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It's Paddy's Considine's turn to answer questions

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: September 04, 2014

SLEUTH . . . Paddy Considine  as Mr Whicher.

SLEUTH . . . Paddy Considine as Mr Whicher.

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As a critically acclaimed actor and Bafta-winning writer and director, Paddy Considine takes his work very seriously.

So when it came to preparing for two more instalments of Victorian detective drama The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher, the Winshill-born star was perturbed to learn his character's beloved bowler hat had gone missing.

"We couldn't find the original. As an actor, I was saying: '"'Well, this is a really integral part of the character,'" Considine reveals.

"But we found a good replacement. At the end of the day, you just stick it on your head and get on with it. It's a hat, man."

Despite starring in films like The Bourne Ultimatum and Cinderella Man, as well as writing and directing the multi award-winning Tyrannosaur, Burton-based Considine isn't the type to let success go to his head – hatless or otherwise.

Besides returning as Mr Whicher, he's also been filming a big-screen adaptation of Macbeth, playing Banquo to Michael Fassbender's Macbeth. But he confesses the superstitious tradition of calling it 'the Scottish play' was lost on him.

"I just kept telling everybody out there, 'I'm in Macbeth' . . . Are you supposed to be cursed or something? Well I'm cursed then, I've had it," he smiles, looking far removed from suited and booted Whicher, in a striped T-shirt and post-holiday tan.

The previous Whicher films, inspired by real-life Scotland Yard detective Jonathan 'Jack' Whicher, saw Considine's character suffer a breakdown, get pushed out of the police force and pursue a career as a 'private inquiry agent'.

In the upcoming third and fourth instalments, Whicher rebuilds himself professionally and personally, and takes on some perplexing new cases, ranging from political scandal to divorce work.

Considine – who turns 41 this month – confesses he "wasn't happy with what I'd done" after the first film, based on Kate Summerscale's best-selling novel, aired in 2011.

"I played him with a kind of cockney accent. I never felt that was the character and I was almost squeezed into doing it that way. So when they proposed the second one, I said: 'That's great, but I want to play him how I see him . . . otherwise, someone else can play him,'" reveals the actor, who decided to soften the character's accent.

"The [producers] were great and let me do it – nobody really noticed that I'd changed the accent! So when I came to do these next two, I'd already found him. It was a lot easier coming back this time, because he felt so familiar."

The first of the two new films sees Whicher hired by the former Home Secretary to investigate threats made against his son, who has recently returned from India with his young family.

The second follows Whicher as he takes on the bread and butter of the private inquiry agent – divorce work. But what seems like a straightforward job turns darker after a key player is found dead in suspicious circumstances.

In a TV schedule awash with detectives, Considine believes Whicher stands out.

"What I find most interesting is that he's a great reader of people. That's what makes him good at what he does," he says.

"Whicher's not the kind of detective that goes around with a spyglass. He's not like Sherlock Holmes or anybody who outwits and uses his smarts. He also has great empathy and I think that's his great skill."

There's also a chance of a possible love interest for the widower, in the form of kind-natured landlady Mrs Piper (played by Nancy Carroll).

"As leading guys go, it can get quite boring just being the one who's asking the questions while all this drama's going on around him. So to have that little backdrop was brilliant."

Considine adds: "I feel like every time I play Whicher there is something that allows me to go on a journey with him. In these films we see him begin to let go of the past."

Born in Burton, where he still lives with his wife and children, Considine studied performing arts at Burton College and met fellow pupil Shane Meadows (who went on to direct the acclaimed film and Channel 4 series This Is England).

Meadows went on to cast his pal in the 1999 film A Room For Romeo Brass, and more film roles followed for Considine in 24 Hour Party People and In America (both released in 2002).

He co-wrote Dead Man's Shoes with Meadows in 2004 and, in 2011, wrote and directed the multi award-winning domestic violence drama Tyrannosaur, starring Olivia Colman.

But despite his career success, Considine was struggling in his day-to-day life. He was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome in 2010 but, after seeking further help, learned he had Irlen syndrome, a rare condition which makes it difficult to cope with light.

The actor now wears tinted glasses and contact lenses to deal with the problem and has said he "came alive" after treatment for the condition, which had been "causing all this anger and aggravation of my brain."

These days Considine is busy with Whicher, new British film Pride, and Macbeth, which he describes as a "great privilege."

He's also been working on another project, a big-screen adaptation of Jon Hotten's boxing book The Years Of The Locust, for the past couple of years.

"We're having trouble finding one of the leads. But if it's meant to be, we'll find him," he says.

There's also Considine's rock band, Riding The Low, who have been recording and playing festivals this summer and often play in and around Burton.

"It's great because it's a different outlet," says Considine, the lead singer, who lights up at the mention of his band.

"You can get lost in it . . . mid-point through a set you've kind of transcended a bit, and I love that."

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