Brian McCardie has recently been seen portraying William McMaster Murdoch in the ITV series, Titantic. With three decades of acting experience, Brian has had the opportunity to work working alongside some of the biggest Hollywood names, including Michael Douglas, Sandra Bullock, Val Kilmer and many more.
He is to star in the film Filth, which is the film adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s book, where he shall appear alongside the likes of James McAvoy and Jamie Bell. Media Essentials caught up with Brian to discuss his latest role within the TV series and what we should expect from Filth. This is what he had to say:
Hi Brian, how are you today?
Hi Lewis, I’m well. Just preparing for a couple of upcoming jobs and cooking a chicken.
Do you mind explaining to our viewers, what encouraged you to become an actor?
The reason I became an actor was basically a fluke. My father decided I was to go to University to study Law, then go on to become a lawyer. I had absolutely no interest in the Law, whatsoever, and felt I had the wrong type of intelligence to be successful at it anyway, but that didn’t cut any ice with him at all.
So naturally, I lost all interest at school overnight. I remember the day when I gave up, throwing notes in bins on the way home. Regrettably, I made no effort except for working with the theatre company I was a part of. After inevitably only achieving mediocre exam results; I was left rudderless, lost. So I decide to try for a drama school, as I had nothing to lose.
Luckily, I was accepted at the first attempt, as I was on the dole in Scotland and could only afford to audition the once. Not the most inspiring answer but it’s the truth so there you have it.
In terms of television work, you’re the series regular in the new drama ‘Titanic’ (portraying William McMaster Murdoch), what is it like representing such a historical character?
Playing William Murdoch was a singular experience for a whole host of reasons. He’s regularly been portrayed as the man to blame for sinking the ship and as someone who committed suicide by shooting himself. Neither are accurate.
He was a driven highly competent Officer, who’d worked his way up to be First Officer, since he initially went to sea at the age of 15. He tried to swerve the ship around the Iceberg, which was the reason five compartments were damaged, but he was doing his best to save an idiotic situation not of his making. When loading the lifeboats, he followed the principle of women and children first rather than only, as was the system adopted on the port side. As a result of this, a passenger was 5 times more likely to get a place on a boat on Murdoch’s starboard side of the ship. There aren’t many folk you can say they saved around 500 lives, whilst sacrificing their own. So I felt a massive duty to try and represent this noble man with as much authenticity as I could muster.
It was strange to be filming Titanic in Budapest (a landlocked country), but we had the largest water tank in Europe to work with and I feel the very fact that everything was foreign to the vast majority of us, helped us make the necessary imaginative leaps.
The other unusual aspect of filming was that, because the programme follows so many different people’s stories, I never really got to know many of the other actors and am as ignorant of their parts in the story as any other viewer.
In respect to the recent series, Titanic The Movie returns in 3D next week, what did you make of the original blockbuster? Are you sick of hearing about anything Titanic related at the minute?
I immersed myself in the world of Titanic for about 3 months and I think that’s enough. From Encyclopedia Titanica to thousands of websites, it seems never-ending and I understand peoples’ fascination with it but I’ve studied as much as I ever want to.
As for this 3D re-release, well I always thought it was a retelling of the “Gone With The Wind” story about a selfish spoiled young woman finding a man who loves her despite herself, and through this love she becomes a woman.
The mass tragedy only ever seemed a backdrop to me, so I can’t see myself sitting in a cinema watching it with daft glasses on. Having said that, I respect that a lot of people love the film and I hope they enjoy it all over again.
Your film work has seen you feature alongside some large Hollywood names, like Liam Neeson (Rob Roy), Michael Douglas (The Ghost & The Darkness), Val Kilmer (The Ghost & The Darkness), Sandra Bullock (Speed 2) and many more. Were there any particular actors you enjoyed co-starring alongside and, if so, why?
I loved working with Liam Neeson and learned a lot. He’s just a class act and behaved with such grace throughout filming that it left a huge impression on me. I always wish him well.
You’ve recently finished filming for ‘Filth’, do you mind explaining a little about your character and what should we expect?
“Filth”. Yeah, love it or hate it, that film will make a noise. I loved it. It’s the story of an Edinburgh detective called Bruce Robertson, played by James McAvoy. He’s a devious, manipulative, alcoholic, drug-fuelled charmer and the brilliant script Jon Baird, our director, wrote was an adaptation of the Irvine Welsh novel.
It has all sorts of fantasy and hallucination animation, as well as almost every depravity known to man. It’s funny as Hell and has some excellent actors involved such as Kate Dickie, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston, Jamie Bell, Imogen Poots, John Sessions, Emun Elliot, Gary Lewis, and loads more.
I play a detective in it, a colleague of Bruce called Dougie Gillman. He’s an ex-military, homophobic, racist, bigoted, vicious bully. The kind of policeman who’s decided you’re guilty before he’s met you. I can’t wait to see what Jon’s done with it.
The film is, currently, in the post-production stages, are you able to provide any information about when our readers should expect to see it on the big screen?
Yeah, it’s currently in post-production. I don’t know when it’ll be coming out but, when it does, I’d recommend it.
Our final question; if you were not an actor, what could you see yourself doing instead?
If I wasn’t an actor … God, I don’t really know any more. It’s been almost 30 years. If I had my time over again, I’d probably choose something more stable. Something you can do every day. That’s the biggest downside of acting for me, the fact that you can’t decide you’re going to work hard for the next 6 months because someone else has to choose you. I think I’d do something entrepreneurial and probably end up with as little stability as I have now. Definitely not a lawyer though.
‘Filth’ looks set to provide an interesting combination of film qualities and it will be interesting to see how it is perceived by critics and the public alike. Until then, you can catch Brian’s recent work in Titanic over on the ITV Player: http://www.itv.com/titanic/