When Lorne MacFadyen first heard that he’d won the part of soccer legend Bobby Moore in the British miniseries Tina and Bobby, he was on a train in Scotland, sitting in the quiet car. “I wasn’t able to celebrate very loudly,” the 26-year-old actor recalls over the phone. “But it was a great moment and an absolute privilege to get that—a real honor.”
Originally from the Isle of Skye, and island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland with a population of just over 10,000, MacFadyen studied media at university for a year before enrolling at the prestigious Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. He booked his first television job, a British detective series called Shetland, while still at school, and appeared as an extra in a Belle and Sebastian music video alongside some of his classmates. “We all learned a dance routine, but I am not the most gifted dancer in the world,” he says with a laugh. “I was so enthusiastic, but they put me outside. If you actually see it, I just appear in a window frame in the back because they were trying to hide … well, anything,” he continues.
After graduating in 2015, MacFadyen joined the second season of Grantchester, PBS’s period drama starring James Norton, as a “cocky copper” named Phil Wilkinson—a role he’ll resume when the show returns later this year. Before filming Tina and Bobby, which just aired on ITV in the UK and is currently available there via ITV.com, he completed another police series called The Level. As for what’s next, he tells us that ideally, he’d like to work on a film. “In terms of subject matter, I don’t really have a type of film that I’d like to make. It’s all about my first reaction to the script—if I see something which excites me, or if I get a visceral reaction to the script in one way or another,” he explains. “Every job you take is a bit of a gamble, and I quite enjoy that. I quite like not knowing how a project is going to turn out. You can make your best assessment based on who’s involved and what the subject matter is, but every single time you go up for a job, it’s a gamble.”
HOMETOWN: Isle of Skye, Scotland. Skye is beautiful, but it’s very quiet. Growing up there, I didn’t really know I was going to do acting because there weren’t many opportunities around. There wasn’t any theater, but there’s a lot of music and stuff like that. Not many clubs, just pubs—not any clubs, actually. It’s so nice to go back now and have that quiet. I’d like to say that it isn’t that small, but it kind of is. When you go out for a night out there, pretty much everyone you’re having to nod at, and every car that goes past you’re waving. Everyone knows each other’s business, and everyone is very supportive of each other as well.
CURRENT BASE: London, England. I trained in Glasgow, so I’ve been living in cities for about eight years. My whole adult life I’ve been away from Skye, but London is really different. London is a big culture shock for me. There’s a different pace down here, so I do have to take a little bit of time to adjust. I try to spend just enough time in each place before it sends me mad one way or another.
FAMILY BACKGROUND: [Everyone is] creative in their own way, I would say. Not in their profession; my mum’s a nurse, my dad’s a mechanic, and my sister’s a nurse as well. My family has got a real passion for films and they’ve got a real sense of humor, which I think I get from them.
FORMATIVE FILMS: [When I was little] I was a big fan of Jaws. That was one of the first films I saw, disturbingly, so I was probably four. It didn’t terrify me; I was just fascinated with sharks after that. I watched that on repeat. It’s one of my favorite films. It’s just got the best character relationships between those three guys on the boat. I don’t think it will ever be dated. It’s such a classic. That and Grease—I was really obsessed with Grease, which is funny, cause I’m not really big on musicals. I thought Danny Zuko was the coolest dude I’d ever seen.
THE VALUE OF DRAMA SCHOOL: I had a great time. It gives you the opportunity to act every day, which is very rare, even for professional actors who are working top level. I really got to try things; I got to play parts out of my age range and out of my casting—it’s a really good opportunity for that. Most people at this stage don’t put the trust in you to play something wildly different from yourself, so my only opportunity for that sort of thing was in drama school. But sometimes there is more drama off the stage than on it.
FAVORITE ROLES: I played Horner in The Country Wife, which is a restoration comedy. He’s the main part. He basically lies about being a eunuch—he tells everyone that he’s a eunuch in order to get closer to the other men’s wives and have his way with them. It was a quite outlandish character and we set it in modern London. He was almost like an androgynous rock star, like Bowie or Russell Brand. The costumes were amazing and I just got to be quite outrageous, which was very good fun. I also got my agent from that show.
Surprisingly [I found it easy] because there was no holding back, and his motivations were very clear, which is unusual; a lot of the time there are so many obstacles in the way of what your character is trying to achieve and their motivations are quite obscure. It was really a simple drive that he had, and that was really good fun to play.
RELATING TO YOUR CHARACTER: Everyone’s got an imagination, so no matter what part you play, even if you’re playing something which is completely different from yourself, there are aspects of the character which are always going to be similar. Everyone is good and bad at different points in their life—I guess it’s about exaggerating certain aspects of yourself to bring yourself closer to the character. I think sometimes it’s more of a stretch just because of your life situation. In A View from the Bridge, I played this middle-aged lawyer, Alfieri. It’s a fantastic part, but I had absolutely nothing in common with him—it’s a New York lawyer in the 1950s and middle-aged. So you have to find some common ground in maybe his compassion or attributes of the character himself rather than his life situation. You do have to work harder, but there’s always some sort of common thing that you can tap into.
WHEN YOU DON’T GET THE PART: I don’t see it as a rejection if you don’t get something; you need to be right for the part, and if you don’t get something, it’s probably better for you in a way because if it’s not right for you, it can be quite exposing. I think if you understand how the industry works and that the casting directors know what they’re doing, good ones, you don’t really feel the rejection as much.
BOBBY MOORE AND THE EVOLUTION OF SOCCER: Other than that he’d won the World Cup, I didn’t really know anything about him, so it was really amazing to hear his story and hear about what a brave man he was and a real gentleman on the pitch. He went through thick and thin throughout his life. Just two years before winning the World Cup, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He overcame it and then captained his team to the European Cup, and then the following year, lifted the World Cup. It’s pretty amazing. Then you’d have thought that that would be him sorted after the World Cup, but actually his career didn’t have that same upward trajectory. He really struggled at the end of his career to find decent work. A lot of people say that he wasn’t properly supported and it’s only after his death that he’s now being recognized for what he did, which I think is quite a shame. He did have quite a hard time of it.
The game today is very different to what it was back then. There’s a lot more money in football now, so the stakes are a lot higher, there’s a lot of investment, there’s a lot of big bosses. There’s still a lot of passion in it today, of course, but back then, playing for your country seemed to mean more because there wasn’t the money [that there is now] in the Premiere League, for example. Now, it sometimes is seen as a second-rate thing to the Premiere League.
TINA AND BOBBY IS NOW AVAILABLE IN THE UK VIA ITV.COM.