It’s quite a weird experience interviewing Mark, especially having just recently watched his role in Game of Thrones as Shagga. What you expect is a rather intimidating wild gruff voice, but what you actually get is a remarkably well spoken gentleman. It’s only after you think back to his roles such as Capt Jonathan Bell in the hit series Soldier Soldier, that it dawns on you that it really shouldn’t be surprising at all. We were met with a smile as we approached Mark and he very kindly agreed to do an interview with us.
Game of Thrones, fantastic role, how did you get it, and where were you when the got confirmation of the role?
I got the role through the usual route, I went to lots of meetings! Game of Thrones was a huge casting for them in London and I went up for a couple of other roles first and eventually I got offered “Shagga”. I think I was at home when I got the offer from my agent and I was then sent over to Belfast to shoot it.
The accent for Shagga, where did you derive that from?
Well, I think they originally wanted a very sort of gruff voice of somebody who would be living in a forest environment, in one of the scenes, the one with Peter, he had quite a lot to say so we toned it down a bit in order to make it understandable. The voice had to match the look, it had to be reflective of a man who lived a wild life in the forest.
And what was it like working alongside the likes of Peter Dinklage?
Oh it was fantastic, I mean it was a pleasure to work with Peter and Charles (Dance), and the other actors in the series It was a great experience, but it was the first series, the pilot almost, so no-one knew how popular and successful it was going to become. And Peter is a really smashing chap, very easy to work with as is Charles Dance.
How did you get from being a stage actor to doing Game of Thrones?
Well, most of my earlier work as you say was stage, I did a lot of stage and then roundabout late nineties I started to do more television. I did a series called “The Bench” for BBC Wales and that kind of kick started a lot of television, and then I did nothing but television (laughs) for about nine years. And in the last twelve or thirteen years I’ve only been on stage twice.
Do you miss being on stage?
The play I’ve just done, “Privates on Parade”, part of the Michael Grandage season, it was wonderful to be on stage again, and it was something that was such fun to do, but I do love filming. They’re both very different but the intentions are still the same, you just have to repeat every night for stage work. One of the appeals of television and film is doing it once and never doing it again.
Do you approach those types of work differently?
Well, apart from the obvious, with the obvious being that on stage you have to project far more and repeat it, whereas you nail it once hopefully on TV or Film, and that’s it done, you move onto the next bit. And of course in TV and film, it’s not chronological mainly so you’re doing scenes sometimes from the end of the film, or the end of the piece right at the beginning f the shoot.
Is it weird doing that?
Well, you kind of get used to it. You have to slot in.
Stage work, it seems a lot of British actors, along with Australian / Kiwi actors are filling a very large number of roles (Chris Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban and so on) in Hollywood films at the moment.
Yes, it does seem that way doesn’t it. Well, there’s a lot of talent out there and they are doing extremely well. Some friends of mine are out there and they’re doing fantastic work, and as long as people are maintaining that standard, it’s great.
Do you think that’s down the stage work with the RSC and Lamda etc?
I certainly think there’s a heritage in this country isn’t there, that goes back a long time, and I think we’ve all benefited from that. People’s experiences are passed down through generations.
Our 4 minutes are up, thank you very much for your time Mark!
Not at all, thank you!
Once again a big thank to Jess, Kevin, Gemma and Zoe of the Showmaster’s crew for helping us to arrange the interview with Mark during a very busy London Film and Comic Con, and a special thank you also to the people who were patiently waiting behind us!