HARRY Potter star Jason Isaacs has a very different role in a terrific new BBC1 drama series set in America.
Known to millions as evil wizard Lucius Malfoy, he plays the maverick British Ambassador to Washington in The State Within.
“The BBC archives were fantastic,” recalls Jason. “I said, ‘Do you have any material about embassies or diplomats?’ A truck pulled up.”
The first episode of the six-part conspiracy thriller, which also features Cagney and Lacey’s Sharon Gless, is on screen in Britain on Thursday November 2 and begins on BBC America next February.
Filmed in Canada – with Toronto doubling for Washington – the opening episode includes stunning scenes of a terrorist bomb attack on a passenger plane which has just taken off from the US capital, bound for London.
The spectacular set caused quite a stir among drivers heading for Toronto Airport, as you can read in yesterday’s MEN TV feature here.
Jason, 43, was in good form when we spoke at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in London’s Piccadilly one night earlier this week.
He’s as impressive off screen as on and talks with intelligence and enthusiasm.
Older readers may remember him as City dealer Chas Ewell (right) in ITV’s classic 1989 series Capital City. He’s gone on to a variety of roles, including Captain Hook in the 2003 movie version of Peter Pan.
A father of two young girls, Jason has just appeared as Michael Caffee in the first series of US TV drama Brotherhood – about two brothers on different sides of the law.
Made on location in Rhode Island, Brotherhood has been commissioned for a second series, which means yet more time away for Jason.
So another big job in Canada was simply not on his agenda. “It was not my plan to come home, unpack, re-pack and go to Toronto for six months,” he explains.
Watch The State Within and you’ll understand why he changed his mind.
He’s also refreshingly honest about the film-making process, which involved a separate crew shooting exterior scenes of Washington landmarks – even though the cast were in Canada.
“It was odd because, obviously, we didn’t shoot in the States. So when you see the characters crossing the road in Washington on the way to the Pentagon, it’s a lookie-likie Stars In Their Eyes.”
Even though Jason misses his wife and kids, there’s no self-pity about his work schedule.
“I know one thing. It’s much better to be working than it is sitting at home making buying your light bulb into an entire afternoon’s activity. I try and look at the glass being half full.
“In life, the quest is to try and be happy with what you’ve got when you’ve got it. I do some work for Great Ormond Street Hospital and you meet these unbelievably inspirational kids who spend their whole life raising money for the hospital when they’re very sick themselves.
“We should all count ourselves lucky.”
Thriller Sparked Mass Panic
Brotherhood Fan Site Page
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity