what’s on & where to go
MARION MCMULLEN FINDS OUT WHY SOAP VETERAN CHARLES LAWSON IS TRADING THE COBBLES FOR CLUES AS FAMOUS DETECTIVE REBUS
You’ve made a dramatic return to Coronation Street. What has it been like playing Jim McDonald again?
I FILMED the final scenes last weekend. It’s like riding a bike really. I’ve been acting now for 40 years and it’s another job (laughs), but a well-paid job.
I could do it standing on my head really. I’m very proud of the character of Jim and they always write very well for me. I’ve never had a problem of people mistaking me for the character. I think they are aware it’s fiction.
I finished filming all my scenes just before rehearsals began for Rebus so it worked out well.
You’re playing writer Ian Rankin’s famous detective on stage in the world premiere of Rebus: Long Shadows. Did you know much about the character beforehand?
I’VE read one of Ian’s Rebus books and that was it. I’m coming to it fresh. We have the writer Rona (Munro) with us who wrote the play with Ian and she is a big help with any information we need.
Her contributions are very useful and it is a thrilling piece of theatre.
The script is 140 pages long and my character features on 103 pages so I’m never really off stage.
Have you and Ian had a chance to meet yet?
IAN and I have been in contact over the last few months and we have tried to meet, but unfortunately we are both very busy people and just haven’t managed it yet.
We’ve spoken on the phone... and
I know his favourite pub in Edinburgh.
Are you good at figuring out ‘whodunnit’ in TV crime dramas?
I DON’T really watch telly that much. I’d rather be in a pub. My wife Debbie keeps up with the telly stuff and whatever is on.
I watched the wonderful Neil Morrissey and Adrian Dunbar in Line Of Duty, but I don’t watch a lot of TV at all. I’m actually staying with Neil during rehearsals.
How are rehearsals going with fellow cast members like Cathy Tyson and John Stahl?
VERY productive. We’ve worked our way through the play and now it all really starts. I like to be here two hours before everyone else in the morning. Once on tour we can have a bit of fun.
You just can’t go to bed after a performance. We’ll have a few in the places that we visit. It’s only a two-month tour and we’re opening in Birmingham and going to Edinburgh, Malvern, Nottingham, Manchester, Northampton, Aberdeen, Guildford – all over the country.
How are you managing with the Scottish accent?
THE accent is not a problem. I’ve got a good ear and I’ve lived for years in Scotland so it’s not bad. It’s all part of being an actor. In 40 years I’ve had to play a lot of different roles and characters.
John Hannah and Ken Stott have both played Rebus on TV. How did the stage role come your way?
THEY asked me at Easter time to do it. It was offered to me, I didn’t have to audition or anything, which was great, very nice.
Is there anything else on the wish list?
I’D like to work at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, but I’m not that ambitious. To be happy, to have fun, a drink and bit of craic, that’s the height of my ambition. Maybe a King Lear in the future and I always wanted to do Macbeth. It’s such a great play (laughs) and it’s short. I learned the role before many years ago, but the production fell through.
What’s next after the tour?
I’M doing pre-production on a programme called Are We There Yet? for PBS America, Dark Heart for ITV, which is a crime drama, and a documentary for Sky about the battle of Monte Cassino in Italy.
But after all this I’m going to a place in the Highlands for a couple of months.
●●The UK tour of Rebus: Long Shadows opens at Birmingham Rep on September 20.