Ironclad Interview
Ironclad Interview
When you started out as an actor, was this the sort of thing that you wanted to do?

James Purefoy

Yes, I think you sort of probably do end up doing the thing you want to do if you're lucky enough. And I loved watching movies when I was a kid. I haven't done a World War II movie, at all. I'd love to do a World War II movie, because those were the sorts of things I used to watch. I used to love Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare. I wasn't big on Star Wars, funnily enough. It sort of passed me by, Star Wars, entirely. I was much more interested in really moody characters, you know, Clint Eastwood and The Man With No Name and those kinds of slightly hell-raisey actors. I loved all the Burtons and the O'Tooles. I loved Lawrence of Arabia. I was blown away by that the first time I saw it. And they were men, you know, they were men's men and there was nothing kind of metrosexual about them. They were big guys and I guess the parts I play now are parts often that are big men, so yes, I think I probably am influenced.
There are some of us who are still mourning for Rome where men really were men. Wasn't there supposed to be another series of that?

James Purefoy

Well, you know, I think they regretted it – I know HBO regretted not doing it again. I don't think they quite realised how big it was going to be. And it was also blisteringly expensive. Eleven million dollars an hour. And we were slightly buggered up here. The BBC did a very strange thing where they put somebody in charge of re-editing the first three episodes here who did such a shocking butchering of the pace and the effect that we never really recovered from it. So if I step off a plane in New York or LA I get a lot of reaction about Rome, whereas here it never really took off. I mean it's quite extraordinary how a hundred million dollar series can be given to a junior producer and editor and they fuck it up really badly.
And that was simply to put it on TV over here?

James Purefoy

Here is the “reason” - somebody said 'Cut out a lot of the politics of the first three episodes, because the British public know a lot more about Roman history.' And that meant that it unbalanced it, it became much more about the sex and the violence. And so suddenly it became “The Rompy Rome,” “The Sex and the Sandals.” But actually, when people go back and they look at it, they go, “Actually, no, hang on, there's much less of that.” And they've spun it. And that's what they were trying to do, they were spinning it as this quite outrageous series, whereas actually there was quite a lot of dry politics there that they eviscerated.
What can we expect from Camelot then?

James Purefoy

Well, Camelot – because Camelot is pretty mythic anyway, you can do pretty much what you like on Camelot, can't you? I mean, they stayed as close as they could to Le Morte d'Arthur and Thomas Malory and I think they're going to do a great job. And again, they've got some fantastic actors in that. My character is very much Mark Antony in medieval times. If you were missing Mark Antony, tune into Camelot – he's reappeared, with a big beard.
Were you missing him?

James Purefoy

I think I was missing him a little bit. He was a great character. He's one of those great, fantastic characters to play because you never know which way he's going to go. And he's a very dangerous man because of it. You know, not hugely clever. So like a lot of not hugely clever people, they're quite dangerous.
When you say you mainly get recognised more in LA, is that generally?

James Purefoy

No, just the Rome thing.
If you were missing Mark Antony, tune into Camelot – he's reappeared, with a big beard...
Can you walk down the street here?

James Purefoy

Oh God, yes. And I take great pride in that and I don't – I've never been “celeb-y” actor. You don't catch me falling out of nightclubs at three o'clock in the morning. Well, very rarely.
Well, I hope you remember your pants.

James Purefoy

Well, precisely. I find it all a bit baffling, the whole celeb thing and I don't really get it. I don't get why people do it to themselves. I don't understand why. There are plenty of restaurants in London without paparazzi in front of them, so go there if you don't like being photographed. Why choose The Ivy?
Is there a particular time period you think you would have thrived in? You've touched on so many different points in history.

James Purefoy

I have. It's always about money though, isn't it? You have to be rich, in any of those time periods that I'm talking about. Life is just hideous in mediaeval Britain if you're not rich. It's hideous in Roman times if you're not rich. It's hideous in the fifteenth century if you're not rich. Life is very short and brutal and unpleasant and there's no medicine and it's cold and the food is fucking disgusting and it's all about what can you buy. Regency England, if you're rich, I'd imagine was pretty good. I played Beau Brummel once and that was a lovely part to play. I like Regency England. That was pretty good.
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Content updated: 20/02/2019 08:01

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