Britain's hard-working, soulful MacKay keeps films coming

Mon Oct 6, 2014 7:04pm EDT
 
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - At 22, George MacKay may not turn heads when he walks into a coffee shop in his native London, but give him a few more years -- and the release of a movie in which he co-stars with Viggo Mortensen -- and that is bound to change.

MacKay, whose first film role came at age 10 as one of the Lost Boys in a 2003 version of "Peter Pan", is building a reputation as a versatile, up-and-coming character actor who can play just about anything -- as long as the part suits someone whose entire demeanor, from his large eyes to the elongated oval shape of his face, says "soulful".

"I want as much as I can to try and explore different roles and different characters, that's important to me to get involved in as many different parts as I can," MacKay said over coffee in a hotel where, at least for now, no one approached him for an autograph.

Next year, he will appear in the Mortensen vehicle "Captain Fantastic" about an idealistic father, played by the former Aragorn of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, who brings his children back to society after a decade of living "off the grid" in the Pacific Northwest.

Working with the polyglot Danish-American was "amazing", MacKay said, not least for the experience of filming in New Mexico. Unlike Britain, the distances between cities are so vast, and it is so dark at night, that MacKay said at times he felt like he was in "a sea of blackness".

In the meantime, MacKay couldn't ask for a better demonstration of his versatility than his two current films in Britain - "Pride", on general release, and "Bypass", showing this month at the London Film Festival.

In the first he plays the young, middle-class Joe who is from the London borough of Bromley, and is coming to terms with his homosexuality. Joe, a fictional character, joins a group of gays and lesbians who, in events based on real life, supported the bitter and hard-fought 1984-85 miners' strike in the much-less-gay-friendly Britain of Margaret Thatcher.

In the second he is Tim, who must work as a fence, speeding stolen goods to clients on his bicycle, to support himself and his teenage sister who are under threat of being evicted from their house for non-payment of rent. Tim's life is a hell of skirting the law and flirting with death from an unnamed disease that is mostly affecting his skin.   Continued...

 
Actor George Mackay arrives for the London Critics' Circle Film Awards in London February 2, 2014.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor