Iain Glen, one of
Britain’s finest actors, is currently best known for his highly publicised
performance, opposite Nicole Kidman, in the 1998 steamy two-hander, The Blue
Room. Nightly this good looking pair would strip off and simulate a
passionate affair. When the play premiered at the Donmar in Covent Garden,
the press went wild. Director Sam Mendes had given Kidman the perfect
partner. Iain Glen. Not only is he seriously attractive, he is also an actor
of especial sensitivity and technique. It was inspired casting and the
actors’ chemistry on stage guaranteed the success of the Blue Room during
its London run.
Glen is proud of The Blue Room for which he received an Olivier nomination as ‘Best Actor’. When the production transferred to Broadway, Iain went with it – repeating his own personal success in the demanding lead role. He enjoyed being on Broadway but he felt the play suffered a bit in the transfer. ‘The whole frissom of the piece was created by two people being intimate in a very intimate setting and then we went into a 1200 seater and I think marginally it suffered. But it also improved in the sense that comedically it worked a bit better and it was very interesting seeing how the different audiences reacted.’
‘The Blue Room’ is not Iain Glen’s sole claim to fame. As one of RADA’s elite, he has fulfilled that early promise shining alongside his former class mates Ralph Fiennes, Daniel Day Lewis, Alex Kingston and Jane Horrocks.
But surprisingly, Iain does not yearn for Hollywood. He is that rare breed of actor:He is well satisfied with what he has achieved so far and has no desire to up-root his family to go and live in America, in search of mega-bucks and Super-stardom. Instead he is content to ‘duck and dive’, playing diverse characters in diverse productions, stretching himself and his talent. Almost shyly, he admitted. ‘I love to work and I love doing it but I am really very happy not working. I don’t get enough time to be with friends, to go out to dinner, to have friends round for dinner, you know, all the normal things. Play football, I love sailing. Travel. A million things’
He is very happy with the way his career has progressed. ‘Rightly or wrongly I’ve done what I’ve done. I’m pleased with what I’ve put down so far and it will probably stand me in good stead. I don’t need to be neurotic, worrying about it all the time’
His attitude is a refreshing change from the usual frenzied insecurities of actors. ‘Well’, he laughs ‘it may have something to do with approaching the big four-O’. ‘I know it is just another number but I do have a bit of a fear of death. He chuckles self-consciously. ‘It’s terribly egotistical the way it manifests itself. My fear is that the world would go on without ME!’
But there is more to this handsome Scotsman, with the patrician look, the chiselled cheekbones and direct blue gaze, than a naked romp on a stage. He has played Shakespeare (including the title role in the RSC’s ‘Henry V) as well as the lead role in the West End production of ‘Martin Guerre’, proving that he can sing as well as act. He has played a diversity of demanding roles in television including The Wyvern Mysteries, Wives and Daughters and Adam Bed. On the big screen, he captivated audiences in ‘ Gorillas in the Mist’ with Sigourney Weaver, and chilled them in ‘Young Americans’ opposite Hollywood’s Harvey Keitel. Not bad for a lad whose parents forced him into returning to University to complete his degree in English Literature. ‘My parents tell me I didn’t speak to them for a year’, he laughed.
During those university days he discovered the drug called ‘acting’. It has proven to be an awesome addiction. As a RADA student he was awarded the prestigeous Bancroft medal, no small achievement in a class including Ralph Fiennes and Jane Horricks, whom he recalls with obvious affection ‘I love Jane. She is fantastic.’.
This softly spoken, unaffected and guileless man, is an actor of sincerity and power. Who will forget the sadistic killer in ‘Trials and Tribulations 2’, his icy, sinister smile taunting the police as they sought to convict him for the horrifying murders? Or the gentle and romantic Martin Guerre in the West End musical of that name? Or the handsome, sexy sports writer in the BBC’s ‘Glasgow Kiss’? ...
The complete interview first appeared in 'London Magazine',August 2001.
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