about the way I behave. It wasn’t a bold move, it was an entirely natural one. I’m hugely grateful to the children who to this day come up and talk to me about the show.”
His TV career has shown no sign of a let-up since that departure. Later this year, he stars in a new drama (provisionally called The Fuse) in which he plays a local politician and recovering alcoholic whose ascendant career is haunted by the spectre of a past murder.
“It’s quite Greek in a way,” he reflects. “It’s a why-dunnit rather than a who-dunnit – the audience are ahead of the character.” It’s topical, too. “We’re obsessed with politicians at the moment, and quite rightly.”
Creon is cut from the same cloth, the politician who over-reaches himself. Might Antigone, which originated almost two and a half thousand years ago, be a play for today, too?
“Absolutely. This will have strong resonances,” he affirms. “Creon has a failure of the imagination. The central argument in Antigone is the same as the one you might have had with George W Bush. America had an opportunity to assume moral gravitas in the world by not reacting [after 9/11]. That idea is central to this play.” He pauses. “You can’t revenge yourself on a corpse.”
'Antigone’ previews at the National’s Olivier Theatre (020 7452 3000) from May 23, as part of the Travelex £12 season
By Caroline McGinn Posted: Mon May 14 2012
Christopher Eccleston has reached the summit of his career at the National Theatre, he says
Actor Christopher Eccleston, the hawk-faced star of some of our best British TV dramas, was the first man to bring Northern grit to the RP BBC icon 'Doctor Who' in 2005. Now he is travelling back to 441BC at the National Theatre, in the implacably tragic vehicle of Sophocles's 'Antigone'.
He plays Creon, a politician who destroys his family in his efforts to establish order after civil war. It's great casting. Backstage, eating sarnies in his tracksuit bottoms, Eccleston still speaks like a working-class lad from Salford, but from the neck up he looks, with his big hollow eye-sockets and raw bones, like a tyrant from the ancient world.
The National is clearly a big deal. 'Playing a major role in the Olivier,' says Eccleston, in his intense and straightforward way, 'is the height of an actor's career.' In 1983, when he moved to London to study drama, NT stars John Gielgud, Anthony Hopkins and Michael Bryant made a deep impression. 'I worked as an usher at the Olivier,' he recalls. 'Hopkins used to come on as Lambert Le Roux and he'd be explosive, huge, riveting - but then you'd see him in the canteen having beans on toast and he'd have disappeared again. That was very interesting to see; front and back.'
The youngest of three sons, Eccleston was raised on a council estate, where he excelled at football rather than schoolwork and discovered drama late, as a teenager at Salford Tech.
Why did he become an actor? 'Wine, women and song,' he says, succinctly. 'It was running away with the circus. My parents and brothers all had jobs which were nine to five and drew great dignity from work, but I sensed frustration in all four of them.'
Instead, he fell for the romance of the knights of the theatre, devouring biographies of Richardson and Olivier. 'They were so vivid and different from the environment I was coming from,' he explains. But the classical roles he dreamed of failed to materialise after he graduated.
'I didn't work for three years,' he says. 'I'd been well cast at Central but I didn't pick up an agent. I couldn't inhabit
the roles I was playing. But that unemployment was very important. When I got my chance, [playing Derek Bentley in the 1991 film “Let Him Have It”], I worked really hard.'
Becoming a TV and film actor happened by default. But in the late '80s and '90s it was easier to find roles that resonated with Eccleston's background and aspirations. 'That window is closing now,' he says, 'because TV is being eaten up by reality shows and so-called talent shows.'
Eccleston has a reputation for being outspoken and there was a lot speculation about why he left 'Doctor Who' so rapidly. Did a bad experience contribute to his frustration with the medium? 'There's no one incident in my career that dictates anything,' he says, 'But there's more money and power in film and TV so people inevitably behave worse. And I've always been a person who, if I think something's wrong, will say so.'
The proudest moments of his working life, he says, have been in Jimmy McGovern's Bafta-winning 'Hillsborough' on ITV, and playing Hamlet ten years ago at West Yorkshire Playhouse. 'Hillsborough' (in which he played Trevor Hicks,
whose two teenage daughters died in the football disaster) is, he feels, 'the most important thing I've done.'. And he remains close friends with the real Hicks: 'I was best man at his wedding when he re-married. Him and his ex-wife Jenny, their bravery in surviving that loss and having their government lie about them and still be here fighting for the truth, it's an inspiration really.'
As for 'Hamlet': 'I'd not been on stage for ten years when I did it and it was not a good performance,' he admits. 'But it took a lot of balls and I was better by the end of it. The kind of naivety and nervousness I had then is absent from “Antigone”.' His ambition now is to do more theatre in London. Compared to the can-and-cut process, rehearsing with a troupe of theatre actors is more like being with the circus. But, at the age of 48, it's no longer all about wine, women and song. 'In TV you act in a vacuum,' he says. 'Theatre is an actor's medium where you rely on
each other. Now I'm older I've realised acting's just a desire to communicate with other human beings, that this is how it feels to be alive.'
He's mildly boggled when I ask him if he's concerned about his legacy: he's evidently a romantic at heart. But that's a class issue too: 'I've spoken to a number of my peers from working-class backgrounds,' he says, 'And we've wondered why we didn't assume that we could run buildings, set cultural agendas, and address some of the imbalances.'
Opportunities for working-class kids are fewer now than they were in Eccleston's youth. Most don't get anywhere near the theatre - which is one reason why he's so pleased to be doing this short, sharp 90-minute Greek tragedy in the NT's democratically priced Travelex season, which has £5 tickets for under-26-year-olds and £12 to £32 tickets for everyone else.
Personally, it has helped renew his teenage ambition to 'play clearly all of the major classical roles onstage'. But,
for Eccleston, acting is more about living as fully as possible in the moment than achieving some spurious immortality: 'I think about how I'm going to live my life, not what I'll leave behind,' he says. 'If I have a go at these big theatre roles, I know I'll feel used when they put me in the box.'
Photos from NT’s Facebook page.
If link doesn’t work/is too long try this:
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Afternoon interview with Christopher Eccleston, talking to Al Senter about his current role in Antigone and his career, and answering your questions.
Duration: 1 hour
Tickets: £5 (£4 concessions)
This summer's In Conversation series will have live speech-to-text transcription provided by STAGETEXT, so that deaf and hard of hearing visitors can follow the interviews.
Actor Christopher Eccleston talks to Matthew Stadlen about the "madness" of performing on stage, how much of himself appears in his roles, his desire to play a woman - and the "chemistry set" of his emotions.
I’ve just found these lovely photos of Chris taken in Dec last year, they can be found here: http://www.picturedesk.com/bild-disp/search/search.action?ts=1330788150649&data=eyJzb3J0IjowLCJucnAiOjUwLCJycyI6MCwicG4iOjEsInN0IjoiUVVFUllfU1RSSU5HIiwiYnIiOlsiMDozNjpDaHJpc3RvcGhlciBFY2NsZXN0b24iLCIzOjM2OlBvcnRyw6R0cyJdfQ
If link is cut short then this tinyurl will take you there too: http://tinyurl.com/7w6egtq
in a version by Don Taylor
Desperate to gain control over a city ravaged by civil war, Creon refuses to bury the body of
Antigone’s rebellious brother. Outraged, she defies his edict. Creon condemns the young woman, his niece, to be buried alive.
He can’t forbid me to love my brother. He has neither the right, nor the power, to do that.
The people daren’t object but the prophet Teiresias warns that this tyranny will anger the
gods: the rotting corpse is polluting the city.
There is no gag like terror, is there, gentlemen?
Creon hesitates and his fate is sealed.
The gods never move faster than when punishing men with the consequences of their own actions.
Jodie Whittaker plays Antigone and Christopher Eccleston, Creon.
Booking opens as follows:
Supporting Cast: 1 Feb
Priority Members: 3 Feb
Advance Members: 8 Feb
NT News subscribers: 14 Feb
General public: 15 Feb
And more here:
Doctor Who rematerialises at the National
Christopher Eccleston has been persuaded to rejoin the National Theatre after an absence of more than two decades.
The actor, who starred as a sophisticated drug smuggler in TV drama The Shadow Line and once upon a time played Doctor Who, will appear as Creon,
opposite Jodie Whittaker in the title role of Antigone. Polly Findlay will direct them on the National’s Olivier stage from May 23.
Eccleston last performed at the National in the plays Bent and Abingdon Square.
He also appears with Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave and Gemma Arterton in Paul Andrew Williams’s film Song For Marion.
And Harvey Weinstein rates highly enough to want to put it up for consideration in the next awards season — which starts all over again in September.