Magazine article The Spectator

A Break from Posh - Robert Gore-Langton Talks to Ed Stoppard, Who Is about to Share the Stage with a Supermodel

Magazine article The Spectator

A Break from Posh - Robert Gore-Langton Talks to Ed Stoppard, Who Is about to Share the Stage with a Supermodel

Article excerpt

The actor Ed Stoppard is kicking off the year in some nice period costumes. One of our brightest young actors, he's back at 165 Eaton Place in the new BBC Upstairs Downstairs (reviewed on page 60) playing the diplomat Sir Hallam Holland. It's got gas masks, the Munich Crisis, cocktails, a dead pet monkey, the odd conchie servant and, not least from Ed's point of view, some great clothes.

'In this series I get to wear jodhpurs and hacking jacket, naval uniform, black tie, white tie and a dressing-gown that would make Hugh Hefner green with envy. It will look sumptuous - more so than the last series. So there will be more bang for your buck, ' says Stoppard, who is hardly ever off-screen in a show whose great blessing is that, unlike Downton Abbey, it doesn't have adverts every three minutes.

In London, the 36-year-old actor is also about to open in a new play, opposite the gorgeous if atrociously spelt supermodel Agyness Deyn (formerly known as Laura Hollins). She made it on to the cover of Vogue, having been discovered while working in a Hull fish-and-chip shop. So can we expect some cod acting in this her stage debut in a tiny 80-seat theatre in the West End? 'Listen, she can act. She can genuinely act, ' says Ed gallantly. 'Like you, I didn't know who she was. All I know is she's a 28-year-old supermodel and what on earth must they earn? She certainly doesn't need to be working in Trafalgar Studios 2. She's doing it because she wants to. I think she's incredibly brave.'

The play, by Quebecois playwright Francois Archambault, is a sexually very frank comedy about self-obsessed, utterly ghastly East Coast yuppies who are keen to adopt a Chinese child largely because it'll be good at maths. 'It's genuinely funny, it's contemporary, very American. It's really all about the cost of keeping up with the Joneses and the truth is that for me it's a change. There are certain parts of the industry where you can have a bit more control.

In theatre, that's the fringe, where you can have a crack at different things. The fact is I have spent a considerable part of my career playing, for want of a better term, posh people in period roles.'

You can see what he means. He has recently been in Any Human Heart, Belle du Seigneur (as another diplomat) and he has played famous Euro-poshies Tchaikovsky and Hamlet. Posh, though, has its advantages. The actor Simon Williams, star of the original Upstairs Downstairs, once observed that the caterers and film crew treated the show's upstairs cast much more deferentially than they did the downstairs skivvies, which is almost too good to be true. But Ed Stoppard feels he needs a break from posh.

'Honestly, look at my CV and they go on and fucking on! They are fantastic roles and I had a great time playing them. But there's a risk of being pigeonholed. I have woken up and thought, "Shit, I have just played five characters in the 1930s." The fact is, I don't play many drug dealers who talk li'that, ' he says in his best mockney.

Edmund Stoppard is the son of Tom Stoppard by his second marriage to Miriam Stoppard, whom he left for Felicity Kendal. Ed has got his father's cheekbones, jawline and full lips. He cuts a very similar dash. Perhaps the most endearing thing about Ed is that he clearly adores his witty father, though in showbiz having a famous pater is a mixed blessing. …

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