Harry Hadden-Paton is an actor who I was familiar with as the man who married Edith in Downton Abbey – we all wanted a happy ending for the unlucky middle daughter of the Grantham family, didn’t we? However, I have recently had the pleasure of watching Harry on stage alongside Anne Reid and James Bolam in a new play called Fracked! Or please Don’t Use The F-Word. I was delighted to chat with Harry about his character in the production.
Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Harry, tell me your character, Joe…
Joe’s a chatty character and he likes the sound of his own voice, he does the PR for Deerland Energy.
What did you think of the script when you first saw it?
When I read it I thought the part just spoke to me in a way because I’ve played a series of nice guys in Downton Abbey and The Crown. So it’s quite nice to do something different, but I’m also in Versailles playing a villain too. I get heckled and admonished on stage occasionally for being mean to Anne (Reid) about her Aga cooker!
Going back to your role in Downton Abbey, what are your highlights of being part of that series?
It was an amazing experience, there were no teething difficulties and everything ran perfectly because they’d done it for six years. Everyone was really welcoming and I got to go in with a big storyline so I was really spoiled. Laura (Carmichael, who played Edith) and I filmed the last scene of the whole series together which was the one in The Ritz. That was the last ever day’s filming on Downton, t was filmed through the night whilst guests were sleeping upstairs and all of the members of the costume and make up departments were in costume playing the extras in the scene. So everyone sitting at the tables surrounding us were people that had worked on the show for years and in between takes were putting their napkins down, getting up out of their seats and touching up our make up! It was a really special occasion, the slight anti-climax being that at 6am when we finished. we had to be quite quiet because everyone was still asleep. There were a few whispered speeches! It was fun getting to know them all, the things about going into something like that is they’ve all known each other for years, they’ve experienced the highs and the lows of becoming household names. There’s a lot of history there and on the downside I’m the new boy, but on the plus side it was a great experience to be with them all.
Do you have a preference between stage and screen work? What differences between the two do you notice?
I did an awful lot of theatre to begin with and I loved it and I’ve always loved it, I’ll always do it – this is the first play I’ve done in about four years. I love working on screen too, it’s been a real learning curve getting to know how a camera works, how to create a character, sustain it over that amount of time. Fracked has come along and I’ve been able to do it while filming the second series of The Crown which is a bonus.
Finally, what would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket to come and see the play?
Come and see it because (I hope) it’s funny, that’s the big draw – there are lots of laughs, we get rounds of applause in the middle of scenes. It’s fresh, it’s new and it’s Anne Reid and James Bolam being hilarious, there’s not a line wasted. You’ll learn something as well.