Q&A with John Michie (Guy Self)
An interview with John Michie about his life before Holby City
In Corrie you played a murderer (Karl Munro) and in Taggart you investigated Murder (as D.I Robbie Ross). Which did he prefer and why?
As an actor it is always fun to play people with flaws and Robbie Ross was definitely a wonderfully flawed policeman. Playing a murderer however was fascinating. The psychology of a killer is really interesting and playing Karl after 12 series of Taggart, where I was catching killers was very refreshing.
To then go on from murder to medicine has been another great change. I also like to think that in Coronation Street I killed 2 people and my patient survival rate at Holby, means things are moving in the right direction!
Did you do any research into being Karl Munro i.e. a psychopath and what did that consist of!
A big part of Karl’s make up was his gambling problem, so I spent a long time speaking with members of Gamblers Anonymous. It was great to learn from them and it was from their insight that I understood a lot about Karl. He had an addictive personality, who needed constant highs, which inevitably came with crashing lows. These brought on depression and dangerous behaviour.
If you could choose any of your onscreen professions as a real life profession what would it be?
Neurosurgeon definitely! It’s the most fascinating of all of them. Having said that, in the film “To Walk with Lions” I played Tony Fitzjohn and to work in the Kenyan bush with Lions, would be very appealing.
Did you do any special preparation for your role on Holby City?
I spent some time with a surgeon, watching him operate. It was an amazing time I will never forget. It wasn’t just the operations themselves; I observed the consultant’s demeanour. He was friendly and chatty, but with an unspoken authority, that everyone one of his colleagues were aware of. I’ve tried to bring that to my performance of Guy Self.
What was your first day on Holby City like?
The Holby sets are so big and realistic they are on the one hand great and impressive but they are also intimidating and when you have to exude arrogance and absolute self confidence in your first scenes, it was a challenge - Especially as I had to deliver a 30 line speech to a host of regular Holby characters.
What do you think Guy’s strengths are?
Guy is utterly committed to his job, which means he’s ruthless. He’s not unkind, but if anyone got in his way… This is coupled with incredible self-belief. I have friends who are medical consultants and the confidence they have in themselves means they are ready to challenge people, beliefs and protocol. Guy’s a five star general on the front line.
What are Guy’s weaknesses?
I think he’s weaknesses are the same as his strengths. He has to make judgment calls and you can’t always get them right. Guy’s also one of these men who lives big highs and lows. It’s how he operates. It means when he comes off the rails, he does so spectacularly and he could stumble and fall at any point as he pushes himself and others to the limit.
I also think that women will be a weakness for Guy…
Is there a particular actor you’ve enjoyed working with since joining the cast?
I could name a number of actors, but in particular Guy has had some great clashes with Serena and Catherine is a great person to work with.
How different is filming Holby City compared with Coronation Street?
The dialogue in Corrie was very reactive; the conversation flowed between the people in the scene. In Holby, Guy initiates new thoughts; normally this is because he has just made a very impressive medical diagnosis – which comes with impossible medical jargon to learn!