Matthew Macfadyen is sat cross-legged on a plush velvet armchair. In the Capital Suite of the Intercontinental London Park Lane Hotel, the actor is waiting patiently as lighting equipment is adjusted and camera angles assumed. Across the room, he notices a coffee table collection of heavyweight portraiture tomes, and begins to tell a story.
In a manner wholly unpretentious and considered, Macfadyen explains that he and his wife (actress Keeley Hawes) spent a run of nights some years ago enjoying dinner at their favourite restaurant in London, The Wolseley. They had sat on a table next to a gentleman whose face was familiar, but he couldn’t place.
"These characters are ludicrous. They are ludicrous because life is ludicrous. It all is..."
Some time later, following the gentleman’s death in 2011, they discovered that their neighbour had been none other than Lucian Freud, whose work was being admired in the actor’s peripheral vision. “An incredible talent,” says Macfadyen, smiling with all the warmth of a personal friend.
This moment, long after our interview had ended — running an hour over our scheduled time for the shoot — encapsulates everything you can come to expect from Matthew over an afternoon in his company. That is to say, he is in equal measure interesting and interested. Oh — and incredibly patient.
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