Not on Mars, just well-hid­den

Har­vey Kei­tel is a hard ac­tor to fol­low, Philip Glenis­ter knows, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

IT’S not ev­ery day you pick up the phone to hear Hol­ly­wood tough guy Har­vey Kei­tel call­ing you a ‘‘(ex­ple­tive) bas­tard’’. But that’s just what hap­pened to UK ac­tor Philip Glenis­ter. Kei­tel meant it as a com­pli­ment. He’d signed on for the Amer­i­can re­make of the off­beat Bri­tish crime drama Life on Mars, tak­ing on the role orig­i­nally and mem­o­rably played by Glenis­ter.

‘‘I had no idea he was play­ing the part,’’ Glenis­ter laughs.

‘‘The first thing he says is, ‘Phil, you bas­tard, this is Har­vey Kei­tel, and you played this (ex­ple­tive) part too good. How am I go­ing to play this, you (ex­ple­tive) bas­tard’?’’

Play­ing old-school cop Gene Hunt in Life on Mars and its fol­low-up Ashes to Ashes cer­tainly raised Glenis­ter’s pro­file, but the ac­tor has worked hard to show his range since the success of those shows.

The lead role in the four-part minis­eries Hid­den, now air­ing on pay-TV sta­tion UKTV, is one such ex­am­ple. Tell us a bit about

and your char­ac­ter in it.

I play a guy called Harry Venn, who we think is just an or­di­nary high-street so­lic­i­tor. But as the story pro­gresses, we find out he’s got a bit of a shady past which catches up with him, by means of a char­ac­ter called Gina, played by Thekla Reuten. She comes into his life to im­part some in­for­ma­tion which em­broils them in this heavy con­spir­a­to­rial thriller. Shady past, you say.

He was in­volved in a botched house raid with his brother – Harry was the get­away driver, when he was about 18. In the process, his brother was shot and killed. He’s lived with that for a very long time, and it’s cre­ated a very tense re­la­tion­ship with his fa­ther, who blames Harry in many respects. Harry’s now turned out to not be a very good fa­ther to his own son, who’s head­ing off on the wrong tracks as well, so he’s got a few is­sues go­ing on in his life.

Gene Hunt was ob­vi­ously very over­stated in places, whereas this is a chance to play very un­der­stated. You’re watch­ing a guy go­ing through this process of get­ting em­broiled in some­thing that starts small and then sud­denly in­volves the me­dia and the government. He’s a part of it through no fault of his own. So he’s not really your typ­i­cal tough-guy hero? You’re not throw­ing peo­ple around this time?

Not that many. I’m on the wrong side of the in­ter­ro­ga­tion ta­ble in this one, which was a bit con­fus­ing. Be­ing throw­ing around a room, I thought, ‘Hang on, I’m the one who does the throw­ing around’.

Are you a fan of this type of genre?

Oh, yeah. We’ve had a lot of them here and I think they’ve all been very, very good. I think what it boils down to is I just like a good story . . . some­thing that’s dif­fer­ent and a lit­tle bit grown-up, if you like. This has got that feel of some­thing like The Killing or one of those Euro­pean shows.

stars Thekla Reuten, Philip Glenis­ter and David Suchet You played Gene Hunt in the 1970s and ’80s in and

Any chance of see­ing him in the ’90s?

It’s a tough one, be­cause it was a great part and I loved play­ing him. Part of me says I’d love to play him again, but in the real scheme of things I think we’ve left it now. It’s been done, and if we went back to it, it wouldn’t be any­where near as pow­er­ful. So I can’t see it hap­pen­ing, no.

Sun­days, 8.30pm, UKTV

Sounds like you got a fair bit to sink your teeth into.

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