successful are in some way criminals, and most of these crooks on the stock exchange are blatant criminals, but they‘re allowed to get away with it.
I don‘t make Johnny evil or anything like that. You can‘t; it‘s written the way it‘s written, but I was trying to bring out those elements that were avaricious and cold and materialisticin him . . . It wasn‘t going against the script, but I made sure I didn‘t say anything to the producers or directors, because I felt it had to be fairly surreptitious and subtle . . . There was a time when I thought I was being a bit too manipulative with it, but the difficulty is that when you do something on TV or in the theatre. no matter how horrible you are, because you‘re on stage or on screen, the audience kind of likes you and ﬁnds something glamorous about it.‘
In fact Johnny himselfexperiences some doubt about where his future should take him, and John Hannah enjoyed the chance to play out some of the family strife. ‘I‘ve always played characters on their own with
no family around them. but here there‘s some father/son conflict. Johnny isn‘t prepared to accept the way he has been getting the money, and he wants to do it his own way and to find his own feet. But he‘s 25 and he has had everything very easy so far. . .‘
Hannah is also 25. but like his co-star he has worked his way up from humble beginnings in Scotland and could hardly be said to have had things easy. Certainly there proved to be an affinity between the two actors that made them friends off set as well as on. ‘He sometimes gets excited — he bites my arm occasionally,‘ says Roéves, and there is a definite feeling of more private jokes ﬂoating around, the old dog laughing indulgently at the impetuousity ofthe puppy. ‘He loved going into pubs and saying “what‘ll you have, father'.’“, but all that helped with what we were doing on set.‘
Bookie‘s father and son rapport contrasted sharply with Maurice Roeves‘ memories of his own past.
‘When I was 25 and my old man had been through the Depression and the war, there was a definite generation gap, and in a lot of series you see the father white-haired with a son of twenty wearing the trendy clothes. But in Bookie I‘m the one with the trendy clothes, and we talk'the same languagef
Equally there is a difference between the sort of professional relationship that the two actors had today compared to Roeves‘ memories of , say, his work as a young man with actor, Gordon
Jackson. Jackson‘s influence on him is something he will not forget, especially when J ackson's support and advice extended to whispering the words to him when he had to stand in for Sir Alec Guinness as Macbeth at the Royal Court. By contrast, John Hannah is not the type to be taken under anyone‘s wing and his relationship with Ro'e'ves was less fatherly than playful. ‘John was a great Marlon Brando fan and I‘m a Jimmy Dean fan, so we were constantly teasing each other with the odd pose here and there, but no I didn‘t give him any advice. . . other than to ask how many more Brando poses we were going to get.‘
Any influence there was came about in more subtle ways. ‘What I liked about John was that if he wasn‘t on set, he was always standing and watching. At first I thought this was a bit off-putting, but then I took it in the right way. and I remembered that I used to do the same thing.‘ Hannah‘s explanation for this is blunter, but a tribute nonetheless: ‘You steal from people — not specific things — but, well, all learning is theft and you watch them and learn how they do it.‘
Seasoned actor as he is, Maurice Roeves has still had to find a lot of his work in the States where he has a wife and home and is now termed a ‘resident alien.‘ The move came after a particularly harrowing year getting into the part of Adolf Hitler for the BBC series, Thelournals of Bridget Hitler. When he failed to receive the offers he was looking for after that series, he decided to go to the States where he could earn a lot more money doing the type of commercial work he was being besieged to do in London. A steady ‘campaign‘ of finding work and making contacts resulted in a new part, ironically that of Hitler‘s deputy, Rudolf Hess in ABC‘s Inside the Third Reich. But thereafter he has become a familiar face in guest roles in Remington Steele, Magnum P. l. , Rockcliffe’s Babies and other popular series. All the same, Roeves was not afraid to leave a lucrative contract with NBC in the soap, Days ofour Lives, ($1,500 an episode), to fly home for the part of Vincent in Tutti Fruiti.
As with all his parts, Roéves adopted what some would call a ‘method acting‘ approach - he calls it ‘adapting myself to the part, and not the part to myself‘ — with the result that he was virtually impossible to live with. Exploring the character of Hitler off stage had ruined one relationship, and he says the part of Iago nearly gave him a nervous
breakdown. Now there was Vincent, not a healthy experience either, especially when, as he puts it,‘I like to see what reactions my character will provoke in others.‘ When he went back for a break mid-series to see his wife in the States. he says: ‘We got very near to divorce proceedings. I went home and she literally didn‘t recognise me. I had worked very hard to get that haunted haggard look by staying up too late and drinking too much, and all she saw was this debauched figure with a guitar, banging away through a loudspeaker, and she told me to please go back and come home when it was finished. Even my neighbours out there have only just started speaking to me again.‘
His almost fanatical dedication to the part paid off in the end. ‘I never go to rushes but I do like to look at stills taken when I‘m acting. I can tell from those whether the character‘s going to work. You can see the face — I get a face on the front ofmy
forehead that I want my character to be. When I‘ve got it right, the eyes in the photo are right.‘ In the case of Vincent. the eyes had it, but though the series was acclaimed, there was a distinct lack of offers for jobs afterwards. ‘It didn‘t surprise me because the business doesn‘t owe you a living, but it did make me
' angry, because I‘d worked hard and ifthe press is right and my performance was good, I expect to get another job.‘
As a newcomer, John Hannah has also become familiar with the disappointment of achieving excellent reviews, but few offers, as happened after Brond. At the moment, having turned down a ﬁfteen month contract from the RSC because he felt the parts didn‘t warrant the commitment, he is presently ‘doing nothing.‘ ‘But I’ve got to the stage where I don‘t worry about it. I get frustrated and full of angst when I‘m not working, but I‘ve got the confidence to know that I can do it and something else will turn up and that‘s the way the business is.‘
Later that day, Roeves tells me he can see how actors ‘fall into a pool of booze or take drugs. or even commit suicide,‘ but he‘s not talking about the insecurity ofthe profession. Instead he is talking about the emotional strain of ‘being a chameleon.‘ Maurice Roeves‘ National Service many years ago, involved him in training with the SAS, and it is the discipline ofmind he learnt then that has on occasion,
. saved his sanity. ‘Its like having a
‘ third eye, so that I can look down
? and say “these are Vincent‘s hands, or Danny‘s hands, not mine“ — and I‘m getting better at that.‘
Such problems it seems are all part of showbiz, and after all there must be some consolations. Maurice settles up with the waiter and casts his mind back to an episode of ; Magnum and an all expenses stay in } Hawaii with his wife. ‘We had a top I hotel and I was lying there on the
beach in the sun, and I found myself thinking, “not bad for a wee boy from Partick.“ ‘
Bookie starts on M (m 29 Feb on
Scottish Television at 9pm.
i i l l l
The List l‘) Feb — 3 Mar 198811