Five minutes with...Rory Kinnear

Rory Kinnear talks to Keeley Bolger about the new series, speeding down the Thames for Bond and the terrible things he's had to do in the name of acting.

Rory Kinnear is back as put-upon writer Michael in BBC One comedy Count Arthur Strong, starting on Friday. He talks to Keeley Bolger about the new series, speeding down the Thames for Bond and the terrible things he's had to do in the name of acting.

What's coming up for Michael?

The series is primarily focussed on Arthur and his scrapes, but this time Michael's relationship with Sinem has developed a bit more, it's a bit more serious. Michael has another book on the go, but he seems to be stuck in this world that he can't believe he's in, but equally, doesn't really, at the heart of it, want to leave.

The humour in the show seems to divide people. Why might that be?

The series could have been on at any time in the past 40 years. It's not bogged down in any way by modernity, even though we do broach subjects of the modern world. It's character-led, it's situation-led and has characters that everyone sort of knows. It's not one group of people who love it either; it's kids, parents and grandparents. One of the loveliest things about it is everyone can watch together.


I think sometimes people are put off by Arthur, they just don't quite get him. But the more time you spend with him, the more you realise the skill of Steve Delaney's performance and the warmth that comes with him, as well as the fact he's essentially playing someone who is infuriating, mean-spirited, selfish, self-obsessed and will be cruel and neglectful. Those things can put people off a character but there is a sense of heart.

Is it a good time to be an actor?

It's a good time to be an actor if you're working. It's the best job in the world when you're working and the worst job in the world when you're not.

Have you ever been tempted to move to America to work?

Well, I did Penny Dreadful and I just did a show called Guerrilla, and another one Quacks about 19th century doctors, so quite often you find yourself working on telly with a hope of the work seeing an American market as well. It would be a greater upheaval to work over there so I have no plans at the moment. Just with the variety of work there is to do, I don't feel there is a need.

Do you have many periods of not working?

I've been lucky enough not to have that much, but it comes around. I'm well aware that I've been really lucky and you hope that luck doesn't run out, but it's pot luck really. There can be no work just like in any other industry.

You're also known for playing Bill Taylor in Bond. What can you tell us about the next film?

It's amazing that a film over 50 years old still has such interest and the rumour mill is still going on. I know probably less than most people, but it's the same family basically who are calling the shots on it, which means there is that sense of continuity and the loyalty it inspires in the people who work for it and the people who watch it.


Do you ever have moments filming Bond where you feel like pinching yourself?

Every time! I'd been doing a BBC 4 series called The Curse Of Steptoe about Steptoe And Son and we had to use the same extra that day, and she just had to wear three different outfits and to be in three different places. We were shooting 11 pages a day. Then, about 11 days later, I started my first day on Quantum Of Solace and we were crossing the Barbican with about 350 extras on set and I thought, oh, this is a new domain. For the second scene, just before we went for 'take', I thought, everyone's going to see this. I hadn't thought of that and it made me get a bit fluffy for that take. So it's best not to think about these wider implications to what you're doing. It's like any other job; get your head down, remember what the character is and what they're meant to be doing.

You played a Prime Minister who has sex with a pig in the Channel 4 satire Black Mirror. What do you remember of that shoot?

It's always about the juxtaposition of an actor's life. The night before I met Marge the pig in a very peculiar lecture hall in Buckinghamshire, I had been reciting Henry V at the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in black tie. The next morning I was there filming Black Mirror with my trousers around my ankles. I do remember having to call 'cut' myself on that scene because it went on further and further, and I said, 'I'm not actually going any further!' It was the only day I saw the writer Charlie Brooker on set surprisingly.

Count Arthur Strong returns to BBC One on Friday