David Warner (‘Mad Dogs’: Series 2) interview

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One of Britain’s best character actors for 50 years, David Warner joins the cast of Mad Dogs as Mackenzie for the Majorca-set thriller’s second series, which began on Sky1 this week.

> Buy the Series 1 DVD on Amazon.

One of Britain’s best character actors for 50 years, David Warner has a career on stage and screen that spans from Shakespeare to Star Trek, Tron to Titanic, The Omen to The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse. On television, he has recently appeared in, BBC One’s Wallander alongside Kenneth Branagh, BBC Four’s Barbara Cartland biopic In Love With Barbara, and Albert’s Memorial opposite David Jason.

What appealed to you about the part of Mackenzie?

“First and foremost, he has a character and isn’t an old man. Sometimes you get offered parts and they are described as ‘old man’ which is just so frustrating and, frankly, awful and ageist.

“But Mackenzie’s age isn’t mentioned at all, he’s not doddery, and that is so refreshing. No one ever says “Shut up, Grandpa” or whatever. That was really attractive. Also, to be working on a well-respected, well-acted and well-directed series is always a joy.

“And I have worked with Philip Glenister before – on Hornblower, off Menorca, actually – so it was great to see him again in such a beautiful part of the world. It sounds like false humility but to be offered a job is fantastic and then to get paid and to travel as part of that job is wonderful.

Would you describe Mackenzie as a villain?

“Terms like ‘villain’ are terribly reductive – and one tries not to approach characters that way. I’ve been in movies where you are simply The Baddie and there’s no opportunity to be anything other than two-dimensional, but Mackenzie is a complex and mysterious character. In Mad Dogs, everyone is a bit dodgy, even the ‘good’ guys.”

You have an incredible body of work spanning five decades. You must be enormously proud of that.

“I’ve been in two films 30 years apart that won Best Picture Oscars – Tom Jones (1967) and Titanic (1997) and that’s quite pleasing, if you care about that sort of thing.

“Myself, I am not too concerned with awards – I describe myself as the ‘proud winner of no major acting awards’ and I’m happy with that because I work consistently. And I’m especially content because I was the least likely to succeed – I went to seven different schools when I was a child.”

Do you ever get recognised?

“I don’t. I can go on the bus and on the tube quite unrecognised, and I’m very happy with that. Not being recognised is the greatest compliment for a character actor because it means they’ve only seen the character you were playing. I genuinely hope that’s the case with Mackenzie. If anyone asks me what I do, I say ‘I’m an actor when I feel like it’.”

It sounds as if you have a great life.

“I have a very simple life, which is marvellous. I’m actually very lazy. I don’t write, paint or play the piano. I’m really quite the home bird. I’ve got a few friends, who I see for lunch or dinner or whatever, but mostly I potter about.

“I’ve just spent a month in New England doing an independent picture, with a crew of seven as opposed to a crew of 100, which may or may not go onto the festival circuit. Just as I’ve worked with the likes of Sam Peckinpah – for whom I worked in three films – I’ve always encouraged young and new filmmakers.”

> Buy the Series 1 DVD on Amazon.

Watch the Series 2 trailer…

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