Emperor and Galilean
, Henrik Ibsen’s ‘lost masterpiece’, has just opened for the first time in English at London’s National Theatre
. The three-hour-long epic Drama deals with the rise and subsequent fall of Emperor Julian the Apostate in the 4th Century AD. The play relies heavily on the actor playing the role of Julian to carry it through: indeed, a flat performance would make the entire experience totally unpalatable. But Andrew Scott, who plays this gruelling character, is attracting rave reviews for his portrayal, and this much deserved praise is setting the theatre community abuzz with expectation for this young actor. Now therefore seems to be a good time to find out a little more about him.
Andrew Scott was born in Dublin in 1976, and discovered Drama through his local Youth Theatre. His first big break came very quickly, when aged just seventeen he was cast as the lead in a short film called Korea. After he finished school, he attended Trinity College in Dublin to study Drama, but dropped out, realising that the lectures he was sitting through were of little use to him: he was already a relatively well established actor and demand for him was growing. In his own words: ‘When Korea came out, I got an agent, went to work at the Abbey Theatre, took a break from my degree in Drama and Theatre Studies, and never came back’*.
His professional career has seen him go from strength to strength. At just 35, he has already been presented with two Olivier awards: one for his performance in A Girl in a Car with a Man, and the other for his role in Mike Bartlett’s Cock, both at the Royal Court. He has been critically praised for his work in Ireland, the UK, and even the USA, where he appeared in a Broadway production of The Vertical Hour under the direction of Sam Mendes and opposite Julianne Moore, and for which he was nominated for a Drama League Award.
Some of the more recent work of this fine actor included his appearance in The Old Vic’s Design for Living
, which again received rave reviews. Indeed, such a high profile role in one of London’s leading theatres should have catapulted this actor to stardom – so why is Andrew Scott not a household name yet? Perhaps it is because this actor is reputed to actively seek a lower profile in his work: he prefers to choose the more interesting and subtle roles rather than the huge, more commercially viable ones which must surely be swamping his inbox.
That being said, although most people would not immediately know his name, they would almost certainly recognise his face. Indeed, Scott has appeared in many hugely successful TV and Film projects. For instance, he worked with Steven Spielberg as a soldier in Saving Private Ryan, and more recently he played the character of Paul McCartney in the 2010 BBC film Lennon Naked. Furthermore, and perhaps most interestingly, he electrified audiences watching the BBC’s 2010 modernisation of Sherlock, which starred Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role alongside Martin Freeman as Watson. Although he only appeared on screen for a total of 9 minutes, he managed to totally reinvent the character of arch nemesis Jim Moriarty, portraying him as a flirty, psychotic sociopath in what must have been one of the most chilling twists in modern TV (don’t worry, I haven’t really given anything away!). As an example of how well-received he was, the night that the last episode of Sherlock aired, the hash-tag ‘#AndrewScott’ was trending on Twitter. Not bad for featuring for 9 minutes in a 90-minute programme…
Beyond his outstanding range, and obvious skill, perhaps the most interesting quality which one could pick out about Andrew Scott is his humility. Overrun by praise and accolades, he is an actor who actively avoids reading his own reviews, and who is renowned for his friendly and patient attitude towards fans. For a young actor who never went through any formal theatrical training, he has done incredibly well, both on stage and on screen. Let’s hope we get to see more and more of this outstanding performer.