From Wis­te­ria to Wit­ness

Dougray Scott plays an­other con­flicted Ian, writes Erin McWhirter

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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.’’

Wit­ness pro­tec­tion:

Dougray Scott plays a com­pro­mised crim­i­nal, with wife Claire For­lani (right) as his ex-wife.

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