Another Downside production then

I have seen Jared Harris terrible. In a dire theatre production ten years ago of Les Liaisons Dangereuses — where, as it happens, he met his second wife, Emilia Fox — the actor not only rendered the seducer Valmont sexless, but rendered him thus in the voice of John Mortimer. I have also seen him acting well. His Lane Pryce, the English advertising executive hoping to make it among the Mad Men of Madison Avenue, may have talked in a strangely unconvincing accent, but who was not shocked, and moved, when he hanged himself?

Now, however, I have seen Harris being utterly magnificent. He plays George VI in Netflix’s extraordinary forthcoming serial, The Crown, a £100 million dramatisation of the Queen’s reign, written by The Audience’s Peter Morgan and starring Claire Foy as Elizabeth II.

I wonder where Jamie Harris is in all of this. Morgan and Jamie were in my year at Downside, Jared the year (?) above.

Perhaps that thing about social groupings formed at exclusive schools has something to it? Although we’ve still got to explain my absence from any such of course (the explanation being that there was a decent amount of mutual hatred going on there).

9 thoughts on “Another Downside production then”

  1. I wonder whether comprehensivisation sent able people to Public Schools who might otherwise have attended Grammar Schools.

  2. @dearieme

    Yes, it did in my case. I went to a selective public school despite the cost. My working-class folks really had to think hard about if they could afford it.

    (well, Mum was probably on the boundary of working and middle class, though I think factory overtime meant Dad earned more)

  3. I’m trying to parse the final part of that first paragraph. Was it the actor or the character who shockingly hanged himself? Presumably, if the former, he was unsuccessful. Or was he? Can’t imagine George V1 would be a particularly challenging role for a corpse.

  4. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Everyone gets cast in a play at public school at least once a year whether they hate it or not (I hated it. Hated, hated, hated it. Brrr.) So the ones that decide they do want to prance about playing dress-up are exposed early.

    My place never really turned out any megastars although Julia Ormond was in demand for a while and Patrick Marber is generally good value. Oh, and there was the bloke that played The Master on Doctor Who.

  5. I dare say that Public Schools also have debating societies, where one can exploit a taste for hearing one’s own voice.

    Do comps typically have one?

  6. Bloke in Costa Rica

    The primary justification for the Debating Society seemed to be that it taught you how to convincingly present an argument in which you did not believe. I was in it, of course, but that never sat very well with me. I assume it was good practise for being a lawyer or a pol, and I dare say it’s why so many lawyers become pols. As they say, the hardest thing is sincerity, and once you can fake that you’ve got it made.

  7. Ian Reid,

    “It’s astounding isn’t it how many of the current crop of successful British actors are posh boys.”

    Actors have been posh boys for decades. And this isn’t just a UK thing. You look at the childhood of most US actors – they were born in upper middle class homes.

    I suspect the reason is that it’s not a well-paid job, but posh boys can fall back on family money to keep going for longer. I’m almost certain with all the money spent that acting’s a negative job – add up the amount spent on education, lessons, attending auditions, producing marketing stuff and I doubt it breaks even.

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