Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Matthew Macfadyen- Actor of the Week

Matthew Macfadyen
Matthew Macfadyen has been fun to watch as a period actor over the last decade. He has played bad boys, awkward geeks, milquetoasts and leading men. He is certainly not afraid to stretch his acting chops. So...lets see what he has been in, and lets do it chronologically.

Matthew Macfadyen as Sir Felix Carbury
In the Andrew Davies adaptation of Anthony Trollope's masterpiece The Way We Live Now, Macfadyen plays the bad boy Sir Felix Carbury. He is marvelous in this role as he rides a roller-coaster of emotion. I hated and loved his character at the same time. And I must say, he does look wonderful in those boots!

Matthew Macfadyen in Spooks or MI5
I know MI5 isn't period, but Matthew's character of Tom Quinn was so instrumental in his career, I had to mention it. I am not normally a spy show kind of girl, but this show is so well done and with such great actors (Peter Firth, Rupert Penry-Jones, Richard Armitage, Hermione Norris, Keeley Hawes and many more)!

Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy
As a Mr. Darcy for a whole new generation, Matthew Macfadyen managed to get a shy awkward spin on Mr. Darcy that made us unable to stay angry with him for his proposal speech in the rain. So cute! Pride and Prejudice- the muddy hems version is what I call this one.

Matthew Macfadyen as John Birt in Frost/Nixon
As John Birt in Frost/Nixon (well known in the UK as the Director General of the BBC in the 1990s) Matthew Macfadyen shows that he is not afraid of doing some character work and looking...well...a little less handsome than usual. He also bares his bottom in this film. I may have to rent this one again!

Matthew Macfadyen as Arthur Clennam in Little Dorrit

As nice guy Arthur Clennam in Little Dorrit he really gets to show us what a great actor he is. Lots of screen time in this, one of my favourite period miniseries ever! I love him in this one.

Matthew Macfadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood
As the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood 2010 he was almost unrecognizable. I liked this film, although it's not really my preferred historical period. Personally, I'm more into the Georgian to the Edwardian period. I wish I was more into the 13th century and then I would watch more of Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne in BBCs Robin Hood. If anything could get me to watch Robin Hood, it's RA! Sorry Matthew.

Matthew Macfadyen as Philip in Pillars of the Earth
Matthew plays a monk in Pillars of the Earth, Prior Philip of Kingsbridge, where a cathedral is being built in the 12th century. This dramatization of Ken Follett's historical novel set in the era of King Stephen is quite good and Macfadyen's portrayal of the earnest and naive Philip is notable.

Matthew Macfadyen as the middle aged Logan Mountstuart
In Any Human Heart, Matthew Macfadyen plays the middle aged version of Logan Mountstuart. There is no lack of drama in this alternately heart breaking and uplifting miniseries. Macfadyen does a marvelous job of playing the main character drifting through the 20th century.

Matthew Madfadyen as Athos in The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers unfortunately bombed at the movie theater. I think it was trying to be too many things. Very difficult to update this classic with all kinds of special effects and not to lose the heart of the story. Oh, well.

I look forward to Matthew's performance as Oblonsky in Anna Karenina later this year opposite Keira Knightley again and directed by Joe Wright.

Well, here's to more wonderful roles for this talented actor. Looking at these photos, you can see the variety of roles he has played in the past and I'm sure he has many more to come. I'd love to see him do more films with his wife Keeley Hawes as well. I thought they were great together in Death at a Funeral.


  1. It's not period either, but I loved him in Perfect Strangers (Almost Strangers in the US). A surprisingly absorbing story, considering its about genealogy at a family reunion! Of coruse, it doesn't hurt to have Toby Stephens, Michael Gambon, Claire Skinner, Timothy Spall, and JJ Feild in it, too! The whole thing is here:

    1. Hi Jane. I had forgotten about that one. I saw it on TV and was totally transfixed. Thanks for the link so I can watch it again. Cheers!

  2. I kinda miss the mention of his performance in Wuthering Heights and The Reckoning, though the WH version was not that memorable.. But anyway, great article :).

  3. Don't forget "Death at a Funeral", "In My Father's Den", "Secret Life" (Best Actor RTS Award), or "Criminal Justice II" (BAFTA Best Supporting Actor). Some truly brilliant performances in all of those.

  4. Thanks Katie and Anonymous for the great suggestions. I can never mention them all, but I love it when readers add their faves. Thanks again!

  5. I found his guest spot on Ashes to Ashes Series one rather funny. As of yet, Arthur Clennam is my favorite role of his. And Spooks/MI-5

    For the parts of the novel covered in Three Musketeers, its one of the more complete adaptations. But the steampunk interpretations were too fantastical, and sadly none of the acting performances were terribly memorable. It was quite disappointing.

  6. Two others that some people aren't as aware of, but they are well worth your time if you can find them on DVD:

    Warriors (Bosnia 1992), which was an account of a squad of British soldiers on assignment as UN peace-keepers in Bosnia. Matthew Macfadyen was a young actor in this BBC Films production, but he is wonderful, and the rest of the cast is very good too (Ioan Gryffyth, Damian Lewis et al)

    The other is Middletown, a small independent Irish film Matthew did in 2006 just after Pride and Prejudice. He plays a priest in Ireland who returns to minister to his (small, depressed) home town, in the end locking horns with his own brother for the heart and soul of the town. This drama is dark and heavy, and absolutely compelling in its theme about the dangers of fundamentalism, and Matthew plays Gabriel flawlessly. (Also start Daniel Mays as his brother, and Eva Birthistle as sister-in-law, both excellent.)

    Both of these serious dramas have very heavy subject matter and can be emotional to watch -- but they are also both excellent overall, excellent showcases for Matthew Macfadyen's acting talent, and highly recommended for any fan of his or fan of just darn good films!!! They may be a little hard to find (I bought a Dutch DVD of Warriors) - but WELL WORTH searching out.

  7. Arther Clennam is my favourite role of his and I really liked him in Any Human Heart too.


  8. Matthew is my Mr. Darcy. In his eyes, I can see him falling in love with Elizabeth. I loved him in Death at a Funeral, esp. when he's looking at the dead guy who's supposed to be his father. He's also a lovely man. I have it from a friend in England that he is approachable and more than willing to sign autographs.

  9. of the few the movies that i remember seeing him in - i loved him best in Little Dorrit and of course, Pride and Prejudice. he seems to always have a look of innocence to him regardless of his character.
    on the other hand, i'd watch grass grow if RA was amongst the blades.

  10. Great suggestions and faves all! Just so you know, I looked him up on Netflix to see how many they had. Looks like they have:
    MI5 all of the seasons (awesome!)
    Death at a Funeral
    The Way We Live Now
    Little Dorrit
    Pride and Prejudice 2005

    Good reasons to get Netflix methinks. I haven't bitten yet, but as I don't own any MI5 or Death at a Funeral, I just might...

    1. I love Netflix streaming for tv series, especially those that have been on for ages like Law and Order and MI-5. They do have a fair few period dramas on streaming too, even those BBC Austen adaptations form the 70s-80s (but not Tom Jones ;) ). That's if they offer streaming and discs up north.

    2. Hi Sarah, I think that we Canadians get the same streaming on Netflix as in the USA :)

      My 17 year old son says he wants us to get Netflix, but maybe not until the summer. He's in his final term of high school and doesn't want to get distracted! Sounds like a good plan to me.

  11. Hi everybody!I'm new here, because I just found this blog today - and I already like it a lot. I like Jane Austen, love BBC Period Dramas and Matthew is one of my favourite actors. I recently saw a trailer for Incendiary where he plays a police detective (it's with Ewan McGregor, too). It seems like an interesting movie. Has anyone seen it?

    1. Welcome Zuzana! We love Matthew too. I just checked out Incendiary. It was written and directed by Sharon McGuire who directed Bridget Jones's Diary and has a great cast (Ewan, Matthew and Michelle Williams) but it didn't get good reviews. :(

      Anyone else actually see it?

    2. I've seen Matthew in Incendiary. I didn't like the way it ended (with the idea that Michelle Williams ends up with Ewan MacGregor rather than Matthew). Matthew's performance was quite good, I thought, except for the moments when he's listening to Michelle talk about her dead son. He didn't seem able to empathize . . .

  12. I'm new too !
    I love Jane Austen's world !
    Matthew is a really great actor. Forgot wonderful roles in Secret Life (film on pedophiles) and In My Father's den. He was excellent!
    Matthew is a very simple player .He answers a lot of patience to interviews roles ! Yes, he 's a lovely man !
    And what role in Anna Karenina: he even accepted a look very funny! (Hair and mustache)!What a performance !
    I can not wait to see the series Ripper Street (next year) !

    1. Hi Muriel. Sorry I haven't responded to your comment until now. Have you seen MM in Ripper Street yet? It starts on this side of the pond this week! I loved him in Anna Karenina.

    2. Sorry too, Jenny, I 've been busy in recent months !
      I live in France,and can not see Ripper Street, but I 'll try to find the DVD.It's difficult for me to find movies on Matthew. I saw excerpts from the series on MM and I found it awesome ! I love the subject !
      Matthew shows all his acting skills ! He 's wonderful and I think it is a profound role !
      I also followed the publications in the newspapers of his latest film "Epic" ! He does not suit time ! I still do not know the release date of the movie, but I'm anxious to see critical and to read comment ! I'm so sorry, Jenny, I think my English is not very good !

  13. love him but his wife is so boring..

    1. Hi Martha. I am not a huge Keeley Hawes fan but I did think she did a great job as Cynthia in Wives and Daughters.

  14. Dear Jenny,
    Since my last message, Matthew took new commitments, of which that to play in a new play with Stephen Mangan.
    Mangan’s Wooster will be joined by Matthew as Jeeves in a production of Perfect Nonsense, based on Wodehouse’s Edwardian comedies.
    I hope that you've heard of it.
    I cannot unfortunately be in England in March. What a pity!

    1. Hello Muriel. Your English is fabulous by the way. I can't believe Matthew is going to be Jeeves! Brilliant! I too wish I could see it. I am planning on being in England next year, but probably not until the summer. Quel dommage!
      I love the Wodehouse books and I really love the Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie version but Matthew on the stage would be parfait!

  15. Dear Jenny,
    I finally found the DVD of Ripper street season 1 and I was not disappointed. It is original, fascinating, and Matthew has a golden role. He can show all the greatness of his talent. Of course, given that I like him very much , I am not very objective.The story of every episode is fascinating! And we follow with a lot of interest what arrives at inspector Reid as well as at his "sergeants"!
    I possess since a few years already, the DVD of Jack The ripper with the American actor Michael Caine, and I have to say, that Ripper street has nothing to envy it. At that time, I found that the movie contained very realistic scenes, but the series is "even stronger". And I love it.

    1. And I can't wait to see extracts of the season 2 on you tube!

  16. Wow! she's beautiful no matter what you do ...try it with her with robert it's looks cool i'm sure...

    Anastasia Steele has finally responded to rumors that he's a favorite to play this role
    Fifty Shades of Grey...
    50 shades movie
    Waiting for my favourite to play the role....




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