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Insider: Actor mates David Morrissey and Ian Hart are reunited

Sep 20, 2014 22:48
By Liverpool Echo

Photographer: Ben Blackall

Friends will star alongside each other in BBC1 drama The Driver which starts next week

IT’S been an incredible 30 years (31 to be absolutely precise) since two of Liverpool’s best known and admired actors shared a screen in Willy Russell’s highly acclaimed One Summer.

But now David Morrissey and Ian Hart are about to be reunited, in the BBC1 drama The Driver which starts next week.

And the pair say they couldn’t be happier to finally be back together again, even though they’ve gone from boys to men in the three decades since their first collaboration.

“I’ve known David since I was a kid, we were best friends since we were about 14 but I’d known him slightly before that at junior school,” Ian tells Insider.

“We worked together once when we were about 17 on One Summer and we’ve never worked together since! I love David, he’s fabulous. I’ve known Dave all my life and I couldn’t think of anyone nicer to spend time with, work with, sit down and have a cup of tea with.”

Willy Russell fans will no doubt remember David Morrissey as the lead character, Billy, in One Summer which co-starred Spencer Leigh as his mate Icky. Ian appeared in three of the five episodes, shown on Channel 4, as Rabbit, another lad they met when they ran away from Liverpool to North Wales. The two - both one-time members of the Everyman Youth Theatre - spent weeks filming then, and David says it was wonderful for them to repeat that experience from their teenage years.

“I’ve been trying to work with Ian for ages, we’ve been best friends for many, many years, but he’s always been busy in America doing great TV and films over there,” says David. “Then this came up and because it was about two guys from years ago, I was able to say to him ‘look, this is so us’ and he loved it.

“Also it meant that where you would usually sit down with the other actor and talk about your lives and draw up a story of what happened between these two men from when they were kids - with Ian I didn’t have to do that because it’s all already there. There’s a great shorthand between us.”


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David Morrissey is The Driver - and telly’s go-to man for angsty middle-aged men

Sep 20, 2014
By Neil Batey

In this tense thriller, David portrays depressed cabbie Vince McKee, who escapes his boring life by taking a job as a driver for a crime gang

David Morrissey is fast becoming television’s go-to guy for playing angsty middle-aged men who reach a dangerous crossroads in their lives.

In The 7.39, he played a frustrated family man who embarked on a passionate affair with a much younger woman.

And in this tense thriller, David portrays depressed cabbie Vince McKee, who escapes his boring life by taking a job as a driver for a crime gang.

“Like Carl in The 7.39, Vince must choose the life he wants to live,” says David, 50.

“The Driver is about a man who makes a bad decision and there are terrible consequences for his whole family.

“The clock is ticking for Vince and we see him spinning all these plates as he tries to get out of his predicament.”

Vince is disillusioned with his job as a taxi driver in Manchester, and also feels responsible for the sudden disappearance of Tim, his son with wife Ros (Claudie Blakley).

However, when Vince picks up an old school friend called Colin (Ian Hart), who has just been released from jail, he’s offered work driving for a gangster called The Horse (Colm Meaney).

“Vince gets his mojo back,” adds David.

“He’s a new man who loves the danger and excitement of the job, but there’s a price to pay.”

Indeed, events take a tragic turn when the gang plan a major crime job and Vince realises his life is on the line.

We Love TV spent a day on set of The Driver in Manchester city centre, where David was visibly animated about filming his stunt sequences.

“I love the car chases,” he enthuses.

“Driving at high speed is a real adrenalin rush.

"Jaguar once invited me to race around the famous Nürburgring track in Germany with Ian Botham and Kevin Keegan.

“We were driving at speeds of up to 110mph and my heart was pumping so fast. It was just fantastic.”

The Driver - Tuesday on BBC1 at 9.00pm—-tellys-4284206#ixzz3Dr0kodAE
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@davemorrissey64 interview via @Telegraph_TV

David Morrissey: ‘To become an actor was as alien as being an astronaut’

David Morrissey tells Chloe Fox about taking creative control of a new BBC drama, The Driver, and how his roots gave him the drive to succeed

By Chloe Fox
9:00AM BST 20 Sep 2014

Photo: Martin Pope

 David Morrissey is no ordinary everyman. And yet it is as this character type, more than anything, that we feel we know the 49-year-old Liverpudlian actor. In the most memorable roles of his 30-year career, Morrissey has excavated the hidden depths that lurk in the darkest corners of the seemingly mundane. As the compromised MP Stephen Collins in State of Play, a corrupt policeman in Red Riding and, most recently, as Carl, a commuter in the throes of a mid-life crisis in David Nichols’s critically acclaimed The 7:39, Morrissey draws us in, time and time again, to the turmoil of the human mind.

Nothing ordinary about that. Or about the fact that the award-winning actor, by virtue of his marriage to Lucian Freud’s novelist daughter Esther, also happens to be the father to three of the late, great artist’s grandchildren. Nothing ordinary about the way he looks – 6’3 and rakishly handsome. Or the way that his deep Scouse growl belies a sensitive, thoughtful manner.

In person, as on screen, Morrissey draws you in by not giving too much away. The key to his character, one suspects, lies somewhere deep behind his watchful green eyes. He is simultaneously reassuring and mysterious. And it is this, essentially, that makes him so watchable.

His next project, The Driver, promises to be no exception. A three-part BBC drama written by Danny Brocklehurst (Clocking Off, Accused) and directed by Jamie Payne (The White Queen, The Hour), it follows the story of taxi driver Vince McKee, an (yes, you guessed it) ordinary man who, because of frustration with his job and his life, takes the fateful decision to start working for a criminal gang. Produced by Morrissey’s own production company, Highfield Pictures, The Driver was specifically commissioned as a vehicle for him.

"As an actor, I was becoming a little frustrated by the way that most creative decisions were beyond my control," he admits. "Too often, I was getting to set and finding myself thinking, "My character would never live in a house like this or drive a car like that," but I was helpless to do anything about it. The older and more experienced I get, the more I want to be involved in the whole picture rather than just a part of it."

 Morrissey likes to be the master of his own destiny. This, after all, is the man who, as a 12-year-old boy, disaffected by academia and the uninspiring Secondary Modern that his failure at 11+ had landed him in, went and sat in an alley outside the door of the Everyman Youth Theatre. “The noise coming from behind that door was like nothing I’d ever heard in my life,” he remembers. “I knew that, if I went in, I wouldn’t ever want to come out.” As he contemplated his next move, Morrissey’s head was turned by a very pretty girl who ran past him up the stairs and through the magical door. “So I went in,” he grins. “And, do you know, I never saw her again.”

The fourth child of working-class Catholic parents (his father was a cobbler and key-cutter and his mother worked for the Littlewoods Catalogue), Morrissey had begun acting at the age of nine. “I was on stage playing the Scarecrow in a primary school production of The Wizard of Oz,” he remembers. “And, suddenly, I felt like I was at home. I enjoyed it like I had never enjoyed anything else in my life.” But the older, and more determined he got, the more baffled his parents became. “To them, being an actor was as alien a concept as being an astronaut,” he explains.

 There is a scene in The 7.39 in which Morrissey’s character, Carl, tries to talk his son out of his dreams of becoming an actor. “That resonated with me massively,” he admits. But, unlike in Nichols’s redemptive story, Morrissey’s father died suddenly (of a haemmorhage, aged 54) before his 15-year-old son had a chance to really prove his worth. With the right outlet, anger and disaffection can morph into burning determination. “I am always driving myself forward,” admits Morrissey who, while his teenage contemporaries were chasing girls and dragging their feet, was representing the youth theatre on the Everyman’s Board of Directors. By the time he was 19, Morrissey – who dropped out of school before taking his A-Levels – had landed his first significant role, as Billy Rizley in Willy Russell’s One Summer, a Channel 4 drama series about two Liverpudlian boys from broken homes who escape their grim lives by running away to Wales. (In The Driver, Morrissey is reunited with Ian Hart, who also starred in One Summer, for the first time since that breakthrough role.)

The actor went on to spend two years in London studying at RADA and then two years at the Royal Shakespeare Company. “My work became my education,” says the man who is renowned for the meticulousness of his research. “I suppose I have never quite escaped that feeling of having something to prove.”

Morrissey (who has also tried his hand at screenwriting and directing) has certainly proved himself, working solidly and to consistent critical acclaim in both film and television. A starring role in Basic Instinct 2 is the only real toe-curling blot on an otherwise impressive CV, characterised by weighty performances in high-profile dramas by leading writers such as Tony Marchant, Paul Abbott and Peter Morgan. (He has said, “I let myself down” with Basic Instinct 2.)

Over the past two years, he has raised his currency in America by taking on the role of The Governor in series three and four of Frank Darabont’s smash-hit post-apocalyptic zombie drama, The Walking Dead, which stars Andrew Lincoln. Morrissey smirks discreetly when asked if he plans to do more work in America. “Let’s just say there are some pretty interesting options on the table,” he says.

 To his mind, these are exciting times for television on both sides of the Atlantic. “Five or six years ago, people were saying that the internet would kill television,” he says. “But actually, long-form television has become like the modern equivalent of the long-form novel; people are investing in it in a really tribal way and the internet has only enhanced the buzz around the best shows.”

As his children (Albie, 18, Anna, 15 and Gene, 9) get older, Morrissey’s working world is opening up. For the six months of the year he spent filming The Walking Dead in Atlanta, his family came and joined him for the school holidays. “My wife is amazing,” he smiles. “She has always been 100 per cent supportive of my career, at the same time as managing to nurture her own.”

Introduced by a mutual friend at a dinner party 20 years ago, Morrissey and Freud (a former actress and author of seven novels, including the critically-acclaimed Hideous Kinky) are one of the most quietly successful couples in London. They rarely expose themselves to the limelight, preferring instead to head to their family home on the Suffolk Coast whenever they get the opportunity. In more ways than just the obvious one, this unshowy lifestyle has served Morrissey’s game plan well. “It’s easier to disappear into a role, to make a performance really believable, if no one really knows who you are,” he says. He seems to take genuine pride in the fact that he is rarely recognised in the street.

As Morrissey approaches 50, the fire of his ambition is burning brighter than ever. “I want to work more in America, I want to work more here. I want to produce more and, if I ever get the time, I would love to direct.” But it is acting – Morrissey’s first love – which still gives him the most pleasure. “My dad once said to me “If you do a job you love, you’ll never do a day’s work in your life” and he was absolutely right.” An ordinary man’s words to his extraordinarily determined son. Let’s just hope that he can see what he’s achieved.


@davemorrissey64 #TheDriver

David Morrissey is The Driver in new BBC thriller

18 September 2014

 The 7.39 star talks about filming the fight scenes and car chases for his gritty new BBC1 three-part drama, The Driver…

What’s The Driver about?
"Well, I play Vince, who’s a struggling taxi driver from Manchester. He’s married with two teenage kids and he ends up getting embroiled in being the driver for this gangster. At first he finds it exciting… it fills a gap in his life."

The gap is that his son has disappeared and joined a cult…
"Yes, but he and his wife Ros (Claudie Blakley) haven’t been dealing with the grief they have about the loss of their boy. They also blame each other. Then by the time they decide to confront their feelings, Vince is too far down the line with the criminal fraternity for him to get out easily. It’s too late."

Will people be able to relate to Vince?
"He’s a very recognisable character. He’s not on the breadline, but he’s not far off it. That would be fine if his relationship with his wife hadn’t broken down. You see a man who’s essentially a good man, but one who makes bad decisions. He’s not a villain, but he’s definitely on the wrong side of the law."

The series is very action-packed with lots of car chases! Were there some hairy moments during filming?
"Yes! In one little stretch of filming we had to head to a wall at 80mph, then handbrake turn away from the wall and then head straight to a dustbin cart heading the other way. There was also a lot of physical stuff and fight scenes, so there were a few cuts and bruises! Luckily our stunt team was second to none."

Your best mate Ian Hart (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) plays ex-con Colin, the one who drags Vince into the criminal underworld. How did you find working with him?
"I’ve known Ian since I was a little kid when we grew up in Liverpool and I’ve been looking for a project for us to work on for a long time. I’ve worked with friends in the past and it can be a bit sticky sometimes, but working with Ian was great."

Were there any scenes where you had to fight each other?
"Yes, there were some very challenging scenes between us where we had to really go at each other! You have to trust someone in those scenes, but luckily I trust Ian implicitly."

The Driver starts on Tuesday, September 23 at 9pm on BBC1


@davemorrissey64 #TheDriver @CityLifeManc

Actor David Morrissey talks car chases in Chinatown as new Manchester gangland thriller hits TV

Sep 18, 2014 15:09
By Emily Heward

The actor plays a taxi driver who is enticed into the city’s criminal underworld when an old friend gets out of prison.

“I think I could probably qualify as having The Knowledge as a Manchester cabbie now,” says David Morrissey, after getting acquainted with the city’s streets in his role in new BBC1 drama The Driver.

The actor plays Vince McKee in the thrilling three-parter, an ordinary Mancunian taxi driver whose life takes a dramatic turn when he accepts an offer to drive for a gang boss.

Frustrated with his job and drifting apart from his wife Ros, after their son cut ties with the family, he is enticed into the city’s criminal underworld when his old friend Colin comes out of prison and back into his life.

“He’s working hard and he feels life just hasn’t paid him back, that he hasn’t got what he’s wanted out of life by being a good guy,” says the Liverpudlian actor.

“He knows it’s wrong but he does it because he wants the excitement in his life. He gets more and more involved and by the time he wants to get out it’s too late.”

The drama was filmed in Manchester earlier this year, with some of the most high-octane action sequences shot in Chinatown, and the stunning Saddleworth countryside forming the backdrop to other scenes.

“Chinatown we used extensively to race cars around, which was brilliant fun,” says David.

“It’s a great city from a location point of view. The weather was a challenge but we had real fun.”

Also fun for David was the chance to act alongside real-life pal Ian Hart, who plays Colin, in their first performance together since their breakthrough roles in 1983 drama One Summer.

“The dynamic between them is something I can relate to very well. It was wonderful to work with him again,” he says.

David, who also worked as an executive producer on the drama, is equally full of praise for writer Danny Brocklehurst, of Clocking Off fame.

“I’ve wanted to work with him for a long time,” he says.

“I like the fact that he has this real dark humour in his writing and he writes these wonderful, human characters - ordinary people finding themselves in extraordinary situations.

“That’s what this is: a really powerful piece of writing about a man coming to terms with his fate.

“It’s a drama about people on the wrong side of the law, but at its heart it’s a drama about a family falling apart and trying to find their way back together.”

The first episode airs on Tuesday at 9pm.


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