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British actor David Suchet

bank job

Almost by definition, being a character actor means you should be able to play pretty much any role. However, while one of the British greats, David Suchet confesses that when approached to take part in Roger Donaldson’s crime thriller The Bank Job, he just couldn’t see himself in the part.

“Roger took me for lunch,” recalls Suchet. “And said ’I want you to play this role and I’m not thinking about anyone else. Read the script and ring me’. I went home, read it and said to my wife, ’I have no idea how to play this man’. So I told him I didn’t know how I was going to do it. And he said ’that’s why I want you. You’re a character actor and you always find a way into the truth of the person you play. I don’t want to typecast the role, I want you to become it.’”

The role in question is Le Vogel, a nasty piece of work who, while based on a still active Soho figure once dubbed the king of porn, is also an amalgam of several dodgy names from the 50s and 60s, notorious slum landlord Peter Rachman among them.

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DAVID Suchet talks about playing a real life porn king in The Bank Job, the research he did for the character and his recollections of the robbery depicted on film.

Q: Lew Vogel is not the real name of the man you portray in The Bank Job. But he was an evil man?

David Suchet: Yes, he was king of porn in Soho. I think he was an extension of the East End London Jewish Mafia that he would have known in is day, as a younger man. Although by 1971 that was over, he was the last remnant of being called king. That’s why there are these little moments in the film when rather than giving the police money for protection, he throws it at them. He needs them but he doesn’t want to fraternise.

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