British actor David Suchet



The National Crime Squad (NCS), an unconventional, highly skilled team of top detectives, are back to combat serious and organised crime. David Suchet returns as the enigmatic and obsessive Detective Inspector Borne. He admits to being fascinated by the many layered character. "He’s a very troubled person, full of inner turmoil, and that is wonderful to play. He’s such a serious man. We have never once seen him laugh — and I don’t suppose the writer will ever let us!

David Suchet

DAVID SUCHET, 55, stars in the second series of the Beeb’s drama about the National Crime Squad — Britain’s FBI — NCS Manhunt. He plays emotionally repressed DIJohn Borne. Forever associated with Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, he was also acclaimed for his recent role of Augustus Melmotte in BBC1’s The Way We Live Now. He is married to actress Sheila Ferris. Criminals and policemen inhabit the same world. What separates them?

People become criminals out of a sense of need. It seems like a quick and easy way to better themselves. They think crime will pay; they don’t believe they’ll get caught.

What made John Borne a policeman?

We don’t really know but I think he was in the SAS, which gave him a sense of right and wrong; a sense of how society could be better if it rid itself of crime.

How much of his and Poirot’s emotional repression is in you?

[Laughs] Not much as an extrovert actor, I should think. But a lot of actors can be quite restrained in public. Only a few are responsible for the ’luvvie’ name. Most of us are serious, hard-working people. There is a great deal of me that is introverted. I draw on my own strong sense of self-discipline.

The way I act now

From Inspector Poirot to Melmotte in The Way We Live Now, David Suchet becomes one with his characters. He tells Emma Brockes how Robert Maxwell was his rogue role model.

In the second between being stopped in the street and being asked for his autograph, David Suchet allows a faint hope to prosper: that the celebrity-spotter’s “are you...?” concludes otherwise than, “the bloke who plays Inspector Poirot?” Of course, he is usually disappointed he says. "But I’m occasionally surprised when someone stops me and says, ’I’ll never forget your Sigmund Freud.’ Or, as happened last week, ’Oh, I saw you in Murder in Mind, you were wonderful, have you ever played a homosexual before?’ I get caught out by that. You see them coming and you immediately think it’s going to be about Poirot. And I get surprised and very pleased when it’s not."On Sunday night, the 55-year-old appeared in the role he hopes will unseat his association with the skittle-shaped Belgian detective. He was Augustus Melmotte, the villain of Andrew Davies’ BBC adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s novel The Way We Live Now. Suchet wasn’t the main focus of the first episode, but the reviews still seized on his portrayal of the vulgar plutocrat. He folds himself into the part with total conviction — divests himself of charm and becomes a stoop-shouldered, swivel-eyed maniac. It is a rendition, he hopes, that will promote the character of Melmotte to a notoriety equalling Dickens’ finest. “It was one of the most alien characters I have played,” he says. “He bore absolutely no relationship to me at all.”

Still acting suspiciously 

David Suchet has shrugged off Poirot to play...another detective. He explains why.

David Suchet is playing mother. Immaculately dressed as one would expect from the man who has made Agatha Christie’s natty Belgian detective Hercule Poirot his own, he’s wandering around a BBC meeting room, pouring the tea, serving the biscuits and smiling. “Everyone takes me so seriously,” he grumbles, stirring his cup. “Everybody I know takes me seriously. I’m actually desperate to do some comedy.”

David Suchet

David Suchet is known to millions of people around the world for his superb portrayal of Agatha Christie s Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, in London Weekly Television s series Poirot, which lasted for six years from 1988 to 1994.

Mr. Suchet, born in London in 1946, decided on an acting career at the age of eighteen as a member the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain. He then studied for three years at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, eventually joining the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1973.


The labour of being Hercule

David Suchet is to play a British detective in a new BBC drama this month. Yet it is as the Belgian Hercule Poirot that he will always be remembered. `He fascinates me,’ he tells Lucy Cavendish, `because he has a very particular sexuality’

David Suchet’s favourite story is this: “I was on Broadway a year or so ago playing the part of Salieri in Amadeus. There I was as the curtain raised — Salieri, an old man with my face greyed and wrinkled. I stood there. Motionless. Quiet. Then I heard a loud woman in the front row saying to her friend, `No, that’s not him. He’s not Poirot. You’ll know him when you see him.’ Then I come on in the next scene, now as young Salieri without the make-up. I hear this lady pipe up again. `No, that’s not him, that’s definitely not him. He doesn’t look a single bit like Poirot.’ It was everything I could do not to laugh.”

An Interview with David Suchet

When Anthony Trollope started writing what would become his longest novel, he never dreamed a con artist in a supporting role would take over the plot, swindling not only the characters in the book but the author himself! Such was the force of personality of his creation, Augustus Melmotte. David Suchet’s rendition of Melmotte in The Way We Live Now makes it clear what Trollope was up against. No fastidious, obsessive, mincing Hercule Poirot he — at least, not in this performance.

In addition to his signature roles as Poirot on Mystery! and in the 1992 Masterpiece Theatre production The Secret Agent, Suchet has appeared in the feature films A Perfect Murder, Sunday, Wing Commander, Executive Decision, and RKO 281 on HBO. Among his many stage roles, he has appeared as George (opposite Diana Rigg) in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and as the professor in David Mamet’s Oleanna. He made his Broadway stage debut in Peter Hall’s Amadeus playing Salieri.

David Suchet

Although he plays the cunning and villainous Salieri in Amadeus at the Music Box Theatre, David Suchet’s playful English charm makes him a delightfully accessible “good guy.” As we chatted before a performance I was intrigued by an enchanting little coffee table book called The Fairies featuring photographic images of supposedly real “fairies” from throughout the world.

TM: Do you believe in Fairies?

David: Oh yes! I believe in fairies and angels and all those things!

TM:What was your favorite childhood game?

David: I just loved Cowboys and Indians. We used to play Soldiers too. But I loved Cowboys and Indians.

TM: Were you a Cowboy or Indian?

David: Cowboy. The good guy of course.

About David Suchet as George in “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Stephen J. Bottoms // “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Plays in Production)”. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2000

[...] David Suchet’s performance as George matches Diana Riggs Martha as effectively as McAnally does Stritch’s, and shows a similarly disturbing range of emotional registers. Suchet’s George is, however, considerably “bigger” than McAnally’s — just as the Almeida performance generally is “bigger” than the BBC Radio version (no doubt partly as a result of the differing levels of intimacy of the two media). There is a vicious force about Suchet which occasionally echoes the nastiness brought to the role by Hill (just as Rigg echoes Hagen). His first act speech to Martha, for example, building up to his refusal to light her cigarette, unmistakably underlines his absolute refusal to obey her instructions, and places her in a distinctly uncomfortable position in front of her guests: man can put up with only so much without he descends a rung or two on the old evolutionary ladder. This is in notable contrast to the playfulness with which, say, Eddington and McAnally toy with these lines. A similar difference in force is even more apparent when Honey brings up the subject of George and Marthas son later in the act: “When’s the little bugger going to appear, hunh?” is delivered with an almost palpably threatening snarl, the “hunh?” punched in like a fist.

From the history of production “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Stephen J. Bottoms // “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Plays in Production)”. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2000

... when the Almeida, another small, London-based art theatre, requested permission to mount a new production in 1996, he stipulated that he would only agree if a West End transfer was guaranteed. With Albee back in fashion following the international success of his 1994 Pulitzer Prize-winner Three Tall Women, he was in a strong position to make such demands, and a four-month run at the Aldwych Theatre was scheduled to follow the month at the Almeida. The resulting production added further momentum to the Albee renaissance, attracting rave reviews by striking that elusive balance between star-studded cast and genuinely cooperative, ensemble-oriented playing.

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© 2001—2014. Texts by Daria Pichugina, Adelka
© 2001—2014. Translated by Adelka, Kim Dolce, Elena Ukhina et al.

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