Poldark in pin­stripes!

Ai­dan Turner on his VERY dif­fer­ent new look – and how his life’s changed since he shot to fame

Daily Mail Weekend Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - Tim Oglethorpe And Then There Were None will be shown on BBC1 over Christ­mas.

ac­tors, a kind of bucket list thing a lot of us want to tick off. And now I can. I liked wear­ing the clothes of the time too. I think we’ve got it wrong now with jeans and all this low-waisted stuff and T-shirts. I was wear­ing th­ese high-waisted pants for a lot of this show, they’re really com­fort­able and quite flat­ter­ing!’

Co­in­ci­den­tally, film­ing the first scenes where the ten guests head for the is­land meant Ai­dan had to re­turn to Corn­wall, where Poldark was filmed and which was dou­bling for Devon. That must have been strange? ‘It was quite sur­real ac­tu­ally, see­ing the cliffs and the sea and those fa­mil­iar sights. Film­ing those scenes at­tracted a lot of pub­lic in­ter­est, which of course slowed things up, but then we moved to an iso­lated lo­ca­tion, Harefield House in Buck­ing­hamshire, for the rest of the shoot so there was none of that. Not that I’m com­plain­ing about the pub­lic tak­ing an in­ter­est in my work,’ he adds, ‘they prob­a­bly wouldn’t be if Poldark hadn’t been such a suc­cess.’

Born in Dublin on 19 June 1983 to ac­coun­tant Eileen and elec­tri­cian Pat, Ai­dan has cer­tainly paid his dues. He stud­ied at the Gai­ety School of Act­ing in Dublin where Colin Far­rell also trained, grad­u­at­ing in 2004, al­though he says he never felt the call to act deep in his soul. ‘I hon­estly don’t know where it came from, I’ve been asked this ques­tion a ton of times and I don’t really have an an­swer,’ he says. ‘I just kind of fell into it. I fin­ished school and thought act­ing might be fun. I started read­ing a lot more, all th­ese amaz­ing Ir­ish play­wrights, and I just got into it. The pos­si­bil­i­ties of be­ing un­em­ployed are ter­ri­fy­ing but it makes you dis­ci­plined. My mum and dad are hon­est, hard­work­ing folk so it came out of left field for them, but they’ve al­ways been sup­port­ive. They re­mem­ber the orig­i­nal Poldark too, so they were thrilled about that.’

He spent years on the rep the­atre cir­cuit be­fore his first proper stab at a smoul­der­ing pe­riod hero, play­ing Dante Gabriel Ros­setti, the Casanova of his day, in BBC2’s pre-Raphaelite raunch­fest Des­per­ate Ro­man­tics in 2009. But thanks to his role as vam­pire John Mitchell in BBC3’s Be­ing Hu­man later that year, Hol­ly­wood came call­ing and in 2010 he was cast as the dwarf Kili in Peter Jackson’s Hob­bit tril­ogy, but not with­out a very hairy mo­ment. ‘My agent sent an au­di­tion tape to Peter and six months later I met him in Lon­don,’ re­calls Ai­dan. ‘But I hadn’t read the book – a book you could read in a week­end, so I had no ex­cuses. When I walked into the room Peter said, “I’m a really big fan of Be­ing Hu­man” and I thought, “I have it in the bag now, it’s mine to blow.” Then he said, “Have you read the book?” and I had that mo­ment of, “Do I lie? Can I blag it? Will he ap­pre­ci­ate me telling the truth?” So I said, “No, I haven’t read it” and he spent the next hour talk­ing me through it! I knew I had it then.’

It’s a mea­sure of his up­ward tra­jec­tory that he didn’t have to au­di­tion for Poldark. ‘No, I didn’t, it was of­fered to

me,’ he says rather sheep­ishly. ‘I was very lucky. I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school when I say that when Deb­bie Hors­field was writ­ing the adap­ta­tion she had me in mind to play him, which is amaz­ing. I’m so flat­tered. I pre­sume she’d seen me in Des­per­ate Ro­man­tics or Be­ing Hu­man but I’m not sure.’

For the past three years he’s been go­ing out with 29-year-old Ir­ish ac­tress Sarah Greene, who was Tony-nom­i­nated last year for her role in The Crip­ple Of Inish­maan with Daniel Rad­cliffe on Broad­way. Sarah also ap­pears on TV in Sky’s Penny Dread­ful and stars with Bradley Cooper in the re­cently re­leased film about chefs, Burnt. They met in 2005 on a pro­duc­tion of Titus An­dron­i­cus in Dublin but only got to­gether in 2012, and di­vide their time be­tween Dublin and Lon­don. ‘It was all very pla­tonic, but that’s how we got to know each other,’ he’s said. ‘Years later we met again and it just sort of took off. But we stay away from all the red car­pets and the spot­light. We don’t do the celebrity thing.’

While many cou­ples in the lime­light have seen their re­la­tion­ship founder un­der the pres­sure of work com­mit­ments, they’ve man­aged to over­come that prob­lem. ‘You meet some­one, you fall in love, then you can only see them over Skype or phone calls or texts and emails. But then you have this whole other side to your re­la­tion­ship, and it’s fun. We never thought, “God this is hard.” It’s all we’ve ever known as a couple and it makes for good times when we meet again and maybe have a month straight just watch­ing movies ev­ery day.’ So she doesn’t get jeal­ous about all the fe­male at­ten­tion? ‘Oh God no. She finds it funny. Be­cause it’s ridicu­lous, isn’t it? We don’t take our­selves too se­ri­ously.’

Ai­dan ad­mits that the over­whelm­ing suc­cess of Poldark – which has been com­mis­sioned for a fur­ther five se­ries, the next to be seen on BBC1 next year – was a sur­prise. ‘The truth is no­body ex­pected it to be the suc­cess it was,’ he says. ‘It’s al­ways a nice sur­prise when any­thing you’re in is a big hit be­cause th­ese things are so hard to pre­dict, re­gard­less of who’s in the cast or who’s writ­ten the screen­play. So I’m ob­vi­ously not go­ing to pre­dict whether And Then There Were None is go­ing to be a hit, but I’m qui­etly con­fi­dent it will find an au­di­ence.’

What with the Agatha Christie and Poldark, which has just started film­ing again in Corn­wall, he’s had lit­tle time back in Dublin over the past few years. ‘But I love go­ing back,’ he says. ‘It’s a lot more re­laxed and I can be more dis­ci­plined about get­ting things done there – al­though Mum has this huge garage out the back, it fits about ten cars in it, so I built a pool hall in it. I have a couple of pool ta­bles, a bar, a big sound sys­tem and a big screen, and I play a lot of pool. That’s what I’m usu­ally do­ing when I should be fo­cus­ing on my ca­reer.’

Left: Ai­dan as Philip Lom­bard in And Then There Were None. Above: Ai­dan (third left) and some of the cast ar­riv­ing on the is­land on which they’ll be ma­rooned

Ai­dan with his girl­friend Sarah Greene

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