Stephen Mangan interview: 'I’m delighted people still talk about "Green Wing"'
We find out how Stephen Mangan is coping with playing a very silly man (again) in 'Perfect Nonsense'
Tue Nov 5 2013
Actor Stephen Mangan made his name with the Channel 4 sitcom ‘Green Wing’ in which he played womanising anaesthetist Guy Secretan. Having also starred as Adrian Mole in ‘The Cappuccino Years’ and Dirk Gently, Mangan takes on another literary hero in the form of PG Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster in the West End comedy ‘Perfect Nonsense’.
Bertie Wooster is basically a buffoon, isn’t he?
‘Sometimes you think he is one of the most stupid men ever to have put one foot in front of another, and other times he’s actually pretty smart. I’m definitely performing him as Stan Laurel in the double act relationship. He’s loyal, a good person, enthusiastic and he’s got a naivety that’s mistaken for stupidity.’
Jeeves and Wooster are two of Britain’s most loved comedy characters. Have you been feeling the pressure?
‘There is a seething mass of PG Wodehouse enthusiasts who care very much how you do it, but not in a will-break-your-legs-if-you-get-it-wrong kind of way. Everyone has their own idea of how he should be. So yeah, it’s both exciting and nerve-wracking.’
You, Matthew Macfadyen and Mark Hadfield play all the characters. Is it hard work?
‘Yes, I’ve lost a stone in the last five weeks. We had great fun in rehearsals, though. I just play Bertie while Matt and Mark dazzle the audience with their dexterity. I think probably the hardest part of the whole thing was to learn my lines, because I never stop talking for two hours.’
Your career has been very varied, but do you find people always refer back to ‘Green Wing’?
‘I’m delighted people still talk about it. It made a huge difference to my life and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever been involved in. Those jobs are rare. The rest of the cast and I were able to bring what was really unique about us to the project.’
You’ve done theatre, film, radio and TV – is there one you prefer?
‘They all have their own particular joys. But I think it’s really great to say something funny and hear people laugh. That is an unbeatable feeling.’
- Critics choice
PG Wodehouse's comic characters arrive on stage for the first time in this new play, adapted from the writer's novels with the blessing of the Wodehouse estate. The two characters, immortalised by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry in the early '90s TV adaptation, will be played by Matthew 'Spooks' Macfadyen (Jeeves) and Stephen 'Green Wing' Mangan (Bertie Wooster). Sean Foley, whose production of 1955 Ealing comedy 'The Ladykillers' is about to reopen in the West End, will direct.