Julian Rhind-Tutt: Man of The HourThe ex-Green Wing star on the BBC's new drama about 1950s journalists – and how his big Bond moment ended with a bang
Article by Tom Lamont, The Observer, Sunday 24th July 2011
Julian Rhind-Tutt emerges from Maida Vale tube just as I'm whizzing by in a car, and at that point a terrible snap decision is made. Is it our attempt to shake hands, mid-road, that most annoys the drivers behind or the subsequent struggle with a folding car seat? It shows admirable restraint, anyway, that the motorists of north-west London refrain from murdering us both when it looks as if we're about to park up for the day in the middle of a box junction.
Ten minutes later, in a cafe near the 43-year-old actor's home, Rhind-Tutt suggests a drink. It's mid-afternoon and he wouldn't normally, he says, but what the hell – we're here to talk about The Hour, the new BBC drama series about hard-living TV journalists in the 1950s, and there's something fittingly old hack about getting in the vodka tonics before teatime.
"I play a horrible press secretary," says Rhind-Tutt of his role in the Abi Morgan-written show, all "high waistbanded trousers and thin ties". Episode one aired last Tuesday and Rhind-Tutt's performance has been acclaimed ("The star of the show," wrote one reviewer). It is The Hour's sleek 50s costumes, if not its subject matter, that have invited comparisons with Mad Men, but Rhind-Tutt says he's never seen the US show. "In my limited experience of TV dramas, taking as long as they do to come to fruition, I can well imagine Abi Morgan sitting down to write this before the creators of Mad Men were born."
There's something appealingly haphazard about the man (when we were holding up traffic he was clutching both an iPad and a browning banana skin) and it's reflected in the career. One of his first parts on leaving Warwick University in the mid-90s was a supporting role in megahit The Madness of King George. A few years ago, he came to prominence in his own right as the lax lead surgeon in Channel 4 comedy Green Wing, but the years in between were a mixed bag – adverts and audiobooks, bit parts in sitcoms and cameos in blockbusters.
Perhaps it's the strikingly angular, old-young face, but he makes for an oddly memorable cameo man. A decade after he was in Notting Hill I still remember him vividly as the journalist who teased Hugh Grant; as a bit player, too, in 1997 Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies he stuck in the mind (before getting killed). "I was blown up before the credits," says Rhind-Tutt, "so thank you for bringing up that high point."
Before we do the goodbye hand-shake (less disruptively this time and indoors) he returns to Bond. "When I got that job, I think I expected a first-class trip to Bermuda or something. In fact, I was driven to Portsmouth, to stand on an elderly frigate for a day. One of those brilliant moments," he smiles, "to put a career in acting in context."
Copyright 2011 Guardian Newspapers Ltd.