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I Heart Ian Hart

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Mark Kermode | 16:25 UK time, Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Since the great Beatles movie Backbeat, and via such diverse destinations as Ken Loach's Spain and the first screen Hogwarts, Ian Hart never fails to deliver anything less than a fascinating performance. With his new movie A Boy Called Dad just over the horizon I want to know your thoughts on this great British actor.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Completely agree with you Mr Kermode, Ian Hart is a great actor and always brings something unique to his roles. I haven't got a top 5, only a top 3, and you've already mentioned two of them (Land & Freedom and Backbeat – another thing about Backbeat, Hart actually looks quite a lot like Lennon). My 3rd choice would be End of the Affair, I thought he was really good in that as the Private Investigator, kind of sweet and creepy, reliable and untrustworthy all at the same time.

    See also, Eddie Marsan.

  • Comment number 2.

    Ian Hart's best performance was for Leeds against arsenal in 2003 when he scored a 25 yard free kick in a 3-2 victory.

  • Comment number 3.

    really enjoy Ian's work 'backbeat', 'land and freedom' etc even makes me smile when he's barely in 'enemy of the state'-as a kid, i saw him a channel4 series called 'one summer' with david morrissey

    i've not seen his portrail of Nobby Stiles in 'best'

  • Comment number 4.

    Perhaps an even better interpretation of Lennon was in "The Hours and Times" which I believe was Ian Hart's first film.

  • Comment number 5.

    Tut, tut, tut!

    After seeing all those movies the best Dr. K can give us is a film directed by Ken Russell starring Ian Hart!

    But shouldn't it be a film directed by William Friedkin and starring Richard Gere?

  • Comment number 6.

    I can't say I have seen all Ian's work. But most memorable characters:

    Psycho photographer - Dirt(TV)
    Arthur Conan Doyle/Dr Watson - Finding Neverland/BBC Sherlock Holmes
    Liam's Dad - Liam

  • Comment number 7.

    Good Christ, I hated This Year's Love! And a lot of that hate had to do with Hart's character (not his perfromance). I remember watching it when I was sixteen and thinking "So if I'm really vain and self-obsessed, my life will probably turn out okay, but if I'm a bit of a geek, people won't respect me and I will probably end up turning a bit psycho... so I really shouldn't bother with this relationships lark? Yeah, thanks British Film Industry!"

    As for a good Ian Hart performance, The End of the Afair really sticks out in my mind. Really brought a working class levity to the film, without seeming forced.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hay Mark,

    I agree with you, Ian Hart is one of those under rated actors that always puts in one of those performances that you remember, even in dreadful films. As a Dubliner, I, of course, took a huge interest when the film Michael Collins came out and as a person who is obsessed with the history of my country, I was quite disappointed with the film as a whole. I'm not going to get into exactly the reasons why or you'll be hear all day reading this but if I think of the positives from that film, which were very little, Ian Hart is one that springs to mind. He plays this dedicated side kick to Michael Collins throughout the film, Collins' go-for, this observer of what is going on, the equivalant to C3PO and RTD2 in Star Wars, if my knowledge of Irish history of that time serves me well, I'm not sure if his character is a person who really exsisted, I think he is supposed to be this annonymous character that is supposed to represent the audience in all the chaos. He opens the film with a monologue that is delivered brilliantly and throughout the film he play support to Liam Neeson, Julia Roberts, Aiden Quinn and Alan Rickman amazingly, there are a couple others aswell in that movie doing more of the same - Brendan Gleason, Sean MacGinley, Gerry MacSolerly and the late Tom Murphy who all give equally savage performances

  • Comment number 9.

    I completely agree with you, jack, on Ian Hart's performance in Michael Collins. I thought he was excellent, as was all the cast of Michael Collins. I really like Michael Collins though, as the story really interested me and kept me enthralled.

    I also liked Mr hart in Finding neverland as Arthur Conan Doyle. He always stood our for me, and he instantly became the focus of the story when he was on screen (or at least i thought so). I don't realy know many other Ian Hart films so i will shut up now, and try and be inspired. I suspect, due to the enthusiasm of Dr K. and his bloggers, that i shall be. :D

  • Comment number 10.

    Easy, has to be his small role as the 'black ops thug with a brain' in Enemy of The State. Brilliant understated performance with subtle displays of intelligence & conscience in a main stream Hollywood movie.

  • Comment number 11.

    Ian Who? No, only joking.
    Can’t say as I’m an Ian Hart connoisseur either, but he was good in Michael Collins and Finding Neverland.
    However, I remember him for portraying John Harrison in ‘Longitude’. As a Yorkshireman, Harrison is a particular hero of mine (along with James Cook, Richard Whiteley, Rickets etc) and Hart played it as a typically dour, straight talking ‘genius’ who showed the establishment that you don’t have to have had an Oxbridge education to come up with great ideas.
    Now, where’s did I put my Black Pudding recipe book?

  • Comment number 12.

    we've just finished a low budget short with Ian Hart, he was fantastic, came down was really generous with his time and gave such a great performance in the film! top guy, real intense! there's more about our film 'Watching' at, we hope people will get to see it soon!

  • Comment number 13.

    Sadly my only familiarity with Ian Hart comes from the BBC TV version of The House of the Baskervilles, also starring Richard Roxborough and Richard E. Grant. I can't stand the Beatles so Backbeat doesn't sound like my cup of tea, but I will see if I can catch A Boy Called Dad.

    Btw, off topic but still relevant...


  • Comment number 14.

    Well I thought he was very brave for leaving the UK - not enough of them do it - great left foot.

    re. Richard "Streaky" Bacon -

    Maybe if enough of us complain here they'll have to sack him, after all we do pay his wages (well I don't, being a fee-dodging student - although that doesn't stop them sending me threatening letters, anyway...).

  • Comment number 15.

    he's definitely one of the better english actors and was the best thing in michael collins, which by the way was rubbish

    couldn't give you 5 performances, mainly cause i don't watch much television

    but yeah i would go for backbeat and land and freedom

    he should be working in film a lot more

  • Comment number 16.

    along with eddie marsen ian hart is one of the most underrated british actors my favorite ian hart performances are as follows and this maybe controversial

    1)This years love(the film is claptrap but hes the best thing in it)
    2)Strictly sinatra
    3)The closer you get
    4)Clockwork mice

    and finally at number 5 its enemy of the state

    as a collection of films theyre not great but he adds something to them

  • Comment number 17.

    Not sure if I'm missing something here but isn't Mark on Radio five every week? I should know I listen to all the podcasts.

  • Comment number 18.

    I love Ian Hart as Dr Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles. I think he did a good job of portraying how frustrating it must be to work with Holmes!

    He also gave a great performance in Blind Flight - a strange little film about Keenan and McCarthy imprisoned in Lebanon.

    He seems to get a lot of work as a supporting/character actor, but really shines as a lead. A bit like David Thewlis (another Harry Potter alumnus!)

  • Comment number 19.

    I'll never understand why actors like Hart, Eddie Marsan, Timothy Spall, David Morrisey and David Thewlis never get bigger leading roles. What is it about Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Clive Owen etc. that gets them the Hollywood jobs over this lot? I'm not saying the Hollywood jobs are better than the work they're doing at home - in fact, quite the opposite. Nor am I saying that Fiennes et al. are bad actors - they've all turned in some stellar performances in a wide variety of films. But Hart is a real talent and he has plenty of charisma too, he just turns it inward to really get under the skin of a character. His roles in This Year's Love, Finding Neverland and Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone are all great, in fact, the highlight of those films. But his best work is in The End Of The Affair. It's a well acted piece anyway but Hart just lifts it to a higher place. Every time he was on screen it was a joy to watch.

  • Comment number 20.

    Land and Freedom is one of my favourite films and Ian Hart is brilliant in it.

    Also in Backbeat the scene in the lighthouse between Lennon and Astrid "I'm the son of sailor, am the son of a sailor's son." always stick out for me. In backbeat he is perfect as Lennon. I think now that he is a bit older he could play lennon a third time at the end of his life.

    Now i don't know if this was a TV movie or i just saw it on TV but Blight Flight when he played hostage Brian Keenan again an amazing performance.

  • Comment number 21.

    Ian Hart is in fact Irish.
    Typical of the British media to claim successful people as their own. Nostalgia for the old empire is still alive and well.

  • Comment number 22.

    Ian hart was born in liverpool

  • Comment number 23.

    I live in Aberdeen so for me it has to be, well, Aberdeen in which his role is small but great. :D

  • Comment number 24.

    I would like to suggest Ian Hart's performance as schizophrenic photographer Don in 'Dirt' the US drama with Courtney Cox.

  • Comment number 25.

    Well, my wife and I would have to suggest 'The Englishman who went up a hill but came down a mountain' in which Ian played Johnny Shellshocked, but this is mainly because we were extras on the film.

    Ian was a real gent on set, without airs or graces and a terrific sense of humour. He also happily shared his fruit pastels. Great actor, top bloke.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think the point you're making, Dr K, is that whatever part Ian Hart plays he puts in a superb performance - regardless of how big or small the part may be, regardless of how good or bad the film might be. The most important skill of an actor is to create a believable character, and every performance I have seen of Ian's has been believable.

    To add to the increasing list of great performances, I would like to mention 'Longitude', the Channel 4 drama about John Harrison. Ian Hart plays Harrison's son, William.

  • Comment number 27.

    Ian Hart's best performance was in the 1995 tv film/drama Loved Up.

  • Comment number 28.

    Who? Oh yeah that bloke from Harry Potter. I vaguely remember him from backbeat, but Lord Tim Hudson did a better impression of John Lennon in Disney's The Jungle Book.

  • Comment number 29.

    Dear Mark,
    Since you've brought up the first Harry Potter film, could you please do a blog on the career of Chris Columbus? Would be interesting/amusing to hear you argue why he's such a beancounter (and I agree)

  • Comment number 30.

    OI KERMODE(and mayo) where are you?

    forgot about 'loved up' decent shout

  • Comment number 31.

    This post made my day! I've been a big fan of Ian Hart for ages, I'm delighted to see I'm not the only one.
    My top favs are (in no order):
    - The Hours and Times (my preferred Ian Hart as John Lennon performance)
    - Land and Freedom
    - Aberdeen
    - Hollow Reed
    - Michael Collins (wasn't a huge fan of the movie but this was the first movie I saw Ian Hart in and I was so impressed by his performance that I back and watched as many of his other movies as I could find.)

  • Comment number 32.

    Life can be both funny and dark - the best art is that which captures this - cf. (some of) the films of David Lynch, Charlie Kaufman + the Coen Bros.

    Funny = "(this was also presumably the sort of street-facing window through which the car-jack wielding Batman clone came hurtling in search of Herzog)" - the one line in Dr K's book which made me laugh out loud - think this means it is not a comedy.

    Not funny = "Streaky" Bacon doing the films, again.

  • Comment number 33.

    oops - wrong blog! now thats funny!

  • Comment number 34.

    I haven't seen quite enough of Hart to weigh in authoritatively but I would recommend his against-type private investigator Mr. Parkis in The End Of The Affair, and his rather more coruscating turn as a nasty South Londonder in Michael Winterbottom's Loachian masterwork Wonderland.

    Can I also mention Simon Cellan Jones' fascinating TV film Eroica (2003) in which Hart plays Beethoven in a clunky but belligerently committed characterisation of the composer.

  • Comment number 35.

    Ian Hart is not Irish, he is a scouser. He has Irish family yes, but he is definitely a scouser.

    As for his best performance, my favourite has always been The End of the affair. I think he is fabulous in that film. I loved his scenes with Ralph Fiennes in particular. I found him and the young lad who plays his son in that film to be really interesting characters who totally draw you in, and you end up wondering about them more than the main characters!

  • Comment number 36.

    I love The Hours and Times.....and this is probably unpopular but I loved him in Mojo too :)

  • Comment number 37.

    It probably doesn't count as it was on the radio but Ian hart's performance as The Agent in BBC Radio 4's adaptation of the Ipcress File is fantastic. He does a far better job than Michael Caine (who was pretty good in the first place) of bringing to life Len Deighton's working class intelligence officer, who is distrusted by his peers, loathed by his superiors and largely sick of his line of work.

  • Comment number 38.

    'I'll never understand why actors like Hart, Eddie Marsan, Timothy Spall, David Morrisey and David Thewlis never get bigger leading roles. What is it about Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Clive Owen etc. that gets them the Hollywood jobs over this lot?'

    I suspect it may be because Fiennes, Owen and Law are rather more easy on the eye than Hart, Spall et al...

  • Comment number 39.

    I have admired Ian Hart's work for many years now and it's nice to see others do too. In the top 5 has to be Mojo, Backbeat, This Year's Love (in which I do think he makes the film), Blind Flight and Strictly Sinatra always surprises me on how much it can stay with me.


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