Monday, October 26, 2009

Today in character actors

The other night we binged our way through the first three episodes of the excellent 2007 British mini-series Jekyll (written by Steven Moffatt, of Coupling and Doctor Who fame). At one point,
the Jekyll character, long-suffering Dr. Jackman, discovers his wife has hired private detectives to figure out where he disappears to. When the Hyde side doesn't show up in the surveillance photos they give her, he knows something's wrong, and visits an agency run by two women (whom he eventually discovers are a couple).

One of them is played by the awesome Fenella Woolgar, who was the best Agatha Christie imaginable on an episode of Doctor Who. The other is Meera Syal, who I sweared played the receptionist at Patsy's magazine in Absolutely Fabulous. So I hit the IMDB later, and she did: she's the one who's really defensive about how hard she's working ("Everyone seems to think my job just happens"), but then it turns out she's just playing computer games.

That's only one episode, so it's a little weird that I'd recognize her, but then, the episode is "New Best Friend," which is possibly my very favorite. Some old friends, pretentious artists turned harried parents, visit Eddie with their newborn, leading to her famous pointing out of "Lacroix -- baby spew," and her ultimate condemnation of "this no-fun bloody baby world."

Oddly, though, I did not recognize Syal playing Bobby Deol's mother in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, which also appears in her credits. Whaa? She couldn't possibly be old enough to be Bobby Deol's mother. When I did the math, turns out she's six years older than he is. Although I only have a vague memory of his having a mother, she must be under the same old-age makeup from the Kumars at No. 42 Britcom, where she played the grandmother of her real-life husband.

Being an actor leads to a complicated life!

Then last night we polished Jekyll off, and there's a dramatic confrontation between Dr. Jackman and the life-long friend who's been secretly involved with the vast international conspiracy (the latter played with smarmy corporate villainy by Denis Lawson, last seen by me as a bastion of kindness and nobility in Bleak House). Lawson's character gives an impassioned speech to justify his horrible behavior, in the hopes of convincing Hyde not to kill him, using the phrase "the greater good" more than a few times.

I thought there was a kind of a burr in his pronunciation, and while I hadn't thought so before, his voice really reminded me of Ewan McGregor's Scottish speaking voice in Down With Love. I particularly envisioned the scene where he was talking about the new "wonder fabrics" with David Hyde Pierce, and two things suddenly hit me. It was the bit in the scene when McGregor says "Some bad Nazis are good scientists" -- it was the word "good." Just like the word "about" tips people off to the presence of Canadians, or a near geographical locale.

The other thing was: duh, Denis Lawson is Ewan McGregor's uncle!

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