Thursday 23 May 2013
A calculated bully with nerves of steel and endless reserves of masculine charm, Euan Harries is a businessman who absolutely wants his cake and to eat it.
"There's a menace abut him and I'd say he's derived from the same stock as someone like JR Ewing," says Alec Newman of his Hope Springs alter-ego.
"The sense of community in Hope Springs makes it feel a lot like a western at times, the way the town is set up. So, if he's a JR-type of guy and Dallas was the Texan oil Wild West, then Hope Springs is definitely a kind of Scottish Wild West scenario – it's good fun to think of it in that way. Because you never know with this whether you're going to get a gag or find out another horrible dark secret. This show skates several different genres. I don't think you could call it a comedy-drama because there's something dark at the heart of it all."
Euan wants to keep up his respectable front with his subservient wife Ina (Lorraine McIntosh) whilst having secret flings on the side. When his long-standing affair with Ann Marie (Ronni Ancona) became problematic he displayed a ruthless self-interest and walked away. Hope Springs' bullish lawyer is a man who won't be told what to do by anyone, especially not a woman.
"He's a character who has a real function in the village but is also a lot of fun to play. Behind everything with Euan there's something very heinous going on. There's a thread that's an undercurrent of menace running through the whole of the Hope Springs series and much of it is as result of his actions."
Euan dominates all his relationships, from his bullied wife and son Ronan (played by Tony McGeever) to his illicit relationship with Ann Marie. A man whose public face is cool, calm and capable, Euan prides himself on keeping his head about him when everyone else is losing theirs.
"Euan's very quick and can look at a situation and in a split second he can make a judgement about what to do in order to get what he wants. I think he sees himself as a bit of a tycoon as well. But he's a big fish in a very small pond and meets his match three or four times over when the girls arrive in the village," reveals Alec, who admits his character isn't exactly chuffed when Ellie's (Alex Kingston) gang make themselves at home on his turf.
"He's the antithesis of a warm welcome – he immediately greets them with suspicion. This is a guy who has to be in control of everyone and everything around him, but he doesn't have that control over these newcomers and he doesn't like that.
"To be in control is to have information and so his first mission is to find out who they are. For a start he doesn't believe their story, that's clear from the outset."
For the Glasgow-born actor, brought up in Berkshire and until recently based in Los Angeles, filming Hope Springs has made him begin to consider where he will be wanting to call home in the future.
"I must be getting older because I've been wondering recently where I might end up – and I now have it in my head that it might be here in Scotland. That it might be in a small house somewhere really remote and surrounded by beautiful countryside," he ponders.
"But I don't think I could live somewhere as remote as Hope Springs or Wanlochhead, where the show is filmed. Although I do think the place is one of the stars of the show in a way, because it's such a weird kind of place anyway," he adds.
"I think David Lynch would have absolutely brilliant time there [Wanlockhead]. The actual locale itself provides a correct kind of energy for the identity of the show. It's not like Hamish Macbeth, and it's certainly not Monarch Of The Glen there. It's much more like Twin Peaks!"
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