Rory Kinnear (Michael Baker)
Interview with Rory Kinnear
1. What attracted you to get involved in Count Arthur Strong?
I met Graham Linehan when they were doing a read of the pilot script in front of the big wigs at the BBC. It was in very different shape but still the idea was that Michael was writing a book about his father, Arthur’s ex comedy partner. I liked Graham and I liked Steve but I didn’t know if it was going to be picked up, I just thought it would be a fun way to spend a couple of days.
2. Were you a fan of the Radio 4 show?
I didn’t know it at all but I have a few friends that are mad Count Arthur fanatics and when I mentioned the show was happening they were beside themselves with joy. I watched a few of his live shows and I loved it and I could see what attracted Graham to work with Steve to bring it into the visual medium.
3. How would you describe your character Michael?
Michael is a reasonably successful author but only successful in the limited pseudo-intellectual field in which he operates. He’s quite repressed, quite sheltered from the lifestyle Arthur introduces him to and is largely a man of libraries and country walks when he can get out of town. Being thrust into the urban milieu, particularly amongst the eccentrics Arthur’s life tends to revolve around is an entirely new experience for him.
4. Michael is much more serious than Arthur – was it difficult to keep a straight face during filming?
Obviously in certain moments, certain lines were more difficult than others but the good thing is with cameras if you do start laughing they can always cut to something else. You can’t let yourself giggle too much.
5. What trait, if any, do you most admire in Arthur?
He’s from a long line of British characters where no matter what life seems to be throwing at them they are still, in their own mind, one small little break away from victory, stardom and success. That refusal to be cowed down by experience and reality and to live filled with hope and a bit of fantasy always makes for attractive characters. They can also infuriate as well!
6. Is Arthur someone you could spend time with in real life?
I could easily spend 45 minutes with Arthur on a train journey, that could be filled with at least two or three weeks’ worth of anecdotes but to go on holiday with him would definitely be a stretch too far.
7. How did you find filming in front of a live studio audience?
I hadn’t done it before so that was a whole new experience for me. It was something over a period of six weeks that you felt you got to understand a bit better and be aware of what the audience are seeing. The immediacy of the audience gives you that instant knowledge as to whether something is funny or not.
8. What did you do to prepare yourself to enter Arthur’s world of chaos?
The nice thing about doing a weekly record is you’re rehearsing all week and working on getting the script better. Come Friday when it’s time to actually film it, you feel like you’ve done most of the work!
9. Arthur utters many malapropisms across the series. Can you pick a favourite?
“Why would you want to wipe a flannel on a sausage?” Because he thinks I’m a restaurant critic, there’s a new menu with fennel in the sausage. That always tickles me.
10. What are your hopes for this series?
The radio show had a loyal following so it has built up a strong following and support. You hope that viewers will take to its insanity and its lunacy. It’s quite sweet natured and largely about friendship so it crosses generations.