Casualty Star Simon MacCorkindale talks about his latest play, Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest, and explains how close he came to playing James Bond. . .
What’s The Unexpected Guest about, Simon?
It’s the story of a man who arrives at a property in South Wales after having trouble with his car. When he enters the property he finds a dead body, and a woman who claims she’s responsible for the murder. The man, for a variety of reasons, decides to set about trying to give her an alibi…
Why do you think Agatha Christie is so enduringly popular?
Everybody enjoys a puzzle. That’s why crosswords and SuDoku are so popular, it’s the reason for the longstanding appeal of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Mastermind and University Challenge. In the theatre, this kind of thing is interactive, with the audience trying to work it out before the cast.
You’re best known from TV and film, but is theatre your first love?
I think it’s the lifeblood for actors of my generation because it’s where we all started. It’s probably different now because there are so many TV opportunities for young actors, but you don’t get that audience reaction with TV, and having immediate response is important for an actor.
You’ve had success in Hollywood how did that come about?
I was making a movie with Charles Bronson in Mexico in the late 1970s, and took the chance to go to Los Angeles and meet various casting directors. I got my break in a mini-series with Pierce Brosnan called the Manions Of America, and things just developed from there.
You were often linked with the role of James Bond – how close did you get to playing 007?
Well, Roger Moore told me that he’d been told I was taking over from him, but it was news to me! It wasn’t a part I chased, to be honest, because, to tell the truth, I thought the Bond franchise would finish after Roger – movies seemed to be taking a different direction. It was only later on that I decided I was interested, but by then my agent was also Timothy Dalton’s agent and he was already busy pushing Tim’s name forward for the part
What does the future hold – would you consider a Celebrity Big Brother
No, it’s not for me. I can see how it can help some people’s careers, but to be honest, I regard it as ‘humiliation TV’, the equivalent of bear-baiting Victorian era. No, after i finish touring The Unexpected Guest I’m straight back into filming Casualty, and that will pretty much take up my time until the end of the year. Beyond that I don’t know. I’m very happy with Casualty but whether I’m still there in 2008 is very much up to the BBC.
The Unexpected Guest runs at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, from 26 February to 3 March.