Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: Marc Warren on the team

The Gentleman actor Marc Warren talks Strange, Norrell and director Toby Haynes

The Gentleman with the Thistle Down Hair (Marc Warren) casts a spell for Mr Norrell (Eddie Marsan)
The Gentleman with the Thistle Down Hair (Marc Warren) casts a spell for Mr Norrell (Eddie Marsan)
The Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair (Marc Warren) casts a spell for Mr Norrell (Eddie Marsan)

The BBC’s latest fantasy miniseries Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell has earned itself legions of fans over the last seven Sundays. Unfortunately the series came to an end last night, but it definitely bowed out in style. We talked to Marc Warren, the gentleman behind the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair, about his magical time on the show…

Director Toby Haynes told us you were really eager to be part of the series. Did you want to play the Gentleman in particular?

Yes! It was Richard and Judy, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, who mentioned the book to me years before and they said they thought I’d be good in the part, so when I found out they were making it I made sure I got an audition for it. I met Toby and got the gig.

What did you do for your audition?

I just came in and I did some scenes and I guess I did the voice that is in the show and I had an idea roughly about what I wanted to do, so I just did that. There was obviously something in there that Toby liked because it went well. I could have done something else and someone else could have got the part. I also wrote a little spell. I gave a spell to him. I wrote a thing called a sigil and I sort of laid that on him as I went in. That added a slight element to it.

How long did it take to get into the Gentleman makeup?

It took three hours altogether. Three hours with the wig and the makeup and the costume.

Have you met Susanna Clarke [author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell] since you started working on the series?

Yes, I have. She’s great! She came onto set and I met her one lunchtime. I think she found me a bit scary. I think it was quite strange for her to meet me but once we got chatting we got on really well, and I wrote to her a couple of times. I wrote a couple of emails to her and yes, she’s a very interesting woman.

How did you find working with Eddie Marsan and Bertie Carvel [who play Mr Norrell and Jonathan Strange respectively]?  

They are great! I’d worked with Eddie before. Eddie and I did one of our first films together called B Monkey. It was a long time ago, in 1998. So we’d done that together. I’ve always known Eddie and been aware of Eddie. And Bertie I’d never worked with but I’d seen him in Matilda and spoken to him afterwards, and they are great. They are very different but perfect. They both approached it in very different ways. They were perfect for the roles.

How was Toby Haynes during filming? We know he’s very passionate about the story.

Yeah, Toby’s great! He’s like a big kid. He has endless energy, he’s very likeable and I just got on really well with him. I had a very good rapport with him and I felt that he was happy with what I was doing so we just really enjoyed the process.

Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from RLJ Entertainment’s Acorn Label. Get all the latest fantasy news inside every issue of SciFiNow.