From Wisteria to Witness
Dougray Scott plays another conflicted Ian, writes Erin McWhirter
AFalse Witness, UKTV, Sunday, 8.30pm International spy thriller Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes S IAN Hainsworth in Desperate Housewives, Scottish actor Dougray Scott played a man tortured by the flame he still held for his comatose wife and the love he’d found with Wisteria Lane drama queen Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher).
Now the multi-talented performer is portraying Ian Porter, exploring the murky world of international intelligence for pay-TV’s latest drama False Witness.
Flipping between unique and different characters is how Scott has built his career and what’s kept the actor plugging away in showbiz for more than 20 years.
‘‘Oh yes, this is a very different Ian,’’ the 43-year-old says between takes for False Witness, which is set in Sydney, Tajikistan and the UK.
‘‘They are two very different guys. I have been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to play different kinds of characters. I enjoy the diversity of working between characters and the different genres you can explore.’’
It’s been eight years since Scott graced our shores playing Sean Ambrose alongside Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible II and though he’s glad to be back, the physicality of portraying Porter and long hours on set are taking their toll.
False Witness begins with Porter’s arrest at Heathrow airport in possession of 20kg of heroin. His unwillingness to co-operate makes Scotland Yard inspector Julie Hales (Rachel Blake) believe he is doing business with Russian arms and drugs trafficker Sergei Krousov (Don Hany).
Unaware that Krousov has intentions to sell a suitcase bomb, Scotland Yard offers to cut Porter a deal to turn on him. In return, they’ll grant him immunity from prosecution and entry into their International Witness Protection Scheme.
Hales accompanies Porter and his ex-wife (Claire Forlani) to Sydney, where Porter believes his handler at MI6 (Richard Roxburgh as Van Koors) can manipulate the Australian Federal Police protection team to let him complete his mission.
In the world of espionage, filled with explosions, guns and criminals, playing Porter can’t be taken lightheartedly.
‘‘There has been a lot of running for this role,’’ Scott says with a weary smile. ‘‘For one week I was running every day, sprinting up hills. I am glad I work out. But there has been a lot of physical activity. Even just the act of filming every day is draining. It’s long hours and it’s quite tiring. I was up at 4am this morning, will work until seven tonight, read my script and then get up at 4am again. It’s not an easy journey this guy has.
‘‘Without giving too much away the guy’s lost a son in a drowning accident and other tragedies happen to him so he is carrying a lot.’’
However, slogging out emotional storylines has been lightened some- what by the fact Scott’s wife of a year, actor Claire Forlani, is playing his partner in False Witness.
‘‘It’s been a very different experience for me because I’ve never had my partner at work and it was great,’’ Scott says.
‘‘Getting to work with her was pretty extraordinary because you get to see her close up and how she gets to the point where she had to get for the character. I never expected her to play the character the way she did. I was just blown away by it, she was incredible.’’
Asked where his acting flair comes from, Scott credits his salesman father. Growing up watching his father, who also dabbled in acting, sell goods was his inspiration and led to him being cast in British film Twin Towns, which would get him recognised around the world.
‘‘Being a salesman for years and years I could see the similarities between that and acting,’’ Scott says.
‘‘He was a great salesman, so watching him through that process was a good lesson in acting for me. That is where my impetus to become an actor came from.’’
As for returning to Wisteria Lane, Scott says it’s not completely off the radar but a career decision he’d have to think hard about.
‘‘I enjoyed doing it for just one season. I didn’t really want to do any more than that because it’s tiring,’’ he admits.
‘‘The girls are so great at keeping their energy up. Everyone was so fantastic to work with and Teri is a great comedian. She is a real playmaker and great in that genre.
‘‘I guess if they asked me to come back I would consider it because I was happy doing one series, but it really depends on where they would go with the character.’’
Dougray Scott plays a compromised criminal, with wife Claire Forlani (right) as his ex-wife.