Entertainment: With ‘The Crown,’ a ‘Secret Weapon’ Could Become Not So Secret - - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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Entertainment With ‘The Crown,’ a ‘Secret Weapon’ Could Become Not So Secret

05:10  14 november  2019
05:10  14 november  2019 Source:   msn.com

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a man wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Tobias Menzies has worked steadily throughout his career but has never had a role as prominent as his new one: Prince Philip on “The Crown.” © Tom Jamieson for The New York Times Tobias Menzies has worked steadily throughout his career but has never had a role as prominent as his new one: Prince Philip on “The Crown.”

Editor's note: The opinions in this article are the author's, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

LONDON—You have probably seen Tobias Menzies in a host of television shows (“Outlander,” “Rome,” “Catastrophe,” “Game of Thrones”). You may have seen him in a movie (“Casino Royale,” “Atonement”).

And if you’re a theater buff who visits England, you might have caught him in a number of leading roles (“The History Boys,” “Hamlet,” “Uncle Vanya”). He is that ascetically-but-unobtrusively-handsome actor, with those deep grooves running down each side of his face; the one who disappears so thoroughly into his roles that you’ve never thought much about who he is.

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Video: "Stars walk the red carpet for The Crown premiere" (Evening Standard)

That is probably all about to change. On Sunday, Menzies, 45, will be front and center of Netflix’s much-anticipated third season of “The Crown,” in which he takes over the role of Prince Philip from Matt Smith, who played the part for the show’s first two seasons. It isn’t Menzies’s first leading role in a popular series; he played the 20th-century academic Frank and Frank’s 17th-century alter ego, Black Jack Randall on “Outlander.” But the high-profile and worldwide distribution of “The Crown” is bound to be a game changer for Menzies, who has been lauded for his portrayal of Philip in early reviews.

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“The big surprise of the new series of ‘The Crown’ is that Olivia Colman isn’t the best performer in it,” Carol Midgley wrote in The Times of London, going on to praise Menzies as superb — “in voice, mannerisms and plausibility, chuntering about being served venison twice in a week and rolling his eyes at the melodramas of Princess Margaret.”

The role had been linked to both Paul Bettany and Hugh Laurie when Menzies was cast, and he might have been seen as relatively low-profile in comparison to his co-star Colman (who won an Oscar last year for her portrayal of Queen Anne in “The Favourite”) and Matt Smith, the former “Doctor Who” star.

But Peter Morgan, the creator of “The Crown,” said in an interview that Menzies had “a real stillness, maturity and dignity” that everyone had felt was perfect for the role of Philip.

“The Tobias surprise!” Mr. Morgan said. “Personally, I don’t know how he isn’t a household figure already. He is utterly persuasive and serious in a role that is often a cartoon figure.”

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Olivia Colman standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Olivia Colman and Menzies will star as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip for two seasons, taking the royal couple into middle age. © Sophie Mutevelian/Netflix Olivia Colman and Menzies will star as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip for two seasons, taking the royal couple into middle age. Menzies, who will also play Philip in Season 4, currently in production, isn’t at all sure that he likes the idea of being properly famous. “It does feel different, and I am trying not to think about it,” he said in an interview last month at a central London hotel. “I like being invisible in my life around London.”

In person, he is friendly, reserved and circumspect, giving the impression of someone who lives intensely in the mind. “One of the things I most treasure about Tobias is that you can sit in silence with him very calmly, or have a three-hour conversation with him very calmly,” said Robert Icke, who first directed Menzies in 2015 in the Wallace Shawn one-man play, “The Fever,” which was shown in a bedroom at the Mayfair Hotel. “Sometimes he used to come over and read, and we wouldn’t speak at all.”

The director Rupert Goold, a close friend, said that Menzies had always been hard-working (“lots of actors think they are, but he actually is”) and thoughtful, drawn to the process of acting rather than to celebrity or status.

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a man wearing a suit and tie: For Philip in Season 3, there is “a sense of the road not traveled,” said Menzies, here on set with the executive producer and director Benjamin Caron. © Sophie Mutevelian/Netflix For Philip in Season 3, there is “a sense of the road not traveled,” said Menzies, here on set with the executive producer and director Benjamin Caron. “He has always been a kind of secret weapon,” Goold said in a phone interview. “There are a lot of great male actors of his generation here in the U.K., but I would put Tobias right up there in the top group.”

For Menzies, “The Crown” comes near the end of a year full of delightfully deadpan spots in some of the buzziest shows on television. He reprised his doctor role for the final season of Amazon’s “Catastrophe,” was an awkward maybe-love interest for Aisling Bea in Hulu’s “This Way Up” and made a surprise appearance in the “Game of Thrones” finale that resulted in one of the most meme-able moments of the season. (“Uncle, please sit.”)

“The Crown” finds him offering a portrait of the prince as a middle-aged man. Season 3 runs from 1964 to 1977, when Philip was in his 40s and early 50s, and Menzies’s portrayal is built around the idea of Philip questioning his identity and sense of self.

“In some ways, it’s a continuation of themes in the first seasons: being second to his wife, sacrificing his own life and career to some extent,” he said. “But there is a further digging in to that, a sense of the road not traveled. I think we all have those thoughts.”

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  With ‘The Crown,’ a ‘Secret Weapon’ Could Become Not So Secret © Shutterstock Menzies watched and enjoyed the first two seasons of “The Crown,” and was immediately keen when approached about the part. “Philip had struck me as an interesting and complicated person,” he said. “It seemed like an exciting, challenging role to take on.” As is usual for him, he did his homework.

“There is a lot written, a lot of footage, and it’s both intimidating and an amazing resource,” he said. “There is the technical aspect of working on the voice and physicality, which I enjoyed; those parameters can paradoxically be very creative. But it can be its own crazy rabbit hole.”

The act of living in the imagination — having “the privilege to spend time bringing other psyches to life” — is what he loves about the work, Menzies said. But he didn’t have any acting ambitions as a child or teenager.

“My big passion was tennis,” he said. “I was quite good for a bit, around 10 to 13.”

  With ‘The Crown,’ a ‘Secret Weapon’ Could Become Not So Secret © Shutterstock He grew up in Canterbury, where he moved with his mother and brother after his parents separated, and went to a rural Waldorf school. His mother took him to a lot of theater, he said, enumerating some shows he remembered: “Street of Crocodiles, Cheek by Jowl’s all-male ‘As You Like It,’ Rambert, a lot of contemporary dance.”

After high school, he started a performing arts course at Stratford-upon-Avon college. “It was intuitive,” he said. “I don’t really know why I went.” Initially he gravitated toward the more physical side of performance, getting accepted (“weirdly, since I had virtually no training”) into both the Laban Center for Movement and Dance (now called Trinity Laban) and the Jacques Lecoq school of mime in Paris.

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Laban ultimately felt like too much of a stretch, but he wanted to go to Lecoq. “I couldn’t get the money to go,” he said, “but what I could get was a grant for drama school.” He ended up at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

  With ‘The Crown,’ a ‘Secret Weapon’ Could Become Not So Secret © Shutterstock “I suppose that’s when I got the acting bug,” he said. “It took me a while to work it out, and that I was any good at it.”

He planned to be a stage actor specializing in experimental theater. But before he had even finished drama school, he got on job on the long-running television drama “Casualty,” which gave him a crash course in working on camera. Unlike most fledgling actors, he stayed busy from then on, appearing in dozens of British shows (“MI5,” “Black Mirror,” “The Honorable Woman,” “The Night Manager”) and starring in others, like the HBO series “Rome” and Starz’s “Outlander.”

“The questions he would ask, how much he would push about working the text, that was invaluable for me to see,” said his “Outlander” co-star Caitriona Balfe in a telephone interview. “It taught me, this is what you can ask when you are an actor who really thinks about where the meat of the scene is, what is superfluous and what isn’t.”

  With ‘The Crown,’ a ‘Secret Weapon’ Could Become Not So Secret © Shutterstock Menzies also has worked steadily in the theater. Goold, who has collaborated with Menzies on numerous productions, most recently “The Hunt,” said he had probably worked with him more than any other actor.

“He projects a quality that has both masculinity and sensitivity,” Goold said. “And he combines incredible relaxation with an ability to probe and uncover, never leave any stone unturned; at that level he is unparalleled.”

Icke described Menzies as “really unusual, in that he is not a super-emotional actor, won’t burst into tears and scream and shout, but is very complicated and deep.” Icke added that he “has an unusual superpower: He is better than almost any actor I have worked with in animating difficult chunks of text, lifting an idea and making it profound.”

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  With ‘The Crown,’ a ‘Secret Weapon’ Could Become Not So Secret © Twitter In its most basic terms, Menzies said, acting is “often just a question of meditating on who the person is, why they are saying what they are saying, why they are behaving as they are behaving.” In “Outlander,” he added, one of his characters was a sexually, physically violent sadist. “He does things I’ve never done in my life, but you imagine yourself into why he might do this, and then find the bits in you where you’ve had feelings of aggression, murderousness, darker impulses. We all have those feelings; we just don’t act upon them.”

  With ‘The Crown,’ a ‘Secret Weapon’ Could Become Not So Secret © Shutterstock So, comedy next? Menzies laughed. “No, I’m more maudlin in my tastes,” he said, adding that he would love to work with the film director Joanna Hogg (“here’s my pitch Joanna!”) and with European theater directors like Thomas Ostermeier or Ivo van Hove.

“I think my tastes are getting more and more esoteric,” he said. “I recently went to a library of performance art and saw the wildest stuff, somewhere between a religious event, a performance and a happening. I thought, now this is what I want to do.”

Gallery:'The Crown' season 3 world premiere in London (New York Daily)

Helena Carter et al. posing for the camera

Poland's wartime £4bn gold haul returned in top-secret mission .
More than 100 tonnes of gold has been returned from London to Poland in a top-secret repatriation mission. The haul worth around $5bn (£3.85bn) was transported from a secret location near the capital to an unknown airport in London, accompanied by a police escort and a helicopter, and loaded onto a freighter plane and flown off to Poland.Amid the outbreak of the Second World War, the entire Polish gold reserves were secretly transported across three continents to be stored in London, New York and Ottawa. © Other Poland has stored the gold at a secret location.

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