Saturday 1 October 2016

Marsan hits out at 'Cockney cliche'

Published 12/05/2015 | 00:06

Eddie Marsan is to appear in the BBC's magician drama Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell
Eddie Marsan is to appear in the BBC's magician drama Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell

Screen star Eddie Marsan has hit out at the "Cockneys on coke" genre of drama - calling it cliched.

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The actor is set to star in the BBC's magician drama Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell, after notching up credits in War Horse, Gangs of New York, Vera Drake and Happy-Go-Lucky.

Marsan, who grew up in London's East End and whose father was a lorry driver, told Radio Times magazine: "Those stories aren't written by Cockneys.

"There are fewer and fewer people in my business who come from my kind of background. Art is the job of the privileged.

"You can't write a screenplay if you've been doing a zero-hours contract. Which means that the people who write drama, the people who commission dramas and the people who direct dramas all come from a small circle of society.

"So you're going to get cliched writing. You're not going to have something set on a council estate that explores all elements of human existence, the variety of experience inherent in any community.

"What you'll have is some geezer on coke with a double-barrelled shotgun. And I always say, 'I'm not doing that. You write me something that I know is true'. "

The Tyrannosaur star, who has also enjoyed success in US ratings hit Ray Donovan, said of his career: "I knew very early on that I wasn't Brad Pitt.

"I knew what kind of actor I was going to be, and I looked for inspiration to people like Alec Guinness, Cyril Cusack, Timothy Spall and Jim Broadbent. I looked at them and thought, 'They play human beings as they really are'. "

Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell is a seven-part, seven-hour drama and the actor said that was good for TV.

"If you make a film two hours long, the time restriction means that the central character must be attractive, or at least sympathetic, because you can't follow a plot and an emotional journey at the same time," he said.

"But with the advent of American cable drama stretching over several seasons, and box sets, and binge-watching, you don't have to like the main character immediately - look at Breaking Bad - and the ambition that allows you is amazing."

Press Association

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