British actor George MacKay has starred in a number of big productions so far. Best known for his leading role in Pride, MacKay is now firmly established on both sides of the Atlantic.
We spoke to the actor as he was preparing for a stage production in the UK about his latest project, a time-travel sci-fi show co-starring James Franco.
“This is only my third play, so I wouldn’t say its like I’m returning home…” George told us when asked if he was looking forward to going back on stage after a number of film releases.
“Touch wood, it’s going all good. There is so much to the play and every rehearsal feels different. It’s a different process but it doesn’t feel odd or jarring when compared to doing things on film. That’s really lovely and a fresh way of doing things.”
“The show has been a real joy to be a part of. The character that I play, Bill Turcotte, is different to anything I’ve done before. There’s the accent, the culture and even the time period that he’s coming from. It was really wonderful and a great experience.”
The plot, focusing on Franco’s high school teacher who goes back in time to that fateful date to prevent the death of JFK sounds like pure sci-fi. But George told us there is more to it than first meets the eye.
“I guess it falls under sci-fi, but for me I guess that genre means to me something more ‘scientific’. More mechanical. This has more history and culture to it. It’s a huge part of it. The scientific part of it veers towards the philosophical I guess with the question of “if you could change the past, would you?” There is also a horror element as it’s from Stephen King. There is a real danger to every action and so feels very multi-faceted as a show.”
How did the producers of the show go about recreating the period setting, and what process did that involve for you?
“It was just amazing being on set everyday. The set dressing and design was just incredible. The streets filled with the cars and so that helped the research. My character is from Kentucky so I wanted to know more about the cultural and political background from there. I didn’t realise beforehand the intensity that came with the Cold War. That was something I hadn’t realised, the ominous sense of something could happen. Something really big could change. It was a weird displacement that was really interesting that felt applicable. My way in was the music actually. There is so much great Blue Grass music from the time.
“On top of all that, you have the script as your bible. Most of the character is there and its down to me to do the extra research to go with it.”
It’s interesting that music was your way in.
“The thing is that the character being from Kentucky, but also from a specific town which is fictional. The music intrigued me most. There are bad stereotypes that could go with that, the sort of hill-billy notion, but there is a real grit to it all too. Coming out of tough mining communities and it was tough and the people were tough. There is a lyricism to the accent and music that was a great way in.”
We saw a recent trailer for another one of your upcoming projects the movie Captain Fantastic…
“Oh great! Is the trailer out? My mum keeps googling for it and saying ‘it’s still not there!
“That was an amazing thing to work on. Matt Ross, who wrote and directed it, really created some amazing characters. It really encouraged me to learn about the whole community. It’s about a family that are raised off the grid and then they are suddenly introduced to society. All the intellect behind the kids there was kind of looking at nature versus nurture. Is it pop culture or something else that effect us. I got to work with Viggo [Mortensen] and a great young cast too. It was a brilliant experience.
“I loved learning the different skills of survival like tracking animals and how to build a fire. It was one of the most satisfying things i’ve done in my life, building fire from scratch. To learn about that and be self-sufficient was so good.”
11.22.63 premieres Sunday 10th April 9pm on FOX. Read our review of the first episode here.