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Mackenzie Crook interview

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Post  eddie Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:48 pm

Mackenzie Crook: 'I could go through life playing characters like Gareth but that's no challenge'

The actor who made his name in The Office talks about Jerusalem, playing against type in The Recruiting Officer, and his debut as a children's author

Interview by Gemma Kappala-Ramsamy

The Observer, Sunday 18 March 2012

Mackenzie Crook interview Mackenzie-crook-007
Mackenzie Crook: having 'a blast' at the Donmar. Photograph: Carolyn Contino/BEI /Rex Features

Having risen to fame in The Office, Crook played Ragetti in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy while making a name for himself in the theatre, most notably as Ginger, alongside Mark Rylance, in the West End and Broadway hit Jerusalem. He's currently starring in The Recruiting Officer at the Donmar Warehouse and will narrate Peter & the Wolf Live at the Southbank from 8 April.

What drew you to play Sergeant Kite in The Recruiting Officer?

I'd worked with the director, Josie Rourke, before, when I did a play at the Bush theatre. Something told her I might be right for this part so she offered it to me. It is a bit of a remove from other stuff I've done but that was the attraction. I could go through my life playing characters like Gareth out of The Office but that's no challenge and those parts would soon dry up once people got bored. Kite is a big, larger-than-life character, not the usual nerdy sidekicks that I often get. It was a role that I didn't immediately think I could do – that was why I chose to do it.

What's the atmosphere like backstage?

Compared to Jerusalem, which was incredible but quite full-on, exhausting emotionally and physically, this is just a lot more fun, a real blast. There's eight of us in one dressing room, and five girls in the other, so it's very communal. We're completely sold out and the audiences are loving it, so it's an absolute joy to do.

You've recently written and illustrated a children's book, The Windvale Sprites. Where did the idea come from?

The seed was sown way back in 1987 with the great storm that hit England with hurricane-force winds. That's when it's loosely set. The morning after I found stuff in my garden that had been blown from who knows where, and I thought, what if I'd found something incredible in my garden, like this dead fairy-type creature?

It's been nominated for the Waterstone's children's book prize. How would you feel if you won?

It would be quite unbelievable. I'm not concerned about winning - I'm over the moon just to be nominated.

Do you miss Jerusalem?

The rehearsals for The Recruiting Officer started two weeks before the end of Jerusalem, so I didn't really have any period of mourning, and I still haven't had a chance to miss it, really. It was good to move on immediately from something that was so profound in my life.

You've also signed up to narrate Peter & The Wolf Live at the Southbank.

Yeah, it immediately appealed to me. It's a beautiful piece of music and the animation is incredible. I have a very visual image in my head of what these characters are like and how they move, through the instruments… It's just another way of getting something inspiring into the heads of the younger generation.
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