Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
What attracted you to Single Father?
First, and foremost, the script. It's just one of those scripts that arrived fully formed. The way it talks about family life and the way that Mick [Ford] draws the characters of the kids is just so beautifully done.
It's funny, true and clever. I've been fortunate to have experienced that a couple of times before but really it's so rare. When those gems arrive you just have to say 'yes' straightaway.
What is it about Mick Ford's script that makes Single Father "must watch" TV?
I think it's just surprisingly accessible - whether you have kids or not it's very recognisable. It feels very human and very real and the characters are so beautifully drawn in the script and I think we were extremely fortunate with the cast, which just means they've created this perfect little world. All the quirks of family life are there.
As the drama starts with a death, would you say it's a tear-jerker?
Because of the subject matter it's inevitably a very emotional piece. But what's beautiful about this script is how, at times, it's brutally unsentimental. Rather than seeing the characters weeping and wailing we catch up with them 10 weeks later, just as life is about to kick in.
We rejoin just as events are starting to return to "normal." It's a time when everyone's trying to move on but it's simply not that easy.
Of course, it's about a mother of four children who dies in a road traffic accident, so naturally it's sad – but the way it's been written and directed you instantly feel part of this world where life happens, life goes on.
How would you describe Dave?
He's a loving bloke who's committed to his family and works hard. Life just happens to him in a way that none of us ever imagine it could. He's thrown into a situation he could never have conceived of and it's all just about coping and being a father.
Dave has always relied on Rita to define his fathering and his parenting skills. So, when she dies, he's rudderless at first. He wasn't a bad father by any stretch of the imagination but he was a partner in the parenting and suddenly he's the sole carer. That's huge for him and so difficult to imagine how you'd cope with such a drastic change.
Is Dave shocked by his growing feelings for Sarah?
I think everything comes as a shock to Dave in this drama. He's put into the most shocking situation anyone can imagine when his wife dies suddenly.
When viewers first meet him he's very much in the midst of life and then that life changes drastically. He doesn't know how to deal with Rita's death at first. Things get complicated for Dave when he starts to develop feelings for Sarah and then, of course, he discovers secrets from Rita's past.
He goes through these incredible sea changes of emotions very quickly. He's forced to keep up with his life, everything is outside his control. And all the time, of course, he's trying to be a good father trying to get it right but, true to life, he's tripped up by his own lack of objectivity.
Is this the first time you've worked with Suranne Jones?
It is – a first for Suranne, unlike Laura Fraser, who plays my wife, Rita – we'd worked together twice before on Casanova and He Knew He Was Right. That proved to be quite a useful dynamic because Suranne was someone I knew less well who became a huge part of my life during filming and that's very much the way Dave and Sarah grow together.
Suranne is so easy to be around – she's so lovely, easy and funny to spend time with. That all worked out rather well I thought.
Have you played a father before?
Not to this level, no. I've certainly not played a grandfather before which was a bit of a shock to the system!
I played a dad in Recovery years ago but,in Single Father I have lots of kids – Dave's got a brood of them. That was new for me and to work that closely for that length of time with so many kids was also new for me.
What was it like working with the kids?
We were so lucky to get the kids we got. I was slightly nervous of working with kids because it's such a huge part of the story – it was a full-on eight-week shooting schedule and I just wasn't sure how they'd react to that, never mind me!
But there was no need to worry, as the director [Sam Miller] took a great deal of care when casting and just got the most brilliant kids with a bellyful of individual personalities. Chris (who plays Paul) and Rob (who plays Ewan) really took to being brothers – one minute they were the best of mates, the next they were knocking lumps out of each other.
They wanted to do it, they got what it is to be on set, did everything that was asked of them and worked really hard putting the professionals to shame to be honest.
And is it true you went bowling with your "family" before the shoot started?
We did indeed. We all had such a laugh and threw ourselves into it from the off. It was a funny one because back at the beginning we were trying to fashion a family bond to try and make the drama feel as real as possible.
Instead of lengthy rehearsals on set, we just hung out and got to know each other bowling and playing football in the park.
Did you beat them at bowling?!
Well, it's not that I didn't win, you understand, they were given the bowling "bumpers" as help, which I thought was grossly unfair, quite frankly!
I told them I had been the Scottish Under-17 Bowling Champion just to unnerve them – but it didn't seem to work. But, at the end of the day, they had the bumpers to help them - not that I'm bitter, not that I'm being competitive against children. I wouldn't want you to think that!
How did you find working in Scotland again?
It's always great to be back in Glasgow. It's a lovely city – a great city. It's when I come back that I realise how fond of it I am. People are so friendly in Glasgow. So it was lovely to stay for an extended period during filming, not least because I managed to have access to the family.
Do you have any memorable moments from filming?
Well, they say never film with children and animals – I got both in one hit on Single Father! The children were easier to work with than the dog was, to be honest. In fairness, though, the dog was incredibly sweet, a lovely little creature. She didn't end up in all the scenes she might have done but it's not that she wasn't good at acting, you understand. But it's safe to say she didn't always do as she was told.
Beyond Single Father, what else are you working on?
I'm filming a vampire movie called Fright Night in New Mexico at the moment, which is a remake of the 1985 film.
I'm playing a character called Peter Vincent, who's a Las Vegas illusionist who also happens to be an expert on vampires. And, as well as some acting, I've spent a lot of time being sewn into very tight costumes!
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