How to Survive a Showbiz Marriage -- and Staying Best Friends with My Ex ; Keeley Hawes Stars in the Final Ashes to Ashes Series Tomorrow. She Talks to Liz Hoggard about Juggling the Thespian Life

By Hoggard, Liz | The Evening Standard (London, England), April 1, 2010 | Go to article overview
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How to Survive a Showbiz Marriage -- and Staying Best Friends with My Ex ; Keeley Hawes Stars in the Final Ashes to Ashes Series Tomorrow. She Talks to Liz Hoggard about Juggling the Thespian Life


Hoggard, Liz, The Evening Standard (London, England)


KEELEY Hawes set millions of pulses racing after her first appearance in Ashes to Ashes in suspenders and a micro-mini. So it's a slight shock when you meet her to realise that the 34-year-old is the mother of three young children under 10. If anything, the daughter of a London cabbie is more attractive in the flesh ,with greygreen eyes and a fine bone structure -- the film director Robert Altman once compared her to a prize racehorse.

The final series of the cop time-travel drama which starts tomorrow is the most eagerly awaited TV event of the year. Hawes's character, police psychologist Alex Drake, will finally find out why she was catapulted back to the year 1981, and we'll discover the truth about DCI Hunt. She can't tell me if the on-off flirtation between Alex and Gene Hunt (the man who calls her "Bollyknickers") will tip into a full-blown affair, but it sounds promising.

A refined, cerebral actress, Hawes admits it can be hard playing a femme fatale when you have young kids but is able to juggle childcare thanks to three men in her life -- her husband, Pride and Prejudice star Matthew Macfadyen (father of her two youngest children, Maggie, five, and Ralph, three); her ex-husband, cartoonist Spencer McCallum (with whom she had her oldest son, Myles, nine), and her male nanny Adam.

She'd only been married to Spencer for two months when she realised she was in love with Macfadyen. They met on the set of Spooks in 2002 and it was a coup de foudre. "Matthew just came straight out with it and said, 'I love you' in the rain one day. I thought, 'Oh dear, here we go'."

Hawes left her marriage of eight weeks (her son Myles was only two) for Macfadyen and predictably the tabloids had a field day. Her own parents have been married for 40 years, and she describes divorce as "horrific -- up there with death as one of the worst things that can happen".

It makes her empathise with Kate Winslet's split from her second husband Sam Mendes, in which Winslet is left with two children from two husbands. "Suddenly you're looking at an entirely different thing with two dads and then you might meet someone else and then you've got all that going on ... The idea of that is quite frightening ... having to do it all again," she says carefully. "Look at Sandra Bullock (who has recently separated from her unfaithful husband), she's taken her husband's children under her wing, she won't want to disappear from their lives. It's hugely complicated. Actually I'm feeling much better about myself," she laughs. "But people make it work. Everyone survives, don't they?" She married Macfadyen at Richmond-upon-Thames register office in November 2004 when she was seven months pregnant, and today they all live in Twickenham with a flock of chickens.

Her ex-husband Spencer has a new partner and lives nearby, so her son Myles has all the time he needs with his dad. "I have a great relationship with Spen-cer's parents, and they have a brilliant relationship with all my children which, to their credit, is something they've made work so well. They treat them all the same and I'm forever grateful because I'm sure some people wouldn't feel the same way. But Spencer's parents have been phenomenal with my children.

And Spencer is a great friend of my family now. We're all grown- ups."

Macfadyen is starring in the sexually charged Private Lives opposite Kim Cattrall, and while lesser women might be jealous, Hawes says she and her husband are a good balance temperamentally: "He's very calm. I'm the fiery one." Though it's not easy being married to an actor, she jokes. "I've had him come home with prematurely white hair, and then he had a tonsure shaved into his hair for six months last year. I tried to work with that, but it lost its novelty." Meanwhile Hawes wore basques and leather for Ashes.

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