Channel 4 have a posted great interview with Patrick Malahide. Click here to read it. Here are a few highlights (though the whole interview is a highlight)
What was it that attracted you to take part in Indian Summers?
Obviously, looking at this, it looked like a great project, but then you have to start thinking “Is it a good role?” And it was. It’s a really interesting, complex thing to take on. I just thought, when I read the script, “This is a really classy piece of work.” It was clear that the writer, Paul Rutman, clearly knew what he was talking about. He knew his history. He knew India. He was writing from a position of real knowledge, and it showed. It was a real quality piece of work. I was just very chuffed to be asked to do it, and I took it on with some enthusiasm, which is pretty unusual these days. I think it’s a really, really good bit of writing. And I’ve only seen a trailer for the first episode, but my goodness, it made me want to be a part of that world. It seemed so colourful and complex and fascinating.
So good to hear Mr. Malahide feels enthusiastic about this project. If the first episode is anything to go by, and I’m sure it is, the enthusiasm is well founded. It was a very strong opener and promises to be an excellent series.
It all sounds very traditionalist.
Well, yes, and at first sight you think “Oh well, he’s an old fashioned authoritarian whose against independence and against Gandhi,” and that’s one view of him. But then you dig a little deeper and you find out that this man, when he was Viceroy, went to the Royal Bombay Yacht Club with a group of Indian friends – that in itself made me sit up and take note – and was refused entry, because he was accompanied by Indian friends. What did he do? He founded his own sports and social club, which was open to all races, and still exists to this day. It’s called the Willingdon Sports and Social Club. Now that’s a hook upon which I’ve hung his character, because whatever else he was, he must have had a streak of decency about him. And the more I read, the more I realised that actually he’s a man who wanted to do the best in difficult circumstances. Of course he felt the Indian’s weren’t ready for independence, so in that sense he patronised them. But he still loved them, and he still enjoyed their company and their culture. He was fascinated by it. So he was caught between the traditionalist view of empire and the modern world. He was a man towards the end of his life, trying desperately to keep up, and always being slightly behind the curve. I think he was a decent man trying to do an impossible job. So you can shift him away from stereotype and cardboard villain into something much more human.
And we all know that Patrick Malahide excels at playing nuanced characters who refuse to conform to preconceived stereotypes, so I’m sure the Viceroy will have some considerable depth.
It is a very interesting interview, so I’m very pleased that Channel 4 have posted it.